Teaching Statement

My teaching and mentorship abilities would enrich and expand the Department of Political Science program both substantively and methodologically. I possess four main assets I can bring to the Department:

My goal as an instructor is to teach my students to approach the topic of election fraud -- or any topic -- like political scientists. I want them to rely on data rather than intuition; to distinguish pattern from idiosyncrasy; to view events as probabilistic rather than deterministic; and to be critical consumers of popular political analysis. In other words, I want my students to understand what we know about politics, what we don't know (even though the pundits might say we do), and how we go about reaching these conclusions. In a lecture context, this means presenting the best research in the field, explaining what makes it credible and highlighting what still remains to be studied. In a seminar, it means training students to read and assess the quality of research for themselves. In my classes I also encourage students to push themselves by constantly testing the boundaries of what is possible, knowable, and doable. The constant expansion of knowledge and ability is for me the unifying feature of both research and learning, and my goal is for students to experience this kind of expansion and enjoy it.

I do not think that advanced knowledge of statistics and computer programming is necessary to grasp or conduct research on election forensics. My own work together with Walter Mebane to create a web application Election Forensics Toolkit in collaboration with colleagues at the University of Michigan and USAID is aimed to make election forensics analysis widely available to both students and researchers without good training in statistics.