The Department in the News

Members of the Department of Political Science have been busy over the past year sharing their expertise beyond the classroom. Faculty and graduate students have been prominently featured in national and regional news media, and many have participated in community forums and events as well. These outreach efforts have covered a wide range of topics including whether rideshare companies should allow tipping drivers, regulation of an insecticide called Chlorpyrifos, and whether Nostradamus predicted the outcome of the 2016 election.

Much of this year’s faculty outreach focused on the 2016 election and its aftermath. A week before the election, Professors Mark Smith, Rebecca Thorpe, and John Wilkerson participated in a public panel discussion on the election hosted by FIUTS (The Foundation for International Understanding Through Students). After the election, both Mark Smith and Rebecca Thorpe were featured on KUOW discussing the controversy over Ivanka Trump’s tweets about Nordstrom. Professor Smith spoke to crosscut.com regarding the political challenges facing members of Washington’s congressional delegation after the election and he also discussed President Obama’s farewell speech on King 5 TV. Professor Megan Francis was featured on a C-SPAN panel discussion on “Black Politics in Trump’s America”. Professor Karen Litfin’s work on “intentional communities” and eco-villages was discussed in an article in The Atlantic on people seeking an escape from “Trump’s America.” Back on campus, Professor Lance Bennett presented a public lecture series on “America in a Transforming World.” Bennett addressed the challenges of aligning democracy, the environment, and the economy in the aftermath of the election.

Professor Christopher Parker was particularly busy with public outreach activities, including the presentation of the Washington Poll results on KCTS 9. Parker was featured in a separate discussion on crosscut.com regarding what the poll results revealed about attitudes toward race in Washington State. Parker’s research on the Tea Party was featured in Ta-Nehesi Coates’ widely discussed dissection of the Obama presidency in The Atlantic. Parker led three sold-out community forum events at Town Hall Seattle. The topics covered were the 2016 election, gaslighting in government, and the rise of the authoritarian right in Europe. Professors Mark Smith, Chris Adolph, and Frank Wendler each participated in one of the panels, as well as Professor Margaret O’Mara from UW’s History Department and Professor David Domke from Communications. Parker gained notoriety as the only nationally prominent political scientist who publically predicted a Trump victory during the early stages of the Republican primary season.

Additionally, many members of the department contributed articles to the Washington Post’s Monkey Cage, an award winning blog where leading political scientists from all over the US present research findings to the general public. Professors Aseem Prakash and Nives Dolšak (from UW’s School of Marine and Environmental Affairs) published several articles on a range of issues in environmental politics, from Hillary Clinton’s proposed policy for Appalachia, the Energy Star program for rating appliances, the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the impact of political consumerism on corporate policy. Prakash and Dolšak also wrote articles for Slate.com and The Conversation, and Prakash appeared on KUOW. One of the articles in The Conversation discussed strategies around future environmental activism:  “In our view, environmentalists need to defend environmental regulations by emphasizing their concrete benefits for well-defined constituencies, and mobilize those groups to protect their gains.”

Another Monkey Cage post featured research by Professor Aseem Prakash, Professor Chris Adolph, and graduate student Vanessa Quince. The post discussed how growing trade with China impacts labor conditions in Africa. Graduate student Emily Gade published a Monkey Cage article explaining why the Women’s March had the potential to make a very large impact. An article on Venezuela’s new constitution drew on research by Professor Victor Menaldo. Monkey Cage contributions can reach a very large audience. One of the Prakash/Dolšak contributions had more than 90,000 downloads, while Gade’s post was the most downloaded article on the Washington Post webpage for the day that it was published. Gade also published a high impact article on the Huffington Post on the politics of sexual violence after the 2016 election.

Faculty members lent their expertise to coverage of international relations as well. An article in the New York Times on whether Trump’s missile attack sent a “message” to Syria prominently featured comments from Professor Jon Mercer, the world’s leading expert on reputation and international security. Professor Geoffrey Wallace’s research on how the public responds to politicians’ broken foreign policy promises was featured in the Monkey Cage. Professor Tony Gill continues to cover a wide range of domestic and international issues on his long running Research on Religion podcast series.

Finally, Professor Michael McCann addressed a serious topic with a lighter touch with an appearance on the CollegeHumor and truTV program “Adam Ruins Everything.” McCann built from his award winning research on media coverage of tort law in an episode that took a humorous look at “The Truth About the McDonald’s Coffee Lawsuit.”