Susan E. Penksa, Ph.D.

Political Science Professors Tom Knecht and Susan Penksa

Professor of Political Science

Phone: (805) 565-6198


Office Location: Deane Hall 215

Dr. Penksa is on sabbatical for the 2017-2018 academic year.


Dr. Susan E. Penksa is Professor of Political Science at Westmont College, Santa Barbara, California, where she served as chair of the department from 2008-2016. She teaches in the areas of international and comparative politics and gender studies and is a faculty adviser for the political science programs in International Affairs and International Security and Development. She received her Ph.D. in political science from Miami University, Oxford, Ohio (2000).

With 22 years of applied research and field experience, Dr. Penksa consults with national governments, international organizations and NGOs. Her work includes an impact assessment for the EU Police Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina; a strategic action plan for the US Mission to the EU on crisis management and security sector reform in Afghanistan; a project for USAID-Pakistan on gender mainstreaming, economic growth and development; a security sector training program for SE European government officials; an evaluation of Bosnian post-conflict military reform for the US Army Combat Studies Institute; and an analysis of EU and NATO assistance in post-conflict Georgia for the Centre for European and North Atlantic Affairs. Dr. Penksa received a consultancy in 2015 from the EU Delegation to the United States in Washington, D.C. to organize and lead a professional training seminar on EU and transatlantic security at the U.S. Postgraduate Naval School in Monterey, California.

Dr. Penksa is a frequent contributor to strategic dialogue on international security and development. Her publications and invited presentations focus on global and transatlantic security and development; gender and human rights as cross-cutting issues of security and development; US security, defense, development, and foreign policy; EU external relations; conflict analysis; conflict prevention, crisis management, post-conflict stabilization, and peace-building; civil-military relations; and democratization, governance and security sector reform. She has been an invited speaker of the Austrian Presidency of the EU (2006), the Slovenian Presidency of the EU (2008), the European Parliament (2008), the International Civilian Office/EU Special Representative in Kosovo (2008), the UK Embassy, Washington, D.C. (2009), DCAF (2010), the European Policy Centre (2010), NATO (2012), the EU Police Mission (2012), Heinrich Boll (2012), the EU External Action Service (2012), and Georgetown University (2014).

She is the recipient of the 2004 Westmont Teaching Award and the 2005 Westmont Faculty Research Award. In 2005, she served as a Visiting Research Fellow at the Centre for European Policy Studies in Brussels, Belgium. In 2007-2008, Dr. Penksa received a United States J. William Fulbright Fellowship to Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH). As a Fulbright Scholar, Dr. Penksa taught the first course on the European Union (EU) at the University of Sarajevo and conducted a research project on security system reform. In 2010, she was awarded a second Fulbright fellowship to BiH and also served as a Visiting Fellow at the Institute for European Studies (IES), Brussels, Belgium. From 2012-2014, Dr. Penksa held the position of Senior Associate at the IES. She is currently a member of the editorial advisory board for International Studies Perspectives. Dr. Penksa is the co-author (with Roy H. Ginsberg) of The European Union in Global Security: The Politics of Impact, published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2012 and with a foreword by Javier Solana. An updated paperback edition was released in September 2014.