How and why do everyday Americans get involved in public life? Whose voices are heard – and whose are not? Why does political engagement matter? I examine these questions by looking at topical reform movements (e.g., for gun violence prevention); at pivotal social groups (e.g., women); and at key support structures (e.g., policy-minded donors).

What’s new? American women are quietly spearheading a great political reformation, but as I discuss in this essay, they have a long history of public-spirited activism from which to draw. A new symposium in Interest Groups & Advocacy (co-edited with Jeff Berry) examines the role of wealthy philanthropists in movements for political reform. Might they be donors for democracy? Along these lines, also check out my PS Symposium on Philanthropy & Political Science, July 2016 + reactions from Inside Philanthropy & the Washington Post MonkeyCage blog. If you’re interested in these questions, please join our APSA Related Group on Civil Society, Policy, and Power – all scholars (even outside poli sci) are most welcome (email me).

Published Nov. 2018: Gun Studies: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Policy, Politics, and Practice (co-edited with Jennifer Carlson and Harel Shapira).



I teach American politics courses at Duke in the fall semester and run the Duke in DC “semester away” program for undergraduates in the spring. My courses cover the politics of the policymaking process; democratic participation and inequality; philanthropy and public policy; and practical applications of policy theories. My courses typically ask students to produce research for a “real world” organization. I also advise student theses at the undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral levels. I’m their teacher, but more so, they are mine. 



With privilege comes responsibility: to engage with policymakers, journalists, civic groups, and private citizens. I am honored to give public talks, assist journalists, contribute to my community, bring practitioners into my classroom, and support student work on “real world” dilemmas. I’m an active member of the Scholars Strategy Network, the American Political Science Association, and the League of Women Voters.

Books by Kristin Goss

Gun Debate