B.A., Harvard University; M.A., Ph.D., Stanford University
Pendleton Hall East Rm. 236
Associate Professor of Political Science
Research on civic engagement, political participation, civic organizations, polarization, health and environmental politics. Trainer on political organizing and leadership.
My research focuses on the way citizens connect to politics. My current research (begun while a Robert Wood Johnson Scholar in Health Policy at Harvard, 2009-2011) examines the strategies that membership-based civic organizations use to cultivate activism and develop civic leaders, looking particularly at the ways in which they blend online and offline strategies to convert names on large mailing lists into committed activists and leaders who can be a force for policy change. My first book, Moved to Action: Motivation, Participation, and Inequality in American Politics (2009), examines the way people become motivated to participate in politics, focusing on ways to engage underprivileged populations in political action. Other research examines the dynamics of political mobilization around key policy issues, especially issues related to health and the environment, and the history of polarization and congressional primary elections. My work has been published in places including the American Sociological Review, the American Journal of Sociology, Perspectives on Politics, the British Journal of Political Science, Legislative Studies Quarterly, Political Behavior and elsewhere.
My teaching builds on my research interests and the methodologies I use in my work. I teach an advanced seminar in political organizing that provides students with a practical and theoretical introduction to the core practices of organizing and leadership development in democratic politics. My other classes also seek to provide students with hands-on applications of the concepts we are learning. I teach an introductory course on research methodologies in political science (focusing particularly on quantitative methods) that provides students with the opportunity to do independent research projects. In addition, I teach an introductory course in American politics and an advanced course on policymaking processes in the U.S. Congress.
As part of my research on participation, organizing, and leadership development, I run trainings on political organizing for a wide range of civic and political organizations seeking to engage citizens in political activity. I acted as co-convenor of a Policy Advisory Committee for the 2008 Obama campaign, Chair of the Advisory Committee to the EAC Agency Review Team on the Obama-Biden Transition Team, and served as National Issues and Policy Advisor to Senator Bill Bradley’s presidential campaign in 1999-2000. From 2008-2011, I sat on the Sierra Club's Volunteer Leadership Advisory Committee, an advisory committee to the national board.