Professor Althaus joined the University of Illinois faculty in 1996 with a joint appointment in the departments of Political Science and Communication. He is currently the Charles J. and Ethel S. Merriam Professor of Political Science, Professor of Communication, and Director of the Cline Center for Democracy at the University of Illinois.
Professor Althaus’s research and teaching interests explore the communication processes that support political accountability in democratic societies and that empower political discontent in non-democratic societies. His interests focus on four areas of inquiry: (1) how journalists construct news coverage about public affairs, (2) how leaders attempt to shape news coverage for political advantage, (3) how citizens use news coverage for making sense of public affairs, and (4) how the opinions of citizens are communicated to leaders through collective preferences, such as the results of opinion polls, and through collective behaviors, such as civil unrest. He has particular interests in popular support for war, data science methods for extreme-scale analysis of news coverage, cross-national comparative research on political communication, the psychology of information processing, and communication concepts in democratic theory.
Professor Althaus serves on the editorial boards of Critical Review, Human Communication Research, Journal of Communication, Political Communication, and Public Opinion Quarterly. His research has appeared in the American Political Science Review, the American Journal of Political Science, Communication Research, Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, Journal of Conflict Resolution, Journal of Politics, Public Opinion Quarterly, Political Communication, and Sociological Methodology. His book on the political uses of opinion surveys in democratic societies, Collective Preferences in Democratic Politics: Opinion Surveys and the Will of the People (Cambridge University Press, 2003) , was awarded a 2004 Goldsmith Book Prize by the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy at Harvard University, and a 2004 David Easton Book Prize by the Foundations of Political Theory section of the American Political Science Association. He was named 2014-15 Faculty Fellow at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at UIUC, a 2004-5 Beckman Associate by the UIUC Center for Advanced Studies, and a 2003-4 Helen Corley Petit Scholar by the UIUC College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. In 2013, he was honored with a Dean's Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at UIUC, and his undergraduate and graduate courses regularly appear on the university's "List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent by Their Students."