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.
Dr. Jim Butterfield is interested in civil society, transitions, communism and post-communist systems. His research has focused on the former Soviet Union, particularly Russia and Central Asia, and on South Africa. He has been is a three-time Fulbright recipient in Russia (2009-10 and again in 2014) and Vietnam (2016-17), as well as a visiting professor in Kazakhstan.
Dr. John Clark has broad interests in American politics with an emphasis on political parties and elections, legislative politics, and the politics of the American South. He co-edited “Southern Political Party Activists” (University of Kentucky Press) and “Party Organization and Activism in the American South” (University of Alabama Press), which won the 1999 V.O. Key Award as the best book on southern politics. He has authored or coauthored more than thirty book chapters and articles in scholarly journals including the American Political Science Review, the American Journal of Political Science, and Political Research Quarterly.
Dr. Paul Clements is interested in social science methodology, management systems in international development assistance, climate change, and the political economy of development. He directs the Master of International Development Administration Program serves on the faculty of WMU’s Interdisciplinary Doctoral Program in Evaluation. His book, "Rawlsian Political Analysis: Rethinking the Microfoundations of Social Science" (University of Notre Dame Press), considers a social science that takes fairness to be as basic as interests. He has also published on the ethics of climate change, politics in Africa and India, and international financial institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. He has lived in Africa, India and Hong Kong and worked on evaluation systems in many countries around the world.
Dr. Kevin Corder focuses on the intersection of politics and economics. He participated in a Fulbright exchange in 2013, spending three 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 policy making has appeared in the American Political Science Review, the Public Administration Review and the Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory. In addition to his work on public policy, Corder also studies women’s voting in the U.S. He and Christina Wolbrecht are the authors of "Counting Women’s Ballots," a comprehensive assessment of women’s voting in the 1920s and 1930s, and "A Century of Votes for Women," exploring the voting behavior of women from the time they entered the electorate until the 2016 presidential election.
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. Lauren Foley, focuses on law, racial politics, and American political development. Her book On the Basis of Race: How Higher Education Navigates Affirmative Action Policies (NYU Press, forthcoming 2023) studies how organizations have both resisted and complied with legal mandates in their racial policymaking. Her work has also appeared in Studies in Law, Politics, and Society and the Journal of Law and Education. She is currently working on her second book project on universities, equality, and American constitutional development.
Dr. Emily Hauptmann focuses on how public and private research funding affects what political scientists study and how they study it. She works in several areas, including the history and sociology of higher education in the U.S., democratic political theory and science studies. Her articles have appeared in Political Theory, The American Political Science Review, PS: Political Science and Politics, The Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences, and The International History Review. Her current project explores the relation between external funding and conceptions of research and knowledge in postwar political science.
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 studies U.S. public policy and administration. Currently, she is working on affordable housing policy; a recent technical report on public housing is available at DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.30067.99363. Much of her published work is on financial services regulation, including Politics and Banking (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2001); Mission Expansion in the Federal Home Loan Bank System (with Mark K. Cassell, SUNY Press, 2010); and articles on GSEs in Public Administration Review. A former practicing urban planner, Professor Hoffmann also studies urban policy and administration. She has published on capital budgeting in Public Budgeting and Finance and on neighborhood planning in National Civic Review. With LJR Herson and John Bolland, she offers an open source urban politics textbook at https://urbanwebsite.wordpress.com/.
Dr. Mark Hurwitz has returned to Western Michigan University after being on leave while he served as Program Director for the Law and Social Sciences Program at the National Science Foundation. His research focuses on judicial politics in federal and state courts, judicial behavior, judicial selection and diversity. Hurwitz has published his research in The American Political Science Review, Journal of Politics, Political Research Quarterly, State Politics & Policy Quarterly, Justice System Journal, Law & Policy, and Judicature, among others. He served as Editor-in-Chief of Justice System Journal, and he now is a member of its Editorial Board.
Dr. Thomas Kostrzewa, an adjunct professor in the department, has traveled all over the world at various points in his life. 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, has lived over five years in Japan and is fluent in Japanese. Her research interests are gender and politics, comparative political economy, and Japanese politics. Her current research focuses on gender provisions in national constitutions for which she was awarded a National Science Foundation grant. Her publications include articles in Comparative Politics, Social Politics, and Politics and Gender.
Dr. Mahendra Lawoti's research covers democratization, political institutions, ethnic politics and socio-political mobilization in Nepal and South Asia. He has conducted research in Nepal, India, and Sri Lanka. He has authored, co-authored, edited and co-edited ten books and published numerous journal articles, book chapters and opinion pieces. His book, “Towards a Democratic Nepal” (Sage) was reprinted multiple times and translated into Nepali in 2007. He served two terms as the president of the Association for Nepal and Himalayan Studies (2006-10).
Dr. Sybil Rhodes, adjunct associate professor, is a Latin American politics specialist who speaks fluent Spanish and Portuguese. Her research interests include the politics of public and foreign policy. She has lived and worked in several Latin American countries, including Brazil, Chile, Mexico and Costa Rica. She currently resides in Argentina.
Dr. Jacinda Swanson’s research investigates the relationship between political-economic discourses and existing economic relations in the United States. Her research has been published in Political Research Quarterly, Contemporary Political Theory, Polity, and Rethinking Marxism.
Dr. Yuan-kang Wang's research examines the nexus between international relations theory and historical China. He is author of “Harmony and War: Confucian Culture and Chinese Power Politics” (Columbia University Press), which examines the influence of Confucian culture on Chinese grand strategy, use of force and war aims. His current project involves hegemony and international order by comparing Qing China and the United States. He examines their rise to power and how they maintain their dominance in the system. His research highlights the critical role of power in achieving hegemony and maintaining international order.
Dr. Peter Wielhouwer is a nationally recognized scholar on campaigns and elections, faith and politics and racial politics. Widely published in professional journals, including the Journal of Politics and the American Journal of Political Science, and scholarly books, including “The Oxford Handbook of Religion in American Politics” (Oxford University Press), he is an occasional political consultant and regularly speaks on faith and politics and American politics at places such as universities, professional organizations, churches and faith-based organizations.