L&S faculty offer perspectives on the election

As the presidential election approaches, it’s not just political science experts who turn their attention to the candidates. All across L&S, faculty are conducting relevant research and following interesting political developments. Here’s what a few are watching most closely.

October 20th 2016 | Katie Vaughn
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“In this election I’ve been watching what I always watch — what are the implications of the debate for education? The two candidates’ K-12 policies are very traditional for their parties: Hillary Clinton supports more charter schools and investment in early childhood education and more funding; Donald Trump’s emphasis is on expanding private voucher schools. This year, unusually, higher education features prominently in their policies. Clinton proposes making college debt-free by making public college free for families earning less than $125,000, and also refinancing all student debt. It’s a little more difficult to tell what Trump is thinking; his public statements are vague, and inconsistent, but no doubt his team is working on a thoughtful plan.”

– Harry Brighouse, professor of philosophy who works on issues in political philosophy, philosophy of education and educational policy


“As both a disabled person and a scholar of disability studies in the humanities, I am heartened by the unprecedented visibility of disability in this presidential election cycle. One in five Americans is disabled, making us the largest minority in the country. Yet this is the first presidential election in which candidates have presented extensive policy statements about improving the lives of disabled Americans, including addressing issues of educational access, employment, health care and ending subminimum wage exploitation of disabled workers. At the same time, bullying and mockery of disability has also had an unprecedented visibility in this election, showing that there are still many challenges facing us as we continue to fight for disability justice in this country and worldwide.”

– Ellen Samuels,associate professor in the Department of Gender & Women’s Studies, Department of English and Disability Studies Initiative


“My current projects examine how social media affects what people know about the candidates and the election, and how they feel about people who share (or don’t share) their political views. This gives me the fun task of keeping tabs on which pieces of information are getting attention in social media and also the general tenor of conversations there. I’m looking for this year’s ‘binders full of women,’ ‘horses and bayonets’ and ‘Big Bird’ moments, as well as how people talk about those who are supporting the other candidate.”

– Michael Xenos, professor and chair of the Department of Communication Arts and affiliate faculty of the Department of Life Sciences Communication and the School of Journalism & Mass Communication


“I have been watching various nonverbal cues displayed by the candidates, such as facial expressions of emotion.  I have also watched closely people’s reactions to a woman, Secretary Clinton, in a position of power, running as a candidate for president. Some people are thrilled with her competence and power and others react negatively. These negative reactions probably stem from the fact that her position of power is a stereotype violation. Women are not supposed to be as competent and powerful as she is.”

– Janet Hyde, Helen Thompson Wooley Professor of Psychology and Gender & Women’s Studies and director of the Center for Research on Gender and Women

Learn more about how L&S faculty are involved in this year's election here.