Creating More Voters and Better Citizens


Our Research

The Annette Strauss Institute seeks to improve scholarly and public understanding of media, politics, and civic participation. Our affiliated faculty conduct research on topics such as political language, consumer news choice, and media coverage of politics and policy.  In addition, the Institute houses the Engaging News Project, Project Vote Smart, the Texas Civic Health Index, and the Campaign Mapping Project, and annually gives the Patricia Witherspoon Award to support graduate student research on public service, civic life, and citizenship.


Engaging News Project

The Engaging News Project has a single aim:  to provide research-based techniques for engaging online audiences in commercially-viable and democratically-beneficial ways.

Project Vote Smart

Project Vote Smart, Key Votes Internship Program gives college students experience researching bills and compiling legislators’ voting records while gaining knowledge of the U.S. political system. An independent 501(c)(3) organization, Project Vote Smart is a nonpartisan resource for citizens to acquire accurate information about politics, candidates, and key legislation.

Texas Civic Health Index

A report on rates of political participation and civic involvement across Texas.  Based on US Census data, this report provides the first comprehensive, nonpartisan assessment of our state's civic life.

Campaign Mapping Project

Campaign Mapping Project is a multi-year effort to assemble political campaign materials produced during presidential elections between 1948 and 2012, as a guide to understand the direction of American politics.

Patricia Witherspoon Award

Patricia Witherspoon Research Award offsets costs for students conducting original research in the areas of public service, government, community service, civic life, citizenship, or politics.

Current Faculty Research Projects

Talia Stroud explores what makes people click on links with opposing views

Dr. Natalie (Talia) Stroud received a grant funded by the a grant from The New America Foundation (supported by a grant from the Democracy Fund) to study online news engagement. The $100k project will be conducted during 2012-2013. The grant allows Stroud to build on her work in Niche News: The Politics of News Choice (Oxford University Press, 2011). The objective is to test ways in which news websites can engage site visitors and connect them with information about diverse perspectives. 

Regina Lawrence explains how campaign reporters used Twitter to cover the 2012 election