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Featured Faculty

Our faculty members are on the cutting edge of research in all of the sub-fields of political science. Their publications drive understandings of theory, define historical context, and set the stage for research done around the world. Here is a sample of our featured faculty members and the work and research they do.

Political Theory

Nancy Luxon & Robert Nichols

Professor Nancy Luxon and Professor Robert Nichols recently won a grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities to create a new course on the meaning of political community. Nichols and Luxon will explore different ways to think about political community. Many comtemporary political challenges are not just thorny problems but transform the very institutions, engagements, and concepts through which we understand what the activity of politics is and might be. Other societies and thinkers have faced drastic new challenges to their politics. So, we propose a course that would explore how political actors make and remake community. Our first unit, Polis and Empire, turns to the ancient world to reexamine the scope of politics, as it experimented with small city-states and large empires. Second, Colonial Encounters will analyze the movements of ideas, trades, and people back and forth across the Atlantic. Third, Revolution Reimagined treats incendiary moments of cultural and political contact. This course speaks to humanist concerns of how humans forge meanings and communities even from conditions of injustice and inequality.

Professor Luxon's interests include contemporary political and social theory, French political thought, and questions of power, authority, and truth-telling. Luxon is the author of Crisis of Authority and is currently editing a translation of Arlette Farge and Michel Foucault's Le Désordre des Familles, along with a companion scholarly volume. 

Professor Nichol's interests contemporary European philosophy, Critical Theory, Marxism, and the contemporary politics of settler colonialism. Nichols is the author of The World of Freedom and is working on a book that reconstructs the concept of 'dispossession' across several traditions of critical theory.

American Politics

Tim Johnson

Professor Tim Johnson recently won a National Science Foundation Grant to create an incredible data set that will "reveal the inner workings of the most secretive aspect of the federal government's most secretive institution." The project is titled "The View from Behind the Curtain: Establishing a Database of Supreme Court Conference Note Transcriptions."

Unlike members of Congress, U.S. Supreme Court justices cast their votes in complete privacy during weekly conference meetings. Indeed, only justices are allowed in the Chief's conference room when they gather to discuss, deliberate, and make initial decisions on cases. The only record of what has been said and by whom is provided by the written notes the justices themselves take during conference. These crucial hand-written documents, however, are sequestered across the country in disparate archives of various retired justices, which makes them difficult to access and analyze. We rectify this critical data shortfall by digitally gathering the notes from 21 former justices' archives, harnessing the power of citizen-scientists to transcribe them, and, most importantly, publishing them online in an archive of searchable text documents that will be widely disseminated to researchers, teachers, journalists, lawyers, and the public. The resulting data will included almost 45,000 documents spanning 49 years, 6,900 cases, and approximately 10 million words. In revealing the inner workings of the Supreme Court we will fundamentally transform scholarly understanding of how the Court sets national legal policy.

Professor Johnson is an expert on the Supreme Court of the United States. He is the author of two major books that examine oral arguments at the Supreme Court. Oral Arguments and Coalition Formation on the U.S. Supreme Court: A Deliberate Dialouge was published in 2012 and Oral Arguments and Decision Making on the U.S. Supreme Court was published in 2004. 

Political Psychology

Howard Lavine & Christopher Federico

Professor Howard Lavine and Professor Christopher Federico just finished a major book with Christopher Johnson of Duke University, Personality, Parties, and the Politics of Redistribution (Cambridge University Press), that is set to be published in 2017. Debates over redistribution, social welfare, and market regulation are central to American politics. Why do some citizens prefer a large role for government in the economic life of the nation while others prefer a smaller role? In Personality, Parties and the Politics of Redistribution, Johnston, Lavine, and Federico argue that such preferences are not always what they seem. They show how the deep-seated personality traits that underpin the culture wars over race and immigration, sexuality, gender roles, and religion bleed into debates about economics, binding cultural and economic preferences together in unexpected ways. Integrating insights from both psychology and political science—and twenty years of observational and experimental data—the authors reveal the hidden motivations driving citizen attitudes toward government. They conclude that for the politically engaged these attitudes are not primarily motivated by self-interest, but by a desire to express the traits and cultural commitments that define their identities.

Professor Lavine is author of Personality, Parties, and the Foundations of Economic Opinion which won the Robert E. Lane Book Award and the David O. Sears Book Award and the editor of the 4-Volumne Anthology Political Psychology. 

Professor Federico holds a join appointment in the Department of Psychology and is currently focused on three specific topics: 1) the organization of whites' racial attitudes, with a particular focus on the role of educational attainment; 2) the informational and motivational antecedents of attitude and belief-system structure; and 3) moderators and mediators of the relationship between epistemic, existential, and relational motivations, and political attitudes.

Comparative Politics

Lisa Hilbink

Professor Lisa Hilbink is the author of an upcoming book titled Legacies of Violence in Contemporary Span: Legal, Political, and Cultural Implications of the Exhumations of Franco’s Mass Graves. This book explores social, political, legal, and cultural facets of the movement for the recovery of historical memory and the growing demands for accountability for past state-sanctioned violence in Spain, both of which have been fueled by the exhumations of mass graves that began in 2000. The volume contributes to three crucial tasks: the on-going process of documenting Francoist repression in post-war Spain; the acknowledgment and analysis of the legacies of such violence in contemporary Spanish society; and the discussion of the legal and political viability of alternative forms of transitional justice that might provide a long-delayed public response to past violence in Spain.

Professor Hilbink's research and teaching centers on the judicial role in democracy and democratization, with a particular focus on Latin American and Latin Europe. Hilbink is the author of the award-winning book, Judges beyond Politics in Democracy and Dictatorship: Lessons from Chile.