New Publications by Political Science Faculty

Just in time for Book Fest, the Political Science department invites students, staff, and faculty to read and discuss some of the newest publications that members of the department have produced. Since last year, there have been four books published by Political Science faculty members. As you read the following abstracts, consider how faculty members translate these passion projects into the classroom and how you can connect with faculty about their new publications today!

 200 Years of Superpower Grand Strategy

The Pursuit of Dominance: 200 Years of Superpower Grand Strategy by Christopher Fettweis

As the current Russian blunders and failures in Ukraine make abundantly clear, the United States remains the most powerful actor in the international system. What to do with that power, however – and how to maintain it – is hardly uncontroversial. This book examines the grand strategy of previous superpowers to see how they maintained, or failed to maintain, their status. Over the course of six cases, from ancient Rome to the British Empire, it seeks guidance from the past for present U.S. policymakers. How did previous empires, regional hegemons, or simply dominant powers forge grand strategy? How did they define their interests, and then assemble the tools to address them? What did they do right, and where did they err? What—if anything—can current U.S. strategists learn from the experience of earlier superpowers?

If there is a major lesson from the past, it is this: restraint prolongs dominance. Avoiding debilitating, unnecessary misadventure has been more important to the lifespan of the average superpower than expanding its reach. When the Romans, or British, or Chinese during the Tang Dynasty concentrated on domestic affairs, they thrived; when they went abroad in search of monsters to destroy, costs often outweighed benefits.

This is not a call for a myopic, Trumpian “American First” grand strategy; far from it. The United States must remain robustly engaged with the rest of the world. But why it engages, and with what tools, are issues crucial to the long-term survival of the republic. Fortunately, there are previous experiences from which to learn.

The Pursuit of Dominance: 200 Years of Superpower Grand Strategy was published by the Oxford University Press and is available from the publisher for $34.95.

 Education and Democracy in New Orleans

Public Schools, Private Governance: Education and Democracy in New Orleans by Celeste Lay

This abstract was taken with permission from

Two months after Hurricane Katrina, Louisiana took control of nearly all the public schools in New Orleans. Today, all of the city’s public schools are charter schools. Although many analyses mark the beginning of education reform in New Orleans with Katrina, in Public Schools, Private Governance, J. Celeste Lay argues that the storm merely accelerated the timeline for reforms that had inched along incrementally over the previous decade. Both before and after Katrina, white reformers purposely excluded Black educators, community members, and parents.

Public Schools, Private Governance traces the slow, deliberate dismantling of New Orleans’ public schools, and the processes that have maintained the reforms made in Katrina’s immediate aftermath, showing how Black parents and residents were left without a voice and the officials charged with school governance, most of whom are white, with little accountability. Lay cogently explains how political minorities disrupted systems to create change and keep reforms in place, and the predictable political effects—exclusion, frustration, and resignation—on the part of those most directly affected.

Public Schools, Private Governance: Education and Democracy in New Orleans is published by Temple University Press and is available from the published for $32.95

Book cover for Roots of Engagement

The Roots of Engagement: Understanding Opposition and Support for Resource Extraction by Moisés Arce

*This abstract was taken with permission from

In recent years, emerging economies in the Global South have increased the overall demand for raw materials and bolstered the price of oil, minerals, and other commodities. As a result, resource-rich countries in Latin America and Sub-Saharan Africa have experienced an important economic bonanza and reduced levels of poverty and inequality. However, for communities living near the extractive frontier, mining has caused serious environmental degradation, and many in these communities have protested local extractive industries.

Departing from the existing literature, The Roots of Engagement examines the individual-level factors that shape a person's opinions over resource extraction. It looks at what makes some individuals accept extractive activities close to their homes, while other individuals strongly reject them. Moreover, it asks why some individuals focus on the potential benefits of employment and local development, while other individuals focus on the defense of livelihoods and the ecological risks associated with mining.

Moisés Arce, Michael S. Hendricks, and Marc S. Polizzi find that an individual's level of social engagement—defined by a person's participation in local organizations—is critical for understanding these differences. The greater the participation in local organizations, they argue, the greater the rejection of proposed mining activities. This individual-level approach unveils the fluidity of attitudes over resource extraction, even in areas that appear uniformly opposed to mining; the processes of attitude formation rooted in micro-politics and collective behaviors; and a cross-regional perspective on campaigns against mining. Based on three original public opinion surveys and interviews conducted in Tía María in Peru, Fuleni in South Africa, and Rancho Grande in Nicaragua, The Roots of Engagement is the first book to measure social engagement in organizations and its connection to attitudes about extraction and development.

The Roots of Engagement: Understanding Opposition and Support for Resource Extraction is published by the Oxford University Press and is available from the publisher for $83. The book was co-authored by Michael S. Hendricks and Marc S. Polizzi. Hendricks is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Politics and Government at Illinois State University. His areas of research include resource extraction and peacekeeping. He has published articles in Research & Politics, International Studies Quarterly, and Latin American Perspectives. Polizzi is an Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science and Sociology at Murray State University. He conducts research in the areas of human rights, social movements, and transitional justice. He has published articles in International Studies Quarterly, The Extractive Industries and Society, and the Journal of Development Studies, as well as additional book chapters.

Cover for Dictatorship and Information

Dictatorship and Information: Authoritarian Regime Resilience in Communist Europe and China by Martin Dimitrov

Fear pervades dictatorial regimes. Citizens fear leaders, the regime's agents fear superiors, and leaders fear the masses. The ubiquity of fear in such regimes gives rise to the "dictator's dilemma," where autocrats do not know the level of opposition they face and cannot effectively neutralize domestic threats to their rule. The dilemma has led scholars to believe that autocracies are likely to be short-lived.

Yet, some autocracies have found ways to mitigate the dictator's dilemma. As Martin Dimitrov shows in Dictatorship and Information, substantial variability exists in the survival of nondemocratic regimes, with single-party polities having the longest average duration. Offering a systematic theory of the institutional solutions to the dictator's dilemma, Dimitrov argues that single-party autocracies have fostered channels that allow for the confidential vertical transmission of information, while also solving the problems associated with distorted information.

To explain how this all works, Dimitrov focuses on communist regimes, which have the longest average lifespan among single-party autocracies and have developed the most sophisticated information-gathering institutions. Communist regimes face a variety of threats, but the main one is the masses. Dimitrov therefore examines the origins, evolution, and internal logic of the information-collection ecosystem established by communist states to monitor popular dissent. Drawing from a rich base of evidence across multiple communist regimes and nearly 100 interviews, Dimitrov reshapes our understanding of how autocrats learn--or fail to learn--about the societies they rule, and how they maintain--or lose--power.

Dictatorship and Information: Authoritarian Regime Resilience in Communist Europe and China is published by Oxford University Press and is available from the published for $99.