Ryan Emenaker, Professor of Political Science, Eureka Campus
What do you love most about teaching at CR?
Since I first decided to become an educator, I wanted to teach at the community college level. I deeply believe in making higher education available to all. I like the age diversity that is more prevalent at community colleges, and I like the fact that the majority of the students are members of the local community. I see my students (and my former students) working the important jobs our community needs; they are doctors, nurses, home builders, government employees, social workers, community organizers, teachers, etc. And of course who can forget the fact that CR is nestled in one of the most beautiful places in the world, surrounded by a deeply caring community.
What do you love most about your discipline?
Political scientists are assigned a special task: helping human beings figure out how to govern themselves. It's something we humans do not know much about. For most of human history we were hunters and gathers, and we governed ourselves based on consensus. Humans largely shifted to agriculture at which point we tried feudalism and monarchies as a means to govern. In the last couple of centuries, humans have tried liberalism, democracy, socialism, and fascism in different ratios. But we still have no idea how to address major problems such as nuclear proliferation, war, famine, global warming, or even how to tax ourselves for the collective good. Political studies works to craft solutions to these problems and to answer one of the most basic questions in society: how do we govern ourselves and how do we create a just society.
Students of politics must simultaneously ask two important questions: how does the world work and how can it work better? Since we are studying human-created institutions, all of these institutions can be changed. It is our job to identify how and why to change the institutions around us.
Professor Emenaker has taught Political Science at College of the Redwoods since 2006. He received a BA in Political Science, an MA in Social Science from Humboldt State University, and another MA in Government from The Johns Hopkins University. His research interests focus on judicial politics especially in relation to federalism and separation of powers conflicts. He is a regular commentator in the press on issues involving state and local politics, making guest appearances on NBC affiliates as a political analyst and on local radio to discuss political controversies. He has also written numerous articles on the history and role of the Supreme Court. His most recent article, on why the Supreme Court should uphold the Voting Rights Act, appeared on SCOTUSblog, the premier news and research site on the Supreme Court. You can check out some of his recent scholarship at http://ssrn.com/author=1789397
When not reading or writing about judicial politics (or buried under a stack of papers) he likes to take long bike rides, brew his own soda, and play bass.