Meet 2020 Carnegie Fellow Michael A. Neblo, The Ohio State University

The Andrew Carnegie Fellows Program recognizes an exceptional group of both established and emerging scholars, journalists, and authors with the goal of strengthening U.S. democracy, driving technological and cultural creativity, exploring global connections and global ruptures, and improving both natural and human environments. 

How will the Andrew Carnegie Fellows Program impact your research and overall career?

I was going to be on a one semester sabbatical next year, but I am so grateful that the Andrew Carnegie Fellowship will allow me to make that a whole year. So the main impact on my research will be increasing the time I have to devote to the project. I also travel to DC often to recruit members of Congress into our study, so when things open up again, the fellowship will help facilitate that as well. The project will culminate in my third book, which will be about ways to strengthen representative democracy. Specifically, we are interested in how elected officials can acquire and use better quality information about the informed views of a wider range of their constituents on a wider range of issues.

What research topics do you primarily focus on? How can people access your work?

My work so far has been primarily focused on deliberative democracy both as a normative theory but also as a set of concrete practices that we can study empirically. The current project extends that work to look at how we can channel such deliberative activity into the actual policy making process. I direct the Institute for Democratic Engagement and Accountability (IDEA) at Ohio State. So people who are interested can keep up with our activities via the institute’s website, my individual professional page, or the ‘Connecting to Congress’ project webpage.

Do you have any advice for students in political science, including tips on how to find funding and support for research projects?

My biggest piece of advice is to try not to get discouraged when you get turned down. I have many more unsuccessful applications than successful ones. So just try to learn from the feedback you get along the way, strengthen your proposal, and get it back out the door to the next funder or in the next cycle.

Michael A. Neblo, a professor of political science at The Ohio State University, has made it his life’s work to revitalize our democracy and restore public trust in government by developing new ways to connect citizens with their elected representatives. Working with 13 Congress members, his Connecting to Congress project has combined emerging technology with academic research to develop deliberative “tele-townhalls,” during which a diverse group of citizens meet with their representatives. As documented in the 2018 book Dr. Neblo coauthored with his colleagues, Politics with the People: Building a Directly Representative Democracy, the sessions increased trust in government and made participants more likely to vote. For his Carnegie project, Dr. Neblo is taking this work to the next level, scaling up the tele-townhalls to increase civic engagement and to ensure that public opinion helps shape policy.