Faculty Friday: Bill Goldman

Every Friday, the International Studies Department will profile one of our amazing faculty members so you can get to know them better and see all the amazing work our faculty do!

Faculty Friday Profile: Bill Goldman


Bill Goldman is an Assistant Professor of International Studies at USF and the coordinator of the European Studies Program. He grew up in Washington, DC, where no one in his extended family ever worked for the government, and received a BA in History from Yale. After living in Boston for a little while and trying his hand as a sports photographer, Professor Goldman made the smart decision to move to California and work on a PhD from UC Berkeley in early modern European History, which he completed in 2009. His specialty is Spanish foreign policy in the reign of Philip III (r. 1598-1621, for those who don’t know their Spanish Habsburgs), specifically the role of new forms of political thought on political action in the Spanish Empire. His book, Rational Empire, is under consideration at Cambridge University Press.

Professor Goldman has also done significant work on Protestant anti-Spanish rhetoric in the seventeenth century (the Black Legend), and on Spain and the founding of the Jamestown colony. His 2011 article in the William and Mary Quarterly on the topic published the first English map of Jamestown, which was stolen by Spanish spies only months after the colony was founded in 1607. The article also conclusively proves that Philip III, the king of Spain, planned to attack and destroy the Jamestown colony – but was dissuaded by the evident failure of the colony due to disease and mismanagement. By 1612, after English colonists survived their “starving time,” Spain decided not to attack because it did not want to risk a war with England. Professor Goldman loves history that shows how small decisions can sometimes have such outsized effects: if Spain had destroyed Jamestown and colonized North America, it would certainly have altered the history of the entire hemisphere!

Professor Goldman’s current work focuses on one of the main issues of his earlier articles and book: the development of various forms of state sovereignty before and after the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648. The goal of this work is to explore what types of sovereignty existed before Westphalia enshrined inviolate state sovereignty in Europe and, through imperial diffusion, the rest of the world. Understanding these alternative forms of sovereignty can help lead to a better understanding of where the concept of sovereignty is headed in a world of non-state actors, the Right to Protect doctrine, failed states, global corporations, and multipolar foreign relations.

In non-academic but related work, Professor Goldman serves on the International Board of the New Israel Fund, a non-profit working for a more just and democratic Israel. NIF funds much of the human rights and civil society infrastructure in Israel, and plays a key role in standing up for minority groups throughout the country. NIF’s mission is in keeping with the social justice focus at USF and with the goals of the International Studies Department, especially the defense of human, women’s, LGBT and refugee rights.

Bill in wig photo

This past summer Professor Goldman was excited to try on a Barrister’s wig in the Inner Temple in London, and to introduce his children, George and Marie, to all the things he and his wife, Serra, love about Spain: the food, flamenco dancing, the unique architecture of Barcelona, and shrimp with their heads still on. George and Marie attend an Italian immersion school in San Francisco, and often wonder why Professor Goldman doesn’t speak Italian as well as they do. He was glad to finally prove to them that he might not speak great Italian, but he does indeed speak Spanish, even with the “crazy accent” of Spaniards. In his spare time, Professor Goldman enjoys choral music, playing catch with George and Marie, and flying airplanes, especially missions for Angel Flight West, a charitable organization that provides transportation for critically ill patients and their families. This fall you can find him obsessively immersed in the presidential election and all forms of politics, and very much looking for November 8th to come as quickly as possible.

Bill and George


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