Teaching

Politics in the United States (Introductory, undergraduate) - Spring 2018

This  course  provides  an  overview  of  the  political  processes  and  institutions  of  American  government.  In  years  past,  I  might  have  tried  to  convince  you  that  this  endeavor  isn’t  as  boring  as  it  sounds.  These  days,  “boring”  isn’t  a  word  that  many  of  us  use  to describe  American  politics.  But  “confusing”  might  be.  So  my  goal  in  this  class  is  to  help  illuminate  our  current  politics  by  examining  how  the  American  political  system  has  developed  and  operates  today.  Lectures,  readings,  and  discussion  will  address  the  Constitution,  federalism,  public  opinion,  the  media,  civil  rights,  Congress,  the  presidency,  the  courts,  and  campaigns  and  elections,  among  other  topics.  Throughout  the  course,  we  will  focus  on  how  these  features  of  American  government  help  explain  stories in  the  news  and  current  public  policy  debates,  some  of  which  involve  the  Trump  administration,  racial  and  gender  equality,  congressional  gridlock,  and  the  upcoming  2018  midterm  elections.


Women and Political Leadership (Upper-level, undergraduate) - Fall 2017

In  1776,  Abigail  Adams  asked  her  husband  to  “remember  the  ladies,”  as  he  drafted  the  Constitution.    Echoing  one  of  the  fundamental  grievances  of  the  Revolution,  she  warned:  “We  will  not  hold  ourselves  bound  by  laws  in  which  we  have  no  voice  or  representation.”  More  than  200  years  later,  women  remain  severely  underrepresented  in  America’s  political  institutions.  In  this  course,  we  will  address  why  so  few  women  hold  public  office,  and what  women’s  under-representation  implies  for  democratic  governance.  

Two  themes  will  guide  our  analysis  of  the  impact  of  women’s  political  leadership.  First,  we  will  focus  on  fundamental  gender  differences  that  affect  the  various  steps  of  the  political  process.  Do  men  and  women  differ  in  terms  of  the  factors  that  encourage  them  to  engage  the  political  system?  Can  we  identify  gender  differences  in  rates  of  electoral  success,  voter  perceptions,  or  types  of  media  coverage  candidates  garner?  Do  women  and  men  advocate  different  political  agendas  and  issue  preferences?  Are  there  differences  in  the  manner  in  which  women  and  men  conceptualize  politics  and  think  about  leadership?  Second,  we  will  address  the  representational  implications  of  any  gender  differences  we  uncover,  concentrating  not  only  on  substantive  policy,  but  also  on  the  non-policy  benefits  that  might  be  conferred  when  more  women  have  political  power.    


Election 2016 (Upper-level, undergraduate) - Fall 2016

The  United  States  has  more  elections  that  any  other  country  in  the  world.  Citizens  vie  for  and  vote  for  more  than  500,000  elective  positions,  varying  from  local  water  board  member,  to  state  superintendent  of  education,  to  president  of  the  United  States.  In  a  democracy,  free  and  fair  elections  serve  as  the  principal  means  by  which  citizens  influence  their  elected  officials  and  the  policies  the  government  pursues.  Thus,  campaigns  and  elections  are  a  fundamental  part  of  democratic  governance  in  the  United  States.

This  course  examines  U.S.  presidential  and  congressional  campaigns  and  elections,  with  special  emphasis  placed  on  the  2016 cycle.  How  do  political  scientists  study  and  understand  electoral  politics?  What  generalizations  can  we  make  about  candidates,  parties,  campaigns,  the  media,  the  electoral  context,  rules  of  the  game,  and  voters?  How  do  these  components  and  players  interact?  Do  theory  and  practice  converge?  We  will  rely  on  analyses  from  political  scientists,  journalists,  pundits,  candidates,  and  voters  as  we  embark  on  an  in-depth  study  of  electoral  politics.