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Discourse in Democracy

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Discourse in Democracy is a series of events designed to engage undergraduate students in political and philosophical debate about today’s most important issues.  Discourse in Democracy provides opportunities for students to become more deeply involved in their Texas State community by offering lectures and seminars by keynote speakers, chances to collaborate with professors, other students, and prominent professionals in the field at the federal, state, and local levels.  We will tackle issues that matter most to students, and you can be a part of the solution by participating in our lecture series.  The Department of Political Science invites all students to join in the discussion as we work to understand and solve our country’s greatest challenges. 

Fall 2020 Events

Fall 2020 Events

Meet the Professors
Wednesday, September 9th, 6:30-8:30 pm, UAC 105 and Zoom: register here.
Contact: Dr. Mora,

Innovations in Public Service During the Pandemic
Friday, September 11th, 11:30-12:30 pm, via Zoom: here.
Contact: Dr. Nandhini Rangarajan,

Constitution Day
Thursday, September 17th, 7:00 pm, Centennial 157 and Zoom: register here.
Contact: Evan Olszewski,

Graphs, Geometry, and Gerrymandering: Mathematics of Political Districting
Friday, October 2nd, 3:00-5:00 pm, Zoom
Contact: Dr. Michael Faber,

Election 2020 Panel
Thursday, October 15th, 6:30-7:45 pm, Zoom
Contact: Dr. Michael Faber,

Essentials of an Effective Interview: A Leader's Insights, Mr James Earp, Kyle, TX Assistant City Manager
Friday, October 30th, 12:00-1:00 pm, Zoom
Contact: Dr. Nandhini Rangarajan.

Election Night Watch Party
Tuesday, November 3rd, 7:30 – 9:30 pm, UAC 105
Contact: Dr. Mora,

Repping the (Grass)Roots: From Community Advocate to Elected Official - Natasha Harper-Madison, Austin City Council District 1
Thursday, November 19th, 6:00-7:00 pm, Registration: Eventbrite
Contact: Dr. Marc Wallace,


Recent Events in Discourse in Democracy

DiD Hosts Pulitzer Prize Winning Reporter

On Tuesday evening, November 12th, 150 attended a lecture in Alkek Teaching Theater by the New York Times’ Tom Ricks, a two-time winner of the Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting. Ricks’ talk explored George Orwell’s famous essay on politics and the English language and the common ground that united Orwell and Winston Churchill. Although occupying very different positions on the political spectrum, Orwell and Churchill shared a common commitment to individual freedom and a common hostility to modern totalitarianism. Prior to the lecture, students had an opportunity to win departmental swag by competing in a trivia contest on Orwell’s article. At the conclusion of his talk, Ricks fielded questions from the audience and later spoke with several students individually.

Earlier in the day, Ricks spoke to Dr. Menchaca-Bagnulo’s American Political Thought class, as well as to a history and mass communication class. He also had lunch with faculty and students from the department.

Political science major Zachary Poston noted that Ricks’ talk “offered unique insights” into two of the most “inspiring figures of the twentieth century,” while another undergraduate major, Ariel Long, was struck by the light the talk cast on contemporary issues such as “fake news.”

University of Virginia Professor Visits Campus to help Celebrate Constitution Day

Dr. McClay speaking to students and faculty

On Tuesday, September 17th more than 300 Texas State students and faculty attended the department’s annual “Constitution Day” lecture hosted by Discourse in Democracy. Delivered by the University of Virginia’s Dr. James W. Ceaser, the lecture explored “James Madison: The Founder of the Modern Founding.”  William Lawrence, a first-year master’s student in political science noted the lecture was, “refreshing” saying that he appreciated Ceasar’s “defense of our Constitution.” The lecture was followed by questions, and, after the formal program concluded, several students stayed behind to talk informally with Dr. Ceaser. Jean-Marc Pruit, a graduate student in the department, commented that “Dr. Ceaser reminds us that although deadlock can be frustrating, Madison was right that hasty change can be much worse.”

Prior to the lecture, a group of a dozen students and faculty met informally with Dr. Ceasar over dinner. Earlier that day, Dr. Ceasar conducted a seminar attended by 15 majors examining the evolution of America’s political institutions and how the U.S. Constitution compared to others. Austin Lyttle, a senior political science major, noted that he really enjoyed “the opportunity to get know Dr. Ceasar, as a person” adding that it “makes me all the more impressed with the academic prowess” he displayed.
Dr. Ceasar’s books include Presidential Selection: Theory and Development, Liberal Democracy and Political Science, and Nature and History in American Political Development. The department’s Constitution Day activities were made possible by a generous grant from the Jack Miller Center for Teaching America’s Founding Principles and History. Constitution Day and Citizenship Day is an American federal observance recognizing the adoption of the United States Constitution and those who have become United States citizens by birth or naturalization.

Discourse in Democracy – Meet the Professors

Dr. Pestritto speaking with students after lecture

On Tuesday, September 10th, an estimated more than 150 students and faculty attended the department’s annual “Meet Your Professors” event sponsored by Discourse in Democracy. This event gives political science and public administration majors the opportunity to meet and talk with the department’s faculty.  The two dozen faculty members present each spoke briefly to the attendees. After introductions, students and faculty were able to mingle informally while over pizza. Political Science student organizations such as Pi Sigma Alpha, the national political science honor society, SWIPS (Supporting Women in Political Science), and ICMA (International City/County Management Association) were also present and distributed information about their organizations.

Senior public administration major, James Tichy observed that, “attending Meet the Professor was a great way to learn more about my professors outside of the classroom setting.” He added that, “it also allowed me to meet other professors from the department with whom I haven't yet taken classes, but whose projects and backgrounds really interested me.” Matthew Gonzales, a junior majoring in political science agreed, noting that the event showed him that “the entirety of the department wants you to find your home there.” He added that the department has so many resources to use and organizations to join I feel it's going to be hard for me to not get the support I'm looking for."

Students attended received Discourse in Democracy tee shorts, departmental caps, and assorted other swag.