Michelle D. Deardorff is the Adolph S. Ochs Professor of Government and Department Head of Political Science and Public Service at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga (UTC). Since earning her Ph.D. from Miami University, Dr. Deardorff’s teaching and research have focused on the constitutional and statutory protections surrounding gender and race, as well as exploring the insights provided by political theory. She particularly enjoys teaching classes and engaging with the public in ways that allow people to apply their understandings of law, politics, and political theory to current events, believing an important role of a university is to foster thoughtful citizens prepared to participate in governing our communities and nation. Michelle attempts to ensure that all of her work in the classroom, on campus, in her research, and with the community advances this larger goal of advancing democracy, meaningful discourse, and equality.


Before coming to UTC, Deardorff spent a decade teaching at Jackson State, a historic black university in Mississippi, and another 12 years at Millikin University, a small private college in Illinois, where she served as the Griswold Distinguished Professor of Political Science for two terms. She is a founding faculty member of the Fannie Lou Hamer National Institute on Citizenship and Democracy, a coalition of academics who promote civic engagement and popular sovereignty through the study of the struggle for civil rights in the United States. Her twenty-year engagement with these colleagues resulted in the provision of pedagogical resources, workshops, tours, and two museums all designed for K-12 educators, community college and university faculty, students, and community members to understand the promise of democracy. She has served on the American Political Science Association’s (APSA) governing council and as the chair of the Political Science Education section of APSA. She is on the editorial boards of PS: Political Science and Politics, the Journal of Political Science Education, and College Teaching, as well as on the Advisory Board of the Consortium for Inter-Campus SoTL (Scholarship of Teaching and Learning) Research. In 2019, Dr. Deardorff served as a Fulbright Senior Specialist which included work with several universities in Albania.


Deardorff’s most recent scholarship is entitled Pregnancy and the American Worker (Palgrave MacMillan, 2016), which examines the lower federal courts’ interpretation of two competing statutory interpretations of equality (Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990) in relationship to pregnancy protections in employment. The book was coauthored with James Dahl of the University of Illinois—Champaign-Urbana.  In 2009, APSA published Assessment in Political Science, the first primer on programmatic and classroom assessment within the discipline, co-edited by Deardorff, Kerstin Hamann, and John Ishiyama. Oxford University Press originally published in 2011 the two-volume set, Constitutional Law in Contemporary America, written by David Schultz, John R. Vile, and Deardorff; in 2017 West Academic Press released a revised edition of both volumes. She joined Brigid Harrison and Jean Harris as an author of the McGraw-Hill text American Democracy Now in the second edition of this college-level text with it focus on the civic engagement of college students; its sixth edition was released in 2019 and an AP version is now available. In addition to these larger projects, Deardorff has published a number of essays and articles addressing questions of political philosophy, pedagogy, and constitutional law in a variety of peer-reviewed journals and law reviews.


Current Courses Taught:


Sabbatical - Fall 2019

PSPS 3700R Race and the Constitution - Spring 2020