John C. Pierce, Ph.D.

Affiliate Professor
Primary office:

John Pierce (Ph.D., University of Minnesota) is a political scientist, having enjoyed appointments at Tulane University, Washington State University, the University of Colorado and the University of Kansas in Museum Studies and Public Affairs and Administration. His primary research area has focused on various dimensions of the role of citizens in democratic politics. He has published (co-authored or co-edited) approximately 20 books, essay collections, and research monographs and more than 150 scholarly articles, essays, working papers, book chapters, personal essays, reprinted articles, proceedings and other materials. Pierce currently is Courtesy Research Associate, Graduate Faculty and Affiliate Faculty in the KU School of Public Affairs and Administration, Graduate Faculty in Public Policy at Oregon State University, Emeritus Professor and Emeritus Vice Chancellor at the University of Colorado, and Research Professor at Washington State University at Vancouver. At Washington State University, Pierce was Chair of the Department of Political Science for eight years and Dean of the College of Liberal Arts for eleven years; he served as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs for four years; and, from 2003 to 2006 Pierce was Executive Director of the Oregon Historical Society. John Pierce has been named Washington State University Outstanding Faculty, University of Minnesota Alumni of Notable Achievement, Distinguished Alumni by the University of Puget Sound, Washington State University Mortar Board Distinguished Professor, and American Political Science Congressional Fellow.


My teaching generally focuses on the community cultural context within which public administrators conduct their work.

Teaching Interests

  • Political culture
  • Sustainability
  • Social capital
  • Civic engagement.


Current Research

Sustainability and Isomorphism in American urban areas: This project assesses variations in sustainability efforts in more than 40 American urban areas. The initial step assessed the viability of three political culture theories in explaining variations in sustainability: social capital (e.g., Putnam); creative class (Florida); and historical legacy (Elazar). The sustainability dimensions include: environmental, health, economic, sprawl, and policy/planning. The effects of political culture are examined while controlling for the social/demographic attributes of the urban areas. The first paper growing out of this project (“Cultural sources of variations in urban sustainability efforts in the U.S.”) was published in Cities: International Journal of Urban Planning and Policy (2008). The follow-up paper on resilience appeared in Environmental Politics (2011). Additional research in various stages examines: social capital and county EM collaboration with Nicholas Lovrich, Holly Goerdel, and Bonnie Johnson; Social capital and sustainability efforts in Kansas counties, in collaboration with Professors Stacey White and Bonnie Johnson of KU’s Department of Urban Planning; social, cultural and human capital and county level participation in Kansas Humanities Council grant programs; research monograph on attitudes about alternative energy technologies in Washington, Oregon and California; and, a fourth collection of personal essays.

Research Interests

  • Sustainability
  • Political culture
  • Environmental orientations
  • Social capital


Participation in multiple non-profits as board member; reviewer of manuscripts for professional journals