Maxine Isaacs

Adjunct Associate Professor of Public Policy

Not Pictured

Maxine Isaacs received her Master's in International Public Policy from Johns Hopkins University in 1988 and her PhD in Policy Studies from the University of Maryland in 1994. Since 1994, Maxine has been on the faculty of Harvard University where she has taught hundreds of Kennedy School and undergraduate students about presidential campaigns, elections and "Foreign Policy, the News and American Public Opinion." She has taught at George Washington University and frequently lectures on the relationship among policy, politics, the news and public opinion.

University teaching is Maxine Isaacs' second career. In 1975, she worked as a freelance reporter, reporting for Africa Report Magazine, and National Public Radio. In 1983, she became Press Secretary and Deputy Campaign Manager to former Vice President Walter F. Mondale when he ran for President and had previously been part of his Senate staff. Before joining Mondale's Senate staff, she worked as Legislative Assistant and Speechwriter to Congressman Louis Stokes.

Maxine Isaacs is currently the Chair of the Women's Foreign Policy Group. She serves as a Trustee of Arlington, VA's Signature Theatre; Skidmore College, where she chairs the Academic Affairs Committee; the Folger Shakespeare Library and the American Associates of the Royal National Theatre. She is a member of the Advisory Board for the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.


Through experience, reading, historical perspective, analysis and discussion with experts, the course will focus on essential questions concerning the health of the US political system, particularly means by which presidential candidates are selected and elected. The course will examine lessons from the 1960 through the 2016 campaigns and elections in an effort to understand the current political condition of the US and the path on which the country is headed. The course will analyze American presidential campaigns and elections since 1960. The course will also help students better understand public opinion polls and the nature and structure of American public opinion. Students will examine ways in which American news media transmit information about presidential campaigns and elections, issues, and candidates, and learn about the impact of news upon political behavior and what people do with the information they receive through the news media. In an effort better to understand the relationship (or disconnect) between theory and practice in this field, students will meet practitioners – people who are involved with presidential politics on a daily basis. By the end of the term, students will be able to make sound, informed and reliable judgments about the health of the American presidential selection system. Students will never look at conventional wisdom in the same way again.

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