Area of Study
Email Address
Kirner-Johnson 146
On Leave/Away
Spring ’24 (Washington, D.C., Program)

Stephen Orvis studies comparative politics with an emphasis on Africa. He served as an international election observer in Kenya's transitional elections to democratic rule and led Hamilton students on the Kenya Field School in summer 2000 and 2004. He and Carol Ann Drogus published the textbook Introducing Comparative Politics: Concepts and Cases in Context (CQ Press, 3rd edition, 2014). Orvis' articles on rural development in Kenya and African democratization have appeared in African Studies Review, Africa Today, Studies in Comparative International Development, Journal of Modern African Studies, and Journal of Asian and African Studies. His book, The Agrarian Question in Kenya, is published with University Presses of Florida. Orvis earned his doctorate at the University of Wisconsin.

Recent Courses Taught

Introduction to Comparative Politics
Writing About Diversity in America (First-year Course)
Politics of Africa
Poverty and Development
Democracy and Diversity


  • Levitt Center student-faculty collaborative research award, 2001, 2005, 2008, 2011, 2013  
  • Visiting Fellow, Pembroke College, Oxford University, 2005
  • Emerson grant for student-faculty collaborative research, 1999, 2003
  • Comfort and Channing Richardson Award for Pedagogical Innovation, Hamilton College, 2002
  • Hewlett Grant for Diversity Pedagogy, 2001-02

Selected Publications


  • Introducing Comparative Politics: Concepts and Cases in Context (Congressional Quarterly Press, 2014), 3rd Edition, with Carol Drogus.
  • The Agrarian Crisis in Kenya. University Press of Florida, 1997.

Articles and anthology chapters:

  • “Conclusion: Bringing Institutions Back in to the Study of Kenya and Africa,” Africa Today, Vol. 53. no. 2, winter 2006 (special issue on Kenya)
  • “Kenyan Civil Society: Bridging the Urban-Rural Divide?” Journal of Modern African Studies, Vol. 41, no. 2, 2003
  • “Moral Ethnicity and Political Tribalism In Kenya’s Virtual Democracy,” African Issues, Vol. XXIX, nos. 1 & 2, 2001

Selected Book Reviews:

  • Makau Mutua. Kenya’s Quest for Democracy: Taming Leviathan. Political Science Quarterly, 2009.
  • Shadrack Wanjala Nasong’o. Contending Political Paradigms in Africa. Rationality and the Politics of Democratization in Kenya and Zambia. African Studies Review, September. 2007.
  • M. Silberschmidt: Women Forget That Men Are the Masters: Gender Antagonism and Socio-economic Change in Kisii District, Kenya, International Journal of African History, 33, no. 3, (2000): 687.
  • K. Kyle: The Politics of Independence in Kenya, African Studies Review, April 2001.
  • D. Throup and C. Hornsby: Multi-Party Politics in Kenya, Political Science Quarterly, summer 1999.

College Service

  • Associate Dean of Students for Academics, 2012-16
  • Ad Hoc Advising Committee, 2013-14
  • Ad Hoc Committee on the First-year Experience, 2012
  • Government Dept Chair, 2005-09
  • Posse Mentor, 2005-06
  • Committee on Academic Policy, chair, 2001-03

Appointed to the Faculty


Educational Background

Ph.D., University of Wisconsin, Madison
M.A., University of Wisconsin, Madison
B.A., Pomona College 

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