Dr. Leila Zakhirova

Chair/Associate Professor, Political Science; Program Co-Director, Environmental and Sustainability Studies Political Science, Environmental and Sustainability Studies, Global Studies


Ph.D.,  Political Science, Indiana University, Bloomington
M.A.,   Political Science, Kansas State University, Manhattan
B.A.,    English and Philosophy, Bethany College, Lindsborg


Energy politics, sustainability issues, political Islam, post-Soviet politics


Leila Zakhirova joined the political science department at Concordia College in 2013. She received her Ph.D. in political science from Indiana University, Bloomington. Her dissertation sought to delineate the regional boundaries of Central Asia with concrete data. An important part of her analysis looked at the security implications of freshwater mismanagement practices among the five Central Asian states. Her recent research interests concern global energy transitions and the political, economic, and security implications of a global shift away from fossil fuels to renewable alternatives such as biofuel, wind, and solar energy. Her co-authored book Racing to the Top: How Energy Fuels System Leadership in World Politics (Oxford University Press, 2018) probes the role of energy in the rise of powerful states over the past two millennia. The basic argument is that access to cheap energy is critical to constructing international political hierarchy and whichever state leads the energy race of its time also becomes system leader. Dr. Zakhirova’s other co-authored book, Climate Change in the Middle East and North Africa: 15,000 Years of Crises, Setbacks, and Adaptation (Routledge, 2021), looks at the climate story of the region over the past fifteen millennia and links its serial climate fluctuations to its rise and demise from the Younger Dryas era to the last Little Ice age. Dr. Zakhirova is currently working on a book manuscript examining the link between global warming and population growth prospects in the Muslim world.

Prior to joining the faculty at Concordia, Dr. Zakhirova taught at Whittier College, CA. In addition to her teaching and research responsibilities, she also serves as one of the co-editors of the peer-reviewed social-science journal Asian Security. When she is not busy teaching or researching, Dr. Zakhirova loves hanging out with her family and adorable labradoodle named Teddy.

Courses Taught

GS 117 International Issues and Global Governance
PSC 305 Global Political Islam
PSC 325 Russian Politics
PSC 335 Climate Change and Conflict
PSC/ENVR 355 Petroleum Politics and Planet
PSC/ENVR 365 Global Sustainability Issues


Dr. Leila Zakhirova

Chair/Associate Professor, Political Science; Program Co-Director, Environmental and Sustainability Studies Old Main – 309