Faculty Spotlight

December Faculty Spotlight with Assistant Professor, Tiffany Lewis

December 2015 Faculty Spotlight

Part of the allure of joining the School of Public Affairs is the prevalence of fascinating, vital research faculty regularly engage in. Tiffany Lewis is no exception. We speak about her choice to join the School's faculty, the course she is teaching this academic year, and her current research on the role of the American West in stateside women's suffrage.

Are you engaged in any research projects at the moment?
My current research examines the role of the American West in the U.S. woman suffrage movement. In just a few years, we will be celebrating the centennial of the nineteenth amendment to the constitution that ensured women in the U.S. the right to vote. Many people are surprised to learn that women in the American West gained the right to vote decades earlier than women in the rest of the country. So my research examines how women in the West advocated for their voting rights, how they entered political office, and then how they worked to get the right to vote for other women in the U.S. through a constitutional amendment.

I'm also working with School of Public Affairs Professors David Hoffman and Don Waisanen on a project that examines the inaugural addresses and state of the city speeches of New York City Mayors.

What courses are you teaching during the 2015-16 academic year?
This year I am teaching PAF 9103: Communication in Public Contexts. I teach this as a policy advocacy course that provides students opportunities to advocate policies they care about through public speaking and persuasive writing. We start with basic premises of rhetorical theory and apply them to important texts in American history and politics. Then students practice using those same rhetorical strategies in their speeches and papers.

Public speaking often sounds intimidating to students at the outset of the semester. But most find it helpful to practice in our class (where the stakes are low) and see how they improve over the semester. The course also focuses on becoming better writers. In addition to writing a lot, we read and talk about the drafting, editing, and revising processes required for making clear and concise arguments.

You've held roles at the University of Maryland and the University of Montana. Aside from Baruch College's prime New York City location, what drew you to the School of Public Affairs? What makes it a distinct teaching environment?
I taught and studied policy advocacy in graduate school, so the School of Public Affairs was an ideal fit for me. I really like the interdisciplinary nature of public affairs departments. It's interesting to work with faculty from a wide range of disciplines with a variety of research interests. At Baruch in particular, I really enjoy the students. I learn so much from them as they share their experiences and perspectives in class discussions, speeches, and papers.