|Dr. Fletcher McClellan
OCTOBER MEMBER OF THE MONTH
Department of Political Science
Member since 1996
Dr. E. Fletcher McClellan is Professor of Political
Science at Elizabethtown College. He has served in many leadership roles at the
College, including Dean of Faculty, Interim Provost, and department chair. He
teaches the senior capstone in political science, as well as courses in
American government, public policy, and public administration. A regular
commentator for the online
, Dr. McClellan has written articles for PS: Political Science & Politics, the Journal of Political Science Education, and the Washington Post, and presented dozens of
papers at professional conferences in such areas as the American presidency,
politics and film, and teaching and learning in political science. Several of
his papers are co-authored by undergraduate students and alumni. He is the
recipient of the 2018 Craig L. Brians Award for Excellence in Undergraduate
Research and Mentorship, awarded by the Political Science Education Section of
the American Political Science Association.
WHY DID YOU BECOME A POLITICAL SCIENTIST?
Growing up in the 1960s, I was always interested in
politics. My family rituals included reading the newspaper and watching the
evening news on TV as historic events took place. In college I just continued studying
what I liked. I went into a master's program and, encouraged by faculty
mentors, was surprised and pleased to learn that I could actually make a living
sharing my passion for politics with others. Also, I had a deathly fear of
having to go into sales.
WHY DID YOU JOIN APSA AND WHY DO YOU CONTINUE TO STAY INVOLVED?
I regret to say I didn't join APSA until mid-career,
initially as a department chair interviewing applicants for a job opening.
Discovering the Political Science Education Section, which focuses on teaching
and learning scholarship and includes many members from small colleges, was a
professional turning point for me. It's a joy to know and work with wonderful
colleagues from around the country who have the same scholarly and professional
interests and aspirations. I’m very excited about our current project on
rethinking the undergraduate political science curriculum.
WHAT IS THE MOST CHALLENGING ASPECT OF BEING A POLITICAL SCIENTIST?
Actually, there are several: (1) explaining to folks
what you can do with a political science degree; (2) enduring conversations
with people who think that political scientists do what Sean Hannity does; and
(3) juggling the roles of faculty member, public commentator, and citizen.
IF YOU COULD GIVE ONE PIECE OF ADVICE TO SOMEONE IN THEIR GRADUATE/UNDERGRADUATE YEARS, WHAT WOULD IT BE AND WHY?
As a former dean of faculty, I always advised junior
colleagues to put students first in their professional life and work. This
helps put squabbles with colleagues and administrators, as well as professional
triumphs and setbacks, into perspective. Perhaps spurred by growing threats to
democracy and the search for truth, I've recently emphasized the need for
students and colleagues to cultivate a larger sense of purpose.
OUTSIDE OF POLITICAL SCIENCE, TELL US SOMETHING INTERESTING ABOUT YOURSELF.
I'm a film buff and enjoy playing golf as much as one
can enjoy playing golf. I'm also a rabid fan of Philadelphia professional
sports. In that regard my claim to fame was
catching a grand slam home run at a 2014 Phillies game, wearing an Etown hoodie that was instantly recognized by