Meet Our World-Class Faculty: Alex Goodwin
A conversation with Assistant Professor of Political Science Alex Goodwin.
October 25, 2023
October 25, 2023
Could you introduce yourself and tell me a bit about your background?
My name is Alex Goodwin. This is my first year here at Southwestern; I’m on the tenure track and an assistant professor in the Political Science Department. I’m from Houston, Texas, and I have a twin brother.
What sparked your interest in political science, and why did you want to teach?
It goes all the way back to childhood. Both of my parents are professors, and my dad used to take me to class with him. So, from a very young age, I got to see someone teach at that level, and it was very interesting. I used to sit in the back of the class and watch VHS tapes with headphones on, and I can probably recite the entirety of Rugrats in Paris. Then, at some point, I took my headphones off and started to listen to his teaching. I attended the same college where my dad taught, so I didn’t want to major in history. But, I wanted to know how the world works, and political science helps explain the why of the world. I loved it. I loved the classes I took, classes like Race, Gender, and Public Policy, Minority Politics, and International Politics. Then, during my junior year, I did a summer research program at the University of North Texas (UNT) that showed students what graduate school is like. A few years later, I returned to UNT for my Ph.D.
How did you hear about Southwestern, and why did you want to work here?
When I was applying for jobs and finishing my Ph.D., I knew I wanted to stay in Texas because most of my immediate family is in the state. I saw Southwestern hiring, but Georgetown, Texas, didn’t ring a bell. When I realized it was close to Austin, which isn’t too far from my family in Houston, I thought this is perfect. Secondly, when I started reading about the University online, the intimate environment really interested me. The ability for students to get to know their professors is really important to me because I was that student who was always asking questions, and during my undergrad experience, I had professors guide me in one-on-one experiences. So, having the opportunity to do that and be in a position to provide that for another intellectually curious student was important. At larger schools, there’s a much bigger barrier to those interactions, and it is really hard to form relationships with students when you have a big class; you don’t get the opportunity to learn names and forge relationships with people. Because the environment here is small, this would be an excellent place for me to teach the type of things I want to teach and build relationships with students as well.
What classes do you teach?
Currently, I am teaching two sections of American Politics. Next semester, I’ll be teaching a Race in American Politics class and another section of American Politics. As I continue to develop a course catalog, there’s a course I’m creating from scratch called Hip Hop and Mass Incarceration, which I’m excited to build out. I’m also developing classes called Black Political Thought and Black Social Movements.
How have you enjoyed your time at Southwestern thus far?
I’ve enjoyed it. The one thing that attracted me to the job was the intimacy not only between the faculty and students but also between faculty in different departments. When I did my Ph.D., I only knew the graduate students in my department. But here, I know people in education, anthropology, sociology, etc., and that’s what you need to build community, not only with your students but among faculty as well.
Is there a specific political period or politician/activist that you enjoy teaching students about? If so, what/who is it and why?
I’d probably say the late 50s going into the late 60s because the things that they were fighting for during the period this period of civil rights, women’s rights, the beginnings of LGBTQ rights, and Asian American rights were the beginnings of the movements we’re still advocating for today; we’re still talking about all these things. So, for me, that period is really fun to go back to. Also, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. People come to college with this view of King as a congenial figure like he’s frozen in time with those two sentences from the I Have a Dream speech, but people don’t or choose not to examine the full scope of King’s philosophies, writings, and ideology. King was talking about and writing about the things we are still discussing today in Letter from the Birmingham Jail and his book, Where Do We Go From Here Chaos to Community? If you close your eyes and think about it, that book could have come out a week or two ago. We’re still grappling with the same sort of issues.
What do you enjoy doing outside of work?
I love sports. So, if I’m not keeping up with current events and things like that, my TV at home is probably on ESPN. On Saturdays and Sundays, I’m watching college and pro football. I have the main TV on, and I’ll have a tablet and computer with games on, so there might be three games on at once and TV shows. I love Criminal Minds, The First 48, and Family Guy.
If you could have a conversation with any historical political figure, who would it be and why?
I would say Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. because if I could transport him to today, I’d want to ask what differences you see from then to now. I just think he would be an interesting person to talk to about the world’s big problems. I’ve also always thought about him and what he’s like as a regular person. He’s a husband, he’s a dad, so what is this person like when he’s not talking about all of these big macro-level problems? I don’t think we see these kinds of people as normal; we see them as larger-than-life. I just want to know who he is when he’s not out there as the civil rights movement leader.
What is something students would be surprised to learn about you?
In college, I was a public address announcer for Prairie View A&M University and a radio broadcast host for the university. I had a weekly Sports Show. My cohost and I would go in there for three hours and talk about sports. I still do a sports podcast, which is one way of blowing off steam because I’ve been doing it since college once or twice a week.
Is there anything I haven’t asked that you would like people to know about you?
To students, I would say, sign up for my Race in American Politics class for the spring semester.
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