Kurt Pyle received his doctorate in political science from Michigan State University in 2012 and began teaching at Kenyon in 2015. At Kenyon, he teaches courses in American politics and political research methods, including Liberal Democracy in America and courses on public opinion and voting behavior, the U.S. Congress, campaigns and elections, and the relationship between media and politics.

Kurt's current research focuses on two topics: the role of politically-focused emotion on political behavior and the impact of super PACs on campaign advertising and messaging strategies. This work has yielded important insights on when and how voters develop anxiety in response to candidates throughout an electoral campaign, as well as how the rise of super PACs have altered the issue content, tone, and behavior of political campaigns.

In addition, Kurt served as a teaching assistant for five years at the prestigious Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) Summer Program, helping scholars around the world learn advanced social science methodological techniques.

Areas of Expertise

American politics, public opinion, campaigns and elections.

Education

2012 — Doctor of Philosophy from Michigan State University

2008 — Master of Arts from Michigan State University

2006 — Bachelor of Arts from Hope College

Courses Recently Taught

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 PSCI 200D. This course must be taken as PSCI 200D to count towards the social science requirement. This course counts toward the politics, culture and society requirement for the major. Prerequisite: sophomore standing or concurrent enrollment in PSCI 102Y. Offered every year.

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 examines the origins, nature and impact of American public opinion as expressed through polling and electoral behavior. Major topics include the measurement and nature of public opinion, the sources of political opinions and attitudes, the organization of citizen thinking about politics, the origins of voting decisions, and the impact of public opinion on the nature and direction of public policy. We study these topics with regard to a number of contemporary issues and elections, and in light of modern trends toward popular polarization. Particular attention is paid to the tension between normative expectations of democratic citizens and empirical research findings regarding their actual behavior. This counts toward the American politics requirement for the major. Prerequisite: sophomore standing. Offered every two years.

This course examines the influence American citizens have on their government through political parties and elections. Major topics include the character of American parties; the political behavior and beliefs of citizens, especially as voters; recent history of the party system and elections; election campaigning; the role of the news media in elections; the impact of public opinion and elections on government policies; the future of the party system; and an evaluation of the party and electoral systems from the perspective of democratic theory. We pay special attention to current presidential and congressional elections. This counts toward the American politics requirement for the major. Prerequisite: sophomore standing. Offered every two years.

How is American democracy shaped by the constantly evolving relationships among politicians, journalists and citizens? What is news? How do journalists define their job? Is the news more a medium that allows politicians to manipulate the public, or is it the media that shapes public opinion? Or is it possible that the audience influences the news as much as it is influenced by it? The conflict between the media and the government is analyzed in terms of the constitutional rights of a free press and a political battle between an adversarial or biased press and a government of manipulating politicians. Current news serves as a testing ground for the ideas advanced by scholars, journalists and politicians. This counts toward the American politics or seminar requirement for the major. Prerequisite: sophomore standing.