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Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Department of Political Science

Dr. Wellhofer teaches at an alumni symposium

Department of Political Science

News & Events

Upcoming Events

Check out what our students have been up to, what our professors are doing and what upcoming events we're offering!

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Departmental News

2016 Departmental Award Winners

The Departments has chosen six Political Science majors for the following awards: 

  • The Anna Mae Bradbury Scholarship: Max Parmenter & Burgandi Schlut
  • The AHSS Hogan Scholarship: Alex Koldeway
  • The Stephen and Becky Hogan Endowed Scholarship: Troy Fangmeier
  • Outstanding Senior Awards: Jaser Alsharhan & Kirsten Wilshire

Congratulations to these outstanding students on their well-deserved honors!

New Faculty Members Joining the Political Science Department

The Department of Political Science is pleased to announce the addition of two new faculty members!

Elizabeth Sperber

Dr. Sperber holds a Ph.D. from Columbia University and will be joining us as an assistant professor beginning in the fall of 2016. Sperber studies the political roots of religious movements in Sub-Saharan Africa. She has done extensive research in Zambia, Uganda, and South Africa, and holds a bachelor's degree from Brown University. She looks forward to teaching courses in comparative politics, African politics, political economy, religious movements, and research methods. To learn more about Sperber and her research, please visit her website.

Sara Chatfield
Dr. Chatfield

Dr. Chatfield joins the department from Tufts University, where she is currently teaching. She holds a PhD from UC Berkeley and a Post-Doctorate from MIT. Her research focuses on public law, political behavior, and American political history. Her current projects include a study on the development of married women's economic rights in U.S. state courts and legislatures, an analysis of public opinion surveys from the 1930s-1950s, and survey research on candidate appearance. At DU, she looks forward to teaching courses on constitutional law, judicial politics, and research methods. Her website is available here

Faculty News & Publications

Dr. Seth Masket's The Inevitable Party 

Dr. Masket New Book The Inevitable Party is a study of anti-party reforms and why they fail. Numerous reform movements over the past century have designated parties as the enemy of democracy, and they have found a willing ally in the American people in their efforts to rein in and occasionally root out parties. Masket investigates several of these anti-party reform efforts - from open primaries to campaign finance restrictions to nonpartisan legislatures - using legislative roll call votes, campaign donations patterns, and extensive interviews with local political elites. These cases each demonstrate parties adapting to, and sometimes thriving amidst, reforms designed to weaken or destroy them. The reason for these reforms' failures, the book argues, is that they proceed from an incorrect conception of just what a party is. Parties are not rigid structures that can be wished or legislated away; they are networks of creative and adaptive policy demanders who use their influence to determine just what sorts of people get nominated for office. Even while these reforms tend to fail, however, they impose considerable costs on society, usually reducing transparency and accountability in politics and government.

Dr. Josh Wilson's  The New States of Abortion
Dr. Wilson's New Book
The 2014 Supreme Court ruling on McCullen v. Coakley striking down a Massachusetts law regulating anti-abortion activism marked the reengagement of the Supreme Court in abortion politics. A throwback to the days of clinic-front protests, the decision seemed a means to reinvigorate the old street politics of abortion. The Court's ruling also highlights the success of a decades' long effort by anti-abortion activists to transform the very politics of abortion. The New States of Abortion Politics, written by leading scholar Joshua C. Wilson, tells the story of this movement, from streets to legislative halls to courtrooms. With the end of clinic-front activism, lawyers and politicians took on the fight. Anti-abortion activists moved away from a doomed frontal assault on Roe v. Wade and adopted an incremental strategy—putting anti-abortion causes on the offensive in friendly state forums and placing reproductive rights advocates on the defense in the courts. The Supreme Court ruling on Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt in 2016 makes the stakes for abortion politics higher than ever. This book elucidates how—and why.

Elizabeth Sperber at the Pew Forum in Washington D.C.

Dr. Sperber was invited to present part of her book project on the relation between party politics and the rise of Pentecostalism as a politically salient identity in sub-Saharan Africa at the Pew Forum in Washington D.C.

Dr. Sperber's review of Robert Dowd's Book, Christianity, Islam, and Liberal Democracy: Lessons from Sub-Saharan Africa (New York: Oxford University Press, 2015) is forthcoming in Politics and Religion, the Journal of the Politics and Religion section of the American Political Science Association.

Faculty in the Media

Our faculty are experts in their fields and are often called upon to provide their expertise on various topics related to the study of Political Science. 

Dr. Lisa Conant spoke about the correlation, or lack thereof, between the Brexit vote and the Trump candidacy

The Lineup - Part 2 - 08/25/2016 by i24news-en

Dr. Wilson discusses Zika and Anti-Abortion activists views

Dr. Nancy Wadsworth discusses the 2016 election and it's impact on White Christian America.

Dr. Josh Wilson explains the importance of the Whole Woman's Health v Hellerstedt SCOTUS ruling on abortion rights in America.

Dr. Seth Masket discusses his new book with the University of Denver Magazine

Dr. Lisa Conant on "Weekend Wake Up With Chuck and Julie"

Dr. Conant spoke about the "Brexit", the UKs upcoming vote on whether to remain a member of the EU. Dr. Conant's portion begins at 28 min

Dr. Josh Wilson discusses the Texas abortion law that was argued in front of an 8 member Supreme Court

Dr. Seth Masket discusses the changing role of party convention delegates

Dr. Jing Sun interviewed by NBC 9 News to discuss Nancy Reagan's legacy

Dr. Nancy Wadsworth authored a piece in the Washington Post Monkey Cage discussing Donald Trump's anti-Muslim Rhetoric

Faculty Research Grants

Josh Wilson awarded National Science Foundation Grant

Collaborative Research: The Efficacy of Support Structures for Legal Mobilization

Sociolegal scholarship has shown how law schools and training programs provide necessary resources for movements seeking to influence the law, but it has done less to show how new movements can best access these institutions and what they offer. This project closely studies the contemporary Christian legal movement and its connections to legal education and training in order to respond to this important policy and scholarly question.

Nancy Wadsworth awarded Dean's Award For Excellence

This award will be used to further her research on youth activism

Elizabeth Sperber was awarded the University of Denver's Faculty Research Grant

Why – and how – has Pentecostalism emerged as a politically salient identity in some sub-Saharan states but not others since the end of the Cold War? In prior research, Dr. Sperber conducted extensive original data collection to document the important role that political parties have played in propagating or, in some cases, constraining, Pentecostal church networks within their borders for political gain. In her next study, Dr. Sperber shifts focus from the top-down influence of political parties to study the political attitudes and behavior of individuals and leaders across religious groups in Zambia, an officially Christian state where Pentecostalism is historically associated with one major political party.

The FRF award will support Dr. Sperber as she conducts a first round of research and finalizes her larger study protocol in collaboration with Zambian academics and community leaders.