Monday, February 04, 2008

Professor completes challenging book project

By Courtney Westlake

Though Dr. Kent Redfield is a seasoned author, he said he found his latest publishing project much more challenging that it may appear to be to others.

"It's really an enjoyable project, but it is a lot of work," said Redfield, a professor of political science at UIS. "It's always a huge organizational task to get everybody's materials in, to revise them, to try to get a common structure and also for people to tell the story in their own states. And then to write the chapter I wrote in it is a different task; that is an effort."

The book, called "Democratic Renewal: A Call to Action from America's Heartland," was just released this month and contains profiles on the issues involving democratic institutions in the five Midwest states of Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota that are involved in the Joyce Foundation, which has a number of grantees in various states that work on democratic reform projects, Redfield said.

Redfield's essay in the book includes a discussion on what threats are present to American democracy in terms of lack of participation, lack of engagement, political corruption, election concerns and more. These are some things that cumulatively have an negative impact on public views of the political system, he said.

"It was an interesting project," he said. "It's an opportunity to take the research I do and then apply it, and work with groups that are trying to institute what I think are very positive changes."

Redfield's background in political science involves serving as the interim director for the Institute for Legislative Studies, which is part of the Center for State Policy and Leadership at UIS. He has been with UIS since 1979, teaching classes on Illinois politics, legislative politics, political campaigns, lobbying and more.

Redfield has also been involved in extensive research on the financing of political campaigns in Illinois and political ethics, and many of his findings have been presented in numerous research reports, a series of articles in Illinois Issues, a book on financing legislative elections in Illinois called "Cash Clout" and a book on the role of money in Illinois politics entitled "Money Counts."

Redfield said he has always been a political scientist involved with teaching and basic and applied research but has become increasingly more active in advocacy and reform activities in recent years.

"I've been really fortunate in terms of having the position here at UIS where I can do teaching, which I really enjoy, I can do grant-funded research, and I can find ways to apply that and make a difference with what's going on in the world," he said.