My professional position is Professor of Political Science at the University of Maine, which involves teaching, research, and service to my university, profession and the community. And I’m also a political junkie who has been interested in politics since my childhood in New York and who is deeply committed to understanding and improving politics and public policy.
Although I will always be From Away, I’ve lived in Maine since 1997. I’m grateful to Stephen and Tabitha King for providing seed funding for a number of positions in the humanities and social sciences, mine among them.
While some political scientists write for the general public, most of their work is directed to other scholars. The political science blogging community is fairly small, although it is growing. One of my favorite of those sites, The Monkey Cage, brings together a group of political scientists and offers insights based in political science research.
While I have written an occasional op-ed or letter to the editor, my engagement with the public took off in the summer of 2011, when I started this blog and began writing a biweekly column for the Bangor Daily News. Although back then the editors asked me if I was interested in moving my blog to the newspaper’s web site, I only recently decided to take them up on their offer.
This blog, as you’ll see, is a real combination. It’s not just about Maine and U.S. politics, although there is plenty of that. And it’s not just focused on public policy either, although, again, I do write a fair amount about policy matters. Instead, you’ll also find musings on cultural phenomena like Jews’ tendency to eat Chinese food on Christmas Day, discussions of government public opinion research and the Japanese-American internment (which happen to be included in my 2012 book, Pathways to Polling), and notes on teaching methods, such as using an iPad to mark papers or professionalism and civility in the classroom.
Another thing the blog does is to offer methodological criticisms of studies and news articles that present research. My training as a social scientist involved learning how best to conduct research. I use the tag “TookKit” for blog posts that are largely discussions of best practices or critical analyses of methods and research. My hope is to increase general knowledge of how to assess studies and, even better, to encourage others to present and do research well.
And I hope, at some point, to offer space at this blog for a virtual book club.
Views expressed here are my own and should not be taken to be the views of my employer or any other organization with which I am affiliated.
I believe in learning, I believe in open communication, and I believe in democratic politics as a means of people making decisions together. There’s also no doubt that I have a political point of view, one oriented toward policies that promote political participation and equal opportunity.