LaFleur has taught and is prepared to teach courses in: Research Design, Race and Ethnic Politics, Public Opinion and American Politics.

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Graduate Seminar | Fall 2015, fall 2018

Introduction to American Politics: Political Behavior

Dr. LaFleur Stephens-Dougan co-Taught with Chris Achen/Tali Mendelberg

This seminar is part of the core curriculum in American politics and provides an introduction to American political behavior. We cover a sample of major theories and methods in the study of citizens’ views and actions regarding politics.

The main motivation for the course is to understand the American democratic system as an example of an established democracy. A democracy rests on the consent of the governed, that is, on public opinion. We investigate the contents of that opinion, the psychological sources of that opinion in social identities, partisan affiliation, concrete interests, values, issues, and ideology, and the external forces shaping opinion, including political campaigns, mass media, and political elites. We also ask who acts on their opinions and why some do so more than others, and what campaigns or the media do to spark or depress political action. Finally, we consider what the collective voice of the people communicates to decision-makers, and whether some citizens have
more say than others. More generally, we ask whether the American public is capable of governing, what conditions enhance the public’s capacity to govern, what opinions it wishes to assert, and what generates those opinions.

Along the way we consider such questions as: is the public rational? What sort of rationality is that? Is public opinion informed and reasoned enough, and is the public sensible enough, and if so, enough for what? Do Americans choose their leaders and policies based on social identities, interests, values, issues, or ideology, and how can we tell these apart from each other? Do political elites and the mass media manipulate or unduly influence the public, or do they instead inform, enlighten, empower, and prompt ordinary people to become politically engaged? Is the public sufficiently independent of elites to hold them accountable? Does the public make the right choices for its needs and values? Are all voices equal, or are some “more equal” than others, as George Orwell might say?

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Undergraduate lecture | Spring 2015, spring 2016, spring 2018

Race and Politics in the Age of Obama/United States

Taught by: Dr. LaFleur Stephens-Dougan

African Americans in the United States have encountered myriad barriers to in their quest for inclusion. Drawing on a mix of history and social science, we will come to understand why certain segments of America oppose the full inclusion of African Americans. We will also discuss the political strategies undertaken by the black community to combat social, political, and economic injustices. The first half of the course will focus on historical antecedents such as the civil rights movement and the Black Power movement. The second half of the course will focus on the nature of contemporary racial attitudes in the 2008, 2012, and 2016 presidential elections.

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Undergraduate seminar | fall 2014, fall 2018, fall 2019

Junior Paper Workshop in Race and Ethnic Politics/Identity Politics

Taught by: Dr. LaFleur Stephens-Dougan

One week after the 2016 presidential election, political theorist, Mark Lilla wrote an essay that was a direct rebuke of Hillary Clinton’s campaign. According to Lilla, “Clinton was at her best
when she spoke about American interests in world affairs and how they relate to our understanding of democracy.” Lilla went to say, “Clinton would too often, slip into the rhetoric
of diversity, calling out explicitly to African American, Latino, L.G.B.T. and women voters.” Critics responded to Lilla’s essay by arguing that “people have identities and are
mobilized by those identities.” According to Lilla’s critics, even white Americans, who are traditionally thought of as “not having an identity” can be mobilized on the basis of their

The aforementioned debate begs the question, “what is identity?” How are identities made? How do different identities relate to one another? This workshop investigates these questions through a discussion of ethnicity, class, race, gender, sexuality, and religion. Most of the readings will focus on identity in the context of the United States. However, students with interests in identity politics outside the United States are welcome to join the workshop. Broadly speaking, we will address how to refine research questions, develop testable hypotheses,
and analyze data, related to the study of identity politics. Research Prospectuses written in this workshop might address questions such as: Are candidates more likely to use negative advertisements when their opponent is of a different race or ethnicity? Do racial attitudes influence preferences on policies unrelated to race? Did racial attitudes influence support for President Trump? Does the relevance of an identity change across other categories of difference? Are group-based political movements always subject to marginalization (e.g., can we have a
feminist movement that includes the needs and issues of women of color and/or low-income women? Can we have an LGBTQ movement that addresses the concerns of trans individuals?)

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Freshman seminar |

Sports, Politics and Identity

Taught by: Dr. LaFleur Stephens-Dougan

“Stick to Sports” or “Shut up and Play!” are common responses to athletes who engage in political behavior on or off the field. These phrases indicate that many sports fans would prefer that athletes play their chosen sport without engaging in any behavior that could be deemed as political. Yet, there is a long history in the United States of sports being infused with politics, as well as race. Controversies ranging from the unionization of college athletes to the naming of the professional football team in Washington D.C., are on their face about sports, but they also have implication for the study of identity and politics in the United States. This course will examine the aforementioned controversies, among others, while also drawing on the literature in political science to understand the ways in which identities such as race, gender, and even partisanship, shape the ways in which Americans interpret controversies at the intersection of identity, politics and sports.

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upper-level undergraduate seminar |

Reading Immigrant Narratives

Taught by: Dr. LaFleur Stephens-Dougan

This course draws on the use of immigrant narratives as a lens through which to understand both the history of immigration in the U.S. and the contemporary immigration landscape.  We will
grapple with notions of citizenship and ‘illegality’ while examining backlash to demographic changes.  Course topics include the politics and policies of immigrant admission to and
deportation from the United States as well as the nature and consequences of immigration at the national, state, and local levels. Course topics also include the politics and policies related to the societal integration (and exclusion) of immigrants residing in the United States, with a focus on their language, identification, citizenship, and voting rights. In addition to traditional social
science articles, we will read five novels over the course of the semester:

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