Dr. Richardson is an internationally renowned political scientist. Her career has successfully combined active research on terrorism and security with graduate and undergraduate teaching. She is currently Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of St. Andrews. The University, which is the third oldest in the English-speaking world, is one of Europe’s leading centres for teaching and research. It will shortly celebrate the six-hundredth anniversary of its foundation.
One of seven children, Louise Richardson grew up in Tramore, Co. Waterford. She graduated from St. Angela’s Secondary School. She is essentially an Ursuline girl. Having completed a degree in History at Trinity College she pursued an MA in Political Science at the University of California, Los Angeles and an MA and PhD in Government at Harvard.
For several years, Dr. Richardson taught Harvard’s large undergraduate lecture course, Terrorist Movements in International Relations. For this, she won the Levenson Prize, which is awarded by the undergraduate student body to the best teachers at the University.
In addition to the Levenson Prize, Dr. Richardson has received teaching awards from the American Political Science Association and Pi Sigma Alpha for outstanding teaching in political science, the Abramson Award in recognition of her "excellence and sensitivity in teaching undergraduates" and several awards from the Bok Center for Teaching Excellence.
After her Radcliffe appointment she continued to teach both at Harvard College and Harvard Law School.
The author of' What Terrorists Want: Understanding the Enemy, Containing the Threat' (Random House, 2006) and 'When Allies Differ: Anglo-American Relations in the Suez and Falkland Crises' (St Martin’s Press, 1996), Dr. Richardson is also the editor of 'The Roots of Terrorism' (Routledge, 2006) and co-editor of 'Democracy and Counterterrorism: Lessons from the Past' (United States Institute of Peace, 2007). Dr. Richardson has published many journal articles, book chapters and reviews on the subject of terrorism. She also serves on the editorial boards of a number of academic journals and presses related to security studies.
Across the extensive spectrum of that scholarly endeavour, Dr. Richardson has made a profound contribution to our understanding of Terrorism. She has set out the generic causal factors of its provenance and of its sustenance. She has highlighted the indelible DNA and the genetic inheritance. She has exposed the features which characterise the incubation.
In that respect her pioneering work has opened up new seams of development and it has paved new pathways from differently angled perspectives.
Her purpose is evident as it seeks to shift the site of the debate to a more inclusive space and a more public and accessible domain. This, she argues, is the platform from which a counter culture can be more progressively promoted.
Given the history and evolution of our historiography, we in Ireland are well versed in that respect. Until relatively recently our official history was speckled with the sentiments of woe and victimhood and self pity. The folk memory was scarred with a sense of wrongs done.
Ruth Dudley Edwards caught the essence of this in her cleverly titled work, 'The Triumph of Failure'.
Propaganda was our most successful product and a product that won a wide export market. In the songs and in the stories we have commemorated the myths and the monoliths.
Even today we exhort our rugby teams from the low-lying fields of Athenry, while the expatriate community in Glasgow Celtic’s Parkhead and Liverpool’s Anfield can be heard to plumb the same spirit of sentiment – revenge is all, just let the blood boil.
In Ireland’s post independence period the prospect of mature reflection and the reconstruction of deeper understandings were closed off. A vernacular grand narrative was put in place for popular consumption. There would be no mirror to reflect the true likeness of Caitlín Ní Houlacháin.
Yeats it was who recognised the dangers in all of this which he predicted in his, oft quoted, Senate speeches. These were the dangers that were to reap such a bleak harvest in Northern Ireland and beyond for almost thirty years. Regrettably we didn’t then have the work of Louise Richardson to lead us.
A Dhochtúir Louise Richardson is mór againn é tú bheith ’nár dteannta anseo inniu. Moltar réimse do scolárachta, moltar mianach do mhuinteoireachta, moltar do cheannaracht.