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American Politics

American politics focuses on five subfields: national institutions, processes and behavior, political thought, federalism and intergovernmental relations, and constitutional law and judicial politics. Students begin their study by taking a wide ranging core course, American Politics, that surveys these subfields, covering classic works and new cutting edge material and highlighting controversies in the literature. At the same time, students can choose such from foundation courses as the Presidency or Congress, and later move on to research seminars on topics including Social Movements, the American Welfare State, or American Political Development, in which they undertake projects that may serve as the basis for a doctoral dissertation, conference paper, or published scholarly article.

The American politics faculty, intellectually and methodologically diverse, understands that students are also intellectually and methodologically diverse. Since one approach will not fit all, students are encouraged to explore the field to discover the theoretical and substantive problems they find most intriguing. Specific interests of the faculty include the nation's response to poverty, American political development, the political psychology of presidential leadership, disability policy in the workplace, and judicial reasoning.

Faculty teaching courses in American politics include Frances Fox Piven (a prize winning author on social movements and poverty), Ruth O'Brien (an award winning author in American political development and American political thought) and Andrew Polsky (major writers on American political development), Stanley Renshon (a prize winning analyst of the political psychology of presidential leadership), David Jones and Charles Tien (specialists on Congress and quantitative research methods),Corey Robin (a prominent political theorist currently engaged in research on American political thought) Kenneth Sherrill (an authority on public opinion and gay & lesbian politics) and Thomas Halper (a constitutional law specialist). On one matter this varied collection is united: all recognize that research informs and elevates teaching and that teaching stimulates and deepens research.

This subfield features studies in these areas:

  • American political thought
  • National institutions
  • Constitutional law and judicial behavior
  • Political processes (voting, parties, and public opinion)
  • Intergovernmental relations

Faculty include:

  • Thomas Halper, American politics, constitutional law
  • David Jones, American government, Congress
  • Ruth O'Brien, American politics, Writing Politics, American Political Development, American Political Thought
  • Frances Fox Piven, political movements, urban politics, the welfare state
  • Andrew Polsky, American government, American political development, the American presidency, political parties
  • Stanley Renshon, political psychology, American politics, political behavior
  • Corey Robin, American political thought
  • Charles Tien, American politics, Congress, quantitative research methods