Thayer Welcomes Author Dominic Tierney

War or peace? Dominic Tierney, the 2018 visiting Bailey-King author, posed this question to a group of seniors in a lively and interactive presentation on international relations. Tierney is an associate professor of political science at Swarthmore College, a senior fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute, and a contributing writer at The Atlantic. 

During Tierney's presentation, students split into four groups or "countries." The countries had to choose whether to declare war or peace throughout the game, and their decisions resulted in points given or taken away from their country or other countries. Students met for summit meetings, there were revolutions, and sanctions were given. In the end, no one won because students kept declaring war to protect their countries, which Tierney says, is the crux of this game.

"There's a riddle at the heart of this game, which is fascinating," he told the students. "Countries can act rationally, yet the end result is totally irrational to everyone."

Students were engaged throughout and learned about the Prisoner's Dilemma (which he said made the game difficult to win) and about how countries can work to build trust. 

Tierney conducted more workshops with students about journalism and international relations throughout the day, and that evening met with members of the Thayer community at the second annual Bailey-King Author Event. There Tierney spoke about international issues and signed copies of his book, The Right Way to Lose a War: America in an Age of Unwinnable Conflicts.


Established in 2016 through the generous support of Todd Slawsby ’88, the Bailey-King Author Series endeavors to celebrate the written word through annual author events at Thayer Academy.  Named in honor of long-time English faculty members Betty Bailey ’63 and Jim King P ’01, ’04, ’06, the Bailey-King Author Series hosts highly regarded authors on campus to educate budding student writers about careers in writing and inspire them to seek new depth in their own voices.

To view part of Mr. Tierney's international relations presentation, click here