• Professional Biography

  • Sara Chatfield is an assistant professor of political science at the University of Denver. Prior to coming to DU, she was a postdoc in the political science department at MIT and taught courses in American politics and law at Tufts University.

    Her research focuses on the development of married women’s economic rights in U.S. state courts, legislatures, and constitutional conventions in the 1800s and early 1900s. She also conducts research on political behavior (including various aspects of political participation and vote choice) and American political development (including congressional politics and analysis of historical polling data).

  • Selected Teaching

  • PLSC 2830: Judicial Politics

    This course will consider the role of courts, especially the Supreme Court, in the U.S. political system.  We will discuss the potential dangers and benefits of allocating significant power to unelected justices, as well as the ways in which elected officials respond to and coordinate with the court system.  We will consider the importance of statutory interpretation and the dynamics of Court-Congress interaction in developing public policies.  We then broaden the scope of judicial impact to examine the social and political effects of court rulings.  Finally, we will discuss the role of legal interest groups in shaping the Court’s agenda and reasoning.

  • PLSC 2901: Political Inquiry

    Why did Barack Obama’s health care reform plan pass, but Bill Clinton’s didn’t?  Why does almost every race in the U.S. come down to D’s vs. R’s, while other countries have many parties that successfully compete?  Why do some people turn out to vote at every election, not matter how local the race, while others never even register to vote?  Why do some international conflicts end in war, while others do not?   Why do most Democratic politicians take a pro-choice position, while most Republican politicians take a pro-life position (and where do those labels come from, anyway)? 


    Political scientists pursue these (and more!) questions using many different approaches, including interviews, surveys, archival research, abstract models, and statistical analysis.  Our field is defined more by the topics we study than by the specific methods we use to study it.  This course aims to introduce you to a variety of research methods in political science, including how to get started on the research process, how to collect and describe data, and how to make solid causal claims.

  • PLSC 2860: Constitutional Law I: Governmental Structures and Powers

    This course introduces students to major ideas and principles of constitutional law, with a focus on federalism, the growth of national power, and separation of powers.  Within each of these areas, we will consider the development of court rulings over time, economic and political influences on court decision-making, and policy implications.  This course is highly interactive and all students are expected to actively engage in class discussions.

This portfolio last updated: 05-Aug-2019 9:09 AM