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2017 News Archive


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  • IA's and Dr. Varacalli at the holiday party

    On Sunday, December 10, the Department of Political Science held its annual holiday party at the LBJ Museum in San Marcos. The faculty, staff, instructional assistants, and their families attended and enjoyed quality time together and delicious food. The children enjoyed the cookie decorating table. All in all, it was a great way to kick-off the holiday season!

    The Department of Political Science especially thanks the Hobby Center for their continued support of this annual event, the LBJ Museum for hosting, and all who worked very hard to make the party a success.

  • Tajudeen Basiru

    Tajudeen Basiru, a Master of Public Administration student, received a 2017 Love of Learning Award from Phi Kappa Phi. A total of 100 awards, each in the amount of $500, were given. Founded in 1897, Phi Kappa Phi recognizes and promotes academic excellence in all fields of higher education and engages the community of scholars in service to others ( The nation’s oldest and most selective multidisciplinary collegiate honor society, it initiates more than 30,000 members a year on 300 campuses in the United States and the Philippines.

    Mr. Basiru is an international student and has his medical degree (MD) from Obafemi Awolowo University, Nigeria. Before coming to Texas State, he worked with non-profit organizations in Nigeria for the care of people with HIV/AIDS. He is currently working toward licensure in the United States to practice medicine.


  • Austin bike paths

    Dr. Billy Fields, Associate Professor of the Department of Political Science, weighed in on the recent public discussion about Austin’s biking and cycling traffic in a radio interview by 90.5 KUT, Austin’s NPR Station. The interview revolved around Austin’s traffic problems and the implementation of the 2016 Corridor Mobility Program, a $482M program meant to improve the overall transportation system throughout Austin. Fields stressed the importance of regularly collecting data on bicycle traffic in order to assure an adequate number of bike paths. "We need to institutionalize [the] data-collection system,” he noted.

    Dr. Fields annually takes several Texas State political science students to Amsterdam, cycling capital of the world, to perform research on traffic mitigation methodologies which can be reproduced in the United States under Texas State’s International Sustainable Transportation Engagement Program, I-STEP.

    The radio interview may be found at


  • Mayor Thomaides

    On Monday, December 5th, San Marcos’ Mayor John Thomaides visited Texas State and spoke to the students in Teaching Assistant Amy Perry’s Principles of American Government classes. He spoke about the local, non-partisan election process for mayor and what students may do to support the mayor and the city council. Mayor Thomaides also fielded questions about how students may become involved in local government.

  • Amy Perry explains her graduate research at Grinklings.
    Amy Perry explains her graduate research at Grinklings.

    On Thursday, November 16th, Teaching Assistant Amy Perry shared her research on “Factors in Rejection of Presidential Nominees to the U.S. Supreme Court” with political science faculty and graduate students at a Grinklings gathering. Her ongoing research identified several factors that affected the nomination and confirmation process and looked closely at six specific nominees.

    The department’s “Grinklings” gatherings are an opportunity for graduate students to share their research projects with faculty members and other graduate students. It was inspired by the “Inklings” series that the department hosts, and was the fourth presentation since Grinklings began in 2015. The department’s “Inklings” gatherings take their name from a small group of intellectuals who met weekly at Oxford University in the early and middle decades of the 20th century to discuss their works in progress.

  • Over 225 students and guests attended ESMOAS.
    Over 225 students and guests attended ESMOAS.

    Texas State students excelled at this year’s Eugene Scassa Mock Organization of American States (ESMOAS) competition! Representing the nations of Brazil, Panama, and Costa Rica, the 15 member Texas State delegation won numerous awards. Highlighting these awards, Ashton Thomas won Distinguished Ambassador (2nd Place Overall for an individual award) and Lindsey Bentley won the new Outstanding Diplomacy award for her contributions.

    The complete list of the awards and honors our received by Texas State students is as follows:

    ◦Connor Clegg

            ◦Voted as President for the 21st Annual ESMOAS

    ◦Bianca Beronio

             ◦Selected as Parliamentarian for the 21st Annual ESMOAS

    ◦Catherine Wicker

            ◦Selected as Chair
            ◦Executive Secretariat for Integral Development

    ◦Brittlin Richardson

            ◦Selected as Rapporteur
            ◦Executive Secretariat for Integral Development

    ◦Claire Whisler

             ◦Selected to the Student Advisory Committee

    ◦Brian Delgado

            ◦Distinguished Resolution (2nd Place in Committee)
            ◦General Committee

    ◦Lucy Stanley

            ◦Distinguished Resolution (2nd Place in Committee)
            ◦Secretariat for Multidimensional Security

    ◦Cassandra Macias

            ◦Distinguished Resolution (2nd Place in Committee)
            ◦Secretariat for Strengthening Democracy

    ◦Christian Sears

           ◦Outstanding Resolution (1st Place in Committee)
           ◦Secretariat for Multidimensional Security

    ◦Cody Enderli

           ◦Outstanding Resolution (1st Place in Committee)
           ◦Secretariat for Strengthening Democracy

    ◦John Garcia

             ◦Outstanding Orator (1st Place in Committee)
             ◦Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

    ◦John Garcia and Ethan Strickland

             ◦Distinguished Legal Team (2nd Place in Committee)
             ◦Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

    ◦Lindsey Bentley

           ◦Outstanding Diplomacy

    ◦Ashton Thomas

           ◦Distinguished Ambassador
           ◦(2nd Place Overall)

    ◦Christian Sears

             ◦Selected as Parliamentarian for the 22nd ESMOAS at Texas State in 2018

  • Guest Speaker Oliver del Cid, Belize's Ambassador to Mexico, with Texas State students.
    Guest Speaker Oliver del Cid, Belize's Ambassador to Mexico, with Texas State students.

    From November 9th – 11th, the Department of Political Science hosted the 21st Annual Eugene Scassa Mock Organization of American States (ESMOAS) Summit of the Americas competition and conference from November 9th – 11th. The event brought some 225 students and faculty members to campus from across the southwestern United States and northern Mexico for a competition simulating meetings of the Organization of American States, an academic conference on Inter-American Relations, and a model Inter-American Court of Human Rights competition. The keynote address was delivered by Oliver del Cid, Belize’s ambassador to Mexico on Friday evening November 10th. The keynote address was preceded by welcoming remarks from Texas State’s Provost, Dr. Gene Bourgeois.

    Students Deliberating at ESMOAS Conference.
    Students Deliberating at ESMOAS Conference.

    Professor Ben Arnold and Instructional Assistants Lindsey Bentley and Melissa Aylward organized the Texas State end of the conference. “We would like to thank the Department of Political Science, and the College of Liberal Arts for their generous support of our MOAS and MUN programs. Without this support, our students would not be able to experience these wonderful academic events, and achieve the success that they have seen,” Prof. Arnold said.

  • Roundtable with professors

    On Tuesday, October 10, 2017, the Department of Political Science at Texas State University held a roundtable conversation called Inklings on “North Korea, the U.S., & Nuclear Weapons.” Professors Tom Doyle, Bob Gorman, Don Inbody, and Ionut Popescu shared their analyses and perspectives on this issue with faculty, graduate students, and others. The roundtable participants discussed the history of United States–North Korea relations, the military and geopolitical dimensions of the current crisis, and important ethical questions concerning the use or threatened use of nuclear weapons. The presentations were followed by questions raised by faculty and students, and resulted in a lively exchange of ideas.

    The department’s “Inklings” gatherings for faculty and graduate students are in their eighteenth year. They 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.

  • Texas State’s Rho Eta Chapter of Pi Sigma Alpha, the national political science honor society, had its first meeting of the semester on Wednesday, September 12. During the Fall 2017 schedule, the group will meet on September 27, October 11, and October 25 at 5:00 p.m. in UAC 382. The group will discuss current events, participate in local community service activities, examine potential job opportunities, and address the various nuances of being a political science major. A panel about attending law school is tentatively scheduled for November 8 at 5:30PM in UAC 382. Doraneesha Jackson-Wilson (’18) is currently serving as President and Madalyn Folgate (’17) is serving as Vice President.

    Students interested in joining Pi Sigma Alpha should contact President Jackson-Wilson at The chapter was established in 1988.

  • SWIPS students

    On Wednesday, September 20th, Texas State students met for the inaugural meeting of the new student-led club, Supporting Women in Political Science (SWIPS). SWIPS is a bi-partisan group intended to help women in political science at Texas states find opportunities for support, mentorship, and networking in their discipline. While enjoying pizza provided by the Department of Political Science, they discussed the vision of the organization and their plans for the future. SWIPS member Morgan Morrow said, “I’m aspiring to be a lawyer and have decided to join SWIPS because it provides support for women in a major and career field that is traditionally dominated by men. I believe SWIPS will provide a way for women in the field of political science to come together to aid one another by sharing stories and experiences.”

    Advisors for the group are Dr. Ashleen Menchaca-Bagnulo and Dr. Jennifer Lamm. For more information on SWIPS please email Ana Deloza at or Brianah Rodriguez at Follow SWIPS on Twitter @SWIPS_TXST and on Facebook at "Supporting Women in Political Science at Texas State University."

  • Dr. Popescu Meets with Students
    Dr. Popescu Meets with Students

    On Tuesday, September 12th more than 100 political science and public administration students attended the department’s annual “Meet the Professors” event sponsored by Discourse in Democracy. The event gives students an opportunity to meet faculty members, to hear about their backgrounds and specialization, and to learn about the courses they teach. It also gave students a chance to learn about upcoming departmental events and the various student groups that work with the department. The formal presentations were followed by a social gathering that gave students a chance to talk informally with faculty over pizza. Attendees received a free tee shirt courtesy of Discourse in Democracy.

    Mingling After the Event
    Mingling After the Event

    Mayra De Luna, political science major and transfer student, was greatly impressed by the department for taking the time to organize the event. Given their backgrounds and professional experiences, she found several faculty members who might be potential mentors. “I really loved the department having professors getting involved,” De Luna shared. Indeed, it was there that De Luna heard about Supporting Women in Political Science. She subsequently attended group's first meeting and was chosen to be its Communication Officer.

    Dr. Tajalli Sharing Wisdom
    Dr. Tajalli Sharing Wisdom


  • Dr. Sullivan as Grand Marshal

    A long-time member of the Department of Political Science, Dr. Alfred Sullivan served as the Grand Marshal of the San Marcos Veterans Parade on November 11, 2017. Dr. Sullivan served in World War II, the Korean War and in the Vietnam War. He joined the faculty of Texas State University in 1973 and retired from teaching in 2012.

  • 13th

    The Fall 2017 Political Science Film Series featured 13th, a Netflix Original documentary by director Ava DuVernay, director of Selma (2014). This documentary identifies systemic racism throughout the U.S. justice and legal system. The documentary explores how while the 13th Amendment abolished slavery, forms of slavery still exist deeply embedded within the prison system. The showing took place in Alkek Teaching Theater on November 8th in conjunction with the 2017-2018 Common Experience, “The Search for Justice: Our Response to Crime in the 21st Century.” Approximately 70 students, faculty and members of the community attended. The film series is coordinated by Prof. Rick Henderson.

  • Four graduate students from the department presented their research at Texas State University's 9th annual International Research Conference for Graduate Students on November 7th and 8th.

    • Master of Arts in Political Science Amy Perry presented her research on “Factors in Rejection of Presidential Nominees to the U.S. Supreme Court.”
    • Master of Arts in Legal Studies student James Kemp presented a case study on BP that explored the use of charter revocation as a means to stopping corporate criminal activity
    • Master of Public Administration student Reginald Brooks presented on “An Exploratory Framework to Assess Urban Wildfire Mitigation Policy in Austin, Texas.”
    • Master of Public Administration student Jose Olvera presented his research on the coercive, extractive, and conductive capacities of Mexican Political Institutions.

    Mr. Olvera’s advice to graduate students who may be thinking about presenting next year is simple: “Do it. At a time when there are serious attempts to undermine the truth all over the world, there isn't a better time than right now to share your research with others. It is also a great learning experience and good practice that will further develop your skills.”

  • Councilman Mihalkanin

    Associate Professor of Political Science Dr. Ed Mihalkanin was re-elected to the San Marcos City Council on November 7, 2017. Dr. Mihalkanin has served on the city council from 1996-2000, 2001-2006 and since 2016. Dr. Mihalkanin also serves as president of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Museum of San Marcos. He joined the department in 1990.

    Councilman Mihalkanin being sworn in


  • Dr. Chris Brown with faculty

    On Tuesday, November 7th, Dr. Chris Brown shared his research on the Environmental Protection Agency with political science faculty and graduate students at an Inklings gathering. Entitled “Arbitrary and Capricious? Pruitt and the EPA,” the talk explored the role of experts in the formulation of the agency’s policies.

    The department’s “Inklings” gatherings for faculty and graduate students are in their eighteenth year. They 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.

  • Mock Trial

    Phi Alpha Delta, Texas State’s Pre-Law Fraternity, held a mock trial on Wednesday, November 8th, in the Department of Political Science’s Moot Courtroom in UAC. The entire session was student-led and included opening statements, the examination and cross-examination of six witnesses, and final statements by the prosecution and defense.

    Gabby Cepeda, a junior majoring in political science, served as the judge. She has been involved in Mock Trial competition for over five years. The Texas State Mock Trial team is set to compete with UT Austin in April.

    Students interested in Phi Alpha Delta should contact Samantha Martinez (, President of Phi Alpha Delta, a senior majoring in political science with a political communication minor.

    Students in Photo (Left to Right): Carlos Flores, Mia Koern, Samantha Martinez, Gabby Cepeda, Brenda Sarabia, and Loren Poss.
    Students in Photo (Left to Right): Carlos Flores, Mia Koern, Samantha Martinez, Gabby Cepeda, Brenda Sarabia, and Loren Poss.


  • Dr. Ward with students of Pi Sigma Alpha

    Dr. Kenneth Ward delivered a lecture on “What Law School Is Like” to 20 students at the biweekly meeting of Texas State’s chapter of Pi Sigma Alpha on Wednesday, November 7th. There was a Q&A session that spilled into the hallway after the event. During the lecture, he addressed the factors that potential law students should evaluate before attending law school. He also discussed what law students should do in order to make themselves more marketable after attaining their degree.

    Doraneesha Jackson-Wilson, president of the Texas State chapter, thanked Dr. Ward for taking the time to speak with them. She particularly singled out his advice to “decide why you really want to go to law school before actually going!”

    Pi Sigma Alpha is the national honor society for political science. For more information on Pi Sigma, visit the department’s website at

  • Dr. Shields receives award

    On Friday, November 3rd, Dr. Pat Shields received the 2017 Morris Janowitz Career Achievement Award from the Inter-University Seminar on Armed Forces and Society in Reston, Virginia.  The award is named for Morris Janowitz, the founding editor of Armed Forces & Society.  The award recognizes her contributions to the study of civil military relations.

  • Guest Flores-Macias

    Gustavo Flores-Macias, a leading Latin American political economist and Associate Professor of Government at Cornell University visited campus on Wednesday, October 25th to talk about Mexico’s 2018 election and future of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), the leading political party in Mexico. The lecture focused on why the PRI has persisted through the years despite democratization, which began in the year 2000. His talk was followed by questions from the students in the audience. Flores-Macias’ visit was arranged by Dr. Omar Sanchez of Texas State’s Department of Political Science and was part of the department’s Discourse in Democracy initiative.

  • Students at Marriage Conference

    On October 20th and 21st, seven Texas State students attended the Texas Network for the Study of Public Issues (TNSPI) fall seminar at Texas A&M University. The students attended lecture and discussion sessions exploring classic and contemporary writings on marriage and family, including excerpts from the works of Locke, Mill, and Tocqueville. TNSPI is an initiative of the American Public Philosophy Institute (APPI).

    Dr. Ashleen Menchaca-Bagnulo organized the Texas State delegation and served as the discussion leader for one of the sessions. Schools represented at the conference included the University of Dallas, Texas A&M University, the University of Texas at Austin, Baylor University, Texas Tech University, and Rice University. Speakers included Christopher Wolfe (University of Dallas), President of the APPI, and Mark Regnerus (UT-Austin), author of the book, Cheap Sex: The Transformation of Men, Marriage, and Monogamy.

    Photo caption (left to right): Samuel Barr, Sabra Woodward, Jordan Mandujano, Todd McDonald, Adam Henley, Cody Wallace, and Ronald Clark.

  • SWIPS Discussion

    Jennifer Walker Gates, an immigration lawyer from the firm of Walker Gates Vela PLLC (, came to speak to SWIPS students about immigration law and her experiences as an immigration lawyer. She fielded questions about her career in law and her experience as a woman and mother in both school and the practice of law. Dr. Lamm, Lecturer in Department of Political Science and faculty advisor of SWIPS, arranged the event to host Gates. The event was well-attended and all the students were grateful for the pizza.

    The group is getting ready to make decisions about their leadership committee soon and is planning a women's empowerment workshop along with the College Democrats and the College Republicans.

    Guest Jennifer Walker Gates


  • Guest Speaker Elizabeth Christian

    The LBJ Museum of San Marcos and the Department of Political Science Department hosted a Fall Lecture Series with guest speaker, Elizabeth Christian, on Thursday, October 5th. Christian is the President of the Lyndon Baines Johnson Foundation and the daughter of George Christian, President Johnson’s last Press Secretary. Her talk was entitled “Leadership, Humanity, Persistence: Hallmarks of the 36th President.” More than fifty students, faculty, and community members attended the talk.

  • Admiral Bobby Inman

    Admiral Bobby Inman, former Director of the National Security Council and Deputy Director of the CIA, held a two hour seminar on Wednesday, October 4, 2017. He discussed his own career in the intelligence community as well as sharing stories about his involvement in some of the more important events in recent American history. The topics he addressed included North Korea, Russian involvement in the 2016 U.S. elections, and the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. Additionally, he shared some observations about the four Presidents he served under (Ford, Carter, Reagan, GHW Bush) and how they dealt with national security issues and policies. Several students remained afterward to continue the discussion.

    Admiral Inman is currently the Lyndon B. Johnson Centennial Chair in National Policy at the LBJ School of Public Affairs, University of Texas.

  • On September 19th, Dr. James R. Stoner of Louisiana State University visited campus to speak on "The Positive Freedom of Speech" during Discourse in Democracy’s annual Constitution Day celebration. Dr. Stoner spoke about the purposes which the constitutional guarantee of free speech was intended to serve and addressed the question whether government had a legitimate role in limiting speech in order to ensure rational discourse in public life. In the course of his day on campus, Dr. Stoner spoke to 80 students from New Braunfels High School who were enrolled in AP government classes and held two seminars for Texas State political science students. His evening lecture in Alkek Teaching Theater was attended by more than 350 students and faculty. Dr. Stoner also had lunch and dinner with undergraduate and graduate students from the political science program.

    A graduate student in the political science program, Adam Henley, said that the seminar he attended “was fantastic. About 15 students and faculty discussed the limits of free speech and explored various historical and contemporary controversies surrounding it, including the current debates about free speech on America’s campuses. All in all, it was a rewarding conversation about a subject that is quite relevant to our times.”

    Dr. Stoner with student

    After the evening lecture, Drs. Jo Ann Carson (Philosophy), Vaughn Baltzly (Philosophy), Elizabeth Bishop (History), Rudy Hernandez (Political Science), and Paul DeHart (Political Science) commented and raised questions, as did several students in the audience. Following the event, a number of students huddled around Dr. Stoner to extend the conversation for an additional hour. Texas State University President Dr. Denise Trauth and Provost Dr. Gene Bourgeois attended the lecture.

  • Dr. Donald Inbody was interview by KUT radio about the recent collisions by U.S. Navy destroyers in the Pacific Ocean. To view more or listen to the interview, check out the links below:




    Amy Perry with Representative Castro


    Nathaniel Moore with Representative Castro


    Graduate Teaching Assistants Nathaniel Moore and Amy Perry attended “A Conversation with U.S. Representative Joaquin Castro” hosted by the Texas Tribune at the Austin Club in Austin, Texas, on May 31. The Congressman answered questions from Texas Tribune CEO and founder Evan Smith, and then from the audience. After the talk, Nathaniel and Amy had the opportunity to meet Rep. Castro.

  • Kyle Carvell (L) presented “A Model Assessment Tool for Effective Partnerships Between Local Parks Systems and Nonprofits”.
    Kyle Carvell (L) presented “A Model Assessment Tool for Effective Partnerships Between Local Parks Systems and Nonprofits”.
    Samantha Alexander (R) presented “Female City Managers in Texas: A Content Analysis of Resumes to Identify Successful Career Path Trends”.

    On May 22nd, the Department of Political Science and the Center for Research, Public Policy & Training partnered with the law firm DNRBHZ (Denton, Navarro, Rocha, Bernal, Hyde & Zech, P.C.) to host the 14th Annual Hog Wild conference. The conference is a continuing education seminar for local government officials. The department invited graduate students to attend as well to learn about and to meet local officials from across the state. Deputy Secretary of State Coby Shorter III was the keynote speaker, and breakout sessions included topics such as legislative updates, issues facing police departments, development concerns and issues, drone use, and home rule initiative. Four Texas State graduate students – Samantha Alexander (MPA), Kyle Carvell (MPA), Ricardo Zavala (MPA), and Jennifer Strahl (Legal Studies) – and several faculty members were among the presenters.

  • At its annual banquet on Tuesday, May 16, 2017, the Central Texas Chapter of the American Society for Public Administration recognized distinguished public administration students, alumni, and educators from Texas State’s Public Administration Program, The University of Texas at Austin’s LBJ School of Public Affairs and Texas A&M’s Bush School of Government and Public Service.

    Texas State’s Dr. Billy Fields as received a Distinguished Public Administration Educator Award from Texas State University. More than a dozen Texas State graduate and undergraduate students were inducted into Pi Alpha Alpha, the Global Honor Society for Public Affairs and Administration; and seven Texas State public administration students were recognized a recipients of $1000 Balanoff Family Scholarships for the Fall 2017 Semester. The scholarship recipients were chosen by the PA Faculty & Awards Committee.

    BPA and MPA students are shown being inducted into Pi Alpha Alpha The Global Society for Public Affairs and Administration. Elaine Zavala, President of Centex ASPA is shown on the far right. To Elaine’s immediate left is Dr. Howard Balanoff.
    BPA and MPA students are shown being inducted into Pi Alpha Alpha The Global Society for Public Affairs and Administration. Elaine Zavala, President of Centex ASPA is shown on the far right. To Elaine’s immediate left is Dr. Howard Balanoff.

    Pi Alpha Alpha Inductees:

    - Tyler Blakely               - Jordan E. Macha
    - JacQuitta Beeks             - Jose Pablo Olvera
    - Sergio Vasquez            - Lindsay D. Escalante
    - Lisa A. Paiz             - Julia M. Webber
    - Moaz Kahn            - Leonides Gomez, Jr.
    - Zohaib Qadri           - Richard Ridings
    - Sarah R. Pressler

               (MPA Alum-Honorary Inductee) 


    Recipients of the Balanoff Family Scholarship. Shown in the picture are 5 of the 7 BPA & MPA scholarship recipients. Elaine Zavala, President of Centex ASPA is shown on the far right. To Elaine’s immediate left is Marilyn Balanoff.
    Recipients of the Balanoff Family Scholarship. Shown in the picture are 5 of the 7 BPA & MPA scholarship recipients. Elaine Zavala, President of Centex ASPA is shown on the far right. To Elaine’s immediate left is Marilyn Balanoff.

    Balanoff Family Scholarship Recipients:

    - Tajudeen Basiru - Todd Podbielski         
    - Catherine Wicker - Natasha Thomas
    - Ashley Burkett - Abigail Trahan
    - Ricardo Zavala  


  • Dr. Ashleen Bagnulo

    Dr. Ashleen Bagnulo was interviewed by KXAN about Senate Bill 4, which was signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott in May. The City of Austin has joined several other cities in Texas in a lawsuit challenging SB4. To view more about Dr. Bagnulo’s interview on the issue check out the link below.

  • Dr. Wright teaching course

    From June 21 to June 24, 2017, thirteen mediators from San Luis Potosí and Monterrey, Mexico visited Central Texas to participate in a course entitled “The Culture and Practice of Mediation in Texas.”  The course, whose lead instructor was Dr. Walter Wright, was co-sponsored by the Political Science Department of Texas State University and the Faculty of Law at the Autonomous University of San Luis Potosí.  It was the first joint project organized pursuant to a cooperation agreement that the two universities signed in 2016.  

    Dr. Wright with Mexican mediators

    During the course, the program participants received approximately twenty hours of classroom instruction and visited the Central Texas Dispute Resolution Center in San Marcos, the Bexar County Dispute Resolution Center in San Antonio, and the Austin Dispute Resolution Center.  In addition, they visited Lakeside Mediation Center in Austin, the Texas State Capitol, the Lyndon B. Johnson Presidential Library, the Alamo, and the San Antonio Riverwalk.  Recreation included shopping at the outlet malls in San Marcos and dining at local restaurants in San Marcos, Austin, Greune, and San Antonio.  The course was a success, and plans are underway for another visit from Mexican mediators in 2018.

  • Study Abroad Students

    Dr. Hassan Tajalli, Associate Professor, Department of Political Science at Texas State, hosted a Study Abroad program to Barcelona, Spain during the second summer session. This study abroad allowed twenty-seven undergraduate students to fulfill their required political science courses, POSI 2310 (Principles of American Government) and 2320 (Functions of American Government). One graduate student, Allison Morris, attended the program, using the opportunity to complete a directed reading class related to her Applied Research Project (ARP) for the Masters in Public Administration program. Morris’ research focused Catalonia’s mental health system.


    In addition to their classes, the students explored ancient ruins, modern cities, and eclectic architectures crafted over millennia, and learned about the challenges facing contemporary Europe. The landmarks they visited include the Roman city, Tarragona. “It had so much history starting in the Roman era and through the medieval time, and it was so beautiful,” Morris said. Another favorite location was Montserrat, an ancient, yet active Benedictine monastery carved into the side of the Montserrat mountain range. “It was originally a Roman shrine to the gods. It was turned into a monastery, a hermitage. It was an amazing architectural feat,” Morris recalled. Robert Rodriguez, a sophomore majoring in Exercise and Sports Science, described the excursions as his favorite part of the program. “We went to ruins of cities. It was like looking at a map before and after and seeing how the city was remodeled over centuries,” he reported.



  • Bikes in the Netherlands

    This summer Dr. Billy Fields, Associate Professor of Texas State’s Department of Political Science, led a Sustainability Transportation Policy Study Abroad program in the Netherlands. Twelve students participated, making it the third year of research. Students explored the Netherlands’ interconnectivity as they did biking tours through Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and Delft. Major areas of focus include infrastructure and connectivity, service learning, and international policy transfer. The study abroad program was organized by faculty advisors of Texas State’s International Sustainable Transportation Engagement Program, I-STEP.

    The team of students explored the Netherlands through the lens of sustainable transportation with the aim of transferring effective policy into the context of the United States. They focused on the role of dedicated facilities for walking, biking, and public transit as an overall approach to solving current and future transportation needs. “In Amsterdam, half or more people use dedicated facilities by walking, and that number increases to over 70% if you include public transit,” Dr. Fields commented. Maggie Bergeron, graduate student of Sustainable Studies at Texas State, enjoyed the rich heritage of biking, calling Amsterdam “the cycling capital of the world.” She remembers beautiful scenery and wide bike paths. “In the U.S., cars yield to pedestrians, while in Amsterdam, people stop and yield to busy cyclists,” Bergeron recalled. The trip included a free weekend to a North Sea beach where Dutch were seen line-dancing to American southern country music on the boardwalk.

    The Netherlands


    The Netherlands



  • Machu Picchu, Peru
    Machu Picchu, Peru

    In June 2017, Dr. Omar Sanchez of Texas State’s Department of Political Science hosted a Study Abroad program in Lima, Peru at Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú. Students took courses on Latin American Politics and Economic Development in Latin America, and explored Peruvian politics and culture. The group explored a variety of sites including Machu Picchu, Cuzco, and Iquitos, which Nina Burleigh of the New York Times calls “Capital of the Amazon.”

    Graduate student Travis Ferrell was struck by the variety of climates and topographies he saw. His travels included a fishing trip for piranha and swimming in a river full of them. Ferrell described the political climate in Peru as characterized by “a major divide between the youth and the older generations. Older generations see Fujimori as being able to get things done in government, while the youth see him as a dictator.” He further noted that political parties come and go with every election. “Unlike in the U.S., where political parties are deeply tied into government, there is not a consistent message from election to election.” He also noted that it was difficult for those in the outskirts of the country to make their voices heard. “Maybe there could be a two-party system if someone were able to unite people outside Lima,” Ferrell observed.

    Amazon River in Iquitos, Peru
    Amazon River in Iquitos, Peru


    Sand-boarding and Dune Buggy Riding in Ica, Peru
    Sand-boarding and Dune Buggy Riding in Ica, Peru      




  • Symposium

    On January 20th, to commemorate the 2017 presidential inauguration, Texas State University sponsored a symposium entitled “Transitions in American Democracy.” Two Political Science spoke at the event. Dr. Ken Ward spoke on the importance of inaugurations for the American political system. He addressed different interpretations of the American founding, and the tensions between majoritarianism and republicanism. Dr. Michael Faber discussed the election of 1800 and the resulting transfer of power from Adams and the Federalists to Jefferson and the Republicans. This transition underscored the potential for inaugurations to have a healing effect after a contentious election. The event also featured presentations by faculty from the Departments of History and Mass Communications, and the School of Journalism and Mass Communication. It was moderated by former Texas Secretary of State and Texas State alumnus, Geoff Connor.

  • Professor Hernandez with Students

    On January 27-28, 2017 Professor Rudy Hernandez brought a team of Texas State University Students to Houston, Texas to compete in the first annual American History & Western Civilization Challenge Bowl sponsored by The American Heritage Educational Foundation. Evan Dominguez, Miguel Carandang, and Molly Williams competed against Texas State against Houston Baptist University. Each Texas State student received a $500 scholarship from the foundation for their efforts. The students had a great educational experience and look forward to returning next year.

  • Obama Legacy Conference

    Many members of the department’s faculty joined scholars from around the country at a two day conference on “The Obama Legacy: Preliminary Perspectives” hosted by Texas State’s Center for International Studies on February 2-3, 2017. Departmental faculty who participated included Dr. Ted Hindson who spoke on America’s relationship with Russia and Europe; Drs. Paul Kens, Don Inbody, and Patricia Shields who addressed issues of law and national security; Dr. Omar Sanchez- Sibony who spoke about Mexico and Latin America; Dr. Howard Balanoff who discussed families and health; Dr. Robert Gorman who spoke about the Obama foreign policy legacy in Africa; Dr. Thomas Doyle who addressed nuclear weapons policy and the Middle East; Dr. Jeremy Wells who examined issues of war and peace; and Dr. Christopher Brown who discussed environmental policy. The keynote speakers were Jeremi Suri, Mack Brown Distinguished Chair Leadership in Global Affairs at the University of Texas at Austin and H.W. Brands, Jack Blanton Sr. Chair in History at the University of Texas at Austin.

  • Dr. Paul Kens

    An Associated Press story on the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the United States Supreme Court quoted Dr. Paul Kens. The article explores the history of the seat Judge Gorsuch has been nominated to fill, and quotes Dr. Kens on the seat’s first occupant Justice Stephen J. Field.

    To read the Associated Press article please click this link:

  • Matthew Dowd with Student

    The Department of Political Science and the School of Journalism – Mass Communication welcomed Matthew Dowd, a special correspondent and analyst for ABC News, to campus on Thursday, February 9, 2017. Mr. Dowd, a well-known political commentator and strategist, addressed both American Government and Mass Communication classes about how political, economic, and social institutions respond in today's ever changing world. After the event, Mr. Dowd met with students and fielded questions on a variety of contemporary political topics.

  • Admiral Bobby Inman

    Admiral Bobby Inman, former Director of the National Security Agency and Deputy Director of the CIA, spent an hour with Texas State University students on Wednesday, February 25. He spoke about threats to American security as well as challenges and opportunities. Then, he took the audience on an around-the-globe view of the problems in each region of the world. He took questions from the audience for about a half hour, responding thoughtfully and respectfully to each. After the event, he spent an additional half-hour interacting directly with students answering their questions and comments.

    Audio of Lecture and Q&A

    by Admiral Bobby Inman:

  • Students attending the Harvard Model UN

    The Political Science Department's new Model United Nations (MUN) program sent a delegation of a dozen students to participate in the Harvard National Model United Nations Competition in Boston from February 14th – 20th. Our students joined more than 2500 students from hundreds of institutions (including Columbia, Brown, Yale, and The United States Military Academy at West Point) and 70 countries around the world. The Texas State delegation consisted of: Carly Spangler, Katy Shull, Ethan Strickland, Bianca Beronio, Brian Delgado, Andrew Homann, Caroline Butler, Justice Mensah, Brandon Milligan, Bre Gilpin, Dominique Gray Berroa, and Lucy Stanley. We’re proud of the way they represented our department and Texas State!

  • Visiting Scholar

    During the first week of the Spring 2017 semester, the Department of Political Science hosted its first visiting scholar from the Autonomous University of Zacatecas (UAZ), a university located in Central Mexico.  Svetlana Maksymenko, a master’s degree student at UAZ, conducted research for her thesis at Texas State’s Alkek Library and also interviewed several professors in the Department of Political Science and other departments for assistance with her thesis.  During part of her visit to Texas State, Ms. Maksymenko was accompanied by Dr. Martín Beltrán Saucedo, a professor at the law school of the Autonomous University of San Luis Potosí, another university in Central Mexico.  Ms. Maksymenko was the first visiting scholar under a 2015 Memorandum of Understanding between Texas State and UAZ that is designed to promote scholarly and cultural exchanges between the two universities.

    Visiting Scholar


  • SCONA participants

    Richard Pastore, Millie Saroha, and Kara Rekemeyer represented the department at the 62nd annual Student Conference on National Affairs (SCONA) at Texas A&M University from February 16-18, 2017. The students attended presentations from national security policymakers and analysts including Admiral Michael Rogers, Director of the National Security Agency and Commander of U.S. Cyber Command; Islamic scholar, author, and former radical Dr. Tawfik Hamid; and Dr. Charles McMillan, Director of Los Alamos National Laboratories. Additionally, each student worked in a theme-based group over the three days of the conference to develop a policy to advance national security. Millie Saroha’s group explored the news media and the rise of fake news. Richard Pastore’s group focused on economic warfare, regulation of the financial industry, and cybersecurity. Kara Rekemeyer’s group examined immigration. Pastore and Rekemeyer were chosen to present their group’s proposal.

  • On February 18th and 19th, five Political Science majors -- Brittlin Richardson, Madeline Machlab, Sarah Marshall, Keeley Dorman and Devin Barrett -- took part in Model Arab League activities at the University of Houston-Clear Lake. In this year's regional competition, Sarah Marshall received the "Outstanding Chair" honor for her role as chair of the council on Palestinian Affairs and Keeley Dorman was awarded the "Outstanding Delegation" for work done on the joint defense council. We are proud of their accomplishments and wish them the best of luck as they prepare for the national competition at the end of March.

  • The Conscientious Objector

    The Spring 2017 Political Science film Series featured “The Conscientious Objector” (2004), directed and co-written by Terry Benedict. The documentary explores the life of Desmond Doss, a US Army medic who was the first conscientious objector to be awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. Seventy five students attended the March 1st event in the Alkek Teaching Theater in conjunction with the 2016-2017 Common Experience, “A Century of Conflict: Dialogues on the U.S. Experience of War since 1917.

  • Dr. Ashleen Bagnulo

    On Thursday, March 9th Dr. Ashleen Menchaca-Bagnulo shared part of her work on Machiavelli with Political Science faculty and graduate students at an Inklings gathering. Entitled "Don’t Devour the Republic: The Role of 'Humility' in Machiavelli’s Founder," the talk explored ideas of humility, civic republicanism and tyranny in Machiavelli's thought. Her presentation, was followed by a stimulating exchange of ideas and views among our faculty and graduate students.

    The department’s “Inklings” gatherings take their name from a small group of intellectuals 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.

  • Richard Kidd

    On March 30th, a crowd of over fifty people attended a showing of Richard Kidd’s documentary on the true story of Texas Ranger John "Jack" Coffee Hays, followed by a Q&A session with Kidd. The title of the documentary is "Captain Jack, The Story of John Coffee Hays." The event was part of the LBJ Museum of San Marcos’ annual Spring Lecture Series and was co-sponsored by the Department of Political Science.

  • Dr. Shields receives award

    On Friday, March 24, 2017, Dr. Patricia Shields was awarded the 2017 Outstanding Career Achievement award from the Women and Gender Research Collaborative, at their Century of Conflict: Dialogues on Women, Gender Intersectionality and Militarism 2017 symposium. Dr. Patricia Shields also delivered the morning keynote address at the Women and Gender Research Collaborative conference. The presentation “Jane Addams’s Peaceweaving: A Feminist Response to Paternalism, Militarism, and World War I” explored Jane Addams’ role in the women’s peace movement during WWI. Addams was the first American women to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

  • Dr. Tajallli
    Dr. Tajalli


    Dr. Leder
    Dr. Leder


    On Thursday, April 20th, Dr. Arnold Leder and Dr. Hassan Tajalli shared their views on the internal politics of Iran, Turkey, Israel’s relations with other states in the Middle East and America’s important role in the region. Their presentations were followed by questions and discussion among the department’s faculty and graduate students. Entitled “The Middle East: America, Iran, Turkey, Israel, & Beyond,” the roundtable was moderated by Dr. Robert Gorman.

    The department’s “Inklings” gatherings for faculty and graduate students are in their seventeenth year.  They 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.

  • Students participating in MUNE

    The Political Science Department's Model United Nations (MUN) program sent students to participate in Model United Nations Emory (MUNE) competition in Atlanta, Georgia from March 30th – April 2nd, 2017.  Other institutions competing in the MUNE, included Florida State University, the University of Georgia, the University of Tennessee, and Vanderbilt. Texas State’s delegation consisted of Julia Huerta, John Espinosa, Ana Flores, Sheldon Galipp, Dustin Nichols, Christian Sears, and Cassandra Macias, as well as faculty advisor, Prof. Ben Arnold.  Texas State can be proud of these students’ efforts, as they each represented the Political Science Department and our University in an exemplary manner.

  • Dr. James R. Stoner, Jr.

    Dr. James R. Stoner, Jr., the Herman Moyse, Jr. Professor of Political Science at Louisiana State University, visited Texas State on Friday, April 7th to deliver a talk on “What Donald Trump Understands about the Presidency.” His 45-minute talk sought to situate the presidency of Donald Trump historically and to analyze it in terms of various theoretical models about the presidency. The talk was followed by another 45 minutes of questions and discussion. A wisely published scholar in the area of American constitutionalism, Dr. Stoner’s books include Common Law and Liberal Theory: Coke, Hobbes and the Origins of American Constitutionalism (University of Kansas Press, 1992) and Common-Law Liberty: Rethinking American Constitutionalism (University of Kansas Press, 2003).

  • Alumni Night

    The department’s annual “Alumni Night” event took place on Thursday, April 20th, four alumni from the department advised students on success in jobs and careers. The alumni were Will Conley, Hays County Commissioner; Ashley Wersterfer, Legal Assistant to the General Counsel, Texas State University system; Cari Gray, a faculty member at New Braunfels High School where she teaches dual credit U.S. Government courses and Advanced Placement, U.S. History classes; and Alexandra Manning, Vice President of Natural Resources Solutions. The alumni shared their experiences and offered advice on subjects such as preparing for interviews and office etiquette . Afterwards, students, faculty, and the speakers enjoyed pizza and other refreshments.

  • CLA Awards

    On April 24th the College of Liberal Arts hosted their annual Awards Ceremony to honor students for their excellence in academics and character. The Department of Political Science was well represented.

    Todd McDonald received the Outstanding Undergraduate Student Award and Angela Estrada received the Outstanding Graduate Student Award.

    Holly Doyle received the Richard B. Henderson Award which is awarded for academic excellence and character in the tradition of Distinguished Professor Emeritus Henderson.

    Whitney Abshier and Holly Doyle received the Howard M. "Prof' Greene Award which is awarded for academic excellence in honor of a political mentor to Lyndon B. Johnson and many Other Texas State alumni.

    Tajudeen Basiru, Bianca Beronio, Kayla Joseph, and Abigail Trahan received the Barney and Linda Knight Scholarship which is awarded to students majoring in Political Science or Business who have persevered in the face of adversity, overcome financial challenges, and demonstrated academic success.

    Todd McDonald received the James H. McCrocklin Scholarship.

    Todd McDonald received the Dan Farlow Scholarship.

    Lilly Woldenhawariat received the John and Charlotte Sharp Scholarship.

    Corey Pohlmeyer received the Walter Richter Scholarship.

    Academic Excellence Certificate Recipients:

    Certificate Recipients