“What Am I Actually Doing? What Is This Career?”: Stepping Outside for Field Research

Sponsored by Georgetown University Press

Recorded on 02/03/2020
Posted in The Authority File

Episode 110

For David Danelo, the road to defining his job title was a long one. A Naval Academy graduate and US Marine Corps infantry officer, he knew after serving that he wanted to be paid to travel and write—a good place to start, but how to find a steady foothold within the freelance journalism world? The answer, he discovered, was in front of him all along: field research. 

In this episode, Danelo, the Director of Field Research for the Foreign Policy Research Institute, explains that though he would later come to define his type of writing as field research, which is, essentially, data collection in the real world, he spent years writing without a solid definition for his work. In his latest volume, The Field Researcher’s Handbook: A Guide to the Art and Science of Professional Fieldwork, he makes the point to show how field research includes many areas outside academia, such as manufacturing, energy, and other trades. Danelo believes extending beyond theory and “really trying to tease out” the methodology of field research makes for a comprehensive book that’s applicable both outside and in the scholarly world.


About the guest:

David Danelo
Director of Field Research
Foreign Policy Research Institute

David J. Danelo is the Director of Field Research for the Foreign Policy Research Institute and an adjunct professor at the University of Texas at El Paso’s National Security Studies Institute. He teaches and conducts field research, consults on international border management and geopolitical risk, and writes about intersections between policy, security, and culture. Danelo graduated from the US Naval Academy in 1998 and was a US Marine Corps infantry officer for seven years. From 2011-2012, he was the Executive Director, Policy and Planning, US Customs and Border Protection. His books Blood Stripes: The Grunt’s View of the War in Iraq, The Border: Exploring the U.S.-Mexican Divide, and The Return: A Field Manual for Life After Combat have been assigned as required reading for policy professionals and his guide, The Field Researcher’s Handbook: A Guide to the Art and Science of Professional Fieldwork, is a university textbook. He is based in West Texas and travels often.