The past four years of Ferris State University visiting History assistant professor Christian Peterson’s research have paid off with the recent publishing of his book, “Globalizing Human Rights: Private Citizens, the Soviet Union, and the West.”
The book was published by Routledge in September and focuses on the role that human rights played in U.S.-Soviet relations during the 1970s and 1980s. Peterson said that he spent a year researching and traveling to multiple national archives, including the archives of former U.S. presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan.
Peterson said that his book “…adds complexities to one of the most pivotal events in the 20thcentury. Private citizens who are petitioning the government can affect change. If you bring enough attention … leaders have to pay attention.”
Peterson explained how he made specific arguments of shortcomings in various pieces of literature. He also believes that his viewpoints “add to the story” as he explored aspects of globalization.
“At the end of the day, I hope readers have a better appreciation for the end of the Cold War. I’m hoping that people take away from this that the differences between Carter and Reagan are not as great as they thought,” said Peterson, who earned a bachelor’s degree from Yale University, in 1999; a master’s degree from Utah State University, in 2001; and a Ph.D. from Ohio University, in History, in 2009.
For a long time, Peterson has had an interest in this period of history and a desire “to improve our understanding of the time period I covered. It’s a mixture of personal and professional interests.”
After months of patiently waiting to see if his book would be published, Peterson simply stated the word “relief” when asked how he felt after it was finally published.
“I’m pretty happy it actually got out,” he said. “The process took forever and I wondered if it would see the light of day.”
Peterson has a passion for teaching and sharing history with others. He noted that one of the reasons he wanted to teach at Ferris was to encourage students who were not History majors, as well as professional students, to understand why history is important.