Professor of Political Science and Department Chair
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.
Courses offered in the past four years.
▲ indicates offered in the current term
▹ indicates offered in the upcoming term[s]
IPEC 0500 - Independent Project
IPEC 0700 - Intl.Pol.&Economics SR. Thesis
Winter 2012, Spring 2012, Winter 2013
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)/
Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Winter 2013, Fall 2014
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. (PSCI 0102 or PSCI 0104 or by waiver) 3 hrs. lect./disc. (American Politics)/
Spring 2011, Spring 2012, Spring 2013
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)/
Fall 2010, Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2014
PSCI 0465 - 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)/
PSCI 0495 - 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)/
Spring 2011, Spring 2013
PSCI 0500 - Independent Project ▲ ▹
A program of independent work designed to meet the individual needs of advanced students. (Approval required)
Fall 2010, Winter 2011, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Winter 2012, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Winter 2013, Spring 2013, Winter 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015
PSCI 0700 - Honors Thesis ▲
Fall 2010, Winter 2011, Spring 2011, Fall 2011, Winter 2012, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Winter 2013, Spring 2013, Winter 2014, Fall 2014
PSCI 1009 - Public Opinion in US Politics
Public Opinion in American Politics
In this course we will explore the subject of public opinion in American politics. We will read major political science works on the sources of Americans’ political attitudes and learn how political scientists analyze public opinion through major datasets such as the National Election Studies (NES). No prior knowledge of statistics is necessary to take this course, but students should be prepared to learn about and make use of statistical concepts, techniques, and computer software.
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," USNews.com (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.
Interview with the Burlington Free Press on campaign finance in the 2014 Vermont election.
Public talk: All Contributions Great and Small: How the Campaign Finance System Shapes U.S. Politics (via Middlebury Digital Collections)
State and Local Politics