Anika Leithner

Anika Leithner



  • International Relations
  • European Politics
  • Political Psychology
  • Language and Politics
  • Foreign Policy Decision-Making

Contact Information

About Anika Leithner

I joined the faculty of the political science department in August 2006. Originally, I am from Bamberg, Germany. As an undergraduate, I studied political science, linguistics, literature, and history as part of an interdisciplinary major at the University of Erlangen-Nuremberg. It was probably during that time that I developed my preference for a cross-disciplinary approach to my chosen field of international relations. I also managed to combine my love for politics with my love for rhetoric.

In 2000, I decided to "jump across the big pond," as Germans like to call it, in order to attend graduate school at the University of Colorado at Boulder. I was fortunate to find an incredibly inspiring advisor (Francis A. Beer) who enabled me to combine my various research interests into a challenging but satisfying research agenda that focuses on the interaction of cognition, rhetoric, and political action in foreign policy. I received my PhD from CU Boulder in May of 2006 after finishing my dissertation entitled "Rhetoric of Responsibility: German War Rhetoric in the 21st Century."

At Cal Poly, my teaching responsibilities and interests lie mainly within the fields of global politics. I have taught Introduction to International Relations, Politics of the European Union, and an experimental course entitled Religion and Politics in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, which I developed and co-taught with a colleague from Religious Studies. I have also developed courses on political psychology, political communication, and politics and popular culture.

My primary research lie in the intersection of language and politics. For instance, I am currently working on a project that analyzes the impact of framing on the adoption of policies concerning "fracking" in five different countries. My co-author Dr. Elizabeth Lowham and I are investigating how experts on both sides of the debate frame their discourse to appeal to differing national political cultures and public opinion. We pay particular attention to how these experts frame risks versus rewards as well as their claims of scientific evidence. We hope to provide a stronger understanding of the practice and, more importantly, of how the words used to discuss the issue of fracking are essential drivers of policy.

Another exciting project I'm working on with my colleague Dr. Craig Arceneaux focuses on explaining the often discrepant findings of international electoral monitoring organizations. We have begun to systematically analyze the written reports produced by electoral monitors, having developed a model that allows us to compare such reports on the dimensions of "levels of democracy" and "democracy coverage" and thus test whether existing discrepancies are the result of different professional standards or a product of external factors such as political agendas or divergent democratic values. Some of our work in this area has been published in the International Journal of Interdisciplinary Civic and Political Studies and presented at professional workshops sponsored by the Electoral Integrity Project.

In the past, I published a book entitled "Shaping German Foreign Policy (2009) on the use of rhetoric and historical analogies in German parliamentary decision-making in cases of military intervention and have conducted on pedagogy, including a published article on the relationship between students' learning styles and how well they perform on specific formats of exams ("testing styles").

Some of my favorite non-academic interests include Barre and yoga, building furniture, painting, and making sure my crazy 3-year-old grows up to be a decent human being (I'll leave it to your imagination which of these occupied the vast majority of my time). Finally, I am a huge football (aka "soccer") fan, which pretty much, as a German, goes without saying. I daydream about Germany's team winning the World Cup again daily. Other than that, I probably qualify as the biggest Lord of the Rings geek on the planet. Evidence for that includes the fact that my engagement ring is THE one ring and the fact that I have actually taught a lecture entitled "International Relations Theory and the Lord of the Rings."

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