Sharon Lean

Sharon Lean

Associate Professor
Director of Graduate Programs


313-993-3435 (fax)

2059 Faculty Administration Building


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Sharon Lean

Sharon F. Lean is Graduate Program Director and Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science. She joined the Wayne State faculty in 2005. She is the recipient of Wayne State's 2016 Outstanding Graduate Director Award and the 2011 President's Award for Excellent in Teaching. From May 2018 to August 2021, she served as Associate Dean of the Graduate School. Dr. Lean regularly takes graduate and undergraduate students on short-term study abroad trips to Mexico, Colombia, and sometimes other locations.

Research interest(s)/area of expertise

  •  Comparative Politics
  • Latin American politics, especially Mexico and Central America
  •  Problems of civil society, state, transparency and accountability


  • Ph.D. in Political Science, University of California - Irvine
  • M.A. in Social Sciences, Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales (FLACSO- México)
  • B.A. in Latin American Studies (with honors), Brown University

Awards and grants

  • Council of Graduate Schools/Mellon PhD Career Pathways: Humanities Coalition Grant –Co-PI (with Amanda Bryant Freidrich, Elizabeth Faue and Caroline Maun) 2021-23

  • 100K Strong Met Life Study Abroad Innovation Grant. Co-PI (with Jaclyn Assarian, Fred Pearson and in collaboration with Universidad Externado, Bogotá, Colombia) 2018.

  • USAID Democracy Fellows and Grants Program Research and Innovation Grant: Strengthening Women's Civic and Political Participation (co-PI with Kyu-Nahm Jun and Stine Eckert) 2016

  •  NEH Next Generation Humanities Scholars Planning Grant (participant, PI Elizabeth Faue) 2016

  •  2013 Fulbright Scholar Award – Visiting Researcher at El Colegio de México, México D.F.

Selected publications


  • Lean, Sharon F. 2012. Civil Society and Electoral Accountability in Latin America Palgrave Macmillan.
  • Legler, Thomas, Sharon F. Lean and Dexter Boniface, eds. 2007. Promoting Democracy in the Americas, Johns Hopkins University Press.

Chapters and Journal Articles

  • Lean, Sharon F. et al. 2021. "Women’s Civic and Political Participation in the Developing World: Obstacles and Opportunities." Journal of International Women's Studies. 22: 9
  • Lean, Sharon F. and Alanna D. Jackson, 2018. “Mexican Political Development.” In Oxford Bibliographies in Political Science. Ed. Sandy Maisel. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • 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. 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 7711: Advanced Seminar in Comparative Politics: Democracy, Autocracy, Regime Change, 3 credits, Winter 2022

Courses taught

  • PS 3735: Latin American Politics,
  • PS 3795: Latin America in World Affairs
  • PS 5999: Special Topics: Applied Field Research (with short-term study abroad in Latin America)
  • PS 7711: Advanced Seminar in Comparative Politics: Civil Society and Democracy
  • PS 7730: Comparative Politics of the Developing World

Citation index