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James Vike Named Trainer Faculty Fellow

James Vike of Malvern, Pa., associate professor of political science at Widener University, has been named the first Trainer Faculty Fellow by the Oskin Leadership Institute at the university. The fellowship provides Vike with funding to continue his research into factors promoting vibrant, yet also civil, political engagement in a deeply polarized and divisive era.

James VikeAccording to Vike, research has exposed a dilemma in contemporary American politics that links high levels of political interest and participation with high rates of partisanship and polarizing behavior in the political arena. This dilemma contributes to disaffection by many non-partisan individuals in society and has a negative effect on civil discourse across the nation.

"My research focuses on developing an enhanced citizen engagement typology and associated educational programming that can motivate people to become more politically active and engaged without simultaneously exacerbating polarization levels in society," Vike said.

In addition to the research funding Vike receives as a Trainer Faculty Fellow, he will give the President's Invited Lecture on his research during the spring semester, and the Oskin Leadership Institute will publish an edited version of his lecture as part of the Oskin Thought Leader Series.

"We are excited to have the important research that Dr. Vike is conducting associated with Widener and the Oskin Leadership Institute," said Arthur J. Schwartz, executive director of the institute. "The ability to set aside political differences and engage in civil discourse is critical to the future of our democracy and a vital skill for effective leadership."

Vike joined the faculty of the Widener College of Arts and Sciences in 1998 and has also served as associate dean of the Social Science Division and director of the Master of Public Administration Program. He earned his doctorate and master's in political science from the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University and a bachelor's in political science from Willamette University in Oregon.

The Trainer Faculty Fellows program is named for Nicholas P. Trainer, the current chair of the Widener Board of Trustees and a 1964 graduate. Trainer and his family established the Trainer Leadership Endowment Fund in 2009 to enable faculty to conduct research on topics and themes that intersect with the mission and purposes of the Oskin Leadership Institute.

The mission of the Oskin Leadership Institute is to perpetuate the university's long and noble tradition of inspiring students to be strategic leaders and responsible citizens who possess the character, courage and competencies to affect positive change throughout the world.

Widener University is a metropolitan university that connects curricula to social issues through civic engagement. Dynamic teaching, active scholarship, personal attention, leadership development and experiential learning are key components of the Widener experience. A comprehensive doctorate-granting university, Widener is comprised of eight schools and colleges that offer liberal arts and sciences, professional and pre-professional curricula leading to associate's, baccalaureate, master's, and doctoral degrees. The university's campuses in Chester, Exton and Harrisburg, Pa., and Wilmington, Del., serve more than 6,300 students. Widener is proud to be a tobacco-free campus. Visit the university's website,