A political scientist at the helm of the Faculty Senate

Judith L. Goldstein, who is the Janet M. Peck Professor of International Communication in the Department of Political Science and a senior fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, is serving as chair of the 2020-21 Faculty Senate of the Academic Council.

At her first meeting as chair of the Faculty Senate, Professor Judith L. Goldstein told faculty members that they must play an even more important role in university life this year, given the “new normal” that characterizes teaching, learning and research during the pandemic.

Judith L. Goldstein (Image credit: Jackie Sargent)

“Each of you has been elected to represent some portion of the faculty and I urge you to take that mandate seriously,” Goldstein said, speaking via Zoom in late September.

“You will see in the coming months that we are being tasked with responding to a far larger range of issues than in the past and we will need to meet more often,” she continued. “We do not convene for frivolous reasons. In these unusual times, the voice of the faculty is even more critical, as is the legitimacy of faculty governance.”

Goldstein, a professor of political science, then addressed Stanford’s entire faculty, promising them that the Faculty Senate “will not shy away from any issue.”

As chair of the senate, Goldstein oversees a legislative body of 56 voting members – faculty from all seven schools – and 15 ex officio members, including the president and provost, deans, vice provosts and the chair of the Emeriti Council. Guest seats are reserved for student leaders, including the president and vice president of the Associated Students of Stanford University and representatives of the graduate and postdoctoral communities.

She also serves as chair of the senate’s Steering Committee, which sets the agenda for each meeting, confers bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees, and reviews undergraduate and graduate programs on behalf of the full senate.

Goldstein, who served in the senate for six years before becoming chair, has served on many senate committees over the last 20 years, most recently as chair of the Committee on Undergraduate Standards and Policy during the 2016-17 academic year.

Hooked on politics

Looking back at the path that led to Stanford, Goldstein said she couldn’t have become anything other than an academic, given her love of learning and of the spirited back-and-forth discussions that characterize intellectual life in academia.

Goldstein traces the beginning of her interest in political science to her ninth birthday when she received a copy of The Making of the President 1960, the Pulitzer-prize winning account of the presidential campaign and election of John F. Kennedy.

However, she had to convince her mother, a first-generation immigrant in New York City who earned a college degree and thought her children should reach even higher – becoming doctors or lawyers, or what she called “real careers.”

“I explained to her that being a college professor is a pretty good career,” Goldstein said.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in political science and near eastern languages from the University of California, Berkeley, she earned a master’s degree in international relations at Columbia University in New York City. She spent a year working as an economist at the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in Washington, D.C., then joined the doctoral program in political science at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Goldstein said she had the good fortune to arrive at UCLA and work with an advisor who was one of three people creating the field of international political economy, a subfield of international relations that sought to explain conflict as well as cooperation on economic issues. The field grew rapidly after 1973 when an oil embargo by the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries led to a worldwide crisis.

As a female scholar with training in quantitative analysis in a new field, Goldstein received many job offers – even before she finished her dissertation. She chose Stanford, joining the faculty in 1981, and completing her thesis two years later.

Research and teaching

Goldstein, who is the Janet M. Peck Professor of International Communication in the Department of Political Science in the School of Humanities and Sciences, is also a senior fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research. She recently stepped down as chair of the Political Science Department after serving in the post for seven years.

Her research focuses on the politics of international trade, both domestic and within the World Trade Organization.

Starting in 2007, Goldstein has conducted a series of large public opinion polls, often returning to the same people, to analyze the interaction between their foreign policy attitudes, their economic situations and their political behavior. She is also interested in whether or not people care where and by whom products are produced, and who supports – and why – the more interventionist trade policies of the Trump Administration.

“I am also conducting a number of studies on tariff negotiations, and with the help of machine learning techniques I am trying to categorize shifts in the positions of elected officials on economic policy,” she said. “My newest work is focused on political interventions to ease job losses due to globalization, and if and how that changes public views on international markets.”

During winter quarter, she will be teaching “America and the World Economy,” a large lecture class. Instead of teaching from home, as she did during spring quarter, Goldstein plans to lecture in Encina Hall, where she will be able to walk to the blackboard during class.

While many professors record their lectures for Zoom presentations, Goldstein likes to start class talking about a current event in the U.S. or world economy to keep students interested in the class – something that is hard to prerecord.

She said graduate students working as teaching assistants face even more challenges teaching from home, where home is a studio or shared apartment and the only quiet space could be a bathroom.

“Everyone is working twice as hard under very difficult circumstances,” Goldstein said. “I hope people appreciate how hard everyone is working in order to keep Stanford’s research and teaching functions vibrant and alive.”