Methods of Political Research
This course is about the science in political science! It is intended to introduce students to the concepts and methods of political science research in an effort to train them to become producers, not merely consumers, of data-driven analysis and scientific knowledge. It covers both introductory quantitative methods (univariate, bivariate, and some multivariate analyses), as well as the most often used qualitative methods in the discipline.
This introductory / survey course examines the values, processes, institutions and participants that characterize political activity in the U.S. It covers the U.S. political system, its development over the past two centuries, how it operates today, as well as addresses significant contemporary trends and problems. This is the most fundamental course in the field.
Courts and Politics
This course focuses on U.S. legal systems, emphasizing the role of courts and judges in administering justice and making law. The course uses popular media to capture major issues related to the U.S. judiciary. At the end of the course, students will be more familiar with the judiciary as one of the three major branches of the U.S. government, both on the national and the state levels.
A Socratic examination of the U.S. Constitution and the role of the Supreme Court in the American political system; major themes include: separation of powers, judicial review, federalism, legislative powers, civil rights and liberties, rights of criminal defendants and discrimination. I teach this class as a preview of law school, using a case brief method.
A survey of the criminal justice system from arrests to appeals with emphasis on major problems and dilemmas, such as capital punishment, plea bargaining, searches and seizures, police brutality, social movement attempts to reform the criminal justice system, and other contemporary issues. Special attention will be given to court decisions defining the rights of defendants and the practical realities of criminal law in Louisiana.
This course cover the history of sexuality, political/social movements for equality, the impact of changing public opinion, major court rulings, and political issues affecting the LGBT community and their allies, including but not limited to: the repeal of anti-sodomy laws; same-sex marriage; transgender visibility and contemporary issues; military service; the HIV/AIDS epidemic; same-sex couple adoption; homelessness; poverty; bullying; violence; and policy responses to LGBT issues over time.
This course explores how racial and ethnic minorities organize effectively and press their demands through the American political system. We will focus on the political behavior of minority citizens, the relative strength and effect of these groups in elections and elected office, and the legal and constitutional issues that affect (racial and ethnic) minority groups.
Religion and Politics
This course will examine how religion and religious institutions affect political outcomes and vice versa. Emphasis will be placed on understanding and evaluating social-scientific theories regarding the influence of religion on politics. We will spend significant time discussing the role court decisions and changing laws affect and perpetuate a separation of church and state.
Media and Politics
We will learn about the media's political role in society; how they act or fail to act as a watchdog for citizens; and how they may influence public opinion and citizen activism in the United States. We will examine biases in the media, the media's influence on campaigns and elections, and the media's role in war and revolution outside the United States.
I work with students who are interested in attending law school or are interested in a career in the judicial/legal field. Through one-on-one meetings, we discuss how to prepare academically, how to apply to law shcool, where to apply, and how to get a job after graduation.
"Quantification of Political Information in Media Coverage of LGBT Issues: Legal, Religious and Institutional Frames"
This dissertation creates an original new dataset of 1,000 randomly sampled news items, published between 2007 and 2016, that cover LGBT political issues. The data reveal that there are 13 broad LGBT issues covered often by media – and the raw number / ranking of these 13 issues changes from year to year. Expanding on past qualitative literature on LGBT Politics, I use quantitative content analysis on these 1,000 news items to reveal three competing media frames of political discussion in coverage of LGBT political issues. Some coverage is especially framed via legal and court-related language, some coverage is especially framed via religious and morality-based language; some coverage especially frames via conventionally political / institution-based language – and a majority of coverage has a blend of two or three of these frames. A results chapter on the legal frame further details language that involves the constitution, trial courts, supreme courts, litigation tactics, and appellate procedures. A results chapter on the religious frame further details language that involves religious texts (including the Bible), religious figures (including Jesus), reparative or curative therapy, evangelicals as political participators, and members of clergy. A results chapter on the institutional frame further details language that involves elections, political parties, direct democracy, constitutional amending, local state and federal legislation, and the presidency. The data reveal that language within each frames varies widely over time – in some cases ebbing and flowing up and down over time and in some cases slowly decreasing or increasing over time. A chapter of results on same-sex marriage shows how the media focus on marriage eclipses coverage of less-covered but still important LGBT political issues. A chapter of results specifically on trans- issues shows how the media focus, since same-sex marriage was legalized nation-wide in 2015, has been more focused on trans- issues than 11 other important LGBT political issues.
In summation content analysis reveals broad and specific trends regarding how media coverage of LGBT political issues changes over time – this dissertation is a deep examination of how, where, and when different types of media cover LGBT political issues, where we have been, and where we might be going. This is the first academic work in the field of Political Science and the subfield of LGBT Politics that examines LGBT media coverage with this level of detail. It is being written as a book manuscript.