Bertram Johnson

Professor of Political Science

 work(802) 443-5399
 On leave 2019-2020 academic year
 on leave academic year

Bert Johnson (B.A. Carleton College, 1994; Ph.D. Harvard University, 2003) has taught American politics at Middlebury since 2004. His research and teaching interests include campaign finance, federalism, and state and local politics. Johnson is author of Political Giving: Making Sense of Individual Campaign Contributions (Boulder: FirstForum Press, 2013), and coauthor (with Morris Fiorina, Paul E. Peterson, and William Mayer) of The New American Democracy (Longman, 2011). His articles have appeared in Social Science History, Urban Affairs Review, and American Politics Research. He is owner and author of



Course List: 

Courses offered in the past four years.
indicates offered in the current term
indicates offered in the upcoming term[s]

FYSE 1296 - US Constitutional Democracy      

America's Constitutional Democracy
America’s constitutional democracy rests on a foundation of political theory, constitutional law, and historical experience. By examining the writings of John Locke, James Madison, Alexis de Tocqueville, Abraham Lincoln, Frederick Douglass, Susan B. Anthony, and many others, and by reading a series of key Supreme Court rulings, we will explore how Americans have grappled with key questions involving liberty, equality, representation, and commerce. 3 hrs. sem. AMR CW SOC

Fall 2016, Fall 2018

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IPEC 0700 - Intl.Pol.&Economics SR. Thesis      

Senior Thesis
(Approval Required)

Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Winter 2018, Spring 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021

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PSCI 0104 - Intro to American Politics      

Introduction to American Politics
This course introduces the institutions and practices of American government and politics. The aim is to give students a firm understanding of the workings of and the balance of power among the American Congress, President, bureaucracy, and court system. We begin with the Constitution, which provides the set of founding principles upon which the American government is based. We then look at how American citizens make decisions about politics. Finally, we examine how political institutions, interest groups, parties, elections, and legislative bodies and rules aggregate diverse, often conflicting preferences and how they resolve or exacerbate problems. 3 hrs. lect./disc. (American Politics)/ AMR NOR SOC

Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2019

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PSCI 0215 - Fed. State & Local Politics      

Federalism, State and Local Politics
What are the unique political opportunities and constraints facing state and local governments? How have these changed over time? In this course we examine the relationships between different levels of government in the U.S. federal system, considering the particular tasks and dilemmas facing states and cities, and scrutinizing the complex interactions between governments that characterize federalism in the United States. Topics include local political culture, intergovernmental grants, state parties, and state political economy. Vermont, New York, and California will receive special scrutiny. 3 hrs. lect./disc. (American Politics)/ AMR NOR SOC

Spring 2016, Spring 2018, Spring 2019

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PSCI 0368 - Frontiers in Political Science      

Frontiers in Political Science Research
Nothing is more controversial among political scientists than the topic of how to study politics. In this course, we consider a variety of advanced techniques for studying political phenomena, including statistical methods, game theory, institutional analysis, case study techniques, experiments, and agent-based modeling. We will work with concrete examples (drawn from major political science journals) of how scholars have used these techniques, and consider the ongoing philosophical controversies associated with each approach. Students will have the opportunity to conduct original research using a method and subject of their choosing. (Two political science courses) 3 hrs. lect.disc. (Political Theory)/ DED SOC

Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018

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PSCI 0458 / GSFS 0458 - Race, Gender, & Class Politics      

The U.S. Politics of Race, Gender, and Class
Race, gender, and class have long shaped American politics. They have formed the basis for social movements, have structured institutions, and have affected the way political actors–from voters to activists to elected officials–have made their day-to-day decisions. What do political scientists know about the roles that race, gender, and class play in politics, separately and together, and what do we yet have to learn? (PSCI 0102 or PSCI 0104) 3 hrs. sem. (American Politics) /(Critical Race Feminisms) NOR SOC

Spring 2017

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PSCI 0465 - City Politics      

City Politics
Cities have always been central to political life in the United States, but scholars disagree over how power is distributed in cities, which groups exercise the most authority, how cities relate to their economic and political environments, and whether it is legitimate to view cities as microcosms of state or national politics. We will consider these general debates as we read major works on U.S. urban politics, addressing issues such as racial and ethnic politics, immigration, suburbanization, and cities' positions in the global economy. (PSCI 0102 or PSCI 0104) 3 hrs. sem. (American Politics)/

Spring 2018

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PSCI 0500 - Independent Project      

Independent Projects
A program of independent work designed to meet the individual needs of advanced students. (Approval required)

Winter 2016, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Winter 2017, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Winter 2018, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021

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PSCI 0700 - Honors Thesis      

Honors Thesis
(Approval required)

Winter 2016, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Winter 2017, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Winter 2018, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Winter 2019, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Winter 2020, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021

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Bertram Johnson, "Sub-National Politics: A National Political Perspective," in Donald Haider-Markel, Ed., The Oxford Handbook of State and Local Government. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014.

Bertram Johnson, Political Giving: Making Sense of Individual Campaign Contributions. Boulder, CO: FirstForum Press, 2013.

Bertram Johnson, "Small Ball in the Long Game: Barack Obama and Congress," in Steven Schier, Ed. Transforming America: Barack Obama in the White House. Boulder, CO: Rowman & Littlefield, 2011.

Morris Fiorina, Paul E. Peterson, Bertram Johnson, and William G. Mayer, The New American Democracy, 7th Edition, New York: Longman, 2011.

Morris P. Fiorina, Paul E. Peterson, Bertram Johnson, and William G. Mayer, America's New Democracy, 6th edition, New York: Longman, 2011.

Bertram Johnson, "Individual Contributions: A Fundraising Advantage for the Ideologically Extreme?" American Politics Research 38:5 (September 2010), pp. 890-908. (Reprinted in Robert G. Boatright, Ed. Campaign Finance: The Problems and Consequences of Reform.  New York:  IDEBATE Press, 2011.)

Bertram Johnson, "Shifting Sands: President Bush and Congress," in Steven E. Schier, Ed. Ambition and Division: Legacies of the George W. Bush Presidency. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2009.

Bertram Johnson, "Collective Action, City Council Committees, and State Aid to Cities," Urban Affairs Review 42:4 (March 2007), pp. 457-478.

Bertram Johnson, "Associated Municipalities: Collective Action and the Development of State Leagues of Cities," Social Science History 29:4 (Winter 2005), pp. 549-574.

Bertram Johnson, "Federalism: Local, State, Federal and International Data Sources (examples)", Encyclopedia of Social Measurement, New York: Elsevier, 2004.

Bertram Johnson, "A Stake in the Sand: George W. Bush and Congress" in High Risk and Big Ambition: The Presidency of George W. Bush, edited by Steven E. Schier, Pittsburgh, PA: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2004.

Reviews and Other Items

Review of Who Donates in Campaigns? The Importance of Message, Messenger, Medium, and Structure, by David Magleby, Jay Goodliffe, and Joseph A. Olsen (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2018), in Political Science Quarterly, Winter 2019-2020, pp. 744-745.

(with Margot Graham, Nora Lenhard, Hazel Millard, and Andrew Plotch) “How do primary voters decide between ‘electable’ and ideologically pure? Our research surprised us.” The Monkey Cage Blog,, February 26, 2016.

"Worse than Citizens United," (U.S. News and World Report), April 3, 2014.

(With 14 other political scientists), “Brief of Political Scientists as Amici Curiae in Support of Respondents,” Town of Greece v. Galloway, Supreme Court of the United States, No. 12-696 (September 2013). 

"Politics in America: Myth or Reality?" (with Matthew Dickinson) Middlebury Magazine 86:4 (Fall 2012), pp. 48-49.

Review of Brian E. Adams, Campaign Finance in Local Elections: Buying the Grassroots, in Political Science Quarterly 125:4 (Winter 2010-2011), p. 728-729.

"Ruling wasn't on the money," Rutland Herald, January 24, 2010.

Other Media

Recent appearances on Vermont Public Radio's "Vermont Edition" to discuss the state of the Democratic presidential race as of March 2016, the 2016 Republican Primary in Vermont, the 2014 Vermont primary season, Vermont's Progressive Party, federalism, and Vermont's citizen legislature.

"Professor Pundits" video series, with Matt Dickinson, is available at the Middlebury College Newsroom

Research Interests

Intergovernmental Relations
State and Local Politics
Interest Groups
Campaign Finance

Program in Gender, Sexuality and Feminist Studies

Chellis House Women's Resource Center
56 Hillcrest Road
Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT 05753