Sharon Lean

Sharon Lean

Associate Professor


313-993-3435 (fax)

2059 Faculty Administration Building

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Sharon Lean

Sharon F. Lean is an associate professor in the Department of Political Science. She joined the department in 2005. Her research interests include elections and election monitoring; democratization and democratic consolidation; and civil society and the power of non-state actors in international and domestic politics. She teaches undergraduate courses on Latin American politics, democracy and international organizations. At the graduate level, she teaches the Advanced Seminar in Comparative Politics and Comparative Politics of the Developing World.

She is the author of Civil Society and Electoral Accountability in Latin America (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012) and editor of Promoting Democracy in the Americas (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2007). Dr. Lean has received numerous grants and awards for her research and teaching. She recently completed work on a USAID grant on the topic of "Strengthening Women's Civic and Political Participation." With Dr. Liz Faue (PI) in the Department of History she is a recipient of an onoing NEH Next Generation Humanities Ph.D. Planning Grant. This grant is designed to strengthen doctoral education in the humanities and promote the integration of the humanities in the public sphere. In 2013 Dr. Lean received a Fulbright Scholars Award to spend a semester in residence at the Colegio de México conducting research on autonomous public agencies and democratic governance. She is the recipient of Wayne State's 2016 Outstanding Graduate Director Award as well as the 2011 President's Award for Excellent in Teaching.

Dr. Lean travels regularly to Mexico and other countries in the Latin America for research, and takes students to Mexico every few years as part of an applied field research course.


Research interest(s)/area of expertise

  • Comparative politics
  • Latin American politics
  • World politics/international relations


  • Ph.D. University of California - Irvine, 2004
  • M.A. Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales - Mexico, 1996
  • B.A. Brown University, 1989

Awards and grants

  • Fulbright Scholars Award - Mexico - 2013

  • USAID Democracy Fellows and Grants Program - Research and Innovation Grant on Strengthening Women's Civic and Political Participation -2016

  • NEH Next Generation Humanities Scholars Planning Grant - 2016

Selected publications

Lean, Sharon F. Civil Society and Electoral Accountability in Latin America Palgrave Macmillan. 2012

Legler, Thomas, Sharon F. Lean and Dexter Boniface, eds. 2007. Promoting Democracy in the Americas, Johns Hopkins University Press.

Selected Chapters and Journal Articles
Roth, Brad R. and Sharon F. Lean. 2015. "A Bolivarian Alternative? The New Latin American Populism Confronts the Global Order" pp. 221-48 in International Law and Its Discontents, Barbara J. Stark, ed., New York: Cambridge University Press.

Lean. Sharon F. and Nicole Elise Gerring. 2013. “Liberia’s 2011 General Elections” Electoral Studies, Electoral Studies 32:1 (March), pp. 204-208.

Lean, Sharon F. 2007. “The Presidential and Legislative Elections in Nicaragua, 2006” Electoral Studies 26:4, pp. 828-832.

Lean, Sharon F. 2007. “Democracy Assistance to Domestic Election Monitoring Organizations: Conditions for Success” Democratization 14:2, pp. 289-312.

Lean, Sharon F. 2003. “Is Truth Enough? Reparations and Reconciliation in Latin America" pp. 169-191 in Politics and the Past: On Repairing Historical Injustice, John Torpey, ed. Rowman and Littlefield.


Currently teaching

  • PS 5999: Special Topics - Mexico/Applied Field Research, 3 credits, Winter 2017

Courses taught

PS 4850/6850: International Organizations, 4 credits, Fall 2016

PS 3795: Latin America in World Affairs, 4 credits, Winter 2016

PS 7711: Advanced Seminar in Comparative Politics, Regimes and Regime Change, Fall 2015

Citation index