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A Lawrence University government professor’s research on representation of African-American interests in Congress has been honored with a national award by the American Political Science Association.

Assistant professor of government Christian Grose has been named the recipient of the APSA’s 2004 Carl Albert Dissertation Award for the nation’s best doctoral dissertation in the area of legislative studies.

Established in 1999, the award recognizes outstanding work on national or subnational topics focusing on Congress, parliaments, state legislatures or other representative bodies. Grose is the first faculty
member at a liberal arts college to receive the award. Three of the four previous winners teach at Yale, Harvard and Duke universities.

Grose will receive his award, which includes a $400 cash prize, Labor Day weekend at the annual American Political Science Association meeting in Chicago.

“The award is quite competitive,” said Bruce Oppenheimer, professor of political science at Vanderbilt University, who served as chair of the APSA committee that reviewed the nominations and selected the winner for the Albert award. “Because the degree-granting department must first nominate a dissertation before it can be considered, only the very best dissertations are put forth for consideration.

“What separated Christian’s dissertation from the other excellent ones that were nominated was the substantive importance of his findings about the representation of African-American interests in Congress, his integration of rigorous statistical analysis with extensive interviews and field research findings and the overall originality of the work.”

Completed early last year through the University of Rochester, Grose’s dissertation, “Beyond the Vote: A Theory of Black Representation in Congress,” examines the effect of electoral structures and the election of black legislators on the representation of black constituents in Congress. Rejecting more narrow measures of representation presented by previous scholars, Grose focused his analysis on three different modes of representation: roll-call voting, “pork” project allocation and constituency service.

Grose found that electing black representatives in Congress, even if the result in the aggregate is a Republican legislature, is the best strategy for achieving “greater” representation for black Americans when measured as activities beyond roll-call voting. To increase the substantive representation of black interests as measured only by roll-call voting, however, the best strategy is to elect Democratic
legislators of any racial ethnicity.

“I’m certainly honored to have my research recognized by my peers,” said Grose. “The news that I had been selected for the Albert award was as thrilling as it was surprising.”

As a political scientist, Grose’s interests focus on congressional representation, racial politics, elections, voting behavior and public opinion. He joined the Lawrence government department in 2002. In addition to his Ph.D. from the University of Rochester, Grose earned his bachelor’s degree in political science and history from Duke University.