Gianluca Spezza, Chair of the Social Sciences Department and Assistant Professor | The American University of Iraq Sulaimani

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Gianluca Spezza, Chair of the Social Sciences Department and Assistant Professor

Email: gianluca.spezza [at]
Office: B-F2-11
Gianluca Spezza is the Chair of the Social Sciences Department and Assistant Professor at AUIS, where he teaches courses on IR (international relations), East Asian studies, global governance, international political economy, modern and medieval civilizations.
During the summer of 2022 Dr. Spezza was a Visiting Research Fellow at ERINA (Economic Research Institute for Northeast Asia) in Niigata, Japan. He previously served as Assistant professor of International Relations at KIMEP University in Almaty, Kazakhstan and as Senior Researcher at KIMEP’s DPRK Strategic Research Center. Dr. Spezza is the director of the Institute for Korean Studies in the Middle East (중동의대표적한국학연구소) at AUIS, which he established thanks to a grant from the Korean Government (AKS-2023-INC-2230005).
Dr. Spezza earned his Ph.D. in the UK, conducting research on the cooperation between UNICEF and the DPRK in education and childcare. 
He is currently writing a monograph on education, international cooperation, and scientific development in North Korea (Palgrave 2023). His recent publications include an article on the epistemic authority of UNICEF, a co-authored article on the engagement policy of the EU towards the DPRK, and a chapter in the edited volume “East–West Reflections on Demonization. North Korea Now, China Next?” (NIAS Press 2020).
Since 2012, his work on Korean affairs and IR (articles or interviews) can be found, among others, on the BBC, The Guardian, The Diplomat, IRIN - New Humanitarian, The Interpreter, and NK News. Since 2000, Dr. Spezza has lived, worked and studied, among other places, in Finland, Denmark, South Korea, Colombia, Kazakhstan, the UK, Canada, Slovenia, Thailand, and Japan. When not working, he dedicates time to music, animal welfare, cooking, travel, and fitness. 


Forthcoming Monograph: Knowledge, Human Capital and International Cooperation in North Korea - At the Nexus of Ideology and Development (Palgrave, 2024).
Spezza, G. (2024) Review Essay: "Hinge Points: An Inside Look at North Korea’s Nuclear Program, by Siegfried S. Hecker with Elliot A. Serbin, Stanford University Press, 2023, Political Science Quarterly, qqae036.
Spezza, G. (2023) “Understanding North Korea’s Resilience through Economy, Laws and Governance: a Review of Introductory Sources and Essential Monographs”, Northeast Asian Economic Review, 8(1): 17-28.
Spezza. G. (2022) “UNICEF and epistemic authority in the DPRK, from humanitarian crisis to the Sustainable Development Goals: 1995-2015.” Journal of Peace and Unification 12(3): 87-122.
(Co-Author) Bourdais-Park, J.W.; Spezza, G.; Bridges, B. (2022) “Evolution of EU-DPRK Interactions: shadow diplomacy and the possibility of hybrid security governance”, Asian Perspective 46(3): 549-581. Johns Hopkins University Press.
Spezza, G. (2022) North Korea, the UN, and the role of Science Diplomacy, Peace Series (4): 1-11, Stockholm: Institute for Security and Development Policy.
Spezza, G. (2021) Education and development in North Korea: historical trajectory, persisting issues, and the push for a “science-based economy” under Kim Jong Un, Issue Brief Series (2-11): 1-12, Stockholm: Institute for Security and Development Policy.
Spezza, G. (2020) “The Unwillingness to Take North Korea Seriously: Media Stereotypes, Problematic Sources and the Rhetoric surrounding the DPRK” in: Helgesen G, Harrison R. (Eds), East–West Reflections on Demonization. North Korea Now, China Next?, Copenhagen: Nordic Institute of Asian Studies (NIAS) Press: 155-173.
(Co-Author) Primiano, C; Spezza, G. (2020) “Assessing the Trump administration foreign policy towards China and the DPRK: changes, lessons learned, and future outlook”, Journal of Philosophy, Culture and Political Science 71(1): 120-126.
Spezza, G. (2015) “The Evolution of Education in the DPRK in the 2000s: International Cooperation, Elite Training and the Role of IT”, in: IFES-Kyungnam University, “North Korea's 'Jangmadang' New Generation”: 108-135.
Spezza, G. (2014) “The Future of North Korea: Knowledge Gaps, IT and the Role of Education”, in: Yim, D.W., Luna R. (Eds.), North Korea Atlas. A reading of North Korean Cities, Seoul: DAMDI: 34-54.
Spezza, G. (2014) “Education, International Cooperation and Future Challenges for the DPRK”, Wiener Beiträge zur Koreaforschung (Viennese Contributions to Korean Studies), Wien: Praesens (6): 53-74.