Department of Political Science
The International City/County Managers Association (ICMA) student chapter met recently to discuss the plans for developing the organization for future semesters. The organization hopes to have a strong semester this Spring, with aspirations of growing student membership and participating in ICMA events. The organization hopes to create a platform that supports students whom are seeking a career in municipal government. Additionally, the organization hopes to create a network of students in Public Administration at the graduate level and introduce undergraduates to the benefits of the organization and the opportunities associated with participating in professional networks.On March 10th2019 the student chapter of ICMA attended a reception for South by Southwest (SXSW). The reception began with a private after-hours tour of Austin’s new downtown library. The tour was an informative and inspiring look at how public facilities like libraries can contribute to the sense of space downtown and how public structures can utilize cutting edge architecture and sustainable designs to construct “buildings of the future.” After the tour, Texas State ICMA students walked to Austin City Hall where the city manager’s office was having a reception for the ICMA organization and which gave students the opportunity to meet and interact with public administration professionals and other student chapters. The event gave students a chance to meet face-to-face with professionals at the highest levels of municipal government.Samantha Martinez, an MPA student and ICMA student chapter member, described the event as “a wonderful experience. . . . I truly enjoyed engaging with the ICMA leaders and other ICMA students from around the country at the Austin city manager's reception afterwards. Everyone was insightful and inspiring to hear from.”
On Thursday March 7th, Discourse in Democracy hosted Dr. R.J. Pestritto of Hillsdale College in Michigan. Over 150 students and faculty attended a lecture entitled “Woodrow Wilson and the Roots of Modern Liberalism,” which was followed by audience questions and answers with Dr. Pestritto.
The morning after the lecture, Dr. Pestritto addressed Dr. Don Inbody’s PS 3301 (Basic Political Institutions) class. In addition to the formal presentations, Dr. Pestritto met informally with more than a dozen political science majors over lunch and dinner.
Connor Patton, a grad student in political science, observed that “Dr. Pestritto's lecture was an absolute treat. He took the time to talk to all students after the lecture one on one for those who had questions (and there were many) and he even signed my book! Furthermore, having lunch with Dr. Pestritto, and getting to talk with him in a small group setting to talk about his own academic work and my career goals was truly a unique experience."
Supporting Women in Political Science (SWIPS) met on Tuesday, March 5th to discuss the upcoming visit that members will be taking to the University of Texas School to attend a class and receive a guided tour of the law school. The next meeting will take place on Tuesday, April 2 at 7:00 p.m. in UAC 428. For more information please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
On March 1-2, Adam Henley, a political science graduate student, presented a paper at the 2019 Lone Star Conference for the Study of Political Thought which was held at the University of North Texas. Papers were presented by faculty and graduate students from a variety of universities including Louisiana State University, Texas A&M at Corpus Christi, the University of Houston, Black Hills university (South Dakota), and Jacksonville State University (Florida). Adam’s paper was entitled “The Political Vulnerability of Congressional Staffs.” “It was a really good conversation that drew upon a very wide range of political philosophy at a depth unlike anything else I’ve experienced, “ he observed. He added that “It’s definitely something I would be glad to do again.”
On February 23rd & 24th, four members of Supporting Women in Political Science (SWIPS) -- Ashlyn Scott, Breanna Delagarza, Juan Perez, and Jazmin Pantoja -- attended the Texas State University Leadership Institute Annual Conference. The theme of this year's conference was based upon the Common Experience, "Lead. Create. Innovate. Leadership & Innovation for Change." The conference offered SWIPS members the chance for personal and professional growth by providing new leadership skills and networking connections. “My most valuable take-away, “ observed Ashlyn Scott, “was that when you are leading do not look to just yourself, look to those around you. A more collaborative approach to leadership is often the most effective way of leading."
SWIPS meets bi-weekly on Tuesday nights at 7:00 p.m., the next meeting will be on March 5th. For more information, please contact email@example.com.
During the second week of February four Texas State political science students traveled to Texas A & M to participate in the 64th annual Student Conference on National Security Affairs (SCONA). This year’s team consisted of three undergraduate students – Preston Nieves, Kenadie Cole and Jacob Dowdell -- and one graduate student, Ashlyn Scott.
The theme of the conference was “Extinguishing the Flames of Fury: U.S. Strategy and Response in the face of Global Terrorism.” The keynote address was delivered by former White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card, who shared an hour-by-hour account of the excruciatingly difficult decisions President George Bush took in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks. Preston mentioned how his understanding of President Bush’s foreign policy shifted based on this first-hand account of those initial days after 9/11. The students agreed that the keynote speech was perhaps the major highlight of their four-day trip to College Station. Other speakers included Lt. Gen. Marshall Webb, USAF, Commander of the Air Force Special Operations Command and Ali Soufan, an FBI agent who specializes in counter-terrorism.
As Ashlyn put it, “my experience at the SCONA '64 conference was invaluable… I walked away with a better understanding of terrorism and what we can do as the next generation of leaders to counter the threats we face as a nation and in our world.”
With Mr. Card’s personal testimony as the background, each of our four students joined small teams (assisted by military and civilian expert facilitators) and produced policy briefings addressing contemporary real-world issues pertaining to the war on terror. For example, Jacob worked on cyberterrorism, Kenadie on humanitarian assistance to the crisis in Yemen, and Preston on North Korea’s role in supplying WMD technology to terrorist cells and other state sponsors of terrorism such as Syria and Iran.
Continuing a proud tradition of Texas State students winning awards at the conference, Preston’s policy team won the First Runner-Up for their briefing! Their project created a plan of action to negotiate with the Kim Regime, offering the regime legitimacy if it halted its sponsorship of terrorism and continuing or increasing coercive steps if it did not.
The Texas State students also greatly enjoyed the presentations and chance to interact with guests from the military, CIA, FBI, State Department, and other parts of the U.S. government, as well as with other college students who attended from around the country. Preston, who is hoping to become an intelligence analyst, was particularly grateful for the networking opportunities. And as Ashlyn put it, she formed “relationships that will benefit me both personally and professionally from now on,” one of the reasons she enthusiastically described her participation in this event as “truly a life-changing experience.”
February 12th-17th, the department’s Model United Nations (MUN) program sent 12 students to Harvard to participate in Harvard’s National Model United Nations (HNMUN). Representing Belize, Texas State’s Eunice Arcos, Stephen Aubuchon, Sam Flores, John Garcia, Trevor Graves, Kaylie Hidalgo, Ralph Kelley, Jesse Ortega, Laurel Parkhurst, Christian Sears, Zoë Steiner, and Ethan Strickland debated a variety of global issues ranging from “Augmenting Human Capital to Reduce the Skills Gap” to “Cyber Warfare.” This is the third year the department has sent a delegation to HNMUN. As in the past, the MUN program was made possible by support from the department and Student Service fee funds.
In addition to the HNMUN, students from the MUN program will attend the Southern Regional Model United Nations (SRMUN) in Charlotte, NC this March 27th–April 1st. Representing Costa Rica, El Salvador, and Honduras, twenty students are registered to compete. Proceeds from the Step Up for State campaign the MUN participated in last fall will be used to pay for a portion of the trip to Charlotte.
On Tuesday, February 12th Discourse in Democracy hosted the department’s annual Alumni Night event. A panel of six alumni shared their experiences of making the transition from college to their respective careers. The topics explored included resumes, interviews, career paths, networking, and internships. The panel consisted of Ana Lisa Garza (MPA, 2001), Matthew Hall (MA Political Science, 2012) Emily Gray (MA Legal Studies, 2017), Tychenika Kimbrough (MPA, 2015), Gabriel Sepulveda (MPA, 2012), and Elaine Zavala (MPA, 2014).
Afterwards, students, faculty, and alumni enjoyed pizza, cookies, soda, and informal conversation at a reception organized by the department. Additionally, undergraduates were given a chance to meet with current graduate students to learn about the department’s three graduate programs. “Alumni Night was a helpful experience,” commented Thomas Hatfield, a double major in political science and history. “It gave me a fresh perspective on my prospects after I obtain my undergraduate degree. It was really nice to be able to interact with people who were standing where I am now, not too long ago, and to ask them questions one on one.”
Pi Sigma Alpha held its first meeting of the semester, which focused on setting this semester's agenda. Pi Sigma Alpha plans to host a free LSAT prep (in partnership with The Princeton Review), to volunteer at a food bank, and to have an induction banquet. Texas State’s chapter was awarded over $700 from its national headquarters to throw its annual banquet.
Questions about membership should be directed to the faculty advisor, Dr. Thomas Varacalli at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In anticipation of the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, Discourse in Democracy hosted Dr. Dawn Teele (University of Pennsylvania) for a series of events on the subject of Women's Suffrage on Wednesday, February 6th. She discussed gender roles in academia at a seminar attended by two dozen students and faculty and then presented a guest lecture to Dr. Lamm’s “Women in Politics” class (PS 4324). Later that afternoon she delivered a lecture on her book, Forging the Franchise: The Political Origins of the Women's Vote to an audience of 85 faculty and students. Additionally, faculty and majors had the opportunity to speak with over lunch and dinner.
“I thought the seminar was an awesome opportunity to discuss gender in political science,” Jasmine Reed, political science sophomore, observed. “I enjoyed hearing different perspectives from others who could relate to gender norms. The whole experience came across genuine and insightful."
On Tuesday February 5th, over 150 students and faculty attended the first Discourse in Democracy event of the new year, a State of the Union Watch Party, in UAC 105. Students watched the president’s address while enjoying pizza, soda, and playing a State of the Union bingo card game.
“The State of the Union has long been a tradition and staple of American democracy,” Christian Sears, Student Government Senator at Large and President of Texas State's Model United Nations. “For the last hundred years or so every President, with the exception of Hoover has given the SOTU via a speech to the nation. It is imperative that we keep such traditions alive that have been hallmarks to our democracy. The President’s speech on Thursday reaffirmed those traditions. Discourse in Democracy did a fantastic job at hosting the SOTU. The free pizza and drinks was a nice gesture. And, I was very pleased to see that so many students turned out.”
Five graduate students (Ezekiel Loseke, Connor Patton, Damilola Asaye, Fanny Mazna, and Kamela Syed) and two undergraduates (Emma Barkis, and Valea Metzger) joined 8 faculty members at this year’s Southern Political Science Association (SPSA) at the JW Marriott in Austin, TX from January 17-January 19.
Two of the grad students presented papers. Graduate student Fanny Mazna presented a paper on “21st Century Blasphemy Laws: A Violation of Human Rights in Pakistan.” and Damilola Asaye’s paper was about “From Oil Boom to Economic Doom: Reflecting on Institutionalized Corruption under President Goodluck Jonathan’s Administration.” Connor Patton, a graduate student interested in pursuing a doctorate, was particularly struck by the “excellent display of active academic work.” Likewise, Fanny Mazna noted that "being a part of SPSA was definitely a great experience. Not only did I get to know about different areas of research, but also got input from various scholars about my own work."
Dr. Patricia Shields, professor with the Department of Political Science and the Public Administration Program, was featured in PA Times (the magazine produced by the American Society for Public Administration) as one of their “Profiles of Excellence.” Dr. Shields was interviewed about her career as a scholar and how she envisions the future of public administration/public policy scholarship, how online classes are impacting the teaching/learning model, and the challenges of gender bias in academia.
ASPA was established in 1939 to promote the advancement, teaching and practice of public and nonprofit administration. It is the largest and premier association for professionals in the field.
Texas State’s public administration program now has a “Manager in Residence,” James Earp, the Assistant City Manager of Kyle. The Manager is Residence program is a project of the Texas City Manager’s Association designed to give public administration students a chance to interact on a regular basis with an official in local government and to understand the importance of public service at the local level. In this capacity, he has been speaking to MPA and sustainability classes and meeting with public administration students, as well as working with Texas State’s Career Services program. This spring, he’ll be doing a graduate school shoptalk to help students explore careers in local government, and conducting An Emerging Local Government Leader (ELGL #Inspire) workshop to educate students about public service at the local level. The public administration faculty at Texas State University are committed to affording BPA and MPA students opportunities to gain practitioner perspectives on governance and administration. The introduction of the MIR program at our university is an important step in that direction.
For more information on Texas State’s Manager in Residence program, please contact Dr. Nandhini Rangarajan at email@example.com.