Meet our new faculty: Ben Gaskins
August 19, 2014
The following Q&A is part of a series created by the college dean’s office to introduce new faculty. Get to know Assistant Professor of Political Science Ben Gaskins, who joins the faculty this fall, in the interview below.
Education: Ph.D. (2011), M.S. (2008) in political science, Florida State University; B.A. (2006) in political science and music, Furman University
Research and teaching interests: Public opinion, religion and politics, political communication and media, political psychology
What most excites you about joining the Lewis & Clark community?
When I was an undergraduate at Furman, another great liberal arts college, I realized how badly I wanted to do what my professors did—teach motivated and inquisitive students, do interesting research, and come to work every day on a beautiful campus. I can’t think of a better place to do that than Lewis & Clark!
Describe the current trajectory of your scholarly research.
I am currently working on a number of projects that get at the basic question of how religion affects individuals’ understanding of and engagement with the political world. For instance, how does religious commitment affect how people learn from the media and turn information into voting decisions? When partisanship and religion overlap, what most strongly affects political choices? And what is the role of religion in 21st-century American politics, with growing diversity of religious attachment and increasing secularization?
What kind of hobbies or special activities do you enjoy outside of work?
I am a soccer junkie, so I am very excited to get to root for the Timbers in person! I have played the viola since I was 12, and at my last position I played in the college orchestra, which is something I’d love to continue doing at Lewis & Clark. I also like reading books with absolutely no intellectual merit, hiking, tennis, and listening to music.
What were your childhood goals/aspirations?
My dreams of playing baseball for the Atlanta Braves were dashed early on by a complete lack of talent. A little later, I started watching C-Span and getting really into politics, which made me think I wanted to be a lawyer or politician one day.
What are you listening to in your car right now?
I recently bought every album St. Vincent has made, and have been listening to her music pretty much nonstop.
What was your favorite childhood story?
I don’t remember which specific stories I liked best, but I loved reading Sideways Stories From Wayside School and the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series. Basically anything that was odd or spooky, I loved.