Professor Hildreth is the Undergraduate Coordinator and primary Academic Advisor for the Department. She has participated in the University’s Freshman Experience program for which she developed one credit courses in American politics to acclimate first semester students to academic expectations and familiarize them with the resources available at the University. Her teaching areas include campaigns and elections, political parties, and public opinion. She recently developed a new course on Political Reform in which students use team based learning to examine and evaluate procedural problems in American politics and propose solutions.
Professor Hildreth’s research reflects an abiding interest in the engagement of the American public, and the forms and quality of opportunities for public discourse on and shaping of important political events and policies. Hildreth joined the faculty in 1990 following two years at the Public Opinion Laboratory in Dekalb, Illinois. In her dissertation, she explored civil disobedience and its application by communities and groups to both express and participate in politics ("The Importance of Purposes in 'Purposive' Groups," AJPS, (1994)). The role of opinion polls in representing popular deliberation has also been the focus of Hildreth’s research. ("Poll Fatigue? What the Public Thinks About How We Know What It Is Thinking," International Journal of Public Opinion, (1995) and “Attitudes of the Public Towards Public Opinion Research,” in The Sage Handbook of Public Opinion Research, edited by Wolfgang Donsbach and Michael W. Traugott. (2008)). In her most recent work, she focuses on “letters to the editors” as a mode of public expression, examining their role as a tool in community level discourse and deliberation on the Iraq war and the recent economic recession.