H. Abbie Erler came to Kenyon College in 2005. She has written papers on redistricting and women's representation, term limits and fiscal policy and the president's pardon power. She received her Ph.D. from Yale University.

Areas of Expertise

American politics, women and politics, political reform.

Courses Recently Taught

In this course, students will gain experience analyzing, interpreting, and critiquing quantitative claims and communicating results and conclusions using graphical representations of data. Examples will be drawn from across the natural and social sciences, with context provided for each data set, so that students from any disciplinary background can participate in and benefit from this course. This course has no pre-requisites. It will be taught at a level accessible to all Kenyon students. Excellent preparation for further work on quantitative topics, this course will hone students' ability to apply mathematical techniques including graphing, statistics, linear and non-linear regression, and modeling the graphical behavior of mathematical functions to understanding and interpreting data. Students will practice these skills by engaging in critical reading of primary sources, oral presentation of quantitative data, and expression of analytic ideas in writing. Assessment will be based on in-class assignments, monthly quizzes, and oral reports on data-driven projects selected in consultation with the instructor.

This course explores the relationship between the individual and society as exemplified in the writings of political philosophers, statesmen, novelists and contemporary political writers. Questions about law, political obligation, freedom, equality and justice and human nature are examined and illustrated. The course looks at different kinds of societies such as the ancient city, modern democracy and totalitarianism, and confronts contemporary issues such as race, culture and gender. The readings present diverse viewpoints and the sessions are conducted by discussion. The course is designed primarily for first-year students. Students enrolled in this course will be automatically added to PSCI 102Y for the spring semester. Offered every fall.

This course explores the relationship between the individual and society as exemplified in the writings of political philosophers, statesmen, novelists and contemporary political writers. Questions about law, political obligation, freedom, equality and justice and human nature are examined and illustrated. The course looks at different kinds of societies such as the ancient city, modern democracy and totalitarianism, and confronts contemporary issues such as race, culture and gender. The readings present diverse viewpoints and the sessions are conducted by discussion. The course is designed primarily for first-year students. Offered every spring.

The course explores the guiding principles, major institutions and national politics of the American political system. The Founders' view of liberal democracy and of the three branches of our government (presented in the "Federalist Papers") will provide the basis for consideration of the modern Supreme Court, presidency, bureaucracy, Congress, news media, and political parties and elections. The course concludes with Tocqueville's broad overview of American democracy and its efforts to reconcile liberty and equality. The themes of the course will be illustrated by references to current political issues, events and personalities. This course is the same as AMST 200D. This course must be taken as PSCI 200D to count toward the social science requirement. This course counts toward the American politics requirement for the major and the politics, culture and society requirement for the American studies major. Prerequisite: sophomore standing or first-year students currently enrolled in PSCI 102Y. Offered every year.

This course explores different views of the presidency and the nature of presidential leadership. The Founders' view will be compared with developments since Franklin Roosevelt, including the imperial and post-imperial presidencies. A central concern will be understanding the constitutional powers of and restraints on the modern president. We will study presidential selection, the president's relations with other parts of the government and the president's role in domestic and foreign policymaking. The course concludes with a study of presidential leadership and of the proper ends and means by which to exercise political power, with particular attention to the presidencies of George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. This counts toward an upper-level American politics course for the major. Prerequisite: sophomore standing. Offered every two years.

This course studies various views of the policymaking process in our national government and considers the different stages of policymaking. These include how problems are defined, how new proposals emerge and how certain solutions make it onto the national agenda and are debated before adoption, altered during implementation and subsequently evaluated. We also will consider the role of politicians, experts and bureaucrats in policymaking, study why specific policies were adopted and debate whether these were the best possible policies. We will analyze the policymaking process through case studies such as welfare reform, education and national health insurance. This course is a required foundation course for the Public Policy Concentration and counts toward the American politics requirement for the major. Prerequisite: sophomore standing. Offered every year.

The course explores basic issues in constitutional law relevant to the principles and problems of our liberal democracy. We begin with cases of the Marshall Court, which lay the foundations of our constitutional order and define the role of the judiciary. Most of the course is devoted to controversial themes in our 20th-century jurisprudence. Emphasis will be placed on recent Supreme Court decisions in the areas of equal protection of the laws, due process, the right to privacy, freedom of speech and press, religious freedom and the separation of powers. This counts toward the American politics requirement for the major. Prerequisite: sophomore standing. Offered every two years.

Special Topic

Individual study in political science is available to students who want to pursue a course of reading or complete a focused research project on a topic not regularly offered in the department's curriculum. To enroll, a student must prepare a proposal in consultation with a member of the political science faculty who has suitable expertise and is willing to work with the student over the course of a semester. The proposal should include a statement of the questions the student plans to explore, a preliminary bibliography, a schedule of assignments, a schedule of meetings with the faculty member and a description of the elements that will be factored into the course grade. The student also should briefly describe any prior coursework that particularly qualifies him or her to pursue the project independently. The department chair must approve the proposal. The department expects the student to meet regularly with the instructor for at least the equivalent of one hour per week. Reading assignments will vary depending on the topic but should approximate a regular departmental course in that field. Students should expect to write at least 30 pages over the course of the semester for an individual study bearing 0.50 units of credit. The chair must receive proposals by the third day of classes. Because students must enroll for individual studies by the end of the seventh class day of each semester, they should begin discussion of the proposed individual study preferably the semester before, so that there is time to devise the proposal and seek departmental approval before the established deadline.

The senior honors candidate works with two members of the department to prepare a major essay on a topic of his or her choice, which is then defended before an outside examiner in May. Students enrolled in this course will be automatically added to PSCI 498Y for the spring semester. Permission of department chair required. Prerequisite: senior standing.

The senior honors candidate works with two members of the department to prepare a major essay on a topic of his or her choice, which is then defended before an outside examiner in May. Permission of department chair required. Prerequisite: senior standing.

This course will examine feminist critiques of dominant methodologies and theories of knowledge creation in the sciences, social sciences and humanities. It will focus on the following questions: How do we know something? Who gets to decide what counts as knowledge? Who is the knower? In answering these questions this class will explore how power is exercised in the production of knowledge, how the norms of objectivity and universalism perpetuate dominance and exclusion, why women and other minority groups are often seen as lacking epistemic authority and what it means to have knowledge produced from a feminist standpoint. Students will learn a variety of methods and use these methods in a community-based research project. This project will involve working with community partners in Knox County and may require student participation outside of the scheduled class time. In addition, we will discuss various ethical issues that feminist researchers often encounter and what responsibilities feminist researchers have to the broader political community. This course has a community-engaged learning (CEL) component. Students may be required to travel off-campus for site visits. This counts towards the mid-level requirement for the major. This course paired with any other .50 unit WGS course counts toward the social science diversification requirement. Prerequisite: any WGS course, approved departmental course or permission of instructor. Offered every other year.

This course will provide the opportunity for those students taking WGS 481 in the spring to plan the course. Students will select a topic, order books, plan the syllabus and design a project. In addition, they will read about course design and pedagogy so that they are prepared to take responsibility for collaboratively teaching the course in the spring. Offered only on a credit/no credit basis. This course is required for the major. This interdisciplinary course does not count toward the completion of any diversification requirement. Prerequisite: senior standing.

The senior colloquium is organized around a theme determined by senior majors and concentrators in consultation with the instructor during the semester prior to the beginning of the course. Previous topics include "Women and Madness," "The Politics of the Bathroom" and "Gender and Tourism." This course is required for the major. Prerequisite: WGS 480 or permission of instructor. Offered every spring.

Individual study enables students to examine an area not typically covered by courses regularly offered in the program. The course can be arranged with a faculty member in any department but must conform to the usual requirements for credit in the program: gender is a central focus of the individual study, and the course draws on feminist theory and/or feminist methodologies. The amount of work should be similar to that in any other 400-level course. Individual Study courses may be used toward the major or concentration. To enroll, a student should first contact a faculty member and, in consultation with that professor, develop a proposal. The proposal, which must be approved by the program director, should provide: a brief description of the course/project (including any previous classes that qualify the student), a preliminary bibliography or reading list, an assessment component (what will be graded and when) and major topical areas to be covered during the semester. The student and faculty member should plan to meet approximately one hour per week or the equivalent, at the discretion of the instructor. Because students must enroll for individual studies by the end of the seventh class day of each semester, they should begin discussion of the proposed individual study preferably the semester before, so that there is time to devise the proposal and seek departmental approval before the registrar’s deadline. This interdisciplinary course does not count toward the completion of any diversification requirement.

Individual study enables students to examine an area not typically covered by courses regularly offered in the program. The course can be arranged with a faculty member in any department but must conform to the usual requirements for credit in the program: gender is a central focus of the individual study, and the course draws on feminist theory and/or feminist methodologies. The amount of work should be similar to that in any other 400-level course. Individual Study courses may be used toward the major or concentration. To enroll, a student should first contact a faculty member and, in consultation with that professor, develop a proposal. The proposal, which must be approved by the program director, should provide: a brief description of the course/project (including any previous classes that qualify the student), a preliminary bibliography or reading list, an assessment component (what will be graded and when) and major topical areas to be covered during the semester. The student and faculty member should plan to meet approximately one hour per week or the equivalent, at the discretion of the instructor. Because students must enroll for individual studies by the end of the seventh class day of each semester, they should begin discussion of the proposed individual study preferably the semester before, so that there is time to devise the proposal and seek departmental approval before the registrar’s deadline. This interdisciplinary course does not count toward the completion of any diversification requirement.