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Class Acts - Leanne Giordono

Leanne Giordono Cal PolyLeanne Giordono / Political Science Department

Specialty Area: Public policy

What is/has been your favorite class to teach?
I have three favorites — Public Policy, Policy Analysis, and Public Administration. Public Policy introduces students to the policy process — how and when the government makes decisions. Policy Analysis introduces the various tools that are used to inform and evaluate public policy decisions. And Public Administration focuses on how public managers translate our ideals (public policy) into day-to-day decision-making and action. For Cal Poly undergraduates, these classes are combined into one intro class – POLS 351: Intro to Public Policy and Administration. Graduate students take a series of related classes, including POLS 515: Intro to Public Policy, POLS 518: Policy Analysis and POLS 540: Leadership/Management. 

If you were stranded on a desert island and could bring one book, what would it be?
"One Hundred Years of Solitude" by Gabriel García Márquez.

How/why did you choose to work at Cal Poly?
The Political Science Department embraces a “teacher-scholar” model, which is aligned with my professional ambitions. I love research, and had a long pre-Ph.D. career conducting applied research, but something was missing — the teaching. That’s a lot of what inspired my return to grad school, and my ultimate move to Cal Poly. I enjoy teaching both undergrads and grad students, and Cal Poly serves both (we have a Master of Public Policy program), while encouraging faculty to both teach and continue pursuing their own research agenda. Also, I love the “Learn by Doing” motto — that’s the way that I learn, too! 

What are your research/scholarly pursuits?
My research interests are focused on public policy — how policy changes arise and how such changes impact individuals, families and communities — especially in the face of economic and climatic shifts. Some of my most recent work, for example, focuses on state and local efforts to address the growing risks associated with extreme weather events. I am particularly interested in how communities with disadvantages to inclusion and prosperity (e.g., poverty, disability, education, age, race/ethnicity, etc.) influence and experience public policy decisions. I come to Cal Poly with a unique combination of expertise in both social policy and environmental policy, which I’m hoping to integrate in some of my upcoming work. 

What is your favorite class/student moment?
One of my proudest moments is when my class completed a week-long simulation of the policy process. At the end of it, one (less experienced) student remarked, “Wow, I never realized that’s what it would be like!” while another (more experienced) student said, “Wow, that’s exactly how it is!”

Are there any scholars or individuals that have inspired you?
So many. One of my mentors at Oregon State University, Dr. Hilary Boudet, really stands out as an important figure. She is the perfect combination of ambitious, smart and down-to-earth, plus she does it all as a working mom of three kids (as do I).

What is one thing you wish your students knew about you?
Just how much I want them to engage, learn and thrive in my class. In particular, I want students who face barriers to participation – whatever they may be – to feel comfortable approaching me and pursuing the support that they need to be successful.

What are your hobbies/extracurricular activities?
Frankly, I have a full household — three kids and two dogs, so much of my time outside work is spent with them. My spouse is awesome, and takes on his full share of the workload, so I also get out for Zumba, yoga and long walks, whenever possible. I also like to knit, although I’m a little less motivated to work with wool in hot weather! 

Do you have a favorite getaway location?
I lived in Oregon for almost twenty years before moving to California. I’ve spent a lot of time enjoying Oregon rivers, mountains and coast (even in the rain), so right now, it would be my destination of choice.

What is a fact about you that few know?
I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Mali (West Africa) from 1995-97, where I lived in a mud hut, drank well water and ate millet on a daily basis. More importantly, though, I met the most beautiful people who forever influenced my life.

What is your guilty pleasure?
Everything related to Flamenco music and dancing (watching, listening and doing) but I’m not guilty about it — it’s pure pleasure!


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