Episode 15 – Matt McDonald

6 12 2020

Professor Matt McDonald of the University of Queensland joins the Hayseed Scholar podcast. Brent has known of Matt’s work for almost two decades, and known him directly for about half that time, emailing Matt about the latter’s fantastic 2010 ‘Lest we Forget’ IPS article and striking up a correspondence, then friendship, since that time.

Matt talks about growing up in a small town in New South Wales and how his dad having a bike accident as a child led Matt and his siblings on a path to college.  Matt moved as a kid to Brisbane, learned how to play the piano, and attended UQ for his undergrad, Masters and then his PhD, living with his parents throughout much of that time and commuting to UQ for his classes. He had a brief career as a lounge guitar player playing coffee shops and pubs, but sadly his career as a musician didn’t pan out. So he talks about how and when he started to get interested in academia, and the life changing exchange he had to Aberystwyth where he really got into IR theory. He discusses going on the market, finishing his PhD while teaching full time, his first couple of publications, and the very circuitous travel for his ultimately successful interview at Birmingham.  He reflects on how enjoyable it was to have colleagues like Chris Browning, at both Birmingham and then at Warwick. Matt, Helen and their two boys enjoyed Britain, but also missed family in Australia. So Matt moved back, again, to UQ where he is today. We chat about his approaches to writing, how he decompresses via exercise, music, camping, and craft beer. This includes his treatment of craft beer evaluation, via Untappd, with the integrity it deserves. And it also, in closing, includes Matt and Brent’s infamous and widely ridiculed (by HS podcast episode 4 guest, Jelena Subotic) evening out with Chris Browning in Prague at the 2018 EISA.