Political Science

Alisa Gaunder

Dean of the Faculty

Alisa Gaunder received her doctorate in political science, specializing in comparative politics and Japan, from the University of California, Berkeley in 2001.  Her research interests include comparative political leadership, campaign finance reform in Japan and the United States and women in politics. She is the author of Political Reform in Japan: Leadership Looming Large (Routledge 2007) and the editor of The Routledge Handbook of Japanese Politics (Routledge 2011).  Her current research focuses on the obstacles that face women running for national office in Japan.


PhD, University of California, Berkeley 2001
MA, University of California, Berkeley 1994
BA, Washington University, St. Louis 1992


Dean of the Faculty
Southwestern University
September 01, 2014 - present

Professor of Political Science
Southwestern University
August 19, 2013 - present

Associate Professor of Political Science
Southwestern University
August 01, 2008 - August 19, 2013

Assistant Professor of Political Science
Southwestern University
August 01, 2002 - May 01, 2008

University of California, Berkeley
January 01, 2002 - July 01, 2002
Introduction to American Politics

Teaching Philosophy

My goal as a professor of political science is to motivate students to think critically -- to teach students to have opinions, to ground these opinions with evidence, to express these opinions, and thereby to take an active role as responsible citizens. This goal has guided me as I have developed my courses at Southwestern. All my courses emphasize critical thinking through writing, class discussion, and creative activities.

Previous Courses

Women and Politics, The Chinese Cultural Revolution, Senior Seminar: Comparative Political Leadership


Comparative political leadership, campaign finance reform in Japan and the United States, and women in politics.



Political Reform in Japan: Leadership Looming Large.  London: Routledge, 2007.

Edited Volumes

The Routledge Handbook of Japanese Politics.  London: Routledge, 2011.

Refereed Journal Articles

"Reform Leadership in the United States and Japan: A Comparison of John McCain and Ozawa Ichiro." Leadership. 3.2 (May 2007): 173-189.

"WIN WIN's Struggles with the Institutional Transfer of the EMILY's List Model to Japan: The Role of Accountability and Policy." Japanese Journal of Political Science 12.1 (January 2011): 75-94.

"The DPJ and Women:  The Limited Impact of the 2009 Alternation of Power on Policy and Governance."  Journal of East Asian Studies 12.3 (Fall 2012): 441-66.

“Quota Nonadoption in Japan: The Role of the Women’s Movement and the Opposition.”  Politics and Gender, forthcoming 2015.

Chapters in edited volumes

"Women Running for National Office in Japan: Are Koizumi's Female "Children" a Short-term Anomaly or a Lasting Phenomenon?" in Political Change in Japan: Electoral Behavior, Party Realignment, and the Koizumi Reforms, eds. Steven Reed, Kenneth Mori McElwain and Kay Shimizu.  Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution, 2009.

"The Institutional landscape of Japanese Politics." In The Routledge Handbook of Japanese Politics, ed. Alisa Gaunder. London: Routledge, 2011.

“The DPJ and Women:  The Limited Impact of the 2009 Alternation of Power on Policy and Governance.”   Japan Under the DPJ:  The Politics of Transition and Governance, ed. Kenji E. Kushida and Phillip Y. Lipscy.  Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 2013.

“Conservative Female Candidates in Germany and Japan:  Supply and Demand” (co-authored with Sarah Elise Wiliarty).  Gender, Conservatism, and Political Representation, ed. Karen Celis and Sara Childs.  ECPR Press, 2014.

"Merging Teaching and Research through Faculty-Student Collaboration: An Exploration of Female Political Leadership in Japan." In Suzanne Wilson Barnett, ed. Luce Fund for Asian Studies Faculty Book.  Under review.

Book Reviews

Japan Transformed: Political Change and Economic Restructuring. By Frances McCall Rosenbluth and Michael F. Thies.  Journal of Japanese Studies. 38.1 (2012): 201-205.

Decoding Boundaries in Contemporary Japan.  Edited by Glenn D. Hook.  Journal of Japanese Studies, 38.2 (2012):  473-476.

The Evolution of Japan’s Party System:  Politics and Policy in an Era of Institutional Change.  Edited by Leonard J. Schoppa.  Toronto: Toronto University Press, 2011 and Welfare Through Work:  Conservative Ideas, Partisan Dynamics, and Social Protection in Japan.  By Mari Miura.  Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2012. Perspectives on Politics, 11.4 (2013): 1215-1217.

Other peer reviewed publications

"Bringing Scholarship to the Classroom." ASIANetwork Exchange: A Journal for Asian Studies in the Liberal Arts. 16.1(Fall 2008): 64-70.

"Political Parties in Democratic Japan." Education About Asia. 16.1 (Spring 2011): 50-53.

“Politics of Japan.”  In Oxford Bibliographies in Political Science, ed. Rick Valelly.  New York:  Oxford University Press, 2013.

Works in Progress

"From Madonnas to Assassins to Girls: The Changing image of female politicians in Japan." Article in progress.

"The Effects of Party Organization on Women in the CDU and the LDP: Chancellors versus "Madonnas.'" Article in progress, co-authored with Sarah Wiliarty.



Honors & Awards

Competitive Faculty Development Grant, Southwestern University (three grants, 2009-2011)

ACS Mellon Foundation Grant ($5,000), 2009

Sam Taylor Fellowship ($1,500), 2008-2009

ASIANetwork Freeman Faculty-Study Collaborative Research Grant ($32,000), 2005-6

Mundy Faculty Fellowship, Southwestern University, 2005-6

Cullen Research Grant, Southwestern University, (six grants, 2003-2008)

Dissertation Write-Up Grant, Center for Japanese Studies, Berkeley, Fall 2001

Continuing Student Fellowship, Department of Political Science, Berkeley, 2000-4

Research Fellowship, Center for Japanese Studies, Berkeley, 1997-8; 1998-9

Sumner Intern Fellowship, Japan Local Government Center (CLAIR), 1996

Regents Fellowship, University of California, Berkeley, 1994-1995

Institute of East Asian Studies Fellowship, UC Berkeley, 1993-1994

Fulbright Fellowship, Japan, 1992-1993

John M. Olin Prize for Excellence in Economics, Washington University, 1992

Phi Beta Kappa