On May 16, 2017, the Coalition for National Science Funding held its 23rd annual exhibition showcasing projects supported by the National Science Foundation. This year, APSA hosted the Comparative Study of Electoral Systems (CSES), an international and collaborative project that conducts surveys to examine electoral behavior. The project is carried out in 54 countries. Dr. Georgia Kernell of the University of California, Los Angeles and Dr. Elizabeth Zechmeister of Vanderbilt University discussed the project and how they use CSES data in their scholarship. Recent publications including CSES data are available here. Attendees from congressional offices and from the NSF, including Director France Córdova, met with exhibitors at the event. The University of Michigan also exhibited political science research, featuring the American National Election Studies, a project that uses surveys to examine voting, public opinion, and political participation in the United States. Dr. Ted Brader, Dr. Vincent Hutchings, and Dr. Ken Kollman, all of the University of Michigan, discussed the work of ANES at the event.
Half Day PM (1:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.)
We propose a half-day workshop to be held during the APSA conference as a more in-depth treatment of a theme, but not as an instructional course. Recent national votes, from BREXIT to the rejection of the Colombian peace accord to the victory of Donald Trump have highlighted the disruptiveness of unexpected outcomes of national consultations on polarizing issues. This workshop aims to advance knowledge about the causes, consequences, and solutions to severe political and societal polarization in democracies around the world. Highly-polarized societies pose threats to governability, peaceful coexistence, and prosperity. They derive from contexts in which opposing groups question the moral legitimacy of each other, viewing the opposing camp as an existential threat to their way of life or the nation as a whole. The legitimacy of elected leaders or national referenda in such contexts is undermined by the dynamic of extreme polarization: that is, when the natural differences within a democracy become aligned within two camps with mutually exclusive identities and interests. These are highly polarized polities with pernicious outcomes. At the extreme, each camp comes to perceive the “Other” in such negative terms that a normal political adversary with whom to engage in a competition for power is transformed into an enemy posing an existential threat to be vanquished. This workshop brings together Americanists and comparativists studying polarization from a range of perspectives, including social and moral psychology, institutional and electoral rules, and structural grievances and crises. Some of the scholars participate in an international research group analyzing negative polarization in the U.S., Europe, MidEast, Africa, Latin America and SE Asia. (McCoy leads the team; Lebas on Africa; Arugay on SE Asia; Garcia on Venezuela; Handlin on Latin America; Firat cross-nationally; and Abramowitz on the U.S). Another scholar (Hawkins) leads an international group of scholars studying polarizing populism in Latin America and Europe. And others work on the United States or comparisons of polarization in the U.S. and Europe (Campbell and Reifler). The proposed participants are conducting some of the most exciting new research on these issues with methodologies ranging from socio-neuro experimental analysis (Firat) to social and political psychology (Motyl and Johnson) to new survey measures of societal and political polarization to comparative institutional analysis. In terms of solutions, the workshop intends to brainstorm potential means to prevent or ameliorate pernicious forms of polarization, through social psychological interventions, policy choice, institutional/constitutional engineering, media messaging, community interventions, reconciliation and dialogue, or international mediation. The workshop employs short presentations, roundtable discussions, and brainstorming among participants to address the following questions:
- Is polarization elite-driven or mass-driven?
- What measures best capture mass-level, societal polarization?
- What are the social psychological underpinnings of polarization – in terms of moral decision-making, tolerance, authoritarianism?
- Are institutional/electoral rule changes desirable to ameliorate the negative consequences of polarization? If so, which ones? What are the risks?
- What interventions at the individual and community level are useful (from community psych, social and moral psych, communication)?
Each of the three sessions within the workshop employs a roundtable format with a moderator asking questions of the listed presenters based on their research findings and generating a discussion among them, with time allotted for participation by audience attendees.
**All Short Courses will take place on Wednesday, August 30 at the APSA 2017 Annual Meeting in San Francisco, CA.**
Berry College professor and nationally renowned political scholar Peter Augustine Lawler passed away Tuesday.
“For 38 years, Peter has been a vital member of the Berry community and a legendary teacher, mentor and colleague,” said Berry College President Stephen Briggs. “A keen observer of human culture and the human condition, Peter will long be remembered for his teasing and provocative approach to teaching and writing. His passing reminds us of the fragility of this life in which, as Peter taught us, we are destined ‘to both wander and wonder.’”
Lawler was a prolific author and editor of more than 15 books, most recently “American Heresies and Higher Education.” His wide-ranging interests and his acute understanding led to his extraordinary national service and reputation, including his recent appointment as the editor of the distinguished conservative academic journal, Modern Age. His work also has appeared in The National Review, the Weekly Standard and The New Atlantis.
He was appointed by President George W. Bush to serve on the President’s Council on Bioethics, was a recipient of the Richard M. Weaver Prize for Scholarly Excellence and named the George Washington Distinguished Professor of the American Founding, The Society of the Cincinnati.
“Students had easy access to Peter – though not in his memorably messy office. He made time for them, drank many, many cups of coffee with them, listened to them, and formed them with their conversations. Countless students fell in love with political thought and the life of the mind through Peter’s teaching and mentorship,” said Tom Kennedy, dean of the Evans School of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences.
Read more at Berry College News.
Related articles in memory of Peter Lawler.
- Learning from Peter Lawler – The National Review
- A Man Who ‘Stuck With Virtue’ – The American Conservative
- In Fond Memory Of Peter Augustine Lawler – The Federalist
- “A former student remembers his professor, a great thinker.” – Weekly Standard
Legitimate People, Legitimate Territory? Critical Perspectives on Sovereigntism
The legitimacy of sovereign communities and their right to take unilateral decisions on their civic boundaries (political membership, citizenship) and territorial borders is increasingly put into question in contemporary political theory. This panel assembles analyses of crucial political controversies that are often framed from a ‘sovereigntist’ perspective – irregular migration, land grabbing, and investor citizenship – to highlight the limits of this dogma of democratic sovereignty and to discuss alternative approaches to both membership and territorial politics.
Rainer Baubock, European University Institute (Discussant)
Claudio Lopez-Guerra, Centro de Investigacion y Docencia Economicas (Discussant)
Cristina Lafont, Northwestern University (Chair)
Beyond Sovereign Boundary-making: Cosmopolitan Citizenship Politics
Svenja Ahlhaus, University of Hamburg (Author)
From Closed Borders to No Borders: “the Problem” of Irregular Migration
Anne McNevin, The New School (Author)
Land Grabbing and the Contradictions of Sovereign Territoriality
Anna Jurkevics, Yale University (Author)
Why Place Matters: Place-Specific Duties and Citizenship Rights
Paulina Ochoa Espejo, Haverford College (Author)
The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) is one of the largest funders of humanities programs in the United States and supports research, education, preservation, and public programs in the humanities. The organization funds projects across a range of disciplines, including political science, through a diverse array of opportunities. Dr. Anderson is the recipient of an NEH fellowship. NEH fellowships “support individuals pursuing advanced research that is of value to humanities scholars, general audiences, or both.”
Leslie E. Anderson is a University of Florida Research Foundation Professor of Political Science. She has written extensively on democracy and democratization in Latin America, publishing most recently Democratization by Institutions: Argentina’s Transition Years in Comparative Perspective, (Michigan, 2016). Her work looks at social movements, electoral politics, social capital and at the role of institutions in furthering the process of democratization. Her books include The Political Ecology of the Modern Peasant: Calculation and Community (Hopkins, 1994) and Social Capital in Developing Democracies: Nicaragua and Argentina Compared (Cambridge, 2010). Other awards include grants from the National Science Foundation in 1996 and 2006, three Fulbright Fellowships and a fellowship from the Gardner Foundation of Brown University.
Tell us more about your research project.
My project is a sequel to Learning Democracy: Citizen Engagement and Electoral Choice in Nicaragua, 1990-2001 (Anderson and Dodd, Chicago, 2005). Learning Democracy was about the capacity of the poor to use electoral politics to effect major political change in Nicaragua, including regime change, and to comprehend the candidate choices presented in a tumultuous electoral context. At that time democracy in Nicaragua was on an upward trajectory. Today it is in decline. The current work is a collaborative effort with Larry Dodd (University of Florida) and Won-ho Park (Seoul National University). We seek to understand how well Nicaragua’s citizens comprehend Ortega’s efforts to undermine democracy and how well they can resist those efforts. The work draws on my extensive field research in Nicaragua as well as upon fascinating opinion polls that register citizen contestation and resistance even in the face of presidential autocracy. The project partners with Learning Democracy in helping us understand how democracy can flourish and also how it can backslide. We look at the capacities of average citizens to contribute to both processes and to resist authoritarianism where possible.
What are your next steps and plans for your research?
The research for this project is largely complete. We plan to do another round of public opinion surveys in late 2017. We are currently engaged in data analysis of the 2016 data and we are working to bring the statistical findings together with what we already know about politics on the ground in Nicaragua. The comparison of qualitative and quantitative empirical data is fascinating.
How is the NEH Grant helping you accomplish those steps?
The NEH has given me the time away from teaching to concentrate my full attention on this project and push it forward to completion.
What advice do you have for young researchers/scholars?
My strongest suggestion to young scholars is to find a major question that engages your passion and your deep intellectual interests. Finding such a question will keep your energy going both to complete fellowship applications and to get the project finished. Try to find work that you love.
The 2017 APSA Annual Meeting Online Program is now available! Search by keywords, browse by day, division or related group, session, or event type!
Use the online program to obtain the most up-to-date information on the annual meeting. This searchable program will be updated daily from now until the meeting.
Locations will be available in the late summer.
Register for the annual meeting! Join us August 31 – September 3, 2017, in San Francisco for the 113th APSA Annual Meeting & Exhibition to address the latest scholarship in political science while exploring the 2017 theme, “The Quest for Legitimacy: Actors, Audiences, and Aspirations.” View registration rates and hotel bookings here.
Excellence in teaching political science is essential to the discipline. This interview series highlights campus teaching award winners who have been recognized by APSA for their achievements. If you or a colleague has won a campus teaching award in the 2016-17 academic year, please let us know! Submissions are due by June 20. Learn more about the campus teaching award recognition program here.
Michael Lamb is University Scholar in Residence and Fellow in Personal and Career Development at Wake Forest University and the McDonald-Templeton Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Oxford. He holds a Ph.D. in Politics from Princeton University, a B.A. from Rhodes College, and a second B.A. from the University of Oxford, where he studied as a Rhodes Scholar. A political theorist with experience in practical politics, his research focuses on the ethics of citizenship, the relationship between religion and politics, and the role of virtue in public life. He helped to launch The Oxford Character Project and is currently exploring programs in leadership and character at Wake Forest. He was awarded the George Kateb Teaching Award for Best Preceptor in Politics from Princeton in 2014 and a Teaching Excellence Award from Oxford’s Humanities Division in 2016.
What’s your teaching background? What was your first teaching experience like?
My first teaching experience involved co-teaching two political theory courses with one of my former professors at Rhodes College, which was an invaluable experience. Co-teaching provided an opportunity to learn from an experienced mentor who is excellent at explaining core concepts and making ideas relevant and who offered constructive feedback as I experimented with different pedagogical methods and developed my style as a teacher. Engaging students in meaningful conversations about big ideas was exhilarating, and the interdisciplinary scope of the seminar, along with its emphasis on dialogue and discussion, reinforced how much I value a liberal arts education. That experience affirmed my sense that teaching is an essential part of my vocation.
How would you describe your teaching style or philosophy?
I have a student-centered approach to teaching that empowers students to take ownership of their learning and find creative ways to connect how they learn with how they live. I seek to introduce students to diverse perspectives on complex issues and encourage them to think critically and interpret charitably. By modeling open and respectful engagement, I try to foster a supportive learning environment where students can ask difficult questions, share their personal perspectives, and take intellectual risks. Because I see writing as a way to think and grading as a way to teach, I also spend a significant amount of time crafting essay questions, teaching students how to make reasoned arguments, and offering extensive feedback on written work. One of the most meaningful aspects of teaching is seeing how much progress students make over the course of a semester.
Do you have favorite materials or courses to teach?
My favorite courses are those that challenge students to grapple with questions about how we ought to live, both as individuals and communities. As a political theorist with interests in democratic theory and the history of political thought, I especially enjoy teaching courses that integrate ancient, medieval, and modern texts to inform and enliven contemporary democratic theory and practice. This coming fall, I am teaching an undergraduate course entitled “How to Keep a Republic,” which draws on the tradition of Roman republicanism to examine core questions about what it means to be citizens of the American republic: How do we preserve liberty and justice for all against threats of domination? How can citizens hold their leaders accountable? What role should checks and balances and the rule of law play in a political system? Which virtues are required for both leaders and citizens? By discussing ancient and modern thinkers, along with contemporary political philosophers, I hope to help students consider how ancient insights on liberty, law, and virtue might inform the practice of democratic citizenship in our own time.
What has been your most effective tool for engaging students in the classroom?
In my courses, I use a variety of methods – from close reading and Socratic questioning to structured dialogue and small group discussion – to engage students with diverse learning styles and foster a sense of community in the classroom. One of my most effective pedagogical tools has been the classroom debate. When I taught “Ethics and Public Policy,” I often divided the class into teams to argue for distinctive positions on a controversial issue, sometimes asking them to pretend they were in the Situation Room briefing the President. With chalk in hand, I served as classroom conductor, synthesizing arguments on the blackboard, highlighting points of connection, and raising questions that pushed students to consider their underlying assumptions. Because everyone was required to present an argument or ask a question, these debates increased participation and empowered students to teach each other course content, which, research shows, increases knowledge retention. For me, the debates had another benefit: hearing students analyze the readings revealed which concepts were causing the most difficulty and allowed me to correct misinterpretations or offer clarifications. The debates also gave students opportunities to practice discussing moral controversies respectfully and civilly. Because they were required to defend positions they did not necessarily avow, they learned to inhabit opposing positions and developed sensitivity to diverse perspectives. Ultimately, students described these debates as one of the most enjoyable and useful parts of the course. Some even said they had changed their views on specific issues after hearing arguments from the other side.
Did you have any classroom experiences as a student that influenced how you teach now?
As both an undergraduate and graduate student, I was fortunate to have excellent professors who were also excellent mentors. As I grappled with difficult questions from class or larger questions about my values and vocation, I often sought their insight and advice. Rather than supplying easy answers, they patiently asked discerning questions and challenged me to formulate answers for myself. Some of the most transformative moments of my education occurred during these one-on-one conversations. As a result, I see mentoring as one of the great joys of university teaching and am grateful to be at a place like Wake Forest that makes faculty-student engagement a priority. Ultimately, I want to inspire and empower students to become better scholars and citizens in the ways that my professors inspired and empowered me.
- Learn more about APSA Campus Teaching Awards Recognition.
- If you or a colleague has won a campus teaching award in the 2016-17 academic year, please let APSA know! All submissions are due June 20, 2017.
The American Political Science Association is very pleased to offer opportunities to advance the scholarship of teaching and learning in the profession. The Teaching and Learning Conference (TLC) is a key part of APSA programming, and we are writing to inform you of changes to the conference format and timing. The following changes were approved at a meeting of the Governing Council of APSA in April 2017:
- Beginning in 2018, the TLC will be held biennially. Thus, the next TLC conference will occur in February 2018, followed by 2020 and 2022.
- The format of the conference will be revised to include working group tracks as well as panels and workshops.
- Beginning in 2019, the Political Science Education Organized Section will organize a biennial Mini-Conference on Teaching and Learning to be held in conjunction with the APSA Annual Meeting. The PSE Section will select a program chair to organize this mini-conference in conjunction with APSA.
As ever, APSA is committed to providing venues for political science scholars to share effective and innovative teaching and learning models, as well as discuss broad themes of political science education and the scholarship of teaching and learning. The changes outlined here are part of APSA’s overall strategy to increase the resources available to APSA members pertaining to teaching and learning.
If you have questions or feedback please feel free to contact Steven Rathgeb Smith, APSA executive director, at firstname.lastname@example.org or Julia Schwarz, APSA associate director of academic and professional development programs, at email@example.com.