On Tuesday, March 6, the Department of Political Science hosted the first Inklings gathering of the semester. Dr. Jennifer Lamm, gave a talk on “Puerto Ricans and U.S. Citizenship in 1917: Imperatives of Security.” The talk was followed by a discussion with the faculty and graduate students in attendance.
The department’s “Inklings” gatherings take their name from a small group of intellectuals (whose ranks included J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis) who met weekly at Oxford University in the early and middle decades of the 20th century to read aloud and discuss their works in progress.
On March 2nd and 3rd, the Texas State University Department of Political Science hosted the annual Lone Star Conference for the Study of Political Thought. Papers were presented by faculty and graduate students and faculty from universities across the state including the University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M at College Station, the University of North Texas and the University of Houston. Topics ranged from the thought of Alexis de Tocqueville and John Locke to the right to keep and bear arms, animal rights and equality in civil society. Several Texas State faculty members presented at this conference and both graduate and undergraduate students in political science from Texas State University attended.
Texas State University repeated its successful representation at the Student Conference on National Affairs(SCONA) at Texas A&M University last month. The student delegation comprised John Flores, Christine Gian, and IdaraObong E. Ben-Edet. For three days, they networked with political and military officials and students from other campuses. Participants join assigned groups to discuss and craft policy proposals to address today’s top global and national issues. Under the guidance of seasoned experts and policy makers, students have free reign to craft their proposals within a narrow timeframe. The process pushes students to think quickly and creatively. “I lost count of how many cups of coffee I drank in order to figure how to write a policy proposal,” Gian observed. A panel of experts then evaluates the proposals.
Gian’s group researched refugee crises in Europe, a topic that drew on her personal experiences: “I didn't realize my personal stories growing up with refugees, and my dad being a refugee helped the framework of the policy proposal.” Flores and his group placed second runner-up for best policy proposal. It tackled the North Korean Nuclear Threat after adopting his framework. “It was a great experience,” Flores noted, “I learned so much.” Ben-Edet’s group covered intelligence sharing among governments and won the award for best policy proposal.
Attendees heard from Dr. Joseph Han, who defected from North Korea in 1999. Flores remarked, “His journey from North Korean physicist to professor of nuclear physics at Texas A&M was compelling.” Other speakers included Mr. Kim Hyung-gil, Consul General of South Korea, Congressman Louie Gohmert, and General Frank Grass.
SCONA seeks to bring together a wide range of perspectives on issues of national importance. According to Gian, participants hear a common refrain from conference organizers: “The key to SCONA is diversity of thought.”
The department and the College of Liberal Arts sent BPA student Russell Boyd to the 41st Annual Big XII Conference on Black Student Government. The conference’s theme was “Sankofa: Our Past. Our Stories. Our Future.” Sankofa is a large part of Black culture and requires us to look back so we can move forward. Speakers included Tish Norman, Executive Director of Transforming Leaders Now, Eunique Jones Gibson, Founder of Because Of Them We Can, and State Representative Jewell Jones (D-Inkster). The conference afforded Boyd the chance to network and build friendships with Black leaders from college campuses across the country. The conference, Boyd observed, was “an incredible and inspiring experience" that helped him "enhance his professional and leadership skills.” Boyd will be attending George Washington University in the fall to study political management and is interested in gaining professional experience working with a nonprofit.
On Thursday, March 1st, Discourse in Democracy hosted a talk by Dr. Tonya Golash-Boza of the University of California-Merced. More than 70 students attended her lecture on “Mass Deportation and Incarceration” which explores the role of corporate profits, economic recession, politicization of race and gender, and fears of terrorism in facilitating the recent trend of mass deportation. The talk was sponsored by the Department of Political Science’s Discourse in Democracy Project, the University Lectures Committee, and the Center for Diversity and Gender Studies.
Supporting Women in Political Science (SWIPS) continued its Spring 2018 speaker series by hosting Justice Melissa Goodwin of the Texas 3rd Court of Appeals. Justice Goodwin spoke to the group at on Wednesday, February 28, 2018 about her educational background and professional training before becoming a Texas District Court Judge and Justice of the Peace for Travis County. She currently serves on the Texas Third Court of Appeals. The talk was followed meeting was a lively Q & A in which Justice Goodwin answered student questions ranging from law school, practice as an attorney, becoming an elected official, the legacy of sex-based discrimination in the workplace, to juggling work and family obligations.
The Texas State MPA Program sent three students -- Shifa Lateef, Nicole Foy and Krystal Muller -- to the Network of Schools of Public Policy, Affairs, and Administration’s annual Batten competition which draws the best MPA/MPP students from across the nation. The preliminary round was held on the 24th of February at Arizona State University, Phoenix, AZ and competition brought together 563 student participants who worked in teams of 3-5 taking on different roles to solve a public policy problem.
The topic for 2018 was Pandemic Crisis Management and Global Health Security. As indicated on NASPAA.org, “NASPAA believes it is imperative that MPA/MPP students’ knowledge on ‘global health security’ is furthered so they are prepared to act during a public health crisis.” There were several iterations of the simulation and each time our students had to think on their feet to come up with actionable solutions to the scenarios assigned to them. Shifa, Nicole and Krystal agreed that the conference helped them understand the real world implications of simulation based learning.
Although they didn’t advance to the final round, Shifa, Nicole, and Krystal enjoyed the competition and benefitted from networking with their peers from other NASPAA accredited institutions and gain a first-hand understanding of the merits of simulation-based learning in public affairs education. They were able to exercise their leadership skills, oral presentation competencies and policy memo writing abilities as they progressed through the day at the competition. The MPA program is grateful to the College of Liberal Arts, the department and the Hobby Center for providing the requisite funding for this trip. The program hopes to send a bigger contingent of students to this competition in the coming years.
On February 22nd and 23rd, Discourse in Democracy hosted Dr. Stephen L. Wasby (SUNY-Albany). More than 100 students attended Dr. Wasby’s lecture on “The Presidency and the Law” which focused on the period from Johnson Administration to the present. He also conducted seminars for undergraduate and graduate students on “Group-based Litigation" and "The U. S. Courts of Appeals," and ran a workshop with Dr. Pat Shields on publishing in academic journals.
Pi Sigma Alpha, the political science honors society, had its first meeting of the semester on Wednesday, February 21. The meeting focused on three business items: First, Pi Sigma Alpha is teaming up with The Princeton Review to offer discounted prices on LSAT courses. Second, our chapter received a $900 grant from its headquarters to host a gala in April. Third, the chapter announced the dates of its next meetings: March 21 and April 18, both at 5PM in UAC 428.
If you are interested in joining Pi Sigma Alpha or would like more information, please contact Dr. Varacalli at email@example.com.
The Political Science Department's Model United Nations (MUN) program sent students to participate in the Harvard National Model United Nations (HNMUN) in Boston from February 14th – 18th. The HNMUN competition featured 2,700 student competitors from 280 institutions (including Columbia, Brown, Yale, and the United States Military Academy at West Point) and 67 different countries. Participating students were able to debate a host of pertinent global issues, ranging from the rights of linguistic minorities to global access to financial services.
The Texas State delegation consisted of Darian Bear, Connor Clegg, Brian Delgado, Sheldon Galipp, John Garcia, Julia Huerta, Kayli Lord, Brandon Milligan, Lucy Stanley, Jewel Tapp, Ashton Thomas, Claire Whisler, and Catherine Wicker. Our students represented the Oriental Republic of Uruguay. We can be proud of all the students that participated, as they represented Texas State in an exemplary manner. This prestigious competition was a challenging learning experience for the students, and we’re proud of the outstanding job that they did.
The department’s annual Alumni Night was held on Thursday, January 25th. This year three graduates shared their post-graduation experiences with our majors. Jude Prather (BA POSI ’08) is the Veteran Services Officer for Hays County; Vanessa Cortez Tanner (BPA ’14) is a consultant for Berry Communications, a political consulting firm based in Austin; and Holly Doyle (BA POSI ‘17) is a Community Outreach Specialist at Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas. The discussion focused on finding work after graduation and was followed by a Q&A session with the students. The night was wrapped up with a reception where students had the opportunity to eat pizza and engage directly with Jude, Vanessa, and Holly.