Sara Weir

Professor Emeritus (retired 2018)


Sara Weir earned her PhD in Political Science at the University of Washington where she wrote her doctoral dissertation on the politics of chronic illness.  In 1989 Professor Weir joined the Political Science department at Western Washington University and, after helping to shape the development of the department for more than a decade—as department chair from 2001-2014 and chair of Western’s Ralph Munro Institute for Civic Education from 2005-2015— Professor Weir is returning to teach and do research in her primary fields of study: health policy, the politics of serious illness, and palliative care.

Dr. Weir explains, "I was honored to serve in a number of leadership positions within the department and the university.  Today, I am passionate about the study of health policy, both comparatively and within the United States.   I also teach courses on marine water policy.  I see health care and water policy as among the most critical issues of our time.  I look forward to working with students and within the community to broaden our knowledge and, through active learning and praxis, to bring about policy change."

In addition to health policy and aging, Professor Weir’s areas of research interest include Public Policy, American Politics, Environmental Politics, and Women in Politics.  She is the author of numerous publications examining the role of women in state-wide governance and co-editor of “Voices of a New Century: A Feminist Anthology” (2003).  Her latest research focuses on community-based palliative care, and moving beyond medical approaches in the care of the seriously ill.  She is currently an active member of the Palliative Care Initiative, a group working within the university and the community to improve the care of people with serious illness. She is also interested in death and dying and the Green Death movement.

Professor Weir’s approach to research and teaching emphasizes the relationships between politics and economics with a focus on social justice and equality across societal groups.  Her colleagues and students find her to be dedicated and inspiring, knowledgeable, passionate, charismatic, humorous—and an “all-around very cool person.”

Areas of Specialty

American Politics

Curriculum Vitae:


Selected Publications

  • Sara J. Weir and Constance Faulkner, eds., Voices of a New Century: A Feminist Anthology. Allyn and Bacon Publishers, 2003.

Book Chapters

  • “Argentina’s Women Leaders: Past, Present and Future,” chapter in Women as Political Leaders, Michael A. Genovese and Janie Steckenrider (Editors), March, 2013.

  • “Fulfilling the Promise: From Governor Ladies to Chief Executives and Beyond,” in Women in Politics: Outsiders or Insiders? 5th Edition, Lois Duke Whitaker (Editor), California: Prentice-Hall, August 2010.

  • "Women Governors in the 21st Century: The Emergency of the Charismatic Outsider," in Lois Duke Whitacre, ed., Women in Politics: Outsiders or Insiders? 4th edition, Prentice-Hall Publishers, 2005.

  • "Gender and Ideology," in Kenneth Hoover, ed., Ideology and Political Life. Harcourt College Publishers, 2001.