Tracy Kuperus

Tracy Kuperus


  • B.A., Political Science (summa cum laude), Calvin College, 1989
  • M.A., Political Science, University of Illinois, 1991
  • Ph.D., Political Science, University of Illinois, 1995


I grew up in rural western Michigan and was raised by Dutch immigrant parents who instilled in their five children the love of learning. My father was passionate about politics and curious about cultures besides his own which influenced by interest in comparative politics. When I’m not working, I like to listen to music, read African novels, and travel with my family. Spending time on the African continent is always a personal highlight.

Professional experience

  • Calvin University, Adjunct, Associate and Full Professor, 2003-present
  • Gordon College, Assistant Professor, 1997-2002
  • Westmont College, Assistant Professor, 1995-1997

Academic interests

My specializations in comparative politics are developing world and African politics. I teach courses in global democratization, human rights, African and developing world, and religion and politics, and I have led and co-led off-campus courses in Ghana and South Africa, including directing the Ghana Semester Program twice.

I am deeply interested in the nexus of religion and politics in Africa. My family’s immigration story involves the United States, but it could have been South Africa. If my family had grown up in South Africa, we would have benefited from apartheid. The policy of apartheid was legitimated biblically and theologically by the Dutch Reformed Church. This reality shaped my identity as a scholar and has spurred me to research how religion aids or detracts from the democratization prospects of countries like Ghana and South Africa.

Office hours


Additional open hours and appointments can be arranged, on request.


Articles and Book Chapters

Tracy Kuperus. “Christianity, Citizenship, and Political Engagement among Ghanaian Youth,” African Studies Quarterly, 20:1, May 2020, 37-61.

Richard Asante, Megan Hershey, Phoebe Kajubi, Tracy Kuperus, Colman Msoka, and Amy Patterson. “What Motivates Young African Leaders for Public Engagement? Lessons from Ghana, Tanzania, and Uganda,” International Journal of Politics, Culture and Society. Forthcoming, in print. Available online now.

Tracy Kuperus. “Democratization, Religious Actors, and Political Influence: A Comparison of Christian Councils in Ghana and South Africa,” Africa Today, 64:3, Spring 2018, 29-51.

Amy Patterson and Tracy Kuperus. “Mobilizing the Faithful: Organizational Autonomy, Visionary Pastors, and Citizenship in South Africa and Zambia,” African Affairs, 115 (459), April 2016, 318-41.

Tracy Kuperus. “The Political Voice of Churches in Democratic South Africa,” in Walking Together: Christian Thinking and Public Affairs in South Africa, edited by Joel Carpenter. Abilene: Abilene Christian University Press, 2012, 233-65.

Tracy Kuperus. “The Political Role and Democratic Contribution of Churches in Post-Apartheid South Africa,” Journal of Church and State, 53:2, June 2011, 278-306.

Roland Hoksbergen, Janel Curry, and Tracy Kuperus. “International Development: Christian Reflections on Today’s Competing Theories,” Christian Scholars Review, 39:1, Fall 2009, 11-35.


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