Bertram Johnson

Associate Professor of Political Science and Department Chair

 Wednesday 2:00 - 4:00, Thursday 1:30 - 3:30 and by appointment
 Munroe Hall 208

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.



Course List: 

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

IPEC0700 - Intl.Pol.&Economics SR. Thesis      

Senior Thesis
(Approval Required)

Spring 2012, Winter 2013, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017

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PSCI0104 - 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)/ NOR SOC

Fall 2012, Winter 2013, Fall 2014, Fall 2015

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PSCI0215 - 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)/ NOR SOC

Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2015, Spring 2016

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PSCI0368 - 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 2012, Fall 2014, Fall 2015

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PSCI0465 - 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 2012

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PSCI0495 - Money and Politics      

Money and Politics
Observers and political activists have long fought over how to best reconcile the existence of capitalism, with its necessary inequalities, and the principles of a democratic republic, which postulates equality with respect to rights. In this seminar, we consider what political science can teach us about the relationship between money and politics, and how best to assess the normative consequences of this interaction. 3 hrs. sem. (American Politics)/ NOR

Spring 2013

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PSCI0500 - Independent Project      

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

Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Winter 2013, Spring 2013, Winter 2014, Fall 2014, Winter 2015, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Winter 2016, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017

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PSCI0700 - Honors Thesis      

Honors Thesis
(Approval required)

Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Winter 2013, Spring 2013, Winter 2014, Fall 2014, Winter 2015, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Winter 2016, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017

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Publications (full CV here)

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

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

"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

Interview with the Burlington Free Press on campaign finance in the 2014 Vermont election.

Recent appearances on Vermont Public Radio's "Vermont Edition" to discuss the 2014 Vermont primary season, Vermont's Progressive Party, federalism, and Vermont's citizen legislature.

"Professor Pundits" video series, with Matt Dickinson. Also available at Vermont Public Radio.

Public talk: All Contributions Great and Small: How the Campaign Finance System Shapes U.S. Politics (via Middlebury Digital Collections)

Research Interests

Intergovernmental Relations
State and Local Politics
Interest Groups
Campaign Finance