John Dinan

Professor

Office: Kirby 305
Phone: 758-3495
Email: dinanjj@wfu.edu

John Dinan’s research focuses on state constitutionalism, federalism, and American political development.  He is the author of several books, including The American State Constitutional Tradition and Keeping the People’s Liberties: Legislators, Citizens, and Judges as Guardians of Rights, and he writes an annual entry on state constitutional developments for The Book of the States. He served as the chair of the Federalism and Intergovernmental Relations Section of the American Political Science Association.  He received his PhD from the University of Virginia.

Education

B.A.  1990, University of Virginia
M.A.  1994, University of Virginia
Ph.D. 1996, University of Virginia

Academic Appointments

Visiting Assistant Professor (1996-2000), Assistant Professor (2001-2003), Associate Professor (2003-2011), Professor (2011-), Wake Forest University

Selected Publications

The Virginia State Constitution, 2nd ed. (Oxford University Press, 2014)

The American State Constitutional Tradition (University Press of Kansas, 2006)

Keeping the People’s Liberties: Legislators, Citizens, and Judges as Guardians of Rights (University Press of Kansas, 1998)

Recent publications

“Relations between State and National Governments,” in Donald Haider-Markel, ed., Oxford Handbook of State and Local Government (Oxford University Press, 2014): 7-26

“The Past, Present, and Future Role of State Constitutions,” in Richard Niemi and Joshua Dyck, eds., Guide to State Politics and Policy (CQ Press, 2014): 19-32

Pol 113   American Government and Politics

Several questions guide our study of American government and politics in this course: How well is a Constitution written in the late 18th century functioning in the early 21st century?  How have patterns of political participation evolved, and to what extent do recent elections reflect a continuation of or departure from these patterns?  How well is the U.S. electoral system performing, and what would be the consequences of adopting various proposed reforms?  What tools and approaches are available to presidents for securing passage of their policy initiatives, and which of these tools and approaches have been most effective?  To what extent is the U.S. policy-making process producing legislation in the public interest?  What role has the Supreme Court played in interpreting various constitutional provisions, and what is the proper judicial role in resolving controversial questions concerning the definition and extent of civil rights and liberties?

Pol 211  Political Parties, Voters, and Elections

As the course title indicates, we are interested in examining U.S. political parties, voters, and elections.  Regarding parties: we are concerned with tracing their evolving role in the American political system and considering the main functions they perform and the groups and institutions that are increasingly performing these functions alongside of them or in their place.  Regarding voter participation and behavior: we are interested in determining which factors are associated with high levels of voter turnout and explaining voter decision-making.  Regarding elections: we seek to explain the outcomes of presidential and congressional elections, both in the nominating phase and general election.

Pol 218   Congress and Policy Making

Of the various American political institutions, Congress has traditionally been the target of the most criticism.  One of our goals in this course will be to analyze Congress with any eye toward assessing the performance of the institution and its members.  We are concerned with determining how well members represent their constituents, whether various institutional rules and arrangements promote adequate deliberation, and to what extent the policy process produces legislation consonant with the public interest.

Pol 221  State Politics

Political scientists are drawn to study state politics for various reasons.  First, state political institutions differ from federal institutions in important respects, and political scientists are led in each instance to assess and compare the operation of the distinctive state approaches and the federal approach.  Political scientists also seek to draw lessons from the variety of approaches within the state political tradition.  The diversity of state approaches presents opportunities not only for explanation (why do the states differ?), but also evaluation (what are the advantages and disadvantages of the various state approaches?).  Finally, states bear significant responsibility for various aspects of domest policy; but the federal government has assumed greater responsibilities and imposed increasing restrictions on state policy-making.  A comprehensive study of U.S. policy-making requires that attention be paid to the important role played by state governments as well as the complex and evolving relationship between state and federal governments.