Department Chair/Department Leadership
Brigid Callahan Harrison, professor and chair, received a PhD from Temple University. Her research interests include politics and technology, campaigns and elections; American public opinion; and the politics of the Millennial Generation. She teaches courses including American Government and Campaign Politics. Harrison is also author of American Democracy Now (McGraw-Hill Publishers, 5th ed. 2017), A More Perfect Union (McGraw-Hill Publishers, 2010), Power and Society (Cengage, 14th ed. 2016) and Women in American Politics (Wadsworth, 2003). She is frequently quoted by the press and serves as president of the New Jersey Political Science Association. In 2015 and 2016, she was named to PolitickerNJ’s Power List.
Benjamin Nienass, interim deputy chair and associate professor, received his PhD from the New School for Social Research. He was previously a Fellow at the Collège d’études mondiales in Paris and at the Humanities Center of the University of Rochester. His research focuses on the politics of memory and has appeared in numerous journals. He is the co-editor of Silence, Screen, and Spectacle: Rethinking Social Memory in the Age of Information, as well as the co-editor of several special journal issues, most recently “Myths of Innocence in German Public Memory” in German Politics and Society (2021). He teaches courses in political theory.
Antoinette Pole, deputy chair and associate professor, received a PhD from the CUNY Graduate Center. Her research interests focus on the intersection of information technology and politics, and food and politics. She explores theoretical questions related to political participation and community. Pole teaches courses including American Congress, Politics and Film, and Food and Politics. Her books include Blogging the Political: Politics and Participation in a Networked Society published by Routledge (2010), and New York Politics: A Tale of Two States coauthored, and published by M.E. Sharpe (2nd ed. 2009).
Daniel Mengara received his PhD from the University of Nice (France). He currently serves as Graduate Program Coordinator (GPC) in the Department of Political Science and Law and an Associate Professor in the Department of Modern Languages and Literatures. While his teaching deals mostly with French and Francophone literatures, Daniel Mengara’s research interests are broader and touch on various fields of African studies, including pre-Islamic and precolonial African political and thought systems. Daniel Mengara is the author of several books and articles, including La représentation des groupes sociaux chez les romanciers noirs sud-africains (1996), Images of Africa, Stereotypes and Realities (2001), Mema (a novel, 2003), and Le chant des chimpanzés (a novel; 2008). He has another book coming out in 2018 on the political history of Gabon under the Bongo regime, entitled Le Gabon en danger: Autopsie d’une République monarchique “bananisée” en état de déliquescence.
Ariel Alvarez, associate professor, received a PhD in Public Policy and Administration from Rutgers University and received a JD from St. Thomas University School of Law. He is licensed to practice law. Alvarez’s research interests include constitutional law, litigation strategy and public sector reform, public organizational accountability in the context of child welfare, criminal law and criminal procedure. Alvarez teaches graduate and undergraduate courses including, but not limited too, American Government, Criminal Law, Research Methods and Introduction to Public Administration.
Jack Baldwin-LeClair, associate professor, received an EdS from Rutgers University and a JD Quinnipiac School of Law. He specializes in Jurisprudence; Governance, Compliance, and Regulatory Theory in the Employment and Intellectual Property Arenas; Civil Rights; Human Rights Under International Law; Employment Law; Cyberlaw; Arbitration; and Conflict Management in the Workplace. He teaches courses including Legal Reasoning and Human Rights Law.
Alfredo Toro Carnevali, visiting specialist, received a BA in Political Science from Georgetown University and an MA in Public Policy and Administration from the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE). His research interests include US-Latin American relations, international governance, and the doctrine of the Responsibility to Protect. He has ten years of relevant experience in the fields of international security and diplomacy. Between January 2015 and December 2016, he was the Deputy Political Coordinator of Venezuela’s delegation to the United Nations Security Council. He has also held the positions of chairman of the Security Council’s Sub-committee on counter-terrorism and non-proliferation (1540) and vice-president of the General Assembly’s Committee on Disarmament and International Security. Prior to joining the Venezuelan diplomatic corps, he taught public policy at the Central University of Venezuela. He has published numerous articles in international academic journals and is a regular contributor to different newspapers and blogs in the Spanish language.
Ian Drake, associate professor, received a PhD in American history from the University of Maryland at College Park. His research interests include the history of American constitutional law and private law, particularly tort and contract law. He is currently conducting research on animal protection laws, First Amendment rights, and the politics of the treatment of animals used in industrial agriculture and scientific research. He teaches courses in the American judiciary and legal system, the U.S. Supreme Court and constitutional history, the history and contemporary study of law and society, broadly construed, and political theory. Drake has also practiced law in the areas of insurance and tort law. He is the designated Montclair State University Pre-Law Advisor and serves as the coordinator of the Jurisprudence, Law and Society major as well as the Pre-Law minor.
Tony Spanakos, chair, received his PhD from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. His research interests are political economy and democracy in Latin America, foreign policy of rising powers, Sino-Latin American relations, and political theory and popular culture. He is the co-editor of Reforming Brazil (2004, Lexington) and Conceptualising Comparative Politics (2015, Routledge) and the book series Conceptualising Comparative Politics (Routledge). He is co-editor for an upcoming special issue of Latin American Perspectives on “The Legacy of Hugo Chavez.” His research has been published in a number of scholarly journals and books. He was a Fulbright Visiting Fellow in Brazil (2002) and Venezuela (2008) and a visiting research fellow at the National University of Singapore’s East Asia Institute (2009). He teaches courses in comparative politics, international relations, political theory, Latin American politics and political economy.
Elizabeth Wishnick, professor, received a PhD in Political Science from Columbia University, New York. Her research interests include U.S.-China-Russia relations and non-traditional security issues. She teaches courses in International Relations, Globalization and Security, Intelligence, Global Environmental Politics and Asian Studies. She is the author of Mending Fences: The Evolution of Moscow’s China Policy from Brezhnev to Yeltsin (University of Washington Press, 2001 and 2015). Her latest book, China’s Risk: Oil, Water, Food and Regional Security (forthcoming, Columbia University Press) addresses the security and foreign policy consequences for the Asia-Pacific region of oil, water and food risks in China. She is also the coordinator for the Asian Studies program.