Faculty Profile

David O'Connell

Assistant Professor of Political Science (2013)

Contact Information


Denny Hall Room 13


O'Connell studies American politics, with his primary interests including the presidency and the role of religion in American politics. He is the author of God Wills It: Presidents and the Political Use of Religion, and his research and writing has been published in, or is forthcoming in, Presidential Studies Quarterly, Politics and Religion, Political Science Quarterly, and White House Studies. O’Connell is the 2018 recipient of Dickinson’s Constance & Rose Ganoe Memorial Award for Inspirational Teaching.


  • B.A., University of Pennsylvania, 2005
  • M.A., Columbia University, 2007
  • M.Phil, 2009
  • Ph.D., 2012


  • Ganoe Award for Inspirational Teaching, 2017-18

2018-2019 Academic Year

Fall 2018

POSC 120 American Government
A basic introductory course in American federal government which emphasizes its structure and operation. Special attention is given to the executive, legislative, and judicial processes.

POSC 232 Religion in American Politics
Cross-listed with RELG 250-01.

POSC 247 The American Presidency
An in-depth analysis of the nature and significance of "the Man" and "the Office," including constitutional development, presidential roles and customs, the recruitment process, the executive branch, and the politics of the presidency. Prerequisite: 120, or permission of the instructor.

RELG 250 Religion in American Politics
Cross-listed with POSC 232-01. This class will provide students with an overview of the role of religion in American politics. Students will become more familiar with the dynamics of a complex and diverse United States through in-depth study of the political differences that define several major religious groups. The political intersections between religion, race, gender, sexual orientation and class will be explored, helping students to think critically about political power. Other topics will include important aspects of constitutional law as they pertain to religious rights, and the various ways in which religion influences public policy.

Spring 2019

POSC 246 The Legislative Process
An analysis of the legislative branch of government, especially Congress. Emphasis is placed upon the legislature as a social system, the decision-making process, the interrelationships with the political parties and interest groups, the executive and the judiciary. Prerequisite: 120, or permission of the instructor.

POSC 290 The Politics of Am Pop Culture
This class will explore the important interactions between pop culture and American politics. Over the course of the semester, we will explore topics such as the impact of hip hop music on political behavior, the partisan and informational consequences that come from watching comedy programs like Saturday Night Live and The Daily Show, government censorship of entertainment products, the politics of sports and fashion, and the impact that pop culture has had on the criminal justice system. This class will also feature a number of in-depth case studies, ranging from the political career of Arnold Schwarzenegger to Michael Jordan's lack of political activism.