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Dan Nataf, Associate Professor of Political Science

 “There is great value in coming to AACC.”

California-born Dan Nataf started working at AACC in 1995. He obtained his bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and both his master’s and doctorate in political science from the University of California, Los Angeles. At AACC, he teaches Introduction to American Government, Comparative Politics, Political Behavior and Analysis, and International Relations.

“In college, I had a general interest in social science,” said Dan. “I liked it because it had a lot of growth and you could talk about a lot of different things from history to culture. I have always had a curiosity as to what made the world tick and political science allowed me to explore it in all sorts of ways.”

Besides the course material, Dan said that he tries to teach his students critical analysis. He said that it is important to keep probing and to develop an evidentiary base to substantiate arguments. Dan also tries to help students broaden their scope of what the world is and encourage them to explore it.

One way that he exposes students to the world and current issues is through the Center for the Study of Local Issues (CSLI). The center was established in 1978 and Dan became the director in 1995. The center conducts a semi-annual public interest survey in Anne Arundel County each year. About 80 students are typically recruited to help gather data for the survey. It is an experiential learning process for the students as they learn about applied social science research.

CSLI also accepts contracts for applied research from organizations outside of the college and Dan tries to get students involved in those studies as much as possible. Last semester, the center started providing service-learning opportunities for students.

There is also a CSLI Student Club, which is open to all students, but may be of particular interest to political science, history, sociology, math, and business majors. Last academic year, the CSLI Student Club invited political candidates to speak on campus and took a field trip to Congress.

“We have highly qualified instructors in the political science department who have lots of practical experience,” commented Dan. “We also teach a very generous and ample selection of courses. Plus, there is the tie-in with CSLI.”

Dan plans to continue to work on developing the political science department and CSLI. Dan is also always looking for ways to make sure students have every opportunity to learn the material and access it themselves.

“There is great value in coming to AACC,” said Dan. “As a professor, I like the small classes and the better connection it allows between the instructor and the students. It is a more fulfilling teaching experience. For students, it provides the opportunity to stay close to home but still have a good college ambiance for the first two years. There is also the financial value of coming here. The community thinks AACC is a great value; I have polled them on that.”

Want to learn more about political science at AACC, CSLI or the CSLI Student Club? Send Dan an e-mail! Students are also needed to help with the semi-annual survey!