The faculty in the Department of Political Science at Western Michigan University are actively engaged in research dealing with American politics, comparative politics, and political theory, broadly defined. Listed below are brief descriptions of their research areas. For more information on individual faculty members, click on their names to view their directory pages.
Dr. Jim Butterfield is interested in civil society, transitions and development. As a specialist in the former Soviet Union and several of the successor states (principally Russia), he has been to the region some two dozen times for a total period in excess of three years. Fluent in Russian, he has traveled extensively throughout provincial Russia, including to many cities that were formerly closed to foreigners. He worked on several consulting projects for USAID in Russia involving land reform, farm privatization and rural development, and for an Asian Development Bank project on agricultural sectoral development in Uzbekistan. As associate director of the Haenicke Institute of International and Area Studies from 2000 to 2003, he was responsible for new overseas program development for the University, and in that capacity traveled to Europe, Africa, Australia, New Zealand and the Middle East. In 2002 and 2003 and in the summer of 2004, he was a visiting associate at the Centre for African Studies at the University of Cape Town. He served as chair of the Western Michigan University International Education Council for four years.
Dr. John Clark has broad interests in American politics with an emphasis on political parties, elections, and legislative politics. He also focuses on the politics of the southern United States.
Dr. Paul Clements lived for five years in Africa, first as a Peace Corps volunteer in the Gambia, and subsequently working on various projects. He conducted his dissertation research in Uganda, Kenya, and Malawi. He has also lived in Hong Kong and India. Fluent in Mandinko and with a working knowledge of Wolof, he continues his interest in international development with principle focus in Africa, but with attention to all developing countries. Most recently, he has undertaken monitoring and evaluation projects on contract with development organizations in Africa.
Dr. Kevin Corder focuses on the intersection of politics and economics. His current research explores the differences between U.S. and E.U. responses to the financial crisis, particularly in the area of bank regulation. He participated in a Fulbright exchange in 2013, spending 3 months in Malta and the United Kingdom to study public and private sector changes in the banking industry. Corder’s work on U.S. economic policymaking - federal credit programs, forecasting, and monetary policy - has appeared in the American Political Science Review, the Public Administration Review and the Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory. His most recent book, The Fed and the Credit Crisis, was published by Lynne Rienner Publishers in 2012. In addition to his work on public policy, Corder is also engaged in a large-scale project on women’s voting in the U.S. in the 1920s and 1930s. The project, a collaboration with Christina Wolbrecht at the University of Notre Dame, will culminate in a book, Women’s Ballots.
Dr. Kenneth Dahlberg, professor emeritus, has interests in food systems and sustainable agriculture. He worked briefly in newly independent Latvia, consulting with specialists in environmental management. He spent a summer in New Zealand and subsequently an academic year in Australia participating in workshops, curriculum development, and research projects.
Dr. Suhashni Datta-Sandhu, a graduate of the University of Nairobi, originates from Kenya and has conducted extensive research there. In particular, she is a specialist on the Green Belt Movement led by Nobel Peace Prize winner Wangari Matthai. More recently, as faculty supervisor for WMU's study abroad program at the University of Cape Town, she has been traveling to South Africa annually. She is fluent in Kiswahili.
Dr. Gunther Hega, a native of Germany, is a specialist in Western European Politics. His research has centered on the German-speaking portions of Central Europe. He has taught summer courses at the University of Tübingen in southern Germany and has served as faculty supervisor for WMU's study abroad program at the University of Bonn, which he helped establish. He won a European Union instructional grant to promote and expand the study of the EU at WMU.
Dr. Susan Hoffmann is a Professor of Political Science at Western Michigan University. Her research is focused at the intersection of public policy and public administration in the area of financial regulation. Publications include “Mission Expansion in the Federal Home Loan Bank System” with Mark K. Cassell (SUNY Press, 2010) and “Politics and Banking: Ideas, Public Policy and the Creation of Financial Institutions” (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001); several articles on GSE’s in the “Public Administration Review”; and work on capital budgeting in “Public Budgeting and Finance.” She is currently working on a policy history piece examining Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Dr. Thomas Kostrzewa, an adjunct professor in the department, has traveled all over the world at various points in his life. More recently, his dissertation research focused on China (he is fluent in Mandarin). His current interests are particularly in the western peripheral provinces of Xinjiang and Tibet, and in Cuba. He has served as faculty supervisor for WMU study abroad programs in Tibet and Cuba.
Dr. Priscilla Lambert, a Japanologist, has spent more than five years living and studying in Japan. She earned a Master of Arts in economics from Keio University, one of Western's partner institutions. She is fluent in Japanese.
Dr Mahendra Lawoti, a native of Nepal, is a South Asian expert. He has conducted research in Nepal and India. He grew up in Nepal and has lived in India for more than four years. He is fluent in Nepali and has a working knowledge of Hindi and Limbu, an indigenous language from Nepal. He regularly visits the region on research trips.
Dr. Sybil Rhodes, adjunct and Latin American politics specialist, speaks fluent Spanish and Portuguese. She has lived and worked for a total period exceeding four years in several Latin American countries, including Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Mexico, and Costa Rica. She continues to travel regularly to the region for research purposes.
Dr. Larry Ziring, professor emeritus, is one of its most widely traveled faculty members. An expert in the politics of South Asia (he has published on Bangladesh, India and Pakistan), he has focused more recently on the changing geopolitics of Europe. He often attends NATO conferences in Europe.