Wilson Center Experts

David Shirk

Global Fellow & Senior Security Advisor, Mexico Institute
Mexico Institute

Contact Information:
Latin America
Associate Professor, College of Arts & Sciences, University of San Diego; Director, Trans-Border Institute, Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies, University of San Diego.
Sep 01, 2013
Sep 30, 2015

Dr. David A. Shirk is an associate professor in the Department of Political Science and International Relations at the University of San Diego, a Global Fellow at the Mexico Institute of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, and a visiting professor at the UCSD School of International Relations and Pacific Studies.

He conducts research on Mexican politics, U.S.-Mexican relations, and law enforcement and security along the U.S.-Mexican border. He received his B.A. in International Studies at Lock Haven University, studying abroad in Mexico, Japan, and the USSR. He received his M.A. and Ph.D. in Political Science at the University of California, San Diego, and was fellow at the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies from 1998-99 and 2001-2003.

During his undergraduate and graduate studies, Dr. Shirk received the Matthew David Klee Minority Scholarship, an American Political Science Association Ralph Bunch Program Scholarship, a National Science Foundation Minority Scholarship, and a University of California President's Scholarship. From 2003 to 2013, he was director of the Trans-Border Institute at the University of San Diego. 

Dr. Shirk currently directs a research initiative on the Cali-Baja region at the Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies at the UCSD School of International Relations and Pacific Studies. He also directs the "Justice in Mexico" (www.justiceinmexico.org), a research initiative on criminal justice and the rule of law in Mexico. 


B.A., International Studies, Lock Haven University; M.A., Political Science, University of California-San Diego; Ph.D., Political Science, University of California-San Diego


Director, Justice in Mexico Project, University of San Diego, 2013-present

Faculty, Department of Political Science, University of San Diego, 2003-present

Director, Trans-Border Institute, University of San Diego, 2003-2013

Project Coordinator, Project on Reforming the Administration of Justice in Mexico, Center for U.S.-Mexican Studies, 2002-2005


Regional: Latin America, Mexico, U.S.-Mexico border region; Law enforcement and security; judicial reform; democratization and party politics, immigration and border issues

Major Publications

  • Police and Public Security in Mexico, co-edited with Robert Donnelly (2009)
  • Contemporary Mexican Politics, co-authored with Emily Edmonds-Poli (2008)
  • Reforming the Administration of Justice in Mexico, co-edited with Wayne Cornelius (2007)
Previous Terms at the Wilson Center:
Fellow, Sep 2009 - May 2010, "The Rule of Law in Mexico and the Border Region"

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