Professor Profile: Mirya Holman brings political expertise to the classroom


Lily Milwit | Senior Staff Photographer

Associate Professor of Political Science Mirya Holman will teach urban politics, women in politics and a freshman colloquium course called “Guns in America” this fall.

As an undergraduate political science student at Loyola University New Orleans, Professor Mirya Holman took an urban politics class and became captivated by the applicability of studying local politics and its impacts on vulnerable populations.

Holman went to graduate school to continue to explore the intersections of local policy and political outcomes, and became a professor at Florida Atlantic University. Eventually, however, she found her way back to where her passion for politics truly began, landing a job in Tulane’s Political Science Department in 2015.

Holman said one of her favorite parts of being in academia is being able to conduct research that has real-world implications for policy making.

“The [research] project I’m working on now is on political socialization, you know, we know women are less interested in politics than men, we know that they are less likely to run for office… we know that as early as college, women are less interested in volunteering for campaigns or running for political office… but we don’t actually know at what age that starts….” Holman said.

To work toward finding answers about when gendered political socialization starts and how to mitigate its effects, Holman is working with a team of colleagues and students to collect data from children relating to how they think about political leadership and involvement. One way her team has done this is by asking children to draw pictures of political leaders.

“…One of the really interesting things we’ve seen here in New Orleans is that children drew a lot of pictures of black women because we had two black women mayors in the runoff and that was what children were seeing in terms of who runs for political office,” Holman said.

Aside from her research, Holman teaches courses on urban politics, environmental politics and gender and politics. This fall, she is teaching urban politics, women in politics and a freshman colloquium course called “Guns in America” which she is co-teaching with Professor Geoffrey Dancy.

Guns in America will focus on how gun control legislation gets passed, and whether gun ownership is a political identity and what that means for politics. Women in Politics will focus primarily on the 2016 presidential election and senate races, while Urban Politics will take Holman back to her intellectual roots to investigate the questions that first got her interested in politics.

“We spend a lot of time talking about these questions that I’ve been asking since I was a sophomore in college, which is why is it that cities can’t do better than they are doing, why is it that we see these long term systematic problems with inequality and injustice, and poor provision of infrastructure in cities when it seems like it’s clear what the problem is,” Holman said. “It’s not that we don’t know what the problem is, but that there doesn’t seem to be a solution.”

When Holman isn’t teaching about or researching the deficits associated with New Orleans local politics, she enjoys taking advantage of the rich culture that the city has to offer. She and her husband can be found at Frankie and Johnny’s, DTB or Boucherie enjoying local cuisine, or at many of the city’s music venues listening to local bands.

As Holman looks ahead to the end of the spring semester and into the future, she said she isn’t quite sure what projects or subjects she’ll be taking on. But she does know that as her research and areas of expertise evolve and grow, she will continue to be passionate about her job as a professor, thinker and mentor to students.

“…The idea that I can spend a lot of time just thinking about things and that’s work, I just continue to be shocked and amazed that I get paid to think,” Holman said.

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