315-859-4477 (fax)



Sharon Werning Rivera, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Government

Sharon Werning Rivera (Ph.D., University of Michigan) specializes in the post-communist countries of Eurasia with a particular emphasis on Russia. Her research and teaching interests are in the field of comparative politics with particular emphases on  democratization, elite political culture, the transformation of elites in post-communist settings, and the diffusion of ideas. Rivera's articles have appeared in such journals as  Perspectives on Politics, Political Studies, Party Politics, Post-Soviet Affairs, PS: Political Science and Politics, and Europe-Asia Studies, as well as in edited collections.  In 2012-13 she was a Fulbright U.S. Scholar to the Russian Federation. In 2014, she taught in the Political Linguistics Summer School at the Higher School of Economics in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia.

In 2016, she directed the 2016 Hamilton College Levitt Poll. Titled “The Russian Elite 2016,” the survey is based on 243 interviews with Moscow-based foreign policy elites.   It is the seventh wave in an existing series of interviews that is currently deposited with the Interuniversity Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) at the University of Michigan. Rivera, the Principal Investigator, fielded the survey with Co-Principal Investigators William Zimmerman, Emeritus Professor of Political Science and Emeritus Research Professor, Center for Political Studies, at the University of Michigan, and Eduard Ponarin, Director of the Laboratory for Comparative Social Research and Professor of Sociology at the National Research University Higher School of Economics in St. Petersburg.  She is currently using the survey data to write a series of articles on the foreign policy attitudes of Russian elites.

In 2017 Rivera was awarded a grant from the National Science Foundation to support her project, “Russian Elite Attitudes toward Conflict and the West.”  She also received a Dean’s Scholarly Achievement Award for Notable Year Achievement in 2017.

Her other two larger research projects focus on two main questions: 1) what is the relative balance between structure and agency in explaining democratization in the post-communist region? and 2) how valid are widespread claims that the elite sector in Russia during the Putin era has become dominated by individuals from the military and security services?

She has also published pedagogical articles on the use of active learning strategies in the classroom. The simulation she developed for her introductory comparative politics course at Hamilton College was published as an on-line text by Congressional Quarterly Press.

She teaches the following courses:

  • Gov 112W: Comparative Politics
  • Gov 213: Politics in Russia
  • Gov 311W: Transitions to Democracy
  • Gov 329W: Authoritarian Politics
  • Gov 333: Topics in Survey Research
  • Gov 549: Honors Seminar
  • Gov 550: Senior Project
  • Russian Studies 100: Introduction to Russia

Professor Rivera was a Mellon-Sawyer Post-Doctoral Fellow in Democratization at Cornell University and holds an M.A. from the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS).

Her publications include:

Articles and Book Chapters in English

Online Text

  • Elections in West Europa, Congressional Quarterly Press, 2009. On-line simulation for comparative politics courses.  

Occasional Papers and Blog Posts

Articles and Book Chapters in Russian

  • “Tsel’ bakalavriata i magistratury v SShA: kratkoe vvedenie” [The Purposes of Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in the U.S.: A Brief Introduction], in N. V. Makshantseva, E. P. Savrutskaya, and L.A. L’vov, eds., Rol’ lingvisticheskogo vuza v integratsii mezhdunarodnogo obrazovaniya: vektory i strategii razvitiya [The Role of the Linguistics University in the Integration of International Education: Avenues and Strategies for Development] (Nizhnii Novgorod: FGBOU VPO “NGLU,” 2014).  With David W. Rivera.
  • “El’tsin, Putin i prezidentskaya vlast’” [Yeltsin, Putin, and Presidential Power], Politicheskie issledovaniya [Political Research], No. 3 (2012): 19-29. With David W. Rivera.
  • “El’tsin, Putin, i Klinton: prezidentskoe liderstvo i rossiiskaya demokratiya v sravnitel’noi perspektive” [Yeltsin, Putin, and Clinton: Presidential Leadership and Russian Democratization in Comparative Perspective], Mir i politika [The World and Politics] 9, No. 48 (September 2010): 35-52.  With David W. Rivera.
  • “K bolee tochnym otsenkam transformatsii v Rossiiskoi elite” [Towards a More Accurate Assessment of the Transformation of the Russian Elite] (with David W. Rivera), Politicheskie issledovaniya [Political Research], No. 5 (2009): 149-157.
  • "Unikal'nyi put' Rossii? Obzor politicheskikh elit" ["A Unique Path for Russia? A Survey of Political Elites"], A. D. Shutov, ed., Uchenye zapiski 2006 (Moscow: Nauchnaya kniga, 2006), pp. 46-59. Publication of the Diplomatic Academy of the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
  • "Tendentsii formirovaniya sostava post-kommunisticheskoi elity v Rossii: reputatsionnyi analiz" [Trends in the Formation of Russia's Post Communist Elite: A Reputational Analysis], Politicheskie issledovaniya, No. 6 (1995): 61-66. Errata published in "Popravka," Politicheskie issledovaniya, [Political Research] No. 3 (1996): 156-157.
  • "Tendentsii formirovaniya sostava post-kommunisticheskoi elity v Rossii: reputatsionnyi analiz" [Trends in the Formation of Russia's Post Communist Elite: A Reputational Analysis], in I. I. Petrov, ed., Novaya elita v Rossii [New Elites in Russia] (Moscow, 1995).

Last updated:  April 2017

Contact Professor Rivera:

Phone                 315-859-4223
Fax                      315-859-4477
Email                   srivera@hamilton.edu
Office Hours      Thurs 10:15-12:15