Kristin Good, associate professor
A day in the life
Kristin Good, associate professor
I want my students to come out of the program being able to make a very strong argument to back up their position on an issue. I want them to be able to articulate and express themselves confidently.
Politics starts at home
When Associate Professor Kristin Good entered the University of Manitoba in her hometown of Winnipeg, she didn’t foresee a future teaching political science. Instead, she found herself in a situation that most students can relate to.
“I had trouble deciding on a major,” she says. “I wanted to establish a foundation for law school and thought political science would be a good background for that. But then I realized I was more attracted to the idea of law school than the reality. So I thought I’d better think about it some more and try some other options.”
Drawing upon her Icelandic heritage (her mother’s family emigrated to a community north of Gimli, Man.), Dr. Good applied for a scholarship from the Ministry of Culture and Education in Iceland to spend a year studying Icelandic for Foreign Students. The program accepts just two North Americans each year to learn the language.
“It made me realize I still wanted to study,” she says. “While I was doing my master’s degree back in Manitoba I was able to T.A. some classes. That’s when I realized academia was for me.”
Dr. Good started teaching in Dal’s Political Science program in 2005 as she finished her PhD dissertation at the University of Toronto. While she’s somewhat interested in day-to-day politics and the details of election campaigns, she says you don’t have to love those aspects of political science to enjoy studying it. Her own particular interest is public policy.
“A lot of people think that it’s only about elections, political leaders, and political parties, but political science is also about understanding how politicians, institutions, and other factors shape public policy making,” she says. “I like to try to understand why governments make the public policy choices that they do.”
Dr. Good’s main focus is municipal politics. It’s an aspect of political science she says is often neglected and misunderstood— something she’s trying to change through her research as well as her courses.
“A lot of universities don’t have researchers who study urban politics, so most students don’t know a lot about municipal government and how municipalities work,” she says. “Municipalities have the potential to engage citizens and make important decisions that they should be concerned about. We’re becoming more and more urban in Canada so it's becoming more of an issue. It’s interesting for the students because they can actually experience the effects of decisions that are being made in a different way than they can with other levels of government.”
Dr. Good’s PhD dissertation on municipal politics and how cities respond to multiculturalism was developed into a book released in 2009: Municipalities and Multiculturalism: The Politics of Immigration in Toronto and Vancouver. It landed her the 2010 Donald Smiley Prize for the best book on Canadian politics by the Canadian Political Science Association—the first woman ever to win the award.
“All the people teaching in this department are very highly regarded in their respective fields,” she says. “It’s a small department but we’re all very productive in research. When you come here as a student, you have the benefit of working with people in a large research institution but still have that small university feel and attention.”
Another benefit for students is being able to leave the program with the tools needed to engage in successful careers.
“Some will end up in professions where they’ll need to know how to make what they learned in class relevant to current problems they’re dealing with, whether they’re journalists, policy advisors, lobbyists, or politicians,” she says. “This program opens up so many possible career paths, but in the end, hopefully everyone will be participating in the political process as a citizen.”