Aubrey Westfall

Assistant Professor of Political Science; International Relations Coordinator


Knapton 203

Tuesday 1:30-3:00; Wednesday 2:00-4:00; and by appointment

(508) 286-3647


Main Interests

Comparative Politics: Immigration and Citizenship, Minority Politics, European Politics, Women and Politics
International Relations: Human Rights, International Organizations


POLS 109 International Politics
POLS 215 Contemporary European Governments and Politics
POLS 229 United States Foreign Policy
POLS 298 Women and Politics
POLS 309 International Law and Organization
POLS 325 European Integration

Awards and Honors

Nominee: American Political Science Association Religion and Politics Section Best Paper Award “Representing Islam: Engaging the Political Implications of the Headscarf,” 2015.
Nominee: Virginia Outstanding Faculty Award, 2015.
Finalist: Virginia Outstanding Faculty Award, 2014.
Recipient: VFIC Mednick Memorial Fellowship, 2013.
Fulbright German Studies Seminar Grant, 2012.

Teaching Awards

Awarded: Samuel Nelson Gray Distinguished Teaching Award. Virginia Wesleyan College. 2014. Student nominated and selected, and awarded annually to one professor. Dr. Westfall was the first assistant faculty member to receive this award.

Nomination: Samuel Nelson Gray Distinguished Teaching Award. Virginia Wesleyan College. 2013.

Awarded: Distinguished Teaching Award, Department of Political Science (faculty-nominated graduate student award), 2007

Nominated: University Graduate Student Teaching Excellence Award, University of Colorado, 2005.


Ph.D., University of Colorado, Political Science (Comparative Politics), December 2010

M.A., University of Colorado, Political Science, May 2006

B.A., Westmont College, Political Science/Philosophy, May 2004 (summa cum laude)

Research Interests

Every one of my past and future project connects to a research agenda focused on issues relating to social justice, particularly minority politics and human rights. This description applies to my work on the politics of migration, women, cosmopolitanism and religious minorities. My research engages with quantitative and qualitative methodologies, including several years of fieldwork conducting interviews and focus groups in Europe and the United States. My research on migration policies has been supported by Fulbright and the European Commission.

I am a primary author of The Politics of the Headscarf in the United States, published in May 2018. The book investigates the social and political effects of the practice of Muslim-American women wearing the headscarf (hijab) in a non-Muslim state. My co-authors and I argue that women’s experiences with identity and boundary construction through their headcovering practices carry important political consequences that may well shed light on the future of the United States as a model of democratic pluralism.

I am continuing to work on projects relating to the political lives of Muslims in democratic contexts. Projects currently underway include work on the role of mosques in promoting political engagement and the national and religious identities of Muslim Americans.

I am also in the beginning stages of a book project investigating the politics of immigration in Scotland. Tentatively entitled “Jock Tamson’s Bairns: The Post Study Work Visa and the Politics of Immigration in Scotland”, the project explores the political climate around migration at a key moment in Scottish history, sandwiched between the independence and the EU referendum. The central argument is that the particular confluence of political opportunity structures in Scotland provides an opportunity for the expression of distinctly pro-immigrant policy preferences, and that Scottish political elites use immigration policy platforms as a strategic political tool for regional differentiation.

Teaching Philosophy

My experiences as a student of the liberal arts formed the foundation of my teaching philosophy. My professors engaged their students as individuals through active, discussion-oriented classes, and these methods gave me confidence in my intellectual capability. Inspired by my own experience, my main ambition is to create a climate where my students become participants in their own learning process. Most commonly this involves active learning, which uses classroom tactics that engage students in the learning process. However, I am also a strong believer in experiential learning, which allows “students to ‘discover’ knowledge by direct experience, either simulated or real.”[1] Because my commitment to social justice propels my research and teaching, I am motivated to teach subjects where students can immediately integrate the lessons from the classroom into their lives, making my courses particularly well suited for active and experiential techniques.

[1] Nilson, Linda B. Teaching at its best: A research-based resource for college instructors (John Wiley & Sons, 2010), 119.


Bozena Welborne, Aubrey Westfall, Ozge Celik, and Sarah Tobin. The Politics of the Headscarf in the United States. In production with Cornell University Press, anticipated release in May, 2018.

Westfall, Aubrey, Ozge Celik Russell, Bozena Welborne, Sarah Tobin. “Islamic Headcovering and Political Engagement: The Power of Social Networks.” Politics and Religion 10(1): 3-30.

Aubrey Westfall, “European Reform from the Bottom Up? The Presence and Effects of Cosmopolitan Values in German Public Opinion” In Cosmopolitanism Reconsidered: Jürgen Habermas, Germany and the European Union, Eds. Gaspare Genna, Ian Wilson and Thomas Haakenson. Routledge, 2016.

Aubrey Westfall, Carissa Chantiles (student). ”The Political Cure: Gender Quotas and Women’s Health.” Politics & Gender, 12(3): 469-490 .

Westfall, Aubrey, Bozena Welborne, Sarah Tobin and Ozge Celik Russell. “The Complexity of Covering: The Religious, Social and Political Dynamics of Islamic Practice in the United States.” Social Science Quarterly 97(3): 771-790.

Berry, Michael & Aubrey Westfall. 2015. “Dial D for distraction: The making and breaking of cell phone policies in the college classroom.” College Teaching 63(2).

Westfall, Aubrey. 2013. “The Consequences of Crisis: A Call for Measured Optimism.” German Studies Review 36(1).