Karleen West

Professor and Chair of Political Science and International Relations
Fraser Hall 107C
(585) 245-5445

A member of the Geneseo faculty since 2014, Karleen advanced to the rank of associate professor in 2018, and to professor in 2021. She has a strong record of scholarship, teaching, and service, including receipt of a SUNY Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Scholarship (2021), the SUNY Geneseo Academic Affairs Outstanding Commitment to Geneseo's Value of Learning Award (2020), and, with Dr. Suann Yang, Professor of Biology, the SUNY FACT2 Award for Excellence in Instruction (2020). Karleen served in the Provost's Office as Interim Vice Provost for Academic Affairs during academic year 2023-24, and now serves as Chair of the Department of Political Science & International Relations.

Karleen is currently co-Principal Investigator of an NSF ADVANCE grant focused on the recruitment and retention of women in STEM at Primarily Undergraduate Institutions (PUIs), with Wendy Pogozelski (Geneseo), Chavonda Mills (Georgia Gwinnett College), Josephine Rodriguez (UVA Wise), and Sally Wasileski (UNC Asheville).

For more information, visit Karleen West on Academia.


Research Interests

Professor West specializes in Latin American politics, with an emphasis on comparative institutions, political representation, and the politics of sustainability. Her research has been funded by the National Science Foundation and the Latin American Public Opinion Project, and has been published in leading journals, including Comparative Political Studies and the Latin American Research Review . Her book Candidate Matters: A Study of Ethnic Parties, Campaigns, and Elections in Latin America , with Oxford University Press, examines how indigenous legislative candidates approached their political campaigns in Ecuador, and shows how individual candidates can threaten party unity in certain electoral environments.

Curriculum Vitae


  • Ph.D. in Political Science, University of Iowa, August 2008

  • M.A. in Political Science, University of Iowa, May 2003

  • B.A. in Spanish and Political Science, with Honors summa cum laude , University of Arizona, May 2001


  • Professor, Department of Political Science and International Relations, SUNY Geneseo, 2021 - current

  • Associate Professor, Department of Political Science and International Relations, SUNY Geneseo, 2018 - 2021

  • Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science and International Relations, SUNY Geneseo, 2014 - 2018

  • Assistant Professor, Department of Political Science, West Virginia University, 2008 - 2014

Documentary Film Based on Research



  • “Small versus Statewide Parties: How Subnational Contestation and Decentralisation Influence Presidential Elections in Europe and Latin America” (with Jae-Jae Spoon). 2020. Political Studies Review 18(1): 145-159.

  • “Coordination and Presidential Coattails: Do Legislative Parties Benefit from Presidential Coalitions?” (with Jae-Jae Spoon). 2017. Party Politics 23(5): 578-588.

  • “Indigenous Belief Systems, Science, and Resource Extraction: Climate Change Attitudes in Ecuador” (with Todd Eisenstadt). 2017. Global Environmental Politics 17(1): 40 - 58.

  • “Public Opinion, Vulnerability, and Living with Extraction on Ecuador's Oil Frontier: Where the Debate between Development and Environmentalism Gets Personal” (with Todd Eisenstadt). 2017. Comparative Politics 49(2): 231 - 251.

  • "Decentralization, the Inclusion of Ethnic Citizens, and Support for Democracy in Latin America?" 2015. Latin American Research Review 50(3): 46 - 70.

  • "Bottoms Up: How Subnational Elections Predict Parties? Decisions to Run in Presidential Elections in Europe and Latin America" (with Jae-Jae Spoon). 2015. Research & Politics Accessible here: http://rap.sagepub.com/content/2/3/2053168015602039

  • "Alone or Together? How Institutions Affect Party Entry in Presidential Elections in Europe and South America?" (with Jae-Jae Spoon). 2015. Party Politics 21(3): 393-403. DOI:10.1177/1354068812473870.

  • "Veto Players Revisited: Internal and External Factors Influencing Policy Production?" (with Hoon Lee). 2014. Legislative Studies Quarterly 39(2): 227-260.

  • "Credibility vs. Competition: The Impact of Party Size on Decisions to Enter Presidential Elections in South America and Europe?" (with Jae-Jae Spoon). 2013. Comparative Political Studies 46(4): 513-539.

  • "Programmatic or Personalistic? Pachakutik Strategies in Ecuador's 2006 Elections." 2011. The Latin Americanist 55(1): 49 - 68.


  • PLSC 344: Climate Change Ldrship and Pol

    In this course we consider global perspectives on climate change realities and ask questions about how humanity is addressing them. Who are the leaders in the fight against climate change? What do they know? How can social science help us craft the best possible decisions and interventions? These inquiries boil down to one great question: Can humans collectively step up to save the planet?

  • PLSC 454: Govt&Politics of Latin America

    This course focuses on the functioning of democratic politics in Latin America. Its main objectives are to consider: first, how government institutions interact with a variety of historic and contemporary political actors across the region; and second, how this interaction affects issue such as representation, political stability, and economic development. As such, we will investigate the role that the military, the Catholic Church, social movements, and political parties play in promoting political interests throughout Latin America, while also examining how institutional arrangements such as the presidency, legislatures, and electoral systems affect the representation of those interests. Students will have the opportunity to conduct an in-depth investigation of the politics of a single Latin American country in a final research paper. The prerequisite for this course is PLSC 120, or approval of course instructor.