Smith, Jeffrey

Jeffrey Smith
M.A. and Ph.D. in Political Science from Washington University in St. Louis
Assistant Professor of Politics and Advocacy, Milano School of International Affairs, Management, and Urban Policy

Media Contact Information:
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Areas of Expertise:
Politics and Advocacy; Campaigns and Elections; the Role of Race in Urban Politics; the Legislative Process

Jeff Smith is Assistant Professor of Politics and Advocacy at Milano. Jeff, who has also taught at Washington University and Dartmouth College, teaches and researches political campaigns, urban political economy, policy advocacy, incarceration, and the legislative process. At Washington University, he received the Dean's Award for Teaching Excellence.

Jeff served in the Missouri Senate from 2006-2009, representing St. Louis City, where he co-founded a group of charter schools called the Confluence Academies. He has written two books as well an an e-book: Trading Places, his Ph.D. thesis on U.S. partisan realignment from 1975-2004, Mr. Smith Goes to Prison (St. Martin's, 2015), a narrative nonfiction account of his time in prison, and Ferguson in Black and White, which analyzed the historical roots of Ferguson, Missouri's unrest. He has also published in various political science journals, including Political Research Quarterly, Political Science Quarterly, and The Forum

Jeff frequently appears on MSNBC and has been profiled by NPR’s This American LifeHarper’sThe New Republic, and other periodicals. He addresses audiences of public officials on ethics in politics, and his TED talk on prison entrepreneurship has been viewed over a million times. His op-eds have been published by The New York Times, The New Republic,, The AtlanticInc.National JournalSalon, Politico Magazine, New York Magazine, Buzzfeed, and the Chicago Tribune. The film Can Mr. Smith Get to Washington Anymore?, which was short-listed for an Academy Award, chronicled his youth-powered grass-roots congressional campaign. He serves on the national advisory boards of the Prison Entrepreneurship Program and American Prison Data Systems.

Courses Taught:
  • Power, Strategy and Social Change
  • Legislative Process
  • Campaigns and Elections
  • Laboratory in Policy Analysis
  • Advocacy and Lobbying
  • Race and Ethnicity in American Politics
Recent Publications:

Books and Chapters

“Race & Ethnicity in Urban Politics,” in Guide to Urban Politics and Policy, Sage/CQ Press, 2016. (with Christina Greer)

Mr. Smith Goes to Prison: What My Year Behind Bars Taught Me About America’s Prison Crisis. (St. Martin’s, September 2015)

Ferguson in Black and White. Kindle Single (November 2014)

“Don’t Go Near the Line,” in The Recovering Politician’s 12-Step Program to Survive Crisis. (May 2013) 


"The Senator Be Embezzling," Politico Magazine, Sept. 1, 2015. 

Passion or Dollars? How Mobilization Can Sour the Mother’s Milk of Politics.” Political Research Quarterly. October 2015

The Nuts Hated Him: How the Bush Dynasty’s Evolution Explains American Politics.” Salon. December 2014 

 “Anatomy of a Comeback.” Politico Magazine. November 2014

In Ferguson, Black Town, White Power.” New York Times. August 2014

You Can’t Understand Ferguson Without Understanding These Three Things.” The New Republic. August 2014

Chris Christie is Toast.” Politico Magazine. April 2014

“Interest Groups & SuperPACs in the 2012 Election.” The Forum (with David Kimball)

Walking Around Money: How Machine Politics Works in America Today.” The Atlantic. June 2013

What’s The Matter with Missouri?” The Atlantic. August 2012

Eleven Reasons Akin Won’t Quit.” Salon. August 2012

Twelve Tips for Blagojevich.” Chicago Tribune. August 2012


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