2022 Michael McFaul Headshot

Michael A. McFaul, PhD

  • Director, Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies
  • Ken Olivier and Angela Nomellini Professor of International Studies, Department of Political Science
  • Peter and Helen Bing Senior Fellow, Hoover Institution

Encina Hall
616 Jane Stanford Way
Stanford, CA 94305-6055

Biography

Michael McFaul is Director at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, the Ken Olivier and Angela Nomellini Professor of International Studies in the Department of Political Science, and the Peter and Helen Bing Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution. He joined the Stanford faculty in 1995. Dr. McFaul also is as an International Affairs Analyst for NBC News and a columnist for The Washington Post. He served for five years in the Obama administration, first as Special Assistant to the President and Senior Director for Russian and Eurasian Affairs at the National Security Council at the White House (2009-2012), and then as U.S. Ambassador to the Russian Federation (2012-2014).

He has authored several books, most recently the New York Times bestseller From Cold War to Hot Peace: An American Ambassador in Putin’s Russia. Earlier books include Advancing Democracy Abroad: Why We Should, How We Can; Transitions To Democracy: A Comparative Perspective (eds. with Kathryn Stoner); Power and Purpose: American Policy toward Russia after the Cold War (with James Goldgeier); and Russia’s Unfinished Revolution: Political Change from Gorbachev to Putin. He is currently writing a book called Autocrats versus Democrats: Lessons from the Cold War for Competing with China and Russia Today.

He teaches courses on great power relations, democratization, comparative foreign policy decision-making, and revolutions.

Dr. McFaul was born and raised in Montana. He received his B.A. in International Relations and Slavic Languages and his M.A. in Soviet and East European Studies from Stanford University in 1986. As a Rhodes Scholar, he completed his D. Phil. In International Relations at Oxford University in 1991. His DPhil thesis was Southern African Liberation and Great Power Intervention: Towards a Theory of Revolution in an International Context.

Current research

In The News

Alexei Navalny
News

Remembering Alexei Navalny, Russia's Unwavering Opposition Leader

Scholars from the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies share their memories and perspectives of Navalny, who died while incarcerated in a Russian penal colony.
cover link Remembering Alexei Navalny, Russia's Unwavering Opposition Leader
Michael McFaul listens to President Zuzana Čaputová speak during the Q&A portion of her fireside chat at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies at Stanford University.
News

Slovak President Optimistic about Democracy, but Warns about Russian Misinformation

During a visit to the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies, Slovak President Zuzana Čaputová reminded the Stanford community that the stakes of the war in Ukraine are high and will impact democracies far beyond Eastern and Central Europe.
cover link Slovak President Optimistic about Democracy, but Warns about Russian Misinformation
Amichai Magen, Marshall Burke, Didi Kuo, Larry Diamond, and Michael McFaul onstage for a panel discussion at Stanford's 2023 Reunion and Homecoming
Commentary

At Reunion Homecoming, FSI Scholars Offer Five Policy Recommendations for the Biden Administration

FSI scholars offer their thoughts on what can be done to address political polarization in the United States, tensions between Taiwan and China, climate change, the war in Ukraine, and the Israel-Hamas war.
cover link At Reunion Homecoming, FSI Scholars Offer Five Policy Recommendations for the Biden Administration