Research & Outreach

Research and Scholarship in Political Science

Providing scholarly research and academic outreach is a tradition at CSU. The Department of Political Science conducts research aimed at identifying solutions to societal problems, with an emphasis in environmental issues and democratic initiatives. Explore the many ways our faculty and students participate in political science research and engaged scholarship.


Faculty Research and Engagement

Liberal Arts and Democracy

In 2023-24, CSU emphasized democracy and civic engagement for our thematic year. From screen to stage and the Supreme Court to Latin America, our faculty explore issues of democracy.

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Game On – CSU Political Science Instructor and Military Veteran on Why You Should Play Games at Work 

James “Pigeon” Fielder, CSU Instructor in the Department of Political Science, had the honor of speaking at TEDxMileHigh this past November where he discussed the power of games. Games, as he describes, are spaces inside which ritual becomes real to the participants. Games allow you to work together to overcome obstacles that feel real but are […]

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Navigating Borders: Could water be a bridge between U.S. and Mexico?

Because both the Rio Grande and Colorado rivers’ headwaters begin in the U.S. and flow across the border, both sides depend on the other for the water. Since the 1990s, getting enough of that water has been a problem compounded by a booming population and climate change. The common problem has forced the two countries […]

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Being a responsible digital citizen in the age of information disorder

A political science capstone class looked beyond “fake news” to the root problem of information disorder in our democracy, and offered advice for citizens to responsibly combat misinformation, disinformation, and malinformation.

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CSU faculty receive $450,000 Carnegie grant to track how U.S. international policy impacts local communities

Starting January 2022, a CSU research team will lead a project that will produce a map of the distributive implications of U.S. foreign policy – a map that will allow communities to better understand their relationship to America’s role in the world.

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Navigating borders: Could water be a bridge between U.S. and Mexico?

Since the 1990s, getting enough water has been a problem that — drop by drop — has only been compounded over the years for both sides of the U.S./Mexico border.

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Video: CSU professor explains his research on COVID conspiracy theories

Assistant Professor of Political Science Dominik Stecula’s research interest has always been centered around how the media shapes what people believe. In 2020, the global pandemic provided a rare opportunity to study an international emergence of misinformation, conspiracy theories, and the role media plays in shaping people’s political and personal beliefs.

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CSU study aims to increase resilience, unity in Colombia’s Indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities

In 2018 and 2019, CSU Associate Professor of Political Science Marcela Velasco led a study to understand the complex relationships evolving among Indigenous and Afro-Colombian communities along Colombia’s Pacific coast that have endured decades of violent conflict.

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Student Research

SOGES Sustainability Leadership Fellows

The SoGES Sustainability Leadership Fellows program provides innovative training for early career scientists to effectively communicate science to the media and public, professional development skills and techniques, and strategies to build meaningful careers that incorporate engagement and interdisciplinarity. The competitive program accepts 20 advanced PhD students and postdoctoral scholars each year from across campus interested in communicating their sustainability-related research.

2021 – 2022: Shae Rupinsky

Ph.D. Student, Department of Political Science

Research Summary: Colorado peaches receive the highest price per lb in the country due to their high quality production. However, as demand grows, available orchard land is restricted due to climactic and resource restrictions. Therefore, my research is focused on improving the sustainability of Western Colorado peach orchard management and design. The goal of my program is to determine optimal management strategies that improve resource and input efficiency for peach production, while maximizing fruit quality. Ultimately, the research will outline ideal practices to best utilize solar radiation, water, land, and inputs efficiently to produce more “crop per drop” on less land.

2021 – 2022: Hyeyoon Park

Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Political Science

Research Summary: My research focuses on the question of how China as an emerging power influences global environmental norm development processes. I am examining the role of Chinese actors particularly in transnational governance initiatives targeting environmental and social responsibility in the extractive sector. Transparency is a prominent norm in global extractives governance that requires extractive companies to disclose information on their environmental and social impacts. My dissertation research explores transparency norm development as a two-way socialization process where China is both a norm-taker (adopts existing norms) and a norm-maker (shapes/re-shapes norms).

2018 – 2019: Desiree Fisk

Ph.D. Student, Department of Political Science

Research Summary: The concept of the Anthropocene spurs creativity for what a new geological epoch, defined by human activities, means for society. My research re-evaluates humans’ relationship with nature and the ways in which political processes will evolve in response. As politics begin to integrate the “Anthropocene” into decision-making, what implications will this have for the role of science in politics, international institutions, and human association to nature? I am exploring international connections between national parks (of similar climate and range of biodiversity), as a case of environmental management and communication occurring beyond national boundaries.

2015 – 2016: Mike Angstadt

Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Political Science

Research Summary: My research examines the role that court structures play in shaping environmental outcomes. Specifically, I explore specialized environmental courts and tribunals (“ECTs”). ECTs are rapidly emerging in many developing countries on the premise that better environmental outcomes will result from judiciaries possessing procedures and personnel tailored to resolving complex environmental questions. In evaluating ECTs, my research will examine two related questions. First, I examine the causes and mechanisms for ECTs’ global proliferation. Second, I will undertake an initial exploration of ECT efficacy by developing a framework to compare environmental outcomes resulting from ECT orders to those issuing from generalist courts.

2014 – 2015: Megan Ruxton

Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Political Science

Research Summary: When trust between the public and government is damaged, the ability to address pressing, complex issues becomes difficult – even contentious. Megan’s research addresses this problem in the context of a cyclical insect outbreak in the forests of eastern Canada which threatens ecological processes and can cause economic losses in the billions of dollars. Past efforts led jointly by government and the forest industry have led to the perception that the economic needs of industry have been placed ahead of the environmental and social needs of the public. As the newest program places scientists at the forefront of efforts to solve the outbreak problem, she will assess whether scientists are able to regain the trust that was lost and thus gain public legitimacy and approval.

2013 – 2014: Matt Luizza

Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Political Science

Research Summary: My passion is working with communities in remote places to protect their sacred landscapes while preserving their local livelihoods. Through collaborative conservation and engaging the science-policy interface, my research combines the worlds of ecology, ethnobotany, anthropology and political science, as I explore the integration of local ecological knowledge and geospatial mapping and modeling to address environmental challenges of indigenous communities in Alaska and Ethiopia.

2012 – 2013: Theresa Jedd

Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Political Science

Research Summary: Theresa joined the National Drought Mitigation Center in 2015 as an Environmental Policy Specialist looking at the linkage between physical and socio-economic indicators of current and future drought in the recreation and tourism sector in the Western United States. She attended Colorado State University for her M.A. and Ph.D. in environmental policy from the Political Science department. During that time, she also worked as a staff researcher in the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory on Colorado’s first climate vulnerability study. At the drought center, she looks forward to developing a project collaboratively with the National Center for Atmospheric Research that will help make climate forecasting more relevant for outdoor enthusiasts and those working in the tourism industry.

Institute for Research in the Social Sciences

The Institute for Research in the Social Sciences (IRISS) at Colorado State University aims to connect and support social scientists with other researchers, as well as university, community, and industry partners.


Awards & Honors

  • Dominik Stecuła - Honorable Mention: Provost Research Scholar, Celebrate! Provost Awards (2023)
  • Allison White - Exceptional Achievement in Service-Learning Instructional Innovation Awards, Celebrate! Colorado State Awards (2023)
  • Matthew Hitt – Monfort Professor, Colorado State University (2022)
  • Stephen Mumme – Lifetime Achievement Award, Association of Borderlands Studies (2021)
  • Gamze Çavdar - Suraj Mal and Shyama Devi Agarwal Book Prize, International Association for Feminist Economics (2021)
  • Susan Opp – Top 100 Local Government Influencers, Engaging Local Government Leaders (2020)

Books & Publications

We Need to Talk: How Cross-Party Dialogue Reduces Affective Polarization

Authors: Dominik A. Stecula, Matthew S. Levendusky Summary: Americans today are affectively polarized: they dislike and distrust those from the opposing political party more than they did in the past, with damaging consequences for their democracy. This Element tests one strategy for ameliorating such animus: having ordinary Democrats and Republicans come together for cross-party political […]

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Border Water: The Politics of U.S.-Mexico Transboundary Water Management, 1945–2015

Author: Stephen P. Mumme Summary: The international boundary between the United States and Mexico spans more than 1,900 miles. Along much of this international border, water is what separates one country from the other. Border Water provides a historical account of the development of governance related to transboundary and border water resources between the United […]

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Inconsistency and Indecision in the United States Supreme Court

Author: Matthew Hitt Summary: The United States Supreme Court exists to resolve constitutional disputes among lower courts and the other branches of government, allowing elected officials, citizens, and businesses to act without legal uncertainty. American law and society function more effectively when the Court resolves these ambiguous questions of Constitutional law. Since lower courts must […]

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Women in Turkey: Silent Consensus at the Age of Neoliberalism and Islamic Conservatism

Author: Gamze Çavdar Summary: This book provides a socio-economic examination of the status of women in contemporary Turkey, assessing how policies have combined elements of neoliberalism and Islamic conservatism. Using rich qualitative and quantitative analyses, Women in Turkey analyses the policies concerning women in the areas of employment, education and health and the fundamental transformation […]

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Just Transitions: Social Justice in the Shift Towards a Low-Carbon World

Author: Dimitris Stevis, Edouard Morena, Dunja Krause Summary: “In the field of ‘climate change’, no terrain goes uncontested. The terminological tug of war between activists and corporations, scientists and governments, has seen radical notions of ‘sustainability’ emptied of urgency and subordinated to the interests of capital. ‘Just Transition’ is the latest such battleground, and the […]

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Home Style Opinion: How Local Newspapers Can Slow Polarization

Author: Matthew Hitt, Joshua Darr, Johanna Dunaway Summary: Local newspapers can hold back the rising tide of political division in America by turning away from the partisan battles in Washington and focusing their opinion page on local issues. When a local newspaper in California dropped national politics from its opinion page, the resulting space filled […]

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Mourning in America: Race and the Politics of Loss

Author: David W. McIvor Summary: Recent years have brought public mourning to the heart of American politics, as exemplified by the spread and power of the Black Lives Matter movement, which has gained force through its identification of pervasive social injustices with individual losses. The deaths of Sandra Bland, Michael Brown, Freddie Gray, Trayvon Martin, […]

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Recent Journal Publications