Category Archives: Outstanding Scholar Award

Introduction of online voting for 2017 business meeting

Dear APSA Religion and Politics Member:

In an effort to ensure as many members of the section as possible have the opportunity to vote in matters for the section, not just those who are able to attend the business meeting, we are this year introducing online voting. There are three items that require votes from section members:

1. The election of 3 new exec officers
2. The introduction of the Outstanding Scholar Award
3. The person after whom the Outstanding Scholar Award will be named

We had opened the ballot last week, but then there was a problem, as the bio of one of the candidates for the exec committee was not in the original materials distributed, and then technical glitches in trying to distribute that information. So to be fair to all candidates, we closed the poll last week and have set up a new one and are resending all the information here.

Please note: If you had already cast your vote before Friday 11 August, you will need to cast your vote again.

I apologise for these teething problems. Hopefully next year’s online voting will go more smoothly!

Thank you for your commitment to the section.

Best wishes,


The Religion and Politics section will be holding online voting from August 14 – 30, for three important items. The first is election of new officers for the executive committee, the second is the introduction of a new award, and the third is who the new award should be named after. Below are the materials for voting. 

Click on the link at the bottom of the email I sent to you to vote.
If any member has not received my email with the ballot link, please email me.

Materials for Online Voting

APSA Religion and Politics Section Business Meeting 31 August 2017

1. Election of three new officers to the executive committee for a two-year term (2017-2019)

Tanya Schwarz, Hollins University

Tanya B. Schwarz is Visiting Assistant Professor of Global Politics and Societies at Hollins University. She is a former Research Fellow at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame. Schwarz’s research focuses on how religion is conceptualized and enacted in global politics and international relations. Her book, Faith-Based Organizations in Transnational Peacebuilding, which will be released in early 2018, reveals the disparities between how scholars and policymakers understand the practices and identities of faith-based organizations (FBOs) and how FBOs themselves conceptualize these phenomena. Schwarz argues that these (mis)understandings lead scholars to miss the political role of prayer in peacebuilding, humanitarianism, and human rights, as well as the ways that FBOs form and enact unique transnational religious identities. Her work has appeared in International Studies Quarterly and The Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Politics, as well as online forums including The Immanent Frame, Contending Modernities, and Transformation. Schwarz has forthcoming pieces in International Studies Review and The SAGE Handbook of History, Philosophy and Sociology of International Relations. In addition, Schwarz received several awards for her work, including the Peace Dissertation Prize from the United States Institute of Peace and the Best Graduate Student Paper award from the Religion and International Relations Section of the International Studies Association. Schwarz’s next projects focus on conflicting norms of religious freedom and development in US foreign policy, and reflexivity in the study of religion. Tanya has also recently served on the Section’s Weber Best Paper Award Committee.

Susan McWilliams Brandt, Pomona College

Susan McWilliams is an Associate Professor of Politics at Pomona College, where she has twice won the Wig Award for Excellence in Teaching. She is the author of Traveling Back: Toward a Global Political Theory (Oxford University Press, 2014) and a co-editor of several books, most recently The Best Kind of College: An Insiders’ Guide to America’s Small Liberal Arts Colleges (co-edited with John Seery, SUNY Press, forthcoming). Her writing has been published widely, including in Boston ReviewBustFront Porch Republic, Perspectives on Political Science, Political Science Quarterly, The Review of Politics, and The Star-Ledger. McWilliams received her B.A. in political science and Russian from Amherst College, where she was Phi Beta Kappa, and her M.A. and Ph.D. in politics from Princeton University, where she won the Association of Princeton Graduate Alumni University Teaching Award. In 2014 she won both the Graves Award in the Humanities and a National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship. She lives in Claremont, California, with her husband and two children.

Benjamin Gaskins, Assistant Professor of Political Science, Lewis and Clark College

Ben Gaskins is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at Lewis & Clark College. He teaches both American and Comparative Politics, including classes on religion and politics, mass media, public opinion, group politics, and political institutions. His research focuses mainly on the effect of religious commitment on opinion formation, media usage, voting behaviour, and democratic citizenship. His work also looks at how citizens learn about politics and how they make political choices. His research has been published in The American Journal of Political Science, The Journal of Politics, American Politics Research, Politics & Religion, and The International Journal of Press/Politics.

Nukhet Sandal, Director of War and Peace Studies; Associate Professor of Political Science, Ohio University

Nukhet Sandal’s research interests include religious leadership, epistemic politics of religion, politics of divided societies and foreign policy analysis. She is the author of Religious Leaders and Conflict Transformation (Cambridge University Press, 2017) and Religion in International Relations Theory: Interactions and Possibilities (Routledge, 2013, with Jonathan Fox).  She has published articles in European Journal of International Relations, International Politics, Review of International Studies, Alternatives, Political Studies, West European Politics, Human Rights Quarterly, and Canadian Journal of Political Science. She is the current chair of the Religion and International Relations Section of the International Studies Association. She is a long time member of the Religion and Politics Section at APSA, and she has most recently chaired the Section’s Aaron Wildavsky Best Dissertation Award Committee.

Nandini Deo, Lehigh University

Nandini Deo is an Associate Professor at Lehigh University.  She is a book review editor for Politics, Religion, and Ideology, chaired the Religion and Politics Section Morken best book award for 2017, and previously served on the best paper committee. Her last book Mobilizing Religion and Gender in India (Routledge 2016) studies the changing fortunes of a religious social movement.  She is currently editing a volume called Feminisms Beyond the Secular (Bloomsbury forthcoming) which looks at how postsecular theorizing is shaping feminism. She serves on the board of the Center for Global Islamic Studies at Lehigh.  Her undergraduate work was at Bryn Mawr College and her doctorate at Yale University.

Rina Williams (Ph.D. Harvard; B.A. and B.S. University of California at Irvine), Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Cincinnati; Affiliate Faculty in Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies and Asian Studies.

My research examines how religion intersects with nationalism, gender and law in the context of plural democracies. My published work in these areas includes my first book (Postcolonial Politics and Personal Laws, Oxford 2006) and co-authored pieces with Laura Jenkins and Nandini Deo. Current research includes a book project—tentatively titled Excluded, Mobilized, Incorporated: Hindu Nationalist Women and Religious Nationalist Politics in Indian Democracy, 1914-2014—and a comparison of anti-shariah politics in India and the US. I have previously served as Secretary of the Women & Politics organized section of the APSA, and currently serve as Chair of the External Outreach Committee of the Women’s Caucus of the APSA. In the former position I worked with the then-President of the section to lead an enrollment drive that increased our membership by 15%. I would be honored to bring my experiences to serve on the Executive Council of the growing and vibrant Religion & Politics organized section.

A.Kadir Yildirim, Baker Institute for Public Policy, Rice University

A.Kadir Yildirim is a fellow for the Middle East Center at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy. His research primarily addresses religious parties, with a focus on political Islam and the relationship between religion and democracy. Kadir’s recently published book, Muslim Democratic Parties in the Middle East: Economy and Politics of Islamist Moderation, analyzes the impact of economic liberalization processes on the ideological trajectories of Islamist parties in Egypt, Morocco, and Turkey. His current research is funded by the Henry Luce Foundation, the Smith Richardson Foundation, and the Carnegie Corporation of New York and examines the political dynamics of religious authority and the shifts in socio-religious inclusivity after the Arab uprisings. Kadir’s second book project, tentatively titled God Broken: Institutions and Religious Party Evolution in Western Europe and the Middle East, comparatively addresses the effect of religious institutions and authority on the evolution of religious parties. His current projects use a mixed-methods approach, drawing evidence from historical sources, interviews in the field, and survey experiments. Kadir’s scholarship has been published in journals such as Party Politics, Politics & Religion, Democratization, Middle Eastern Studies, Insight Turkey, Sociology of Islam, and Contemporary Islam, and he is a frequent contributor to the Monkey Cage blog in The Washington Post. He will serve as the chair for the Politics of the Middle East section at the Midwest Political Science Association’s 2018 annual conference. Previously, Kadir was a faculty member at Furman University and a postdoctoral fellow at Princeton University’s Niehaus Center. He holds a Ph.D. in political science from the Ohio State University, where he also earned an M.A. degree. He received his B.A. from Bilkent University in Ankara, Turkey.

2. In whose honour should the Outstanding Scholar Award be named?

Merze Tate

(February 6, 1905 – June 27, 1996) was a professor, scholar and expert on United States diplomacy. She was the first African-American graduate of Western Michigan Teachers College, first African-American woman to attend the University of Oxford, first African-American woman to earn a Ph.D. in government and international relations from Harvard University (then Radcliffe College), as well as one of the first two female members to join the Department of History at Howard University.

After she completed the teacher’s training program at Western Michigan Teacher’s College, Tate taught at an elementary school in Cass County. During this time she continued her education by taking correspondence courses and returned to Western Michigan to complete her Bachelor of Arts degree in three years while maintaining the highest grade average of her classmates. In 1927, she became the first African-American to earn a bachelor’s degree from the institution. She was also elected to the national social science honor society, Phi Gamma Mu.

Despite her excellent academic career, Tate could not find employment in the state. At that time, Michigan would not hire African-American teachers in its secondary schools. Tate received assistance from administrators at Western Michigan and was able to find a teaching position at Crispus Attucks High School in Indianapolis, Indiana. Whilst teaching, Tate took a part-time master’s degree at Columbia. In 1932, she won an Alpha Kappa Alpha scholarship to study at Oxford University where she took a B.Litt. in International Relations in 1935. She matriculated as a Home Student of St. Anne’s College, and was the first African-American woman member of Oxford University. Subsequently, she gained a Ph.D. from Harvard.[n]

Jean Bethke Elshtain

(January 6, 1941 – August 11, 2013) was an American ethicistpolitical philosopher, and public intellectual. She was the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Professor of Social and Political Ethics in the University of Chicago Divinity School with a joint appointment in the department of political science.

Elshtain taught from 1973 to 1988 at the University of Massachusetts and then from 1988 to 1995 she taught at Vanderbilt University as the first woman to hold an endowed professorship. Elshtain was selected as a Phi Beta Kappa scholar, a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a Fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton University, a Guggenheim Fellow and recipient of nine honorary degrees. In 1995 she became a professor at University of Chicago. She was the Laura Spelman Rockefeller Professor of Social and Political Ethics at the University of Chicago Divinity School, and a contributing editor for The New Republic. She was also a Visiting Distinguished Professor of Religion and Politics at Baylor University.

She was a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and she has served on the Boards of the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, and the National Humanities Center. She was the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and received nine honorary degrees. In 2002, Elshtain received the Frank J. Goodnow award, the highest award for distinguished service to the profession given by the American Political Science Association.[n]

The focus of Elshtain’s work is an exploration of the relationship between politics and ethics. Much of her work concerned the parallel development of male and female gender roles as they pertain to public and private social participation. After the September 11, 2001 attacks she was one of the more visible academic supporters of U.S. military intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq.[n]

She published over five hundred essays and authored and/or edited over twenty books, including Democracy on Trial, Just War Against Terror: The Burden of American Power in a Violent World, Jane Addams and the Dream of American Democracy, Augustine and the Limits of Politics, and ” Sovereignty: God, State, Self.

In 2006, she was appointed by President George W. Bush to the Council of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and also delivered the prestigious Gifford Lectures at the University of Edinburgh, joining such previous Gifford Lecturers as William JamesHannah ArendtKarl Barth, and Reinhold Niebuhr. In 2008, Elshtain received a second presidential appointment to the President’s Council on Bioethics.

Elshtain contributed to national debates on the family, the roles of men and women, the state of American Democracy, and International relations for more than thirty-five years.

Susanne Hoeber Rudolph

(April 3, 1930 – December 23, 2015) was an American author, political thinker and educationist. She was a William Benton Distinguished Service Professor Emerita at the University of Chicago and was actively interested in PoliticsPolitical Economy and Political Sociology of South Asia, State Formation, Max Weber and the Politics of Category and Culture.[n] The Government of India, in 2014, honored her, along with her husband, Lloyd I. Rudolph, for their services to literature and education, by bestowing on them the third highest civilian award, the Padma Bhushan.[n]

Rudolph was active in the Peristroika movement in political science, recognized with the “Blade of Grass” award for her contributions to interpretive methods, and past President of the APSA. A model for collaborative scholarship, Rudolph’s many works with her husband Lloyd include major contributions to religion and politics. These include The Modernity of Tradition, which showed how seemingly “traditional” institutions, such as caste, have been put to “modern” political functions, Transnational Religion and Fading States, and Postmodern Gandhi and other Essays.

Dorothy Day, Obl.S.B. 

(November 8, 1897 – November 29, 1980) was an American journalist, social activist, and Catholic convert. Day initially lived a bohemian lifestyle before gaining fame as a social activist after her conversion. She later became a key figure in the Catholic Worker Movement[1] and earned a national reputation as a political radical,[2] perhaps the most famous radical in American Catholic Church history.[3]

Day’s conversion is described in her autobiography, The Long Loneliness.[n] Day was also an active journalist and described her social activism in her writings. In 1917 she was imprisoned as a member of suffragist Alice Paul’s nonviolent Silent Sentinels. In the 1930s, Day worked closely with fellow activist Peter Maurin to establish the Catholic Worker Movement, a pacifist movement that combines direct aid for the poor and homeless with nonviolent direct action on their behalf. She practiced civil disobedience, which led to additional arrests in 1955,[n] 1957,[n] and in 1973 at the age of seventy-five.[n] As part of the Catholic Worker Movement, Day co-founded the Catholic Worker newspaper in 1933, and served as its editor from 1933 until her death in 1980. In this newspaper, Day advocated the Catholic economic theory of distributism, which she considered a third way between capitalism and socialism.[n][n] Dorothy Day’s life is an inspiration for the Catholic Church. Pope Benedict XVI used her conversion story as an example of how to “journey towards faith… in a secularized environment.”[n] Pope Francis included her in a short list of exemplary Americans, together with Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Thomas Merton, in his address before the United States Congress.[n] The Church has opened the cause for Day’s possible canonization, which was accepted by the Holy See for investigation. Due to this, the Church refers to her with the title of Servant of God.

Click on the link at the bottom of the email I sent to you to vote.

Proposed outstanding scholar award

image from law.typepad.comFrom the Chair:

One of the items to be voted on at the business meeting in September will be a proposal by the current Religion and Politics Executive Committee to introduce an outstanding scholar award. The proposed award would be presented to a scholar who has made an outstanding contribution to the field of religion and politics. This contribution should be through a combination of excellent and widely influential scholarship, policy input/impact, public engagement and service. The award would be presented bi-annually to begin with, with the option to move to annual in the future. The award would be made following review of applications by an appointed committee. The winner will be honored at the Annual Convention with a Plaque, a monetary award and a round-table symposium honoring their work. We propose that the first such of these awards would be given at the 2018 Annual Convention.

The award is intended as an addition to, not replacement for, the practice of awarding special ‘life time achievement awards’ for scholars who have made substantial contributions to the Section on the event of their retirement.

The Committee seeks to name the award after a woman and/or person of color and would appreciate suggestions/recommendations of suitable figures. Please send these and any comments or suggestions regarding the focus and articulation of the award to the chair [email protected] by 15 July 2017.

The proposal to introduce the new award as well as who it should be named after will be voted on at the 2017 Annual Business Meeting of the section, and will also be included as part of the online voting process. If the vote to introduce the award is affirmative, a call for nominations will be circulated in the Fall, following the annual convention, in time to include the symposium in program submissions for next year’s convention.

Thanks in advance for your comments and input.

Best wishes,