St. Olaf College | News

Christopher Chapp appointed Morrison Family Director of the Institute for Freedom and Community

Christopher Chapp will assume his role as Morrison Family Director of the Institute for Freedom and Community on Aug. 1.

St. Olaf College Associate Professor of Political Science Christopher Chapp is the new Morrison Family Director of the Institute for Freedom and Community.

In his message to the community announcing the appointment, President David R. Anderson ‘74 said Chapp’s academic background and approach align well with the Institute’s work and purpose.

“The mission of the Institute for Freedom and Community aspires to ‘challenge presuppositions, question easy answers, and foster constructive dialogue,’” Anderson said. “Professor Chapp’s research into American politics and his teaching at St. Olaf have done exactly that. His respect for facts, his commitment to methodological rigor, and his openness to debate will serve him well as the next Director of the Institute.”

The Institute, established at St. Olaf in 2014, hosts public programs and supports academic offerings including the Public Affairs Conversation (PACON), a two-course public affairs series with an option for a funded internship. 

Chapp, who was selected after a search led by a group of St. Olaf faculty members and one member of the Board of Regents, was a visiting assistant professor of political science at St. Olaf from 2008 to 2011. He then spent three years as a faculty member at the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater before returning to teach political science at St. Olaf in 2014. Chapp has served as chair of St. Olaf’s political science department for the last three years, and taught classes in political behavior and research methodology. He is the author of a book on religion in American politics and is currently working on a book on the role public opinion plays in policymaking on abortion and LGBTQ rights. 

Chapp says he is “thrilled” for the opportunity to lead the Institute. He assumes the new role on Aug. 1.

“My goal is to harness the energy of the St. Olaf community to promote a thoughtful and rigorous approach to public affairs,” he says. “Contestation, dialogue, and critically examining our assumptions are all healthy habits of mind. I think St. Olaf can be a true leader in how to unpack difficult and controversial ideas.”

Chapp intends to focus on supporting and expanding the Institute’s interaction with St. Olaf students.

“One thing I am especially excited about is how to create high-impact opportunities for students,” he says. “From competitive internships to research opportunities to organizing and moderating public events, the IFC has found creative ways to enhance the student experience. I intend to double-down on this commitment.”