Dr. Tanya Corbin

Associate Professor

T Corbin

Dr. Tanya Buhler Corbin holds a Ph.D. in Political Science and M.A. in Public Policy from Claremont Graduate University, and a B.A. in Sociology from the University of New Orleans. Before earning her Ph.D., Dr. Corbin gained valuable work experience in the political, non-profit, legal, and business worlds. Her community work as an AmeriCorps member and team leader, as well as a campaign field organizer informs her work as a faculty member to build community partnerships. Working with a partner, she started and successfully owned and 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. Before moving to Virginia, Dr. Corbin taught in California and Alaska. She is excited to be living and teaching in a “purple” state. 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.


Dr. Corbin was the recipient of the College of Humanities and Behavioral Sciences Distinguished Teaching Award (2016). Her 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 team based learning 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. 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, creating applied policy projects working in conjunction with local agencies and community partners. Dr. Corbin teaches numerous courses in American politics and Public Policy, including in her research area of disaster politics and policymaking.


Dr. Corbin’s research examines policy agenda-setting and policy change relating to disasters, crises, and hazards. She is especially interested in how people and communities who are traditionally marginalized from the policy process use disasters and crises to gain access to policymakers and participate in the policymaking process. Dr. Corbin has also studied the role of communities and local organizations in disaster planning and mitigation, and has research in process and accepted for publication in this area. Current research in this area will be presented at a panel session Dr. Corbin is organizing for the international Disaster Management conference in summer 2017.

In recent research projects, she has examine policy entrepreneurship, congressional agenda setting, and disaster recovery after Hurricane Katrina, and has published several articles in this area. She is currently developing this research into a book project examining policy change after Hurricane Katrina.


Courses Taught

Disaster Politics and Policymaking

Featured in The Tartan and presented their plans to the Radford City Emergency Operations Plan

This course explores the politics and policy processes related to disasters and crises. A multitude of political issues relating to politics and disasters are considered in this course. In particular, we will explore how disasters and crises affect political leadership, policy agendas and policy change, and intergovernmental relations. We will also consider the ways in which policy advocates and communities participate in the political process when a disaster occurs, and after the crisis or disaster abates. An important component of the course will address questions about the best ways to mitigate, prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters, with particular attention paid to the role of government during these disaster phases. This course prepares students for policy work, and includes primary research, team based work, and simulations.

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. This course features a legislative simulation that spans several weeks.

POSC 321: The Presidency (See Simulations Here)

This course provides an overview of the American presidency and the executive branch. 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 use the opportunities the election season 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. The course concludes with an exploration of the President’s various roles, paying particular attention to the domestic and budgetary policymaking process. This course includes either mock presidential debates or primary debates.

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.