B.A., Emory & Henry College
Ph.D., Texas A&M University
Hometown: Saltville, VA
Joined UNK Faculty: 2011
The study of political theory focuses on how government should work. It combines the rigorous study of history, philosophy, and the social sciences to examine how different political systems have worked in the past and make judgments about the advantages and limitations of those systems. Some of the important questions driving this field include:
- What does it mean to have a democratic system of government, and are democracies better than alternative forms of government?
- What rights do we have as humans, and what recourse are we justified in taking when governments fail to protect our rights?
- What is the relationship between economics and political systems? Does capitalism lead to more freedom or does is lead to greater inequality?
- What are the obligations of citizens to each other and to their governments?
- Does the success of a system of government depend on the particular religious, cultural, and political history of an area?
- Should some political communities have the right to make choices that are offensive to others (ex: denying particular groups the right to participate in government)?
On working with undergraduate students:
“The most exciting part of my job is helping students learn how to ask the right questions. ‘Question everything’ is my philosophy, from our own closely held assumptions to the authority of the books we read, the news we watch, and even our teachers. By teaching students how to recognize and develop well-defended arguments and critical questions, I hope to prepare them for a lifetime of curiosity and learning. Being engaged citizens starts with having engaged and open minds.”
Favorite quasi-political quote:
"If you would not be forgotten,
As soon as you are dead and rotten,
Either write things worth reading,
or do things worth the writing.”–Benjamin Franklin
- “Actionable Data Projects: Social Science and Service-Learning,” Journal of Political Science Education, Forthcoming.
- “Mad Men and the Virtue of Selfishness,” Journal of Popular Film and Television, 42(1) 2014: 16-23.
- “Much Ado About Texas: Civics in the Social Studies Curriculum,” with J. Kelton Williams, The History Teacher, Vol. 47 (1), 2013: 25-40.
- “Place-Based Civic Education and the Rural Leadership Crisis,” with J. Kelton Williams, Great Plains Research, Vol. 23 (Fall), 2013: 127-135.
- “A Liberal Civil Religion: William Penn’s Holy Experiment,” Journal of Church and State, Vol. 55 (4), 2013: 669-689.
- “Reverend John Witherspoon’s Pedagogy of Leadership,” with J. Kelton Williams, American Educational History Journal, Vol. 39 (2), 2012: 349-364.
- “The Death of Jeremiah? Marilynne Robinson and Covenant Theology,” in A Political Companion to Marilynne Robinson, edited by Shannon Mariotti and Joseph H. Lane, Jr., University Press of Kentucky, Forthcoming.
- “Ender’s Dilemma: Realism, Neo-liberalism, and the Politics of Power,” with Ted Brown, in Ender’s Game and Philosophy, ed. Kevin Decker, (Wiley Blackwell, 2013): 202-211.
- American Political Thought
- Religion and Politics
- Civic Education
- Politics, Literature, Film, and TV
- Food and Politics