Faculty You Should Know: Chris Larimer
Chris Larimer graduated from UNI with a bachelor's degree in 2001. After completing a master's and doctorate degree, he returned to UNI in 2006 to teach in UNI's political science department and the rest is history.
Now as an associate professor of political science, Larimer feels very fortunate to be at UNI and at "home." "It was great to return. I knew the environment and had very fond memories of the school and the department. Eastern Iowa is my home."
Although, he admits that his first semester teaching students was a bit nerve-wracking, his students had positive feedback in his classes, and it appears that Larimer's successful teaching career was launched.
Larimer's passion for UNI and the Cedar Valley community is coupled with what he says is his fortune to study political science in the state of Iowa.
He's one of the recipients of the University Book & Supply Teaching Award for his service and commitment to teaching.
And he has no plans of leaving anytime soon. His passion for UNI and the community is coupled with what he says is his fortune to study political science in the state of Iowa.
His love for politics started at the Clayton County Fair at the age of 12 when he met then presidential candidates Bill Clinton and Al Gore. At UNI, he began as a business major, but a world politics course sparked new interests, and internships in D.C. and the governor's office cinched his career aspirations in political science.
Larimer acknowledges there are some advantages to being a younger professor -- for starters, students relate to him and find him approachable. After all, it wasn't long ago that he was in their shoes. He recalls that the most memorable faculty were those who gave lectures to engage students in different ways – through classroom discussions, experiments, simulations, anything to engage students.
He strives to do the same and to stay interesting and modern. A self-proclaimed comedian, he tries to interject humor or unusual examples to keep students thinking. He uses social media and technology and has had several classes via video with professors from other institutions or elected officials from Iowa.
Larimer wants to make sure his students learn outside of the classroom. "One of my advisers in graduate school talked about being "voracious" in your approach to a subject; if you are interested in something, you shouldn't need to go to class to study it -- it should be something you do all the time." Make no mistake, he wants students in his class, but he hopes students apply what they have learned and use it as a filter when reading the newspaper, watching television or interpreting real-world events.
When it comes to research, 'why people vote' is probably one of the oldest questions in political science, but it's also Larimer's primary research interest and a topic that has earned him state and national media attention -- from essays in the New York Times Room for Debate, to guest commentary on National Public Radio's syndicated show "Whad'Ya Know" to shows with Huffington Post Live and his regular appearance on KWWL TV as a political analyst.
Looking ahead, what does Larimer predict for future political studies and Iowa's role in presidential elections?
Larimer says, "There will be more of an emphasis on not only why people vote, but determining how they vote and effective mobilization techniques, and how we can study voting behavior to affect election outcomes."
Larimer says, at least for now, Iowa will continue to have a greater impact on presidential elections, because of both the Iowa Caucuses and the competitive nature of Iowa politics. Unlike every other state in the country, Iowa has a nonpartisan redistricting process. He says individuals registered as "No Party" continue to be the largest voting group in the state, suggesting Iowa has a large number of potentially persuadable voters for presidential campaigns.
It appears students and Iowans will have much to learn from this associate professor in many years to come.