As a teacher, my goal is to assist students in becoming critical thinkers, give them both breadth and depth of knowledge, and empower them to interact more thoughtfully with the world around them. My courses give students a strong foundation for knowledge-building through contextualizing course materials in a broader historical and cultural setting. I do this, while engaging all types of learners, by incorporating research and writing assignments, creative group projects, and current events into my classroom instruction.
Undergraduate: U.S. National Government This course is intended as an introduction to American Government and political institutions. We will cover the construction of the constitution; the three branches of government (Congress, the Presidency, and the Judiciary) and the role of the bureaucracy; the role of intermediary organizations (interest groups, media, and parties); and the relationship between the public and politics (public opinion and participation). Students will learn theories that help make sense of American politics, and learn to apply these theories to real world scenarios.
Texas Government This course is an introduction to Texas state and local government. We will examine the workings of the Texas political system through a variety of means, including readings, discussions, interactions with guest speakers, and written assignments. We will think critically about the structure of Texas government and politics, including its constitutional basis. We will carefully consider the political and cultural forces at work during the writing of the Texas Constitution and how they are still shaping the lives of Texans today. We will tackle fundamental questions, including asking how and why and state and local governments operate as they do in Texas, the impact of politics and policy on Texans, and how Texas compares with other states in its structure, politics, and delivery of services to its citizens.
Food Politics of America This course examines food policy in the United States. It addresses the fundamentally political nature of food production and consumption, focusing on the history, institutions, and economy of food in America. Food policy today involves a variety of political actors: lobbyists, trade-associations, commercial scientists, consumers, bureaucracies, and politicians. Further, the policy arena encompasses issues from trade, energy, bioterrorism, and climate change, to more local issues such as beer distribution and sale laws and the regulation of small-batch raw cheeses. The course also examines the ethical problems facing the modern food economy. We will frequently address the question, “what is political?” in respect to food and eating in America. Lectures and in class discussions will be interspersed with guest lectures and film. News stories, relevant articles, and other course-materials will be posted on the course’s Blackboard website.
Public Policy (Online) This undergraduate seminar is broadly concerned with political science and the American public policy process. We will explore the major theories of policy change and use those theories to help us understand eras of American public policymaking. The course will examine models of decision-making, explore the formation of public policies, and discover the drivers of policy change over time. In addition to exploring the policy making process, we will ask how institutions and policies can be designed to encourage more effective policy implementation. In short – we will explore how to go from theory to practice. This course uses Food Politics and Environmental Policy as case studies to delve deeper into the practical consequences of the policy process.
Graduate: Money in Politics Most people who pay attention to U.S. politics today are deeply troubled by the multifaceted relationship that has evolved between money and politics, yet despite this widespread concern, the amount of money it takes to run a campaign or lobby a lawmaker continues to rise. But why does this trend feel so ominous, and is the U.S. unique in this regard? Surely lobbying is a sign of active engagement from interest groups and well-financed campaigns boost civic engagement. Isn’t this just how politics works? Not necessarily. In this class, students will explore the boundaries of a core mechanism of modern governance--influence. The class is divided into four parts. In Part I, students will be introduced to the theoretical framework of political power, voice, and influence. Part II will focus on the role of money in political campaigns, while Parts III and IV will examine lobbying and other forms of influence, first in a domestic and then in a comparative context. By the end of the course, students will have a well-rounded knowledge of the impacts money has on politics in the U.S. and around the world.
Agenda Setting in American Politics This graduate seminar considers how issues get on the government agenda – that is, how an issue becomes seriously considered by policymakers. This seminar will explore the notion that individual choices, choices within governmental institutions, and public policy outputs are interconnected. We will consider how individuals in our political institutions (Congress, the presidency, and the bureaucracy) process information and make choices about what policies to pursue, and how their choices lead to change in public policy outputs. In doing this we will discover how the adaptive, but limited, nature of human cognition, and therefore of institutions, creates patterns in policy change. Students will be encouraged to explore the US Policy Agendas Project to explore patterns in agenda-setting and develop original research projects.
“Money and Politics,” Social Issues, Policies, and Programs, TWU 2021
“Race and Food Politics,” Intro to Race and Politics Virtual Class, University of Iowa 2021
“Race and Food Politics,” The Color of Money Virtual Class, TCU 2020
“Federal vs. State vs. Local Policy: Who Decides?” TWU PLEN 2020
“Growing Dignity: Moving Beyond Food Security to Fostering Food Sovereignty,” TWU College of Arts and Sciences Global Connections & Building Global Perspectives Brown Bag, 2019
“The Business (as usual) of Washington: Political and Institutional Influences on Corporate Lobbying Strategy,” American Politics Workshop Series at UT Austin, 2016
“Policy Construction: Schools and Bureaucratic Rules” in American Government, 2015
“School Lunches: Pizza Sauce, Potatoes, and Public Policy” in Food Politics of America, 2014, 2013, 2012
“The Origin of the National School Lunch Program,” in Politics of Food in America, 2012 Food Politics of America,” Teaching Assistant, 2015, 2012, 2011