A partnership in politics

Photo courtesy of Johannes Karreth

Veteran professor Ann Karreth is joined this year by her husband, Johannes

Sophie Worthington-Kirsch

soworthington-kirsch@ursinus.edu

Two professors in the politics department share a relationship unlike the others. Dr. Ann Karreth, assistant professor of politics, has been a staple in the department since the fall of 2014. Now in her third year teaching at Ursinus, Karreth has been joined by her husband Johannes.

The husband and wife duo may share the same job title, but each have found different places in the political science subgroups of comparative politics, international relations, American politics, and political theory.

Ann teaches introductory courses on comparative politics, as well as upper level classes on politics in the developing world, focusing particularly on democracy in Africa—her primary area of research. Johannes teaches courses on international relations, and serves as the advisor for the Model United Nations program. In the spring, he will continue the longstanding Ursinus tradition of taking students to the National Model UN conference.

Johannes said he is “looking forward to getting to know more students and get students involved in doing research on international politics.”

Ann described their differing interests. “He teaches international relations, so he looks at relations between states in international politics, and I look at politics within states, particularly in developing countries [like] African countries,” she said.

It is fitting that both Karreths are now teaching alongside each other in the politics department since the discipline is what first drew them together. The couple met in graduate school while pursuing master’s degrees at the University of Georgia (UGA).

“We were in the same incoming cohort,” Ann said.

Ann explained that she was drawn to UGA because of one professor specifically.

“I wanted to work with one particular professor that was in the politics department, Howard Riarda, who actually just passed away last year,” she said. “I was interested in the work he was doing in developing countries. I really wanted to work with him, and he was at UGA, so I applied.” Riarda was also the dissertation advisor for Ann’s father—also a political scientist.

Echoing the sentiments of many Ursinus students, she continued, “I really liked the department because it was small enough that I felt I could really get to know the professors.” Used to a small department from her own education, she appreciates the similar size of the Ursinus community.

Originally from Massachusetts, moving to Georgia seemed like quite the change for Ann. “[I’m] from this New England liberal bubble. Moving down to the very different South was an adventure, but I really enjoyed my time there . . . I took a gamble, and it worked out,” she said.

However, Johannes took an even longer trip to meet his wife-to-be. A native of Bavaria, Germany, he moved to the States at age 23 to pursue his master’s degree. “He was an exchange student . . . [he] was planning on just coming for a year, but then he stayed,” Ann said.

Chance worked out in both Karreths’ favor. “I was glad that he chose UGA because otherwise we would never have met,” she continued.

Johannes, she added, refuses to admit that his love for her is what drew him to stay in the United States. “I like to think it was [all because of me], but he says no,” she said. “That he was just enthralled with the US education system. I’m not so sure.” Whatever the reason is, she laughs about it now, glad that it happened.

Their journey to Ursinus wasn’t that smooth, however. Along the way, their story took a difficult turn. Halfway through their time at UGA, Johannes transferred to the University of Colorado. The two were apart for about a year before reuniting in Colorado to finish their dissertations. They both taught there for a short time before accepting positions on the east coast. Ann came to Ursinus, but Johannes went to the University of Albany.

Already married, the Karreths had to cope with a long-distance marriage for two years. Then a position in the politics department opened up, and they saw an opportunity to further their careers in not only the same state but at the same school. According to Ann, Johannes “applied, interviewed, and thankfully got the job” at UC.

The couple, now living together for the foreseeable future, is much happier with this state of affairs. “We usually had long weekends together last year, and the breaks and the summers. But it’s nice to have him around seven days a week . . . Every morning we drive to work together; he drives on the way there, and I drive on the way back,” Ann explained.

“It has been terrific to become a part of the Ursinus community,” Johannes said.

“I was looking forward to the opportunity to work closely with students in a liberal arts setting, and Ursinus has turned out to be a wonderful environment for that. I’ve been really impressed with what my students bring to the table in each of my classes,” he added.

The pair plans to stay at Ursinus for a while, which is a favorable situation for many of their students. Sophomore Audrey Pitcher is in Ann’s comparative politics class this semester. “It’s pretty engaging; she gives students room to talk about current events and things, [which is] pretty cool,” she said.

“Whenever I see her [outside of] class she says hi,” Pitcher mentioned.

Johannes is especially eager to continue his time at Ursinus. “I’m very much looking forward to working with students in the next years,” he said. “This is a great time to be at Ursinus College, and I’m grateful I could join this community.”