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About Scholars @ Work

Scholars @ Work is an initiative from the Faculty Center for Innovation designed to showcase the incredible and innovative research and scholarship from Park faculty members around the world. In addition to faculty profiles, Scholars @ Work hosts an annual fall reception and a roundtable panel discussion every semester giving faculty across disciplines an opportunity to collaboratively discuss a topic of timely importance to the University. For more information on Scholars @ Work, visit our web page!

Dr. Matthew Harris

Associate Professor of Political Science

Parkville Campus, Copley-Thaw Hall, Office 324
(816) 584-6349

Scholarship Highlights from Matt

Matt's impressive career has included published scholarship on a wide variety of topics. Browse selected highlights from his research, and view his CV below.

Harris, Matthew. (2022). Social Trust as a Predictor of Opinions on COVID-19 Response. Journal of Political Science and International Relations. 5. 112.

Social trust has been found to be an important factor  in political participation, although this relationship may be dependent upon context. For instance, political views may be influenced by the groups with whom that trust  is formed. Prior work has pointed to the importance of social trust in predicting behaviors related to COVID-19 as well as rates of transmission and containment. Leveraging data from the 2020 American National Election Study, the relationship between interpersonal trust and COVID-19 opinions in the United States is examined, specifically looking at views on state and federal COVID-19 responses, belief in vaccines and hydroxychloroquine, feelings towards Dr. Anthony Fauci, and the belief that COVID-19 was developed in a lab. In addition to Republicans and conservatives, as expected, being more skeptical of COVID-19 restrictions and treatments, interpersonal trust is found to be associated with attitudes that both might be expected to mitigate as well as exacerbate COVID-19 transmission. Further, the effects of interpersonal trust on COVID-19 attitudes are shown to be filtered through a partisan lens, with differing effects of personal trust for Democratic and Republican party identifiers. Such findings add complexity to the role that social trust plays in political and social behaviors in the context of a pandemic.

Read the full article for free.

About Matt

Dr. Matt Harris is an Associate Professor of Political Science at Park University. He is located at the Parkville, Missouri campus.

Matt received his bachelor’s degree in Political Science and Television, Radio, and Film at Syracuse University before earning his M.A. and Ph.D. from Stony Brook University.

Matt has taught at Park University for 7 years and is based in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. His research interests focus on public opinion and perceptions of parties and candidates. He is a member of the Midwest Political Science Association.

In his spare time, Matt enjoys watching the Buffalo Bills and listening to music, from Benny the Butcher to Taylor Swift.

Wise words from Matt

"Being a political scientist at Park has basically allowed me to spend a lot of time writing about my own niche, weird interests. And that’s a pretty sweet deal, all things considered."

“House approval of debt ceiling deal a triumph of the political center.” The Conversation, May 31, 2023.

While the center in American politics is regarded, rightfully, as shrinking, there are still moments where those in the middle prove critical, as was the case with debt ceiling negotiations in the spring of 2023.

Read the full article for free.

“The Taylor Swift Official State Sandwich: Politicians understand that Swifties are a key demographic.” The Conversation, July 24, 2023.

This piece explores the ways in which politicians have attempted to capitalize on the success of Taylor Swift’s Eras Tour as well as the importance of Swift’s fans as a voting demographic.

Read the full article for free.

Scholar Spotlight

Harris, Matthew. (2023). Donald Trump and the Future of the GOP. Social Sciences. Forthcoming.

The conclusion of the 2020 US presidential election left open questions about the future of the Republican Party, with or without former president Donald Trump. His presence at the top of many 2024 GOP polls lends the impression of a man hard to separate from his party. I examine this linkage through the 2020 American National Election Study, looking specifically at feelings toward the GOP and GOP figures Donald Trump and Mike Pence and measures of trust and authoritarianism among Trump supporters, as well as open-ended responses on political parties. I find that Trump was a driving force in the 2020 election in a way that Joe Biden was not, and is difficult to disassociate from the Republican Party. The strongest Republican Party identifiers seem to like Trump more than the party itself. His supporters demonstrate distrust of both the news media and experts while believing that corruption declined under Trump. When asked in open-ended questions to talk about political parties, survey respondents were far more likely to mention Donald Trump when discussing party negatives than any other candidate in recent years. In sum, these analyses point to a future in which Trump will very much be a defining figure in the Republican Party.

Read the full article for free.

Wright, D. & Parks, S. (Hosts). (2023, August 8). The Manhattan Project, Oppenheimer & ties to Park University [Audio Podcast Episode]. In The Dana & Parks Podcast.

In this local radio segment, Dr. Tim Westcott and Dr. Harris explored Park’s connections to the Manhattan Project, as well as the history of the development of the atomic bomb and the political ramifications that echo to the present.

Listen to the full episode for free.

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