Mia Costa (Tenure-Track position at Dartmouth College)
Dissertation: Communication is a Two-Way Street: Race, Gender, and Elite Responsiveness in U.S. Politics
I am a doctoral candidate with a focus in American Politics and political methodology. I study representation, political behavior, experimental and survey methods, and political networks. Specifically, my substantive research is motivated by an interest in understanding (1) which Americans are best represented, (2) what kinds of representation Americans want from government, and (3) whether citizen participation improves representation. My work has been published in Political Research Quarterly, Political Behavior, and Review of Policy Research. I currently serve as a UMass Poll Survey Research Fellow and the Editorial Book Review Associate for the Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis. I will defend my dissertation in March 2018.
Dissertation: Alternative Power: The evolution of wind technology in Denmark and the politics of energy transitions
The need for industrial societies to reduce their reliance on fossil fuels is urgent, but the growing recognition of and response to this imminent global challenge from many sectors—including across the academy—are raising the prospects of achieving a renewable energy revolution. The main goals of my research are to contribute to these efforts to build more sustainable societies, and, in the process, to advance understanding of the social and political dynamics of technological change. It is widely acknowledged that making the transition to renewable energy is technically and economically feasible; the obstacles are primarily political. My research asks how these obstacles can be overcome in practice, and with what consequences for broader dimensions of sustainability, and for the organization and exercise of political power. To address these questions, I conducted six months of fieldwork in Denmark, where a renewable energy transition is reaching a tipping point. My dissertation project, which I will defend in April 2018, charts the progress of wind turbine development in Denmark over four decades, as the Danes became world leaders in the production of renewable electricity. My mixed-methods study draws on dozens of in-depth interviews with key stakeholders and a new quantitative dataset of Danish wind turbines to analyze how the country's electricity system has evolved, and the consequences of these changes for democratic politics. I identify several important recent shifts in the character of Danish wind development—including the increasing centralization of the industry—and argue that engaging a greater diversity of actors may lead to a system that is more stable, resilient and sustainable. I work mainly in the subfields of comparative politics and political theory, but my research is informed by and engages with a broadly interdisciplinary community of scholars. I am currently a fellow in the National Science Foundation IGERT Offshore Wind Energy Program at UMass. I hold a Master's Degrees in political science, philosophy and science and technology studies from Virginia Tech. In the past, I have conducted research on mountaintop removal mining in West Virginia, and participated in an NSF-funded study comparing renewable energy policies at the state and local levels around the United States. I have also worked in the electric utility industry on nuclear power issues. I am prepared to teach courses at the undergraduate or graduate levels in my areas of specialty—energy, environment, science and technology policy—but I also have experience and interest in teaching across multiple subfields, including political theory, public policy, American politics, research methods, and the philosophy of social science.
Dissertation: Whitewashed: The Racialization of America’s Middle Class Identity
I am a Ph.D. candidate (expected May 2018) focusing on American politics and political communication. My dissertation project explores the ostensibly popular, inclusive, and race-neutral middle class identity, focusing on the extent to which it is racialized. I contend that the middle class identity is exclusive on the basis of race. Media depictions of the middle class as White help to shape and this racialization, which manifests in citizens implicitly associating the middle class identity with Whiteness and stark racial differences in middle class identification. As such, what appears to be an inclusive, catch-all identity racially restrictive and the middle class trope problematic. She has been published in Political Behavior, PS: Political Science and Politics, and Presidential Studies Quarterly. I have served as the graduate assistant to UMass Women Into Leadership and as a fellow on UMass Poll. My other research interests include political communication, the presidency, women's political behavior, and how elites communicate ideology with the public.
Dissertation: Latino Race Cards? Demographic Change, Negative Campaign Advertisements, and White Mobilization
I am a doctoral candidate (Ph.D. expected May 2018) concentrating within the fields of American Politics and Public Policy. My research is focused in the field of American politics and examines the impact of changing racial demographics on the public opinion, political behavior, and public policy. I am currently writing my dissertation in which I explore the impact that negative campaign ads featuring Latinos have on white vote choice and public opinion. This is a multi-method research project for which I was awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) Doctoral Dissertation Research Improvement Grant (DDRIG). I am also a five-term incumbent City Councilor at Large in Hoyoke, MA. I identify as a scholar-practitioner and have found that being able to articulate a theoretical phenomenon with local actors or anecdotes is really rewarding because it demonstrates that politics is not something that happens “out there,” but instead is something that we are all engaged in and shaping to a greater or lesser extent.
Alix Olson (Tenure-Track position at Emory University)
Dissertation: The Promise(s) of Resilience: Governance and Resistance in Complex Times
I am a doctoral candidate in the Department of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts Amherst where I also received my Graduate Certificate in Advanced Feminist Studies. My research interests include contemporary social and political thought, critical theory, transnational feminisms, and queer politics. My dissertation project The Promise(s) of Resilience: Governance and Resistance in Complex Times offers a critical examination of the rise and circulation of “resilience” within 21st Century political life and the ways it is fundamentally re-ordering peoples’ understanding of themselves, the world, and possibilities of action. I argue that discourses of “resilience” intensify and extend the power relations of late liberal governance, even as its promises (like security) are evidently revoked as anachronistic expectations in a globalized world. Grounding my analysis in a wide breadth of empirical case studies - from the United Nation’s refugee policies and post-Katrina “regeneration” programs to self-help literature and social movements - I show how resilience discourses work to produce a sustainable human infrastructure capable of upholding, as well as resisting, the crisis conditions of late capitalism. My dissertation work has been supported by the Center for Research on Families, the UMass Amherst Diversity Fellowship and the Five College Women’s Research Center. I have published peer-reviewed articles in The Journal for a New Political Science, Wagadu: Journal of Transnational Women’s and Gender Studies and a peer-reviewed chapter in Agitation with a Smile: Howard Zinn’s Legacies and the Future of Activism (Paradigm 2013). I have received the “Christian Bay Award” for the paper presented at APSA that “best exemplifies the goal of New Political Science: making the study of politics relevant to the struggle for a better world.” I am currently serving as program chair for the New Political Science division at the APSA 2018 annual meeting. At UMass-Amherst, I have designed and taught courses for the Political Science and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality departments and have received the university-wide Distinguished Teaching Award and the Residential First-Year Experience Student Choice Teaching Award. This year, I was invited by the Vice Chancellor to organize and direct the UMass’s “Many Voices. One Community,” a Convocation event for 5500 incoming students. Prior to doctoral studies, I toured internationally for over a decade as a spoken word artist. I have published widely within popular media including in Ms. Magazine and editing the first all-women’s spoken word anthology Word Warriors: 35 Women Leaders in the Spoken Word Revolution (Seal Press, 2007) which bell hooks calls an anthology “to resurrect you.”
Dissertation: Why Education Matters: Political Participation and Interpretive Experiences at High School
I am a doctoral candidate (PhD expected Spring 2018) specializing in American Politics. My research interests include political participation, political behavior, political parties, and elections. My dissertation seeks to unpack the strong correlation between educational experiences and voter turnout. I use quantitative data from the National Education Association and original qualitative research to explore how young citizens' attitudes and behaviors are affected by high school experiences that honor their achievements, connect them to their communities, and demonstrate the value of public institutions. I have also conducted research on state political parties for the Brookings Institution, examining the diminished power of these vital quasi-public institutions in America's increasingly crowded and complex political landscape. Before joining the Department of Political Science at UMass Amherst, I was a secondary school teacher and education advocate in Brooklyn, New York, and earned my Masters in Education at Pace University. I am an experienced undergraduate instructor in the fields of American politics, public policy and legal studies; in addition to my teaching at UMass Amherst, I have taught undergraduate courses at Assumption College, Clark University, Smith College, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute.
Dissertation: The Public Life of Hurricanes: Asserting State Power in a Warming Globe
I am a Ph.D. candidate in comparative politics and political theory. My dissertation, “The Public Life of Hurricanes: Asserting State Power in a Warming Globe,” examines the political effects of global climate change by focusing on the power struggles which attend tropical cyclones in Oman and the United States. Employing ethnography, interviews, and archival research, I document how natural disasters challenge state power materially, by removing the capacity to govern specific territory, and symbolically, by focusing popular attention on the inability of modern states to control the vicissitudes nature. A Fulbright Research Award funded my year-long field work in Oman. My teaching focuses on comparative politics and political theory, and I have acted as the primary instructor for “Politics and Government of the Middle East” for two semesters, and “Interpretation and Analysis” for one semester. My department's honors students awarded me the Recognition for Excellence in Teaching Award, and nominated for the university-wide Distinguished Teaching Award. I have presented my research at several conferences, including “The Annual Meeting of Middle Eastern Studies Association,” “Vision(s) of Politics: the Thought of Sheldon Wolin,” at York University, “On Protest: a Research Symposium,” at UMass Amherst, and “A Cultural Approach to Human Security” at the University of Toronto. I hold a B.A. in Philosophy and History from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, and a M.A. in Political Science from the University of Toronto.
Dissertation: Embodied, Rationed, Precarious: Conceptualizations of Sovereignty in Urban Food Regimes
I am a PhD candidate at University of Massachusetts Amherst in the Department of Political Science. I specialize in political theory and interdisciplinary studies. My dissertation (Fall 2017) maps how cities are fed, and in conjunction, interrogates the relationship between economy and sovereignty. Through a case study of how Istanbul’s provisioning has changed since the late Ottoman period (19th century), it unravels the ways in which food, bodies, and biological processes have become objects of intervention for the modern nation-state, and, more contemporaneously, for neoliberal economics. My work touches on each node of the urban food supply chain, and discusses how new consumption patterns, production practices, transportation and commodity tracking technologies, banking and investment innovations, and telecommunication infrastructures altered the supply chain. I proudly hold the Graduate Certificate of Advanced Feminist Studies from UMASS Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies department and MA degrees from New School for Social Research (’12) Department of Politics, and New York University (’10) Department of Politics. I have received multiple awards and scholarships, including a Fulbright Scholarship (2008 – 2010), Best MA Award (2012), Certificate of High Honor (2005 -2008), Dean’s Fellowship Award (2012-2013). I also write widely about food, politics, culture and film. My essays have been featured in Yemek ve Kultur, Solfasol, and Radikal Blog, and I write regularly for the quarterly food politics journal, MetroGastro. Before joining the Department of Political Science, I worked in the Republic of Turkey Office of the Prime Minister Directorate General of Press and Information New York Branch as a full time translator, editor, and communication specialist. I also held researcher positions at various international organizations and NGOs, and academic institutions.
Wouter van Erve
Dissertation: The Paradox of Town Meeting: The Influence of Forms of Local Government on Citizen Representation
I am a Ph.D. candidate in American Politics and Public Law. Before enrolling in graduate school, I earned law degrees in both The Netherlands (at Tilburg University Law School) and the United States (at University of Minnesota Law School) and worked for the Dutch Public Prosecution Service (District Attorney’s Office). My research interests are located on that intersection of law and politics: how can laws and institutional structures affect how citizens are able to participate in political life? My dissertation addresses the paradox of how larger, more accessible political institutions don’t always encourage broader participation and better representation on the local level through a comparison of city council governments to New England-style representative town meetings. I expect to defend my dissertation by June of 2018. Excerpts of my research have been presented in front of town committees and published in local newspapers in New England. I have significant experience teaching political science and legal studies courses, and have taught extensively in the UMass Residential Academic Program (RAP). Aimed at first-year students, this program offers them the opportunity to take small courses in a variety of subjects in an intimate residential environment. In addition, I have offered several online courses through UMass’ division of Continuing and Professional Education (CPE).