About our Center

The Weidenbaum Center is a research institute at Washington University in St. Louis that supports social scientific research in the fields of public policy, economics, political science, and sociology. Led by Weidenbaum Center Director Andrew Reeves (pictured), the Center funds faculty research, provides administrative support for research activities, and sponsors a wide range of public affairs programs. In doing so, the Center serves as a bridge between scholars, policymakers, and the general public. Through unbiased empirical research and events, the Center addresses many of the pressing public policy issues facing America and the world today. 

The Weidenbaum Center provides significant research support for faculty in the departments of Economics, Political Science, and Sociology. This support allows a wide array of faculty members to participate in a variety of impactful research, and is of particular importance to our younger faculty who are just starting their research careers. Research efforts contribute to work that addresses key social issues locally, nationally, and globally, and enhances the prominence of Washington University in the academic and policy world. Donations fund our grant programs which support this research. We could not support nearly as much research without this generosity. 

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Q&A Series: Weidenbaum Center Resident Fellow Michael Olson

Weidenbaum Center Resident Fellow Michael Olson provides his answers to our question & answer series featuring Weidenbaum Center faculty, staff, or student affiliates. Professor Olson has received funding from the Weidenbaum Center for his research on expertise and representation in local politics.

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Profile of Weidenbaum Center Graduate Affiliate Jordan Duffin Wong

Jordan is a Weidenbaum Center Graduate Survey Research Affiliate and a Ph.D. student in Political Science. His research studies American local and rural government, and his dissertation analyzes the intersection between political and religious beliefs, local government, and the treatment of bodies after death. Jordan is involved with multiple Weidenbaum Center projects including: administering the Weidenbaum Center survey of national political attitudes which provides a high-quality data source for faculty researchers (with Weidenbaum Center Director Andrew Reeves and Weidenbaum Center Director of Survey Research Taylor Carlson); developing the St. Louis Policy Data Project, an initiative designed to make data in the St. Louis region more accessible to organizations and non-profits (with Weidenbaum Center Director Andrew Reeves and Weidenbaum Center Graduate Affiliate Lucas Boschelli); and studying how being elected by voters versus appointed by a city council changes the behaviors of municipal officials (with Weidenbaum Center Director Andrew Reeves, Weidenbaum Center Resident Fellow Michael Olson, and Wayde Marsh, Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Tennessee and former Weidenbaum Center Postdoctoral Research Fellow).

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Changing the World Through Research

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." ~Margaret Mead

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Carly Wayne, Department of Political Science, Weidenbaum Center Grant Recipient and frequent speaker at Weidenbaum Center events

Terrified or Enraged? Emotional Microfoundations of Public Counterror Attitudes. Professor Carly Wayne recently had an article published in the journal International Organization. The article was additionally published online by the Cambridge University Press. Professor Wayne's research, funded in part by the Weidenbaum Center, shows that while fear is one well-recognized emotional response to terror threats, in societies where terrorism is rare, anger may play a more pivotal role, with distinct consequences for citizens' downstream political attitudes. Her findings illuminate strategic incentives shaping militants' use of terror tactics, electoral constraints leaders face in formulating counterterror policy, and the emotional mechanisms fueling cycles of political violence.

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Diana O'Brien, Department of Political Science, speaker at 2024 Weidenbaum Center Women's Networking and Public Policy Event

Voters Care about Women's Leadership in Elected Office. Research by Professor O'Brien, Professor Amanda Clayton (University of California, Berkeley), and Professor Jennifer Piscopo (Royal Holloway University of London), uncovers interesting new data on citizens' attitudes about political representation. Their research results show that citizens strongly prefer that political decision-making bodies have gender parity, meaning equal numbers of men and women. When women are represented in elected office, even with quotas in place, the institutions are seen as more fair, more trustworthy, and ultimately more democratic. These results counter critics who claim that gender quotas would diminish the quality of political representation. This research shows that citizens actually like quotas' results, because women's presence indicates that governments are working for everyone, yielding more democratic outcomes.

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James L. Gibson, Department of Political Science, Weidenbaum Center Grant Recipient and frequent speaker at Weidenbaum Center events

Democracy's Destruction? The 2020 Election, Trump's Insurrection, and the Strength of America's Political Institutions James L. Gibson has received numerous grants from the Weidenbaum Center for his research and survey work connected to political institutions, the U.S. Supreme Court, the presidency, and the U.S. Senate. Based on surveys of representative samples of the American people in July 2020, December 2020, March 2021, and June 2021, this forthcoming book (coming in May 2024, the Russell Sage Foundation), examines in great detail whether American political institutions lost legitimacy over the period from before the 2020 presidential election to well after it, and whether any such loss is associated with the "Big Lie" about the election and its aftermath. Gibson's highly contrarian conclusion is simple: try as they might (and did), Trump and his Republicans did not in fact succeed in undermining the legitimacy of American national political institutions. Professor Gibson will be speaking about this book at the University of Michigan in March 2024, as part of the annual Miller-Converse Lecture Series. The dedication for this forthcoming book reads as follows: "To Washington University in St. Louis, and especially its Weidenbaum Center - Because its difficult to image a university that is more supportive of social science research."

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