About Me


James Steur | PhD Candidate

University of Illinois

Research Interests

Research Agenda

In my primary research agenda, I identify how forces beyond rationalityespecially emotionssupport or undermine democracy. In my dissertation, I examine the causes and consequences of political sadness for democratic citizenship and political behavior. The dissertation project is supported by funding from the Rapoport Family Foundation and the Princeton Dissertation Scholars Program through the Mamdouha S. Bobst Center for Peace & Justice at Princeton University

In addition to my dissertation research, I am working on two co-authored research projects that examine how biology and emotions are factors beyond rationality that impact political behavior. In my first co-authored piece with Dr. Aleks Ksiazkiewicz, we develop a novel concept and measurement tool of chrononormativity: the idea that there are certain times of day to do certain activities. We examine how chrononormativity influences political ideology and political attitudes. In the second co-authored piece with my colleagues, Jair Moreira and Aleena Khan, we examine how vicarious contact between partisan leaders reduces affective polarization in the U.S. mass public. These projects have received funding from the Polarization Research Lab, Canadian Election Study, and the Cooperative Election Study (formerly the Cooperative Congressional Election Study).

Research Experience

In my research and policy work, I have served as a Policy & Legislative Research Fellow with Representative Mike Marron through the Center for Social and Behavioral Sciences, a research assistant at the Cline Center for Advanced Social Democracy, and acted as the Illinois Political Science Subject Pool Coordinator.

This is a photo of me with Rep. Mike Marron, Legislative Assistant Marguerite Bailey, and fellow Legislative Fellow Ha Young Choi. I presented my research to Illinois elected officials and the University of Illinois Chancellor's Office as a Policy & Legislative Research Fellow. 

Teaching Experience 

I currently serve as a graduate affiliate with the University of Illinois Center for Innovation in Teaching & Learning (CITL), where I provide teaching observations and instruction on pedagogy for graduate students, staff, and faculty. I also hold five teaching certificates from CITL related to pedagogy and online teaching, as well as a Graduate College Mentoring Certificate. Finally, I was a 2020 nominee for the undergraduate T.A. Excellence in Teaching Award from the Illinois Student Government. 

About Me

I am originally from Salt Lake City, Utah, and love the scenic outdoors and mountains. I am also a first-generation college student who realized I loved learning, and made a big decision to pursue my PhD in 2017. In my spare time, I enjoy learning about anything political, making and drinking coffee, eating delicious food, and playing chess.