Dr. Tanya Buhler Corbin holds a Masters in Public Policy and a Doctorate in Political Science from Claremont Graduate University, and Bachelors in Sociology from the University of New Orleans. Before completing her Ph.D., Dr. Corbin gained valuable work experience in the political, non-profit, legal, and business worlds. Her experience working in the community as an AmeriCorps member and team leader informs her work as a faculty member to build community partnerships. In her teaching, she draws on her work for grassroots campaigns and advocacy for consumer and environmental organizations to prepare students for careers in politics and policy work. Working with a partner, and without capital investors, she started and successfully operated a restaurant for seven years, eventually selling her business to pursue an academic career. Her wide range of professional experiences informs her teaching and research agenda, and uniquely situates her to mentor students as they develop their career skills and goals. Dr. Corbin teaches numerous courses in American politics, Political Economy, and Public Policy. Her academic training and experience has prepared her to teach across the American Politics and Public Policy subfields. Her primary area of research focuses on the politics and policy changes that are proposed and adopted after crises and disasters, and their interrelationship to traditionally marginalized groups.
Before moving to Virginia, Dr. Corbin taught in California and Alaska. She is excited to be living and teaching in a “purple” state. She teaches numerous courses in American politics, political economy, and public policy. At Radford University, she teaches Introduction to American Politics, The Presidency, Congress, Parties and Elections, and a course in her research area, Disaster Politics and Policymaking.
Dr. Corbin’s approach to teaching is rooted in the principle that effective teaching focuses on what the student is learning rather than what the professor is teaching. The professor serves as a guide and facilitator of learning rather than as an expert imparting knowledge to students. Her goal is to create a classroom environment and assignments where students develop critical thinking skills that they can apply throughout their lives, and in so doing, foster the development of the citizen. Although lectures are essential teaching tools, she emphasizes simulations, debates, and group assignments to supplement conventional lectures. From election simulations and mock presidential debates, to a three-week legislative simulation in her Congress course, Dr. Corbin develops experiential learning exercises in all of her courses.
In addition, Dr. Corbin designs her classes to prepare students for careers in government and politics. Drawing on her extensive career experience, she incorporates career skills into every course. She bring experts and guest speakers to the classroom frequently, which creates a nexus between theory and practice, as well as encouraging students to make connections with potential employers or explore potential career options. Dr. Corbin engages students with the local community, building students’ research and critical thinking skills that employers cite as crucial workforce skills. Currently, she is working on a project with her students in her Disaster Politics course to build partnerships with community stakeholders. Students are conducting a policy analysis project for the city and community stakeholders.
Dr. Corbin’s research is broadly focused on policies and politics relating to disasters, crises, and hazards. She is especially interested in how people and communities who are historically marginalized from the policy process attempt to use disasters and crises to gain access to policymakers and participate in the policymaking process. In recent research, she has studied policy entrepreneurship, congressional agenda setting, and disaster recovery after Hurricane Katrina. This research was recently accepted for publication: “Leveraging Disaster: Promoting Social Justice and Holistic Recovery through Policy Advocacy after Hurricane Katrina.” The Journal of Public Management and Social Policy. Special Issue: The Opportunities and Challenges of Disaster Recovery. She is currently engaged in a research project comparing local communities’ mobilization and policy responses after the Exxon-Valdez and BP Oil Spills. This is an interdisciplinary collaboration, including an anthropologist and environmental policy scientist.
A second research area of interest for Dr. Corbin is the scholarship of teaching and learning. Dr. Corbin is excited about this research, because of its direct applications to the classroom and the ability for this scholarship to transform students’ learning experiences. She is working with colleagues to study pedagogies that affect students’ levels of political and civic engagement in introductory level American Politics classes. This project involves long-term survey data collection, but Dr. Corbin and her colleague already have an article and book chapter in process based on the initial analysis.
POSC 120: Introduction to American Politics
This course is an introduction to American government and politics. Throughout the course, we will discuss various aspects of our government, and the ways in which our governmental structure affects the democratic process. Specifically, we will examine the foundations of our government (The Founders, Constitution, Federalism, Civil liberties and rights), institutions (Presidency, Congress, Judiciary), and the major links between government and the citizens (the media, public opinion, political participation, voting, campaigns and elections). Additionally, we will study the practical outcomes of the political process. We will also explore ideas of citizenship and civic engagement in America. In addition to presenting information via lectures, this course emphasizes critical thinking skills, developed through active student engagement in the classroom. As such, a variety of instructional methods are employed, including lectures, videos, class debate and discussion, simulations, and case studies. At the end of this course, you should have a firm grasp on the way politics affects you on a daily basis, and be able to think critically about American government.
POSC 320: Congress (See Simulations Here)
This course provides a broad overview of the U.S. Congress. We will study the founders and the political development of the Congress, but will emphasize the contemporary Congress. Specifically, we will examine the members of the House and Senate, including their recruitment, election, and their various roles and activities. We will also consider the legislative process, the role of deliberation in governing, the influence of other political actors on the process, and questions of representation. Finally, we will examine the relations between Congress and the other branches and the bureaucracy, as well as the policymaking functions of Congress.
In addition to presenting information, this course emphasizes critical thinking skills. As such, a variety of instructional methods are employed, including lectures, videos, class debate and discussion, and simulations. Part of your grade in this course will be based on your ability to think critically about the concepts and ideas introduced through the readings and lectures, and to engage in meaningful, respectful discussion and debate with your fellow students.
POSC 321: The Presidency (See Simulations Here)
This course provides an overview of the American presidency and the Executive Branch. The approach we will take in this class is rooted in Political Science theories, and emphasizes an understanding of the presidency as an institution. To understand the political development of the institution, we will examine the constitutional origins and development of the Executive branch, as well as the modern presidency and current trends and developments. We will also use the opportunities this election season provides to enrich our understanding of presidential campaigns and elections. We will consider the relationships between the Executive Branch and various political actors (e.g. media, public, Congress), and the constraints and powers of the office. Additionally, we will explore the power of the presidency and the scholarship about presidential leadership and character. We will conclude with an exploration of the President’s various roles, paying particular attention to the domestic and budgetary policymaking process.
The course is organized into three parts.
I. The Founding and the Presidency in the Constitutional Order
II. Campaigns and Elections
III. Presidential Power, Leadership, and Policymaking
In addition to presenting information, this course emphasizes critical thinking skills. As such, a variety of instructional methods are employed, including lectures, videos, class debate and discussion, and in-class activities. Part of your grade in this course will be based on your ability to think critically about the concepts and ideas introduced through the readings and lectures, and to engage in meaningful, respectful discussion and debate with your fellow students.
POSC 326: American Political Parties and Elections
American political parties and elections are the primary linkages between citizens and government. Elections are essential in a representative democracy, as they are the mechanism in place by which citizens empower elected officials to speak on their behalf and hold elected officials accountable for their decisions. In this course, we will consider the role of citizens, political parties, campaigns and elections in the political process.
Voting remains the primary method by which citizens participate in the political process. Hence, we will begin the course by exploring the role of the citizen in political parties and elections, paying particular attention to the ways in which citizens choose to participate or abstain from the democratic process. The second part of the course focuses on the role of political parties in American politics, with attention to the strengths and weaknesses of the two-party system as it currently functions, and the polarization that has become characteristic in recent years. The third and final part of the course is devoted to understanding national campaigns and elections. Specifically, we will learn the ‘rules of the game’ in elections, and the implications these rules have for representation. We will also examine the influence of campaigns on election outcomes, with attention to the role of money and media influence in campaigns.
In addition to presenting information, this course emphasizes critical thinking skills. As such, a variety of instructional methods are employed, including lectures, videos, class debate and discussion, and simulations. This class combines elements of traditional lecture format with a seminar style, where you will lead and participate in discussions based on the assigned readings. Part of your grade in this course will be based on your ability to think critically about the concepts and ideas introduced through the readings and lectures, and to engage in meaningful, respectful discussion and debate with your fellow students.