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Research-in-Progress Brown Bag Speaker Series

Thank you to everyone who attended the Fall 2017 speaker series, details of which are below.

Please check back later for information on the Spring 2018 speaker series, hosted by the Centennial Center for Political Science and Public Affairs at the American Political Science Association. All events will take place at APSA headquarters. 

Questions? Email [email protected]


Fall 2017 Events

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 11,12:30 – 1:30PM 
First to the Party: the Group Origins of Political Transformation
Christopher Baylor, PhD 
APSA Centennial Center William A. Steiger Fellow and 2017-2018 Congressional Fellow

ABSTRACT: The United States has scores of potential issues and ideologies but only two major political parties. How parties respond to competing demands for their attention is therefore central to American democracy. First to the Party argues that organized groups set party agendas by forming coalitions and invading party nominations to support candidates committed to their interests. Where the nominees then go, the parties also go.

BIO: Christopher Baylor is an American Political Science Association Congressional Fellow. He has taught at Wellesley College and the University of California Los Angeles, where he received his PhD in political science focusing on political parties and interest groups. The University of Pennsylvania Press is publishing his first book, First to the Party: the Group Origins of Political Transformation, in November 2017. He has also published in Studies in American Political Development and the Monkey Cage.

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 20,12:30 – 1:30PM 
New Measurement Strategies for U.S. Congressional Responsiveness to Interest Group Advocacy

Carolina Ferrerosa Young, PhD Candidate (Columbia University)
APSA Centennial Center William A. Steiger Fellow and 2017-2018 Congressional Fellow

ABSTRACT: Studying the way that the U.S. Congress responds to interest groups in American politics is getting increasingly complicated. Over time, ideological polarization has changed the day-to-day culture of the institution and, in turn, the legislative process has become more labyrinthine in ways that are unorthodox (Sinclair 2000). This not only creates more opportunities for interest groups - in particular - to lobby via new avenues; it also makes it more difficult to scientifically analyze legislative responsiveness to said groups using a single empirical method. I take this perspective to heart in my research by using multiple methods to study interest group political behavior and subsequent issue representation. Chiefly, my work emphasizes three main approaches: using new text analysis tools to investigate old questions, leveraging natural regression discontinuities to map the political landscape, and working in partnership with real-world organizations to run field experiments on congressional responsiveness. In this talk, I present these strategies and preliminary findings. 

BIO: Carolina Ferrerosa Young is a PhD candidate in the Department of Political Science at Columbia University, where she studies American politics with a minor in quantitative methods. She is currently completing a dissertation on congressional responsiveness to interest group advocacy as a visiting scholar and William A. Steiger fellow at APSA's Centennial Center in Washington, DC. Originally from Arlington, Virginia, Carolina graduated from the University of Virginia's Distinguished Majors Program in Politics and spent several years before graduate school helping to run randomized controlled trial evaluations of federal social programs for U.S. government agencies. She is a Columbia University Dean's Fellow, an APSA Minority Fellow, and a recipient of the 2012 National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. From 2017 to 2018, she will serve as an APSA Congressional Fellow on Capitol Hill.

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 25,12:30 – 1:30PM 
Partisan Group Organization in the U.S. Congress & the Liberal Democratic Roots of the Conservative House Freedom Caucus 
Emily Baer, PhD
APSA Centennial Center William A. Steiger Fellow and 2017-2018 Congressional Fellow

ABSTRACT: The emergence and effectiveness of the House Freedom Caucus (HFC) over the past two years has taken many observers of Congress and scholars by surprise. According to dominant theories of political parties and power, this group of junior arch conservatives should play a limited role in the legislative process and party business. How do party factions successfully advocate for their interests in a majoritarian institution designed to suppress their influence and participation? I argue that partisan member groups today reflect the enduring institutional legacy of the first organized member group in the modern Congress – the Democratic Study Group (DSG). The organizational model established by liberal Democrats in DSG has been adopted by members in both parties to increase their capacity to work together and challenge the status quo. I analyze the institutional conditions that give rise to partisan groups like DSG and the HFC, and compare the founding memberships of both groups. I then analyze how the DSG model of organization, including the group’s resources and tools, membership recruitment strategies, and leadership structure, shaped the development of the HFC. I conclude with some comments on the implications of the liberal organizational model for our understanding of the effectiveness of the House Freedom Caucus in the House today.  

BIO: Emily Baer is a 2017-2018 American Political Science Association Congressional Fellow. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota in summer 2017 where she studied Congress and political parties. Her dissertation research examined how party factions in Congress develop the capacity to pursue procedural, policy, and leadership change in the House of Representatives through a case study of the Democratic Study Group and the 1970s reform era. She was previously a National Fellow at the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia.  

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 17, 12:30 – 1:30PM 
The Tunisian Success Story: The Role of the Military
Sharan Grewal, PhD Candidate (Princeton University) and APSA Centennial Center Visiting Scholar

Discussant: Sarah Yerkes, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

ABSTRACT: Why has Tunisia's transition to democracy succeeded, while the other revolutions of the Arab Spring have failed? While existing accounts emphasize Tunisia's level of development, strength of civil society, and culture of compromise, I highlight the behavior of its military, which resisted pressures to stage a coup in 2013. Drawing on interviews, archives, and a survey experiment of military officers, I argue that the Tunisian military had the capacity and opportunity to stage a coup, but calculated that its interests were best preserved under democracy. Democratization had brought an end to two despised coup-proofing tactics: a political and material marginalization of the military, and a regional favoritism of officers hailing from the coast. With the majority of officers benefiting from democracy, the military had been coopted into the new democratic order. More generally, the case of Tunisia suggests that certain autocratic coup-proofing strategies, in this case, marginalization and discrimination, may be more conducive to democratic consolidation than others.

BIO: Sharan Grewal is a PhD Candidate at Princeton University and a Visiting Scholar at the American Political Science Association's Centennial Center. He studies the comparative politics of the Middle East, with a focus on democratization, civil-military relations, and religion. His dissertation examines why some transitions to democracy succeed and others fail through case studies of Egypt and Tunisia, a survey experiment of military officers, and a cross-national analysis. His work has been published by International Organization, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and the Washington Post's Monkey Cage, among other outlets.

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