Growing up just south of Richmond, Virginia, "race just felt like an ever-present, salient issue in the area all the time," said Ashley Jardina.
Her interest in studying race and politics continued as she earned both an undergraduate and doctoral degree from the University of Michigan. She has spent the last six years at Duke University teaching as well as working on her own research.
Jardina is now an associate professor at the Schar School of Policy and Government, teaching a graduate-level course on race and politics as well as instructing an undergraduate honors thesis course.
She describes the Schar School as a perfect fit for her expertise. “There’s a diversity of scholarship happening,” she said. “There’s such a diversity of faculty at George Mason University that brings so many different strengths to the school, and so many opportunities for students.”
As for her field of study, it could not be timelier, or more important.
“I study the nature of white racial attitudes in the U.S.,” she said. “I’m interested in understanding what racism looks like and what its political consequences are.”
Her successful and unprecedented research, which includes the award-winning 2019 book White Identity Politics (Cambridge University Press), has earned her a prestigious award from the American Political Science Association (APSA). Jardina was nominated by fellow political scientists and is one of two recipients of the 2022 Emerging Scholar Award. This award is given by the Elections, Public Opinion, and Voting Behavior section of the APSA to top scholars within 10 years of earning their PhD.
Through both her teaching and her research, Jardina aims to answer several key questions about political behavior. “I’m interested in why people have the attitudes that they have, why they vote for whom they vote for, why they support the policies they support,” she said. “These questions are a really central part of understanding politics.”
Jardina said she looks forward to being close to Washington, D.C., in her new position at the Schar School and continuing her research in the political epicenter of the nation. She will also continue to be involved with the nonprofit organization Opportunity@Work, where she looks at racial disparities within the labor market to increase job opportunities for those who do not have college degrees.