Teaching Materials and Resources for Students

Click on the links below to go to the syllabus for the course or in some cases to a more substantial web page including various materials and resources for students in a particular course. All my courses since Fall 1999 are listed, in chronological order. Courses before Fall 2009 are from Penn State, hence the different course numbering system.


Courses at UNC-CH


POLI 490, Spring 2021, Advanced Research on the Death Penalty

POLI 203, Spring 2020, Race, Innocence, and the End of the Death Penalty

POLI 421, Fall 2019, Framing Public Policies

POLI 490H, Fall 2019, Statistical Research in Criminal Justice

University of St Gallen, May 2019, Research Seminar on Framing and Policy Change

POLI 727, Spring 2019, Graduate Seminar on Framing

POLI 421, Spring 2019, Framing Public Policies

POLI 490, Fall 2018, Research Seminar in Racial Disparities

POLI 203, Spring 2018, Race, Innocence, and the Decline of the Death Penalty

POLI / English / American Studies / Womens Studies 248 / 249, Spring 2018, Intersectionality: Race, Gender, Sexuality and Social Justice

POLI / English / American Studies 248, Spring 2017, Intersectionality: Race, Gender, Sexuality and Social Justice

POLI 718, Spring 2017, Graduate Seminar on Agenda-Setting

POLI 421, Fall 2016, Framing Public Policies

POLI 203, Spring 2016, Race, Innocence, and the Decline of the Death Penalty

POLI 490, Fall 2015, Advanced Seminar: The Death Penalty

POLI 421, Spring 2015, Framing Public Policies

POLI 727, Spring 2015, Graduate Seminar on Framing

POLI 203, Fall 2014, Race, Innocence, and the Decline of the Death Penalty

POLI 718, Spring 2014, Graduate Seminar on Agenda-Setting

POLI 421, Fall 2013, Framing Public Policies

POLI 195, Spring 2013, The End of the Death Penalty

POLI 495, Spring 2013, Framing Public Policies

POLI 891, Fall 2012, Graduate Seminar on Framing

POLI 891, Fall 2011, Graduate Seminar on Agenda-Setting

POLI 891, Spring 2011, Graduate Seminar on Framing

Agenda-setting seminar, Nov 23, 2010 in Aldrich and MacKuen's core seminar on American institutions.

POLI 083, Fall 2010, First year Seminar on Politics in France

POLI 495, Fall 2010, The Decline of the Death Penalty

POLI 891, Spring 2010, Graduate Seminar on Agenda-Setting

POLI 065, Fall 2009, First year Seminar on Pressure and Power

POLI 195, Fall 2009, Framing and Public Policy

Agenda-setting seminar, Dec 1 2009, in Aldrich and MacKuen's core seminar on American institutions.


See a series of YouTube videos giving short explanations of various concepts in the study of public policy; these are put together by the University of Konstanz Urban Policy Lab (Germany)

--An Introduction to the Study of Public Policy (Thomas Birkland, NC State University)

--Punctuated Equilibrium: An Introduction (Frank R. Baumgartner, UNC-Chapel Hill)

--Punctuated Equilibrium: Applications (Frank R. Baumgartner, UNC-Chapel Hill)


Senior theses I have supervised at Carolina:


Sally Stanley, on the impact of individual prosecutors across the top 30 death sentencing counties in the United States. Results show that there are strong effects for county based on homicides, population, and other characteristics, but we can also see significant effects for a certain number of individual prosecutors, controlling for the counties in which they are elected. That is, some have higher or lower rates of death sentencing per 100 homicides compared to other prosecutors in that same county, and these effects are sustained after statistical controls for other factors. Click on the link above to read the thesis and here to download a folder containing the data and Stata do-file to replicate the work. Submitted in 2020.


Sydney Johnson, on the rising phenomenon of elderly prisoners. Starting in 1994, North Carolina, like other states in the same time period, adopted a maximum penalty of life without parole. This started a trend, accelerating to this day, where greater and greater numbers of elderly individuals remain in prison. She shows these trends with a comprehensive analysis of the North Carolina prison population, in five-year intervals, from 1980 through 2020. Click on the link above to read the thesis and here to download a Stata do-file and this small spreadsheet to replicate the work. (Note that the first commands in the do-file require you to go to the NC DPS website to download a large data file about all NC Inmates, and the analysis begins with that.) Submitted in 2020.


Libby Doyle, on racial disparities in various public policy indicators (such as traffic stops, unemployment, economic, education, health-related outcomes, and other forms of disparities across the 100 counties of North Carolina. Results show the ubiquitous nature of racial disparities, but complex relations across the various policy domains. Counties wtih the highest disparities on a given policy indicator are not statistically more likely to have high disparties on the others. However, all the indicators except rates of voting registration show adverse outcomes for blacks compared to whites. Submitted in 2019.


Olivia O'Malley, on the treatment of individuals charged with sex trafficking and related crimes, comparing the theories and approaches laid out in federal law with the very different treatment observed "on the ground" in North Carolina, based on a review of all arrests for prostitution-related and sex trafficking offenses from 2013 to 2017, as well as interviews wtih law enforcement leaders and advocates. Submitted in 2019.


Luke Beyer, on the outcomes of arrests for high-level felonies in North Carolina from 2013 through 2017. Developing a new measure of "harshness" of the final outcome, based on a comparison of the punishment imposed to the maximum punishment that could have been imposed, considering the charges at time of arrest, he shows the impact of race, gender, age, prior convictions, judicial district, attorney type, and plea. Results show powerful effects for pleas, prior points, and minimal variability by judicial district. Race, age, and gender show significant effects as well. Submitted in 2019.


Sarah McAdon, on the outcomes of speeding tickets. Comparing over 1 million cases where individuals were charged with speeding, she investigates the odds of having the outcome reducted to driving with broken equipment (speedometer), which is the result in about 40 percent of the cases. These decisions are shown to relate to race, gender, and the use of an attorney. However, very substantial differences remain by judicial districts even after these factors are controlled for statistically; these are so powerful that they call linto question important elements of equal protection and suggest a random and capricious element to the system. Submitted in 2019.


Betsy Neill, on the issue of mental illness in capital trials in North Carolina. Betsy looks at a large sample of NC capital trials, some of which led to a jury recommendation of death, and some to a sentence of life. She then looks at the impact of various mental illnesses. These are theoretically supposed to work as mitigating factors, lowering the likelihood of a death sentence, but in practice sometimes they work as aggravators. (Winner, Terry Sanford Award for the best honors thesis in political science, 2017.) Betsy is working in the field of clinical psychology and expects to pursue a PhD in that field.


Wallace Gram, on the extremely high concentration of executions in a small number of counties across the US. Woody compiled a database on homicides by county from 1984 through 2012 and compared these data with executions by county from 1976 through 2014, demonstrating that executions correspond to a "power law" distribution, and that this cannot be explained by population, homicides, or other factors. Woody is currently (2017) at the University of Richmond Law School, and we published an article in 2016 in the Duke Journal of Constitutional Law and Public Policy based on this work.


Anna W. Dietrich, on the suprisingly low odds that people sentenced to death will actually be executed, based on a comprehensive analysis of all US death sentences from 1972 through 2011. (Winner, Terry Sanford Award for the best honors thesis in political science, 2014.) In 2015 we published this updated blog post based on her research: Most death penalty sentences are overturned. Here’s why that matters. WashingtonPost.com Monkey Cage, March 17, 2015. (Frank R. Baumgartner and Anna W. Dietrich)


BJ Dworak, on the differences and similarities between traditional media (newpapers, radio, TV) and a sample of politically relevant and highly salient blogs and twitter accounts. (Winner, Terry Sanford Award for the best honors thesis in political science, 2013.) BJ attended Duke Law School where he worked on their Innocence Project. He is now an attorney in his native Wisconsin.


Alex Loyal, on trends in the introduction of bills relating to the death penalty across the 50 states, from 1990 to 2010. (2013) Alex began attending Georgetown Law in Fall 2013.


Lindsey Stephens, on the impact of the creation of a state-wide Indigent Defense Services agency on the use of the death penalty. (2012) Lindsey started Duke Law School in Fall 2012, and is now an attorney in her native Georgia.


Max Rose, on the changing media framing of poverty and the move from relatively generous to relatively stingy government spending on poverty in response to those frames. Max and I published a paper in Policy Studies Journal based on this thesis and Max will begin studying for his MPA at the JFK School of Public Policy at Harvard in 2018, after some years of working for various non-profits in Durham and elsewhere focusing on poverty.


Alissa Ellis, on the history of North Carolina's death penalty with a special focus on the execution of those with issues of mental capacity or mental illness. (2011) Alissa started UNC-Law in Fall 2012, was (2013-15) the President of the UNC-Law Death Penalty Project, and is now at attorney in Durham.


Courses at Penn State


PLSC 497, Protests, Social Movements, and Public Policy, Spring 2009 (team-taught with Prof. John McCarthy)

PLSC 083T, First-Year Seminar, Lobbying, Power, and Democracy, Fall 2008

PLSC 541, Graduate Seminar in American Institutions, Fall 2008

PLSC 497, Politics in France, Spring 2008

PLSC 497, Social Movements and Public Policy, Spring 2008

PLSC 083S.1, First-Year Seminar: Power in America, Fall 2007

Atelier de recherche, Sciences Po Paris, Mai-Juin 2007

PLSC 541, Graduate Seminar in Agenda-Setting, Fall 2006

PLSC / SOC 497 Research Fellowship in the Social Sciences, Spring 2006 (with John McCarthy).

PLSC 497 Public Policy and Agenda-Setting, Spring 2006

PLSC 497 Public Policy and Agenda-Setting, Fall 2005


PLSC / SOC 497 Research Fellowship in the Social Sciences, Spring 2004 (with John McCarthy). This course is especially suited to students interested in getting hands-on experience with an independent research project in the areas of public policy or social movements.

PLSC 501 Graduate Seminar in Research Design, Fall 2003

PLSC 596 Readings Course on Issue-Definition and Agenda-Setting, Summer 2003

PLSC/SOC 497B Research Fellowship in Political Science / Sociology, Fall 2002 - Spring 2003

Spring 2003 syllabus

Fall 2002 syllabus

Resources, links, and data

PLSC 501 Graduate Seminar in Research Design, Fall 2002


Weekly writing assignments, discussion topics, and links

PLSC 501 Graduate Seminar in Research Design, Fall 2001

PLSC 083S Freshman Seminar: Lobbying the Federal Government, Fall 2001

PLSC 540 Graduate Seminar in American National Institutions, Spring 2000

PLSC 197C Democracy in the United States and France, Fall 1999

A Graduate Syllabus on Interest Groups, Spring 1998

A Graduate Syllabus on Agenda-Setting, Spring 1997

updated: January 18, 2021


2-page CV




Conference Papers

Policy Agendas


Death Penalty


Traffic Stops

Student Research

PhD Placement

Tips and Pointers