Lauren M. MacLean


Andrew Carnegie Fellows (2017)
Titled Professor (2017)
Arthur F. Bentley Chair
Indiana University Bloomington
College of Arts and Sciences
Department of Political Science


Lauren M. MacLean is currently the Arthur F. Bentley Chair in the Indiana University Bloomington Department of Political Science. Her current research highlights some of the challenges involved with the promotion of renewable energy in Africa.

"One major energy issue in many parts of the world," MacLean said, "is that the large hydroelectric dams that people have relied upon for electricity are no longer generating as much power, as climate change has reduced water levels to below what the generators require. Citizens struggle with access to electricity as well as with reliability -- blackouts and power interruptions are frequent in Ghana, which greatly affects development and the quality of life in these communities."

MacLean is looking at big-picture questions about infrastructure and the role of the state in providing a sustainable path forward for human development and democracy. She is investigating how the history of state-building and energy infrastructure development in each nation shape the construction of citizenship and democratic responsiveness.She is working on a related collaborative project with several researchers on the politics of electricity provision, collaborative governance and citizenship in Africa. MacLean and her co-authors have conducted preliminary fieldwork in Kenya (2012), Uganda (2013) and Ghana (2014). This work has been published in several journals, including Africa Today, an IU Press journal; the Annual Review of Environment and Resources; the Journal of Development Studies; and the Journal of Modern African Studies.

With the support of the Carnegie fellowship, she hopes to produce a book for a broad audience -- including policy makers, donors, business leaders and NGO leaders -- on how to effectively handle energy issues on the ground. "A lot of countries around the world are struggling with similar issues," she said.

MacLean, who received her Ph.D. from the University of California-Berkeley in 2002, is an affiliate faculty member of IU's Ostrom Workshop, the African Studies Program, the Committee on Native American and Indigenous Studies, and the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy."

MacLean regularly teaches courses on African politics, governance and corruption, comparative politics, political economy of development, politics of inequality and identity, indigenous politics, and research methods at the undergraduate and graduate level. She has authored award-winning books, chapters and articles. Most recently she co-authored "Field Research in Political Science: Practices and Principles" (Cambridge, 2015), which examines the epistemological benefits of field research, as well as the organizational and practical aspects of translating research design into on-site data collection.

In recognition of her distinction in methodology publications, innovative applications of qualitative and multi-method approaches in research, and contributions to institution-building in methodology, particularly with Africa-based scholars at higher education institutions in Africa, she was awarded the 2016 APSA David Collier Mid-Career Achievement Award. She has also been recognized with the IU Trustee Teaching Award four times since joining the faculty in 2005.