Jonathan Wadley

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Social & Behavioral Sciences Associate Faculty
Social Sciences
Social and Behavioral Sciences
SC - BGS 318 - Office
Saddleback College

I joined Saddleback College in 2012. Since then, I have taught over a thousand students how to think critically about politics. And they have taught me a lot, too.

Most semesters, you'll find me teaching American Government, International Relations, and Comparative Politics and Government. These courses are designed to introduce students to the core ideas of the subfields. Each subfield has core ideas that have been developed over decades of research and debate. Sometimes those ideas are in the form of concepts, like democracy, sovereignty, and federalism. Sometimes they are in the form of theories, like the median voter theorem, modernization theory, and democratic peace theory.

These concepts and theories are oftentimes complex. My job is to package and explain them in a way that makes them "click" in a student's head. In the process, students pick up a lot of information about the world, like what race relations in Brazil are like, what's in the Bill of Rights, and what steps countries have taken to fight climate change.

In addition to learning the nuts and bolts of the subfields, students in my classes are trained to develop critical thinking skills. They become better able to analyze the world around them, separate fact from speculation, understand a theoretical argument, and evaluate evidence.

To be honest, I used to think political science was pretty dry. It was only after a few classes that I fell in love with it. I remember what it was like to be thrown a bunch of information and expected to memorize it. Learning felt like a chore. And so, I try to make my courses interesting, even to those who aren't passionate about political science. In my American Government course, we run a semester-long simulation that I created. In other classes, we do interactive exercises. My goal is to build a learning community, even when we're separated by distance.

Since 2005, I have taught a lot of different courses. Here are some of them:

  • American Government
  • International Relations
  • Comparative Politics and Government
  • Political Theory
  • Introduction to Political Science
  • Gender and International Relations
  • Sexual Politics in Europe
  • Food and Politics

The last few on that list were my idea. Those are my research interests. The common theme of those topics is the politics of everyday life. Many of things we think of as unrelated to power and politics are, in reality, heavily influenced by them. Who we love and what we eat are shaped by politics in ways we don't easily see. I find that idea fascinating and exploring it in depth has taught me a lot about how power works.

When I am not in the classroom, I spend time volunteering with nonprofits (that picture above is me helping out at one of the free spay-neuter clinics my organization sponsored in Tijuana). The nonprofit sector provides great career paths and my door is always open to talk to students about that.

I also like to record music, watch old movies, and stumble around beautiful, wonderful Southern California.

Please feel free to reach out to me.