Professor Whitten-Woodring teaches courses in media and politics, political analysis, repression and dissent, and human rights.

Research Methods in Political Science

The overall purpose of this course is to introduce students to the fundamentals of quantitative political science research while also conveying the need for skepticism as the foundation of scientific inquiry. With that in mind, the first goal of this course is for students to become critical consumers of research in general and political science research in particular. The second goal is for students to develop and test theories about politics using quantitative research designs. The third goal is for students to learn how to use STATA (statistical software) to analyze data and conduct simple statistical tests. The fourth goal of this course is to engage students in a project that gives them the opportunity to apply what they have learned.

Media and Politics Around the World
For centuries, politicians have depended on media to reach and persuade citizens, yet the role of media in politics remains much debated. This course introduces students to the theories on the relationship between media and politics using a case study approach. Because much of what we know about the media comes from studying media in the United States, we will start with cases in the U.S., but because much of what we need to know about media and politics involves media in other countries, we will spend the second half of the course looking at media and politics in developing and democratizing countries. There are two goals for this course. The first is for students to become more critical consumers of media, especially media coverage of politics. The second goal is for students to broaden their knowledge about the relationship of media and politics through a case study of media and politics in a country other than the U.S.


Seminar in the Politics of Repression and Dissent
This seminar focuses on the dark side of politics—political repression, including politically motivated imprisonment, torture, murder and disappearance—and the struggle of citizens to bring about change through non-violent and violent demonstrations, general strikes and armed resistance. We will explore the dynamics of contentious politics at the nexus of repression and dissent, considering theories and findings from research and a series of case studies. We will focus on three questions:

1. Why do states repress?
2. Why do people protest?
3. Why do protest movements succeed or fail?

The goal is for students to learn to analyze the dynamics of repression and dissent, and to develop an understanding of the short and long term effects of the strategies employed by the various actors.


Seminar in Political Communication and Media Studies
In this seminar we will examine how news media influence politics and how politics shape news media. Although much of what we know about the relationship between media and politics comes from studying the United States, the focus of this seminar is both comparative and global. Thus, we will look at the relationship between media and politics from both a domestic and an international perspective. We will start by identifying the current trends in news media. While there has been a decline in traditional journalism, especially newspapers in the United States and much of Europe, this is not necessarily the case in developing countries. Likewise, although Internet, mobile phones and satellite television are widely available in wealthier countries, access is often limited in poorer countries, especially in those that are authoritarian. Even so, new media are facilitating political communication. We will investigate how politicians use the media and how the media use politicians within this shifting mediascape. Additionally we will consider and how media effects shape citizens’ understanding of both the news and politics.