Profile of new faculty: Tana Johnson

Tana Johnson, a new faculty member of the La Follette School of Public Affairs and the Department of Political Science, spoke with IRIS’s project assistant, Elizabeth, about Prof Johnson’s background and what she’s looking forward to…

Experience Before Joining UW-Madison

After completing a post-doctoral fellowship at the Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University, Dr. Johnson served a faculty member at the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University. She says teaching at Duke was exciting and unique, because there were a large number of undergraduate students majoring in public policy, as well as graduate students working towards their masters and doctoral degrees.

Upcoming Class Offerings

This coming Fall 2020, Dr. Johnson will be teaching two courses. At the undergraduate level, she will teach PUB AFFR 274: Public and Private Sectors in Policy, which explores why both the government and the private sector are important for policymaking. At the graduate level, she will teach POLI SCI 959: International Organizations Seminar, which explores the history, operations, and challenges of international organizations.

Most Enjoyable Classes to Teach

Dr. Johnson particularly enjoys teaching about globalization, governance, political analysis, and the fundamentals of policy making. She also enjoys interacting with so many great students and working students’ interests into each syllabus.

Current Research Interests

Dr. Johnson’s current research interests include international organizations – both governmental and non-governmental.  She looks at them individually, and also how they interact.

Involvement in Research Abroad

Dr. Johnson is involved in research globally, particularly in Geneva, Switzerland, which is a hub for international policymaking. Diverse people and interests come to Geneva from all over the world, because that’s where major organizations such as the World Trade Organization, WWF International, and the World Health organization are headquartered.

The Importance of Transregional/Transnational Research

Dr. Johnson has long thought transregional/transnational research is important. We often form expectations based on experiences within the United States, and that’s how we understand culture, norms, and the rule of law. But these expectations do not necessarily hold in other parts of the world; not all of these factors are generalizable. It can be eye-opening to learn what is different and what is the same across regions and nations in international politics.

Furthering the University’s Commitment to Building a Culturally Diverse and Inclusive Environment

Public policy tends to naturally attract diverse people and interests. The sharing of unique experiences and perspectives enriches class conversation. Dr. Johnson encourages discussion around many different topics and facilitates learning by placing topics in the context of the world at large.