Professor and Chair of the Department of Politics
B.A., Trinity University (Political Science and International Relations); PhD, Indiana University, Bloomington (Political Science and African Studies)
Amy S. Patterson received a B.A. in political science and international affairs from Trinity University and a Ph.D. in political science and African studies from Indiana University-Bloomington. She teaches courses on international relations, African politics, global health and development, and democratization. Before obtaining a Ph.D., Patterson was a Peace Corps volunteer in rural Senegal, where she worked on agroforestry programs.
Patterson’s research has examined the role of civil society in Africa, including how local organizations promote democracy and address issues such as AIDS. She has also investigated African state reactions to AIDS, Ebola, and non-communicable diseases. Here books include The African State and the AIDS Crisis (2005), The Politics of AIDS in Africa (2006), The Church and AIDS in Africa: The Politics of Ambiguity (2011), Dependent Agency in the Global Health Regime: Local African Responses to Donor AIDS Efforts (2017) and Africa and Global Health Governance: Domestic Politics and International Structures (2018). The latter two books won awards from the International Studies Association. She has published articles on global health, civil society, gender, and religion in Africa Today, Journal of Modern African Studies, Canadian Journal of African Studies, African Journal of AIDS Research, Contemporary Politics, African Affairs, International Affairs, Journal of International Development, Global Public Health, and African Studies Review. She has conducted fieldwork in Senegal, Ghana, Uganda, Liberia, Tanzania, and Zambia. As a Fulbright Scholar in 2011, she examined political empowerment among members of secular and religious support groups for people living with HIV and AIDS in Zambia. In 2016, she completed research in Liberia on local responses to the 2014–2015 Ebola outbreak. As a Fulbright Scholar in 2019-2020, she taught in Tanzania and conducted research on mental health policy. She is working on a book to be published in 2022 on youth citizenship in urban Africa. She also serves on the Executive Committee for the Global Health Section at the International Studies Association.
At Sewanee, Patterson has helped to develop internships and research opportunities for faculty and students in Africa. Additionally, in spring 2017, she led a semester program in Ghana. She has been fortunate to live, teach, and conduct research in Africa with her daughters and husband. In her free time, Patterson likes to run, read, ballroom dance with her husband, and cook.