Loyola University Chicago

College of Arts & Sciences

Faculty Spotlight: Peter Schraeder

Peter J. Schraeder, Professor and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Loyola University Chicago, is the editor of the 6th edition of Understanding Contemporary Africa, an interdisciplinary African studies textbook

This week’s Faculty Friday Spotlight shines on Professor Peter J. Schraeder, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Loyola University Chicago, who is the editor of the 6th edition of Understanding Contemporary Africa (Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2020). This book documents and analyzes the most significant social, economic, and political developments taking place on the African continent. It combines Dean Schraeder’s love for teaching and research with his area specialization of African politics and international relations.


The cornerstone of the book is the importance of studying contemporary Africa through an interdisciplinary lens. According to this perspective, those seeking to understand any region of the world, whether Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, the Middle East, or North America, must draw on a variety of academic disciplines. The information in each chapter represents the best of the current research and thinking in various disciplines, including anthropology, business, development studies, economics, geography, history, international studies, political science, public policy, religious studies, social justice, sociology, and urban studies.


Interdisciplinarity and international engagement serve as the hallmarks of Dean Schraeder’s academic career. He received his MA and PhD in International Studies from the University of South Carolina, after completing a double major in International Studies and French at Bradley University, a degree in French Civilization and Language at the Sorbonne in France, and a certificate in French from the Catholic Institute of Paris. In addition to serving as a professor in the Department of Political Science in the College of Arts and Sciences, Schraeder has taught as part of the interdisciplinary African Studies and African Diaspora, Global Studies, Honors, and Islamic World Studies programs. His teaching draws on wide-ranging overseas experiences. In addition to serving as a Fulbright lecturer and researcher at Cheikh Anta Diop University in Senegal and at the University of Tunis in Tunisia, Schraeder has held visiting appointments at Loyola’s John Felice Rome Center in Italy, the University of the Antilles in Guadeloupe, the French Institute of African Research in Zimbabwe, the U.S. Embassy in Djibouti, and Somali National University in Mogadishu, Somalia.


Dean Schraeder is involved in a number of international research networks, most notably in francophone Africa. He has been the recipient of external grants from a variety of governmental and non-governmental institutions, such as the Africa Institute of South Africa, the French government’s Institute for Research in Africa, the Finnish Development Agency, and the U.S. State Department. Most recently, along with colleagues at Loyola, the University of Tunis-El Manar in Tunisia, and Mohammed V University in Morocco, he received a grant from the Middle East and North Africa initiative of the American Political Science Association to hold PhD and post-doctoral workshops in Morocco and Tunisia for candidates from across the world—including four PhD students from Loyola. He was also the recipient in 2011 of three of the highest faculty honors at Loyola: Faculty Member of the Year, Graduate Faculty Member of the Year, and the Sujack Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.


Since starting as Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences in July 2020, Dr. Schraeder has worked with faculty, staff, students, and alumni to pursue a six-point vision for the College:


  1. Building interdisciplinary bridges within the College of Arts and Sciences, as well as between the College and all other schools at Loyola.
  2. Nurturing innovative program development to ensure that the College remains at the forefront of emerging academic needs and challenges.
  3. Expanding engagement with alumni and donors who wish to be more deeply involved in the life of the College.
  4. Promoting the pursuit of external grants that fund faculty and student research on the major issues of our times.
  5. Building international bridges to expand the numbers of our students who study abroad, international students who study in the College, and faculty and staff who engage in international collaborations.
  6. Promoting and celebrating a diverse community of faculty, staff, and students who are committed to social justice and equality for all individuals and groups, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, class, gender, sexual orientation, or physical disability.


Dean Schraeder remains actively engaged in African politics and international relations. He is working on another book, African Foreign Policy in the Era of Democracy, which is based on fieldwork in all five regions of the African continent.