I am a professor of Political Science and an affiliated faculty member in the departments of Latin American and Latino Studies, International Studies and Peace, Justice and Conflict. As a teacher-scholar, my research focuses on economic development and citizen engagement in Latin America, with special attention to these processes in Mexico and Central America. I have published three books and more than twenty articles and book chapters. My most recent book, Contesting Trade in Central America: Market Reform and Resistance (University of Texas Press 2014), employs theoretical constructs developed by Karl Polanyi to chart the interplay between free market reform and the rise of market resistance. Drawing on almost 200 interviews with Central American government officials, business representatives, civic and community leaders, researchers, and activists, this book focuses on the debate about the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) as it unfolded in Central America.
My current research involves a comparative analysis of anti-mining movements in four Central American countries, two of which (El Salvador and Costa Rica) have declared a moratorium on open pit gold mining, and two of which (Nicaragua and Guatemala) have allowed gold mining investments to grow. This work analyzes the impact of electoral competitiveness and judicial system independence on social movement mobilization strategies and the ability of grassroots actors to influence development strategies and regulatory policy.
I was honored to receive the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences Cortelyou-Lowery Award in 1999 and the college award for teaching excellence in 2008. In 2011, I was named to the Honors Distinguished Faculty by the University Honors Program. I have enjoyed sharing what I’ve learned in my field of specialization, teaching classes on Latin American Politics, Latin American-US Relations, Civic Engagement and Social Movements, World Political Economy, Immigration Politics, and others. In 2005 and 2012, I had the pleasure of accompanying DePaul students to El Salvador, working in collaboration with University Ministry, the Steans Center, Study Abroad, and the PAX program. Our days were split between service learning work in a daycare center in a low-income neighborhood of San Salvador and site visits to trace the life and work of El Salvador’s martyred Archbishop, Oscar Romero. The experience was one of the most memorable of my teaching career.
At DePaul, I have served as the co-director for the Latin American and Latino Studies Department, Study Abroad director, and the Political Science Department chair and associate chair. I currently serve as the director of the DePaul Honors Program, a curricular and co-curricular program which serves over 900 students in eight colleges and schools.
I am grateful to be named to the Society of Vincent DePaul Professors, and I look forward to participating in its diverse initiatives, particularly its exciting international projects, its efforts to build leadership in student honor societies, and its work mentoring junior faculty.