Professor Western earned the B.A. at Macalester College, the M.P.P. at the University of Michigan, and the Ph.D. at Columbia University. Before joining Mount Holyoke, he was a Peace Scholar-in-residence and the coordinator of the Dayton Upgrade Project at the United States Institute of Peace. He also served as a Balkans analyst in the Bureau of Intelligence and Research at the U.S. Department of State. He previously taught at Columbia University and George Washington University.
Professor Western's friends and colleagues have published a tribute page on The Duck of Minerva.