ASU faculty member is a triple Sun Devil

By

Amanda Stoneman

Gina Woodall, a senior lecturer in the School of Politics and Global Studies, bleeds maroon and gold. She was an undergraduate student, a graduate student and now a lecturer at Arizona State University.

“I’m a Sun Devil three times over,” said Woodall. “Life events and other big decisions led me to a place I never left: ASU. I can say it’s like I’ve been at three different universities. From my undergraduate years, to graduate school, to the present, ASU has made enormous changes — and is still changing.” 

In 1999, Woodall graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in political science and a minor in English. She later received a master’s degree and doctorate in American politics with a minor in political theory. In 2007, Woodall joined ASU’s faculty as a lecturer and was later promoted to senior lecturer.

“Originally, I thought I wanted to go to law school. Plans changed when I realized I probably wouldn’t have been happy being a lawyer,” said Woodall. “I thought about what else I enjoyed doing, and that was learning more about the political world around me and learning more about people in general. This culminated in teaching higher education.”

Woodall teaches courses on political inquiry, government and politics, issues in American politics, women and politics, political statistics, media and politics, political socialization, and public opinion. She also created and implemented new curriculum for an inaugural School of Politics and Global Studies Early Start program in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences with Associate Professor Richard Herrera.  

“My philosophy of teaching and learning boils down to two things: one, respect and understand the student while acknowledging I’m also here to guide them into becoming responsible adults; and two, connect what they’re learning to the larger world around them,” said Woodall. “Why does it matter? How does it matter? How will knowing this information help them? Why is it important? Helping them ‘connect the dots’ is crucial.”

One of Woodall’s primary research interests is social media in the political science classroom. She’s working on a project with her colleague, Tara Lennon, about the use of Twitter and its effectiveness in terms of classroom and political engagement.

“Hopefully the research on Twitter will help educators decide how/when/what/whether to incorporate social media into political science, and other disciplines, classrooms,” she said.

Woodall has co-authored several books, chapters and journal articles with colleagues. In spring 2016, she won the School of Politics and Global Studies Experimental Lab contest to conduct focus groups for her research with Lennon. She was also named the “Professor of the Year” for the school in April 2014. 

“Liberal arts and sciences have never been more relevant than they are today,” said Woodall. “Thinking big, taking risks and knowing how to self-reflect and reflect on the world around us, all with a critical eye, are the intangible skills that the liberal arts and sciences impart on students every day.”

As students prepare for the global workforce, Woodall emphasizes the importance of effective writing, communication/verbal skills and critical/analytical thinking. She said the global, online world we live in requires one to be able to present ideas in a cogent and persuasive manner, speak authoritatively and confidently on a subject, and synthesize information (quantitative or qualitative) to determine its reliability, validity and authenticity.

“Please intern somewhere!” exclaimed Woodall. “Internships are critical to forming and establishing relationships and figuring out what you like and dislike in a potential career. Taking what you learn in the classroom to the ‘real world’ and imagining yourself working somewhere, or not, is an experience that is unmatched in the classroom. Not having that experience is detrimental to your professional livelihood. Intern and be in the know.”

Woodall also encourages alumni to keep in touch with professors and the school.

“We’re delighted when alumni come back,” she said. “We want you to come visit, tell us how you’re doing, help you make new connections and, of course, support your school. We’re extremely proud of our alumni and want our alumni to be proud of us.”