I am an assistant professor of political science at Nebraska Wesleyan University. I am interested in contentious politics. My first book, The Politics of Genetically Modified Organisms in the United States and Europe, was published by Palgrave Macmillan in 2015; it looks at the way in which GMOs are objects of contention on both sides of the Atlantic. I'm currently working on a project about youth participation in social movements in the United States and Europe. I teach a variety of classes on comparative politics and politics and culture, including classes on European politics, revolution and rebellion, democratization, global environmental politics, and minority politics.In my spare time I enjoy reading mysteries with sassy female detectives, traveling, and camping. Last summer, my family and I drove 11,000 miles and camped around all of the Great Lakes.
Class, Inequality, and Labor Politics
Race, Ethnicity and Politics
I am a comparative political scientist. My research interests focus predominantly on Europe, with an emphasis on contentious politics and social movement mobilization. My first book, The Politics of Genetically Modified Organisms in the United States and Europe, was published by Palgrave McMillan 2016. In it, I am interested in the reasons why genetically modified foods remain such a contentious topic capable of mobilizing resistance on both sides of the Atlantic. My book explores the current status of GMOs in European and American public and political life by analyzing the symbolic construction of risk surrounding the process of manufacturing, the GM products that are produced, and the unknown implications of the technology. I compare the state of the debate over GMOs in the United Kingdom, Germany, Poland, Spain, and the United States. My subsequent co-authored article, “Growing Monstrous Organisms: The Construction of anti-GMO Visual Rhetoric through Digital Media,” (Critical Studies in Media Communication, 2016), further examines the way the way that the visual dimensions of the anti-GMO campaign contribute to opposition to the technologies. By exploiting the unique characteristics of the internet to create memetic images that can travel freely across linguistic and cultural borders, opponents of the technology have been able to refute rationalist claims about the safety of GMOs.
My current research project continues the focus on contentious politics and policy outcomes. I am in the process of finalizing research for and drafting a book length project tentatively entitled The Kids are Alright: Flexible Politics and Youth Mobilization on the Left. Normal depictions of youth in politics paint a dire picture across the globe; low levels of voter mobilization and turn out, low levels of involvement in civil society, and an overall sense of apathy toward public issues and public life. The book focuses on complicating this depiction of youth political participation, particularly in terms of their interest in targeting specific policy outcomes. I compare the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum, the 2015 Irish Home to Vote Campaign, and the 2016 Bernie Sanders primary campaign. In each of these cases, youth involvement and participation, both informally (measured in terms of extra-voting participation) and formally (measured in terms of voting) were far higher than in previous and subsequent elections. To conduct research on for this project, I have been supervising teams of student researchers. I undertook the first round of ethnographic and interview research in Scotland in 2016 with a student team, and anticipate traveling with a second team to Ireland in 2018. The first paper from this project, “’Yes we can,’ but could we again? Linking the electoral politics and social movements of the Obama years” has been accepted for publication in an edited collection. An additional paper from this project, “Flexible politics: Mobilization strategies of youth activists in the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum,” was presented at the Midwest Political Science Association conference in 2017.
My interest in youth mobilization and contentious politics is also the focus of a collaborative research project that focuses on cultural issues related to LGBT+ rights in Russia. Our paper, “Putin as Gay Icon? Memes as Tactic in Russian LGBT+ Activism” is forthcoming in the edited collection LGBTQI rights and activism in the Post-Soviet Space. A subsequent paper with the working title “Gayropa and the revival of sexual citizenship in post-communist Europe,” is in progress. Finally, my research focuses on the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning, with a particular emphasis on best practices in integrating diversity and inclusion into the classroom. My co-authored paper “Teaching race and social justice at a predominantly white institution,” is forthcoming in Journal of Political Science Education. In this paper, we argue that adapting course content and pedagogy to the demographic context of the classroom is crucial to achieving success mediating political and social controversies. We develop a concept of “empathic scaffolding” to articulate an approach that integrates diversity and inclusion into each level of the curriculum and throughout the term. A subsequent paper, “Discourse instruction to teach social justice issues in undergraduate political science classes” is in progress; this paper explores the utility of using dialogue in diversity instructive classes in order to more fully engage students in the content.
At our predominantly white university, students often shy away from controversial conversations. How can the classroom encourage students to value and engage in potentially explosive conversations? We develop a concept of “empathic scaffolding” to articulate an approach that integrates diversity and inclusion into the classroom. Empathic scaffolding structures content and pedagogy in a way that strategically expands students’ zones of comfort, starting with very personal experiences with the material and expanding to include broader groups of people and course concepts. Understanding and engaging with these concentric circles of students’ relationships to the course material is crucial if students are to hear and engage with voices to which they may have limited exposure. This article documents the best practices of implementing empathic scaffolding in the realms of content and pedagogy, offering a toolkit for professors to critically engage conversations about race and social justice.
This paper explores the international controversy over genetically modified organisms (GMOs). We argue that the uncommonly high levels of opposition to genetically modified food in both the United States and in Europe can be attributed to the overwhelming success of the online visual campaign against GMOs. By exploiting the unique characteristics of the internet to create memetic images that can travel freely across linguistic and cultural borders, opponents of the technology have been able to refute rationalist claims about the safety of GMOs. In response to the single coherent narrative of scientific certainty, a diffuse set of challenges emerges. The risk of genetic engineering holds within it the potential for catastrophe, leaving the industries that produce and manufacture the technology in a perpetual state of crisis. Instead of a unified narrative of scientific certainty, each challenge presents a multiplicity of diffuse narratives that unsettle the public’s understanding of the risk presented by GMOs. We aim to augment traditional understandings of the way that publics may interact with the “public screen” by explicating one way in which dominance of the visual in mediated political discourse may privilege non-rational political decision making.
This book examines the puzzle of why genetically modified organisms continue to be controversial despite scientific evidence declaring them safe for humans and the environment. What explains the sustained levels of resistance? Clancy analyzes the trans-Atlantic controversy by comparing opposition to GMOs in the United Kingdom, Germany, Poland, Spain, and the United States, examining the way in which science is politicized on both sides of the debate. Ultimately, the author argues that the lack of labeling GMO products in the United States allows opponents to create far-fetched images of GMOs that work their ways in to the minds of the public. The way forward out of this seemingly intractable debate is to allow GMOs, once tested, to enter the market without penalty―and then to label them.