Laura R. Olson is a professor of political science at Clemson University. A native of Racine, Wisconsin, she earned a BA in political science from Northwestern University in 1990, as well as an MA (1991) and PhD (1996) from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She spent the 1999-2000 academic year as a visiting research fellow at the Center for the Study of Religion at Princeton University
Her research focuses on contemporary religion, civic engagement, and American politics, with special emphasis on the political attitudes and behaviors of clergy. She is the author, coauthor, or coeditor of eight books, including Religious Interests in Community Conflict: Beyond the Culture Wars (Baylor University Press, 2007); Women with a Mission: Religion, Gender, and the Politics of Women Clergy (University of Alabama Press, 2005); Religion and Politics in America: Faith, Culture, and Strategic Choices (Westview Press, 2004); and Filled With Spirit and Power: Protestant Clergy in Politics (State University of New York Press, 2000). She is also the author of many scholarly articles and book chapters, and she is currently working on a new book on the Protestant left in American politics.
She has served two terms as chair of the American Political Science Association’s Religion and Politics section and one term on the American Academy of Religion’s Committee for the Public Understanding of Religion. She is a member of the editorial board of the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion. A frequent source for various media outlets, she has been interviewed on CNN, National Public Radio, and BBC Radio and quoted in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, and USA Today. She also won Clemson University’s campus-wide Fluor Daniel Student Government Excellence in Teaching Award in 2003.
- Laura R. Olson