faculty

Aubrey Westfall

Assistant Professor of Political Science; International Relations Coordinator

Contact

Knapton 203

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

(508) 286-3647

About

Main Interests

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

Courses

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

Awarded: Nancy Weiss Malkiel Scholars Award, Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation, 2018.
Awarded: Marion and Jasper Whiting Foundation Fellowship. 2018.
Nomination: American Political Science Association Religion and Politics Section Best Paper Award “Representing Islam: Engaging the Political Implications of the Headscarf,” 2015.
Nomination: Virginia Outstanding Faculty Award, 2015.
Finalist: Virginia Outstanding Faculty Award, 2014.
Awarded: 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.

Degrees

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

My research explores the policies and sociopolitical practices regulating the political behavior of minority groups within Western democratic societies. Groups of interest include immigrants, women, and ethnic or religious minorities. The issues animating my research involve questions of how minority groups engage in politics, how best to represent the interests of minority populations, the extension of democratic rights, and the intersection of secular democracy and religious pluralism in Europe and North America. 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 has been supported by Fulbright, the European Commission, and the Woodrow Wilson Foundation.

My largest project to date is the co-authored book The Politics of the Headscarf in the United States, published with Cornell University Press in 2018. We find that while headcovering is not heavily politicized in the US like it is in other contexts, it accentuates and engages Muslim identity in uniquely American ways. The nearly 2,000 Muslim women we surveyed and the 72 women we interviewed in focus groupsdemonstrated strong threads of American-style individualism and agency that run through their religious practice. Those same traits shape how they engage with politics and civic life as headcovering serves as a marker around which Muslims and non-Muslims orient their social interactions – Muslims view the headcovering as a signal of like-mindedness and potential for community development, while non-Muslims react to it as a marker of foreignness and a basis for discrimination. The access headcovering provides to the mosque is especially important for determining political behaviors because it introduces women to an institution that affirms religious identity while building ties to the wider community. We found increased mosque attendance grew socio-culturally heterogeneous networks, which were positively associated with political engagement. Our work ultimately shows that Muslim women can and do politically integrate in secular societies and Muslim-American women’s adherence to Islam and religious institutions assists the process.

The exploration of these themes sparked several other lines of inquiry relating to the political lives of Muslims in democratic contexts. Projects currently underway include work on the role of mosques in promoting political engagement in Europe and North America and the national and religious identities of Muslim Americans.

I am also in the middle stages of a book project entitled Jock Tamson’s Bairns: The Politics of Immigration in Scotland. The book argues that immigration has become a critical nation-building tool among the Scottish political elites, for whom openness to immigrants is a reflection of Scottish values and a solution to distinctively Scottish demographic and economic problems. This approach contrasts sharply with the overwhelmingly negative rhetoric about migration in the rest of the United Kingdom. This divergence allows Scottish nationalist elites to use immigration to demonstrate that Scotland has very different practical and ideological interests than England, differences that should justify further devolved powers at the least and independence at most. However, these efforts are running up against a Scottish public that is ambivalent about migration. In order for the Scottish elites to push forward with their national project without backlash, they are attempting to persuasively marry national interest and nationalist sentiment with immigration.  Scotland therefore represents an interesting and important test case for the marriage of nationalist sentiments and cosmopolitan identities.

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.

Publications

Book

Bozena Welborne, Aubrey Westfall, Ozge Celik, and Sarah Tobin. (2018). The Politics of the Headscarf in the United States. Cornell University Press.

Peer-reviewed publications

Aubrey Westfall. (2018) “Mosques and Political Engagement in Europe and North America.” POMEPS Studies 32: The Politics of Islam in Europe and North America. https://pomeps.org/2018/12/18/pomeps-studies-32-the-politics-of-islam-in-europe-and-north-america/

Aubrey Westfall. (2018). “Mosque Involvement and Civic Engagement in the United States.” Politics and Religion. https://doi.org/10.1017/S1755048318000275

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).

Other publications/appearances

Aubrey Westfall and Bozena Welborne. “Commentary: With Muslim-American women on the ballot, we all win.” October 15, 2018. Times Union. https://www.timesunion.com/opinion/article/Commentary-With-Muslim-American-women-on-the-13309838.php

Aubrey Westfall. October 12, 2018. The Academic Minute. https://academicminute.org/2018/10/aubrey-westfall-wheaton-college-the-politics-of-the-headscarf/

Aubrey Westfall. “Fight Islamic Radicalization by Welcoming Mosques into your Communities.” November 13, 2017. The Philadelphia Inquirer. http://www.philly.com/philly/opinion/commentary/mosques-islamic-terrorism-radicalization-omar-mateen-sayfullo-saipov-20171115.html

Aubrey Westfall. “Mosques, Social Networks, and the Political Engagement of Muslim-American Women.” June 22, 2017. Religion in Public. https://religioninpublic.blog/2017/06/22/mosques-social-networks-and-the-political-engagement-of-muslim-american-women/

Aubrey Westfall. “Scotland’s Unique Approach to Immigration Threatened by Brexit…” Babe LincolnSpring: 2017:2.