Political Science Now

Video: 2015 Harold D. Lasswell Award

The Harold D. Lasswell prize is awarded annually for the best dissertation in the field of public policy. The award is co-sponsored by the Policy Studies Organization. The Recipient is Michael T. Hartney, Lake Forest College for the Dissertation: “Turning Out Teachers: The Causes and Consequences of Teacher Political Activism in the Postwar United States,” University of Notre Dame.

Michael Hartney provides an insightful study of the evolution and consequences of the role of teachers as a political force in American politics. The first part of the work addresses how rank-and-file teachers became an active and powerful political constituency beginning in the 1960s and 1970s. The second part examines the political potency of teachers and union activism in affecting K-12 educational policies and outcomes. The end result is a highly nuanced study that is very much in keeping with the Lasswellian tradition of studying political power and “who gets what, when, and how.”

Hartney’s dissertation represents the best of current public policy scholarship in addressing the interplay of policy and politics by blending historical analysis of institutional reforms, studying the implications of those reforms, and considering the policy feedback effects in mobilizing political action.

Thanks to the Award Committee: Peter May, University of Washington, chair; Hahrie Han, Wellesley College; and Andrew Karch, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.