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The CSED Gets New Director; Political Behavior Gets New Editors-in-Chief

October 2, 2023

Image of Dr. Michael Barber and Dr. Christopher Karpowitz

Elections play an essential role in the lives of citizens throughout the United States. The Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy at Brigham Young University, often shortened to CSED, conducts research on various aspects of elections, voting, and American democracy. The CSED’s goal is to function as a “nonpartisan academic research center seeking to increase knowledge about the practice of American democracy.”1

This January, the CSED seeks to increase knowledge with a new Director, Dr. Michael Barber. Dr. Barber is an Associate Professor of Political Science at BYU whose research focuses on campaign contributors, voter turnout, and more. He has been involved in the center as both a student fellow and later as a faculty member. Due to Dr. Barber’s familiarity and long term connection with the CSED, The annual American Family Survey, The Cooperative Elections Survey, and many other research projects and conferences from past years will continue to flourish with the support they need.

Students will also flourish under Dr. Barber’s support. Each year, 10-12 undergraduate students conduct their own research and are heavily involved in the entire process. These undergrads apply the principles they learn in their courses and work closely with political science faculty. Kesley Townsend, BYU alum and former CSED member, noted that it was the impactful part of her educational experience. In fact, she looks back often towards that time to help her current work as an editorial assistant and in her next steps in her academic career. Students who are looking to be involved in CSED should watch for upcoming applications for Winter 2024.

The former director of the CSED, Dr. Christopher Karpowitz, is moving on to a position as a Co-Editor-in-Chief with BYU colleague, Dr. Jessica Preece, of Political Behavior. As a nationally recognized academic journal, Political Behavior focuses on publishing original research about how ordinary people conceptualize politics from economic, psychological, sociological, or political approaches.2 Prior to January 1st, 2023, the journal was based at Notre Dame University.

The shift to Brigham Young University is an exciting move, one that the Co-Editors are looking forward to. Dr. Karpowitz and Dr. Preece are thrilled to foster Political Behavior’s high reputation, one that has been established by publishing quality research. During this time of transition, they will continue to publish work that, “begins with important and interesting questions” while expanding the method of review.3 It is challenging to find reviewers for research in many disciplines at this time, so expanding the number of scholars who are involved in that process is a primary goal.

“We want to further strengthen the community of scholars who are interested in political behavior as a topic” says Dr. Karpowitz. These scholars come from diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and interests. The team is looking forward to relationships with scholars around the nation and across the world, something Dr. Karpowitz says is, “always a good thing” and they are excited for the opportunity to be part of this work.