Panel Discussion with 2014-15 Political Science Kinder Dissertation Fellows


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2014-15 Dissertation Fellows Panel Discussion

As part of a growing slate of on-campus academic workshop programs, the Kinder Forum’s Political Science Dissertation Fellows presented their current doctoral research projects during a March 13, 2015, panel discussion. John Davis began with an overview of his work on the effects of party culture on political careers. Focusing, in his talk, on how the Democratic Party’s coalition of disparate interests affects the legislative behavior of congressional members seeking higher office, Davis posited that progressively ambitious Democratic House members navigate this disparateness by voting for these interest groups at key times as a way of expressing, and thus garnering, support. Joshua Norberg then presented a chapter from his dissertation on the political representation cycle that explored voter-party connections within the larger context of citizen satisfaction with democracy. Working against literature that stresses the importance of the mean voter, Norberg examined the link between voter satisfaction and party extremism and dispersion, noting that as the distance between voters’ ideological ideal point and the nearest party decreases, contentment with the democratic process increases. To conclude the event, Matthew Netwon discussed his work with institutional hindsight and constitutional design, arguing for the importance of historical context in the field of comparative constitutionalism. Using the United States, Canada, and post-WW II Germany as test cases, Newton demonstrated how examining debates that occurred during the time of drafting or the conflicting perspectives of individual framers often reveals the degree to which prior historical models significantly influenced not only the ideological act of shaping but also the final content of constitutions in advanced industrial democracies. Prof. Jay Dow served as discussant for the panel, providing feedback on each presentation, after which the floor was opened to the audience for questions.

John Davis

John Davis completed his B.A. and M.A. in Political Science at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, Arkansas. His dissertation explores the nature and effects of political culture within the two major U.S. political parties. More broadly, his research interests include political parties, legislative behavior, and state politics, and he has forthcoming publications in the Journal of Public Policy and the Midsouth Political Science Review. John is a past recipient of a research and travel grant from the Kinder Forum on Constitutional Democracy, and has also received the Missouri Excellence in Political Science Teaching Award and the Jeffrey D. Byrne Scholarship from the University of Missouri Political Science Department. He has taught American Government for the Department of Political Science.

Matthew Newton

Matthew Newton completed his B.S. in Political Science at Stephen F. Austin State University in Nacogdoches, Texas. His research looks primarily at voting and election behavior in advanced industrial democracies, including the United States, and his dissertation examines the impact that federal structures and decentralization have on voting behavior. Specifically, he studies how federalism and constitutional divisions of power impact the party system in advanced democracies, and he provides a deep analysis of the difference between the United States and Canada. Matthew is the past recipient of the J.G. Heinberg Scholarship from the University of Missouri and the Outstanding World Politics Student award from Stephen F. Austin State University. He has taught American Government and Canadian Politics for the Department of Political Science.

Joshua Norberg

Joshua Norberg completed his B.A. in Political Science at the University of Missouri. His research focuses broadly on the politics of advanced industrial democracies, with an emphasis on Western Europe. More specifically, he is interested in the politics of coalition governments, political parties, and the relationship between democratic institutions and the citizens ruled by them. He also has academic interests in American political institutions, including Congress and political parties. Joshua is the past recipient of the J.G. Heinberg Scholarship, David M. Wood Excellence in Political Science Research Award, Jeffrey D. Byrne Award for research in Comparative Politics, and Brian Forbis Award for research in American Politics. He has taught American Government for the Department of Political Science.