Professors at GW are often known more for their academic pursuits outside of the classroom than for what they teach in class. Some contribute to research, others appear on television and others have even less traditional ways of providing their expert opinions to the public.
John Sides, an assistant professor of political science, has joined the latter group.
Sides spent the last week of August as a guest contributor on Washington Post reporter Ezra Klein’s popular blog, “Economic and Domestic Policy, and Lots of It.”
“I’m talking about public opinion and elections; I’m talking about Congress, the Supreme Court, Constitution and all these kinds of things,” said Sides, who teaches courses focused on American politics.
As one of four people filling in for Klein while the political reporter is on vacation, Sides has written at least one post each day on contemporary issues, including contemplating why citizens think President Barack Obama is a Muslim and how the U.S. criminal justice system has become skewed.
Blogging is nothing new for the popular professor, who received a master’s and doctorate at the University of California at Berkeley. Sides’ personal political science blog, The Monkey Cage, has been running for three years.
Sides said he often uses the graphs and charts he has created for GW courses to discuss specific political concerns on his blog, such as the role of the president, nationwide congressional campaigns and the concern for global warming during a recession.
Sides said that he started his blog because he felt political science bloggers were underrepresented in the online community.
“People do a lot of commentary on blogs in the news and on TV, and people are debating topics that political scientists have studied a great deal and usually do so with more data,” Sides said of the necessity for qualified voices in the online reporting world.
While Sides and Klein – who is also a columnist for Newsweek – have only met once, their online commentaries share a similar reader audience that has given the scholars ample opportunities to work together and exchange ideas.
“When you regularly interact with your blogs it feels like something more than just strangers,” Sides said.
His posts have been well-received by readers. Sides’ articles are often picked up by mainstream news outlets, such as The Economist, The New Yorker and The New York Times.
“It’s succeeded in a way we’re all happy with,” Sides said.