David Patton teaches classes on comparative politics, contemporary Europe, the European Union, nationalism and ethnic conflict, German politics, Green parties, and the Cold War.
He taught and co-directed Connecticut College's SATA (Study Away, Teach Away) program in Hanoi, Vietnam for the spring semester 2003.
In his research, he focuses on German party politics, political regionalism and German foreign policy. In Out of the East: From PDS to Left Party in Unified Germany (Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 2011), Patton chronicles how the Party of Democratic Socialism (PDS), as successor to the discredited Communist party of East Germany, first became a successful regional party and then an increasingly influential national force. In Cold War Politics in Postwar Germany (New York: St. Martin's Press, 1999), he explores the relationship between the Cold War and "chancellor democracy" in the Federal Republic of Germany.
Patton’s publications include “The Alternative for Germany’s radicalization in historical-comparative perspective,” Journal of Contemporary Central and Eastern Europe 25:2 (2017). In “Monday, Monday: Eastern German Protest Movements and German Party Politics since 1989,” German Politics 26:4 (2017), he explores the conditions under which eastern social movements recast political parties in the Federal Republic. He sheds light on past US-German relations in “Navigating Choppy Waters: US-German Relations during the Last Decade of the Cold War,” which was published in Reagan and the World: Leadership and National Security, 1981–1989, Bradley Lynn Coleman and Kyle Longley, eds. (Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2017).
As a U.S. Fulbright Scholar, Patton conducted research and taught at Europa-University Viadrina in Frankfurt (Oder), Germany in spring/summer 2014. He was a fellow at the Berlin Program for Advanced German and European Studies and received a research grant from the Friedrich Ebert Foundation. In addition, he has been a visiting scholar at the Minda de Gunzburg Center for European Studies at Harvard University and a visiting researcher at the Berlin Social Science Center.
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