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Kristi Andersen and the MAX Courses

February 12, 2018

In 2010, when Robert McClure stepped down as Chapple Family Professor of Citizenship and Democracy to begin a phased retirement, a natural choice to be his successor was his political science colleague Kristi Andersen.

Kristi Andersen speaking
Kristi Andersen

The primary responsibility of the Chapple Professor is directing the interdisciplinary, team-taught MAX Courses, which explore citizenship and current public issues. Andersen began teaching MAX 123, Critical Issues for the United States, in 2007, and helped create the MAX Course on quantitative methods.

Now in her third year as Chapple Professor, Andersen works with the diverse MAX Course teaching teams to identify the critical issues and debates that will be the focus each year — such as the electoral process, health care reform, education, and Social Security. One of the current topics in MAX 123 is immigration, which ties in with Andersen's recent research on immigrant political incorporation — the subject of her book New Immigrant Communities: Finding a Place in Local Politics.

Popular among undergraduates for nearly two decades, the MAX Courses now also serve as a foundation for the new citizenship and civic engagement major. The citizenship component is evident in the courses on U.S. and global public issues, but Andersen sees the quantitative methods MAX Course, too, as essentially about citizenship.

"One of its goals is to teach students how to be critical consumers of data as citizens as well as potentially as policy analysts or working in some social science-related occupation," she says. "It's about how you use data, how other people use data, and where data comes from. I see those skills as very important for a citizen in a democracy."

By Jeffrey Pepper Rodgers 

This article appeared in the Fall 2012 print edition of Maxwell Perspective; © 2012 Maxwell School of Citizenship of Syracuse University. To request a copy, email

Also in this issue:

• From the Ground Up
• Legacy & Change
• Public Affairs and CCE
• The Tanner Lectures
• Robert McClure
• Kristi Andersen

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