Neal Jesse to study European politics as visiting professor in England

Dr. Neal Jesse, political science, will be spending fall semester in England as the Hallsworth Visiting Professor of Political Economy at the University of Manchester.

The position was founded under the terms of a gift made in 1944 by the Rt. Hon. Lord Simon of Wythenshawe, of Didsbury, for the promotion of research and teaching in the social sciences. “They don’t give the professorship out every year,” Jesse said. “They wait until they have the right person, so I am very happy to have obtained it.”

Dr. Neal Jesse
Dr. Neal Jesse

He was awarded the prestigious position in Manchester’s Department of Politics after having already been appointed a visiting research fellow at the university, where he will teach a seminar. With the professorship come many additional advantages, Jesse said, which will help support the research he plans to conduct while in the United Kingdom. “I will have a lot of resources there,” he predicted.

Jesse’s research has centered on comparative politics, especially British and Irish party and electoral systems. While in Manchester, he will study strategic voting in European elections.

“I will look at why people vote, what happens when they aren’t able to vote for their top choice, and at the effects on voter turnout of the British political system,” he said. “I want to unearth some of that, and I’m sure the questions will unfold while I’m there.”

The results of the European study will be applicable to the United States, he said, in that the American electoral system is based on the British model, in which the winner takes all. “The difference is that there they have more parties and more frequent elections,” he said. In both countries, however, “the system does not inspire you to vote.”

A new area of Jesse’s research is political belief systems. He said he is pleased that he will be able to meet with BGSU political science colleague Dr. David Jackson, who will be in Dublin, Ireland. The two are examining the effects of celebrity endorsements on college-age voters’ political beliefs, which Jackson has studied in Canada. They will expand their research with a survey of that demographic group in the U.K. and the Republic of Ireland.

Jesse will also continue his work on a book about ethnic conflict around the globe, which he is co-authoring with Kristen Williams, a faculty member from Clark University. The book will be published by the Congressional Quarterly Press.

He will spend the rest of his sabbatical year compiling and analyzing the results of his research. “That’s what the spring and summer are for,” he joked.

Jesse, who received his Ph.D. from the University of California at Los Angeles, is co-author with Williams of Identity and Institutions: Conflict Reduction in Divided Societies (SUNY Press, 2005) and numerous articles and book chapters. He has taught at BGSU since 1999.

August 7, 2006