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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, along with Jean O'Briend of history and American Indian Studies, have received funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for a transdisciplinary Sawyer Seminar called The Politics of Land: Colony, Property, Ecology.   

In the seminar proposal, Nichols and Luxon state, “Land is one of the most emotionally charged objects of contestation and concern.” A large number of critical global struggles today are linked to the relationship between humans and land. Many of these conflicts are related to questions of land management, food and fuel production, property rights, extractive industries, Indigenous title and treaty rights, and agricultural development.

The seminar will be held throughout the 2017–18 academic year. The framing theme of fall semester is colony, where the distinct genealogies of colonialism will be traced. The goal, as Nichols and Luxon put it, is to answer the question; how has the history of colonization in the Anglo-American world left its mark on key concepts of legal and political thought, such as sovereignty, territory, jurisdiction, and land?

It is a unique collaboration between people from different cultural, intellectual, and racial backgrounds. In addition to bringing together scholars from anthropology, geography, law, history, philosophy, political science, and sociology, the seminar will also draw on the intellectual and political work of indigenous thinkers. Itself a land grant institution–and thus funded by the Morill Act of 1862, which permitted the use and sale of land taken from Native Americans by the federal government–the U is an unusually poignant site for this investigation.

Full details of the seminar can be found here.

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.

International Relations

Mark Bell

Department of Political Science Assistant Professor Mark Bell has been awarded a grant by the Stanton Foundation to develop a new undergraduate course on the politics of nuclear weapons for spring 2018. The Stanton Foundation's course development grant provides support for the development of new nuclear-related courses for undergraduates or first-year graduate students and is awarded to a tenure-track or tenured professor who has received excellent ratings as a teacher.

Professor Bell, whose research focuses on issues relating to nuclear weapons and proliferation, will develop an undergraduate course that helps students understand the range of issues relating to nuclear weapons and the way they affect international politics. For example, the class will cover the technologies underpinning how nuclear weapons work, why countries have sought and acquired nuclear weapons, nuclear strategy and arms control, the possibility of nuclear disarmament and nuclear terrorism, and the recent Iran nuclear deal. The $50,000 grant will also be used to fund guest lectures from prominent individuals working on these issues, as well as a simulation of a nuclear crisis that students will participate in. Professor Bell’s current research on how nuclear weapons affect the foreign policies of the states that acquire them will also be brought into the classroom.

Today, as countries are modernizing their nuclear arsenals, relations among the nuclear-armed powers are increasingly contentious, nuclear terrorism remains a possibility, and nuclear energy may prove to be an increasingly important energy source. As a result, understanding issues relating to nuclear weapons is as important as ever for students wanting to understand international politics. 

Students should be on the lookout for the topics course taught by Professor Bell in spring 2018.

American Politics

Joe Soss

The University of Minnesota has awarded Political Science and Humphrey School of Public Affairs Professor Joe Soss an Award for Outstanding Contributions to Postbaccalaureate, Graduate, and Professional Education. Soss is an internationally recognized scholar of politics and society and is being recognized for his excellence in teaching, and for his work in opening up the Department of Political Science and the Humphrey School's learning environment to diverse theoretical and political perspectives, as well as diverse students. He is among only eight faculty members across the University to receive the honor this year.

Soss is the inaugural Cowles Chair for the Study of Public Services at the University of Minnesota and is chair of the Social Policy/Policy Analysis Area at the Humphrey School. His research and teaching explore the interplay of democratic politics, socioeconomic inequalities, and public policy. He is particularly interested int eh political sources and consequences of polices that govern social marginality and shape life conditions for socially marginal groups.

Learn more about the award and other recipients here.

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.