Spring 2017

Once again, the American political drama has brought more students to our door: after our majors spiked from 782 in the Spring to 824 in September, we experienced another spike for January, 2017: 870 in all. Fortunately, we now have a slightly bigger boat. Two new faculty will be arriving in September: Lauren Honig will teach courses on African and comparative politics, and Michael Hartney will teach American politics, with an emphasis on public education and federal regulation.

China is a theme occupying the attention of the new administration: but it has occupied our own as well. Chris Kelly, who teaches political philosophy, embarked on a lecture tour in China last May. In October, Ming Chong, a visiting scholar at Harvard, returned the favor with a talk on “Political Philosophy and the Chinese University.” Bob Ross, whose specialty is Chinese foreign policy, reports that we have placed a Ph. D. student in one of China’s top-three universities (Tsinhua University), bringing the number of our graduates in that program to three. Ross’s Strategic Adjustment and the Rise of China: Power and Politics in East Asia, co-edited with Øystein Tunsjø, will be published by Cornell in 2017.

Faculty members have been busy, naturally, commenting on, and writing about, various political conflicts and controversies:

  • Peter Krause’s book, Rebel Power: Why National Movements Compete, Fight, and Win, will be published in April, and will provide valuable insights on terrorism.
  • Lindsey O’Rourke wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post about Russian hacking; David Hopkins, Dennis Hale, Kay Scholzman, Jonathan Lauarence, and Marc Landy commented on the presidential election for various publications, including French television, South Korean radio, The Washington Post, The Boston Herald, MSNBC, WGBH, and The BC Chronicle, among many others.
  • Jonathan Laurence wrote for the Frankfurter Allegmeine Zeitung on Islam’s complicated history in Europe.

We also have a major award to our credit: Prof. Kay Scholzman received the 2016 Samuel J. Eldersveld Career Achievement Lifetime Award, recognizing “a scholar whose lifetime professional work has made an outstanding contribution to the field.” Congratulations to Kay.

We continue to find new ways to involve our students in the department’s intellectual life outside the classroom, most recently with the John Marshall Program. This program rewards and encourages our best undergraduates with a series of lectures and book discussions. Recent lectures include the talk by Prof. Chong, mentioned above; and talks by Alberto Ghibellini on Leo Strauss and Carl Schmitt, and by Wilfrid McClay on “Sin, Guilt, and the Future of Progress.” The Spring lecture series can be found on the department’s website.

We have also found interesting new ways to teach our students how to do political science research and writing. Peter Krause enrolled twenty-five student Research Assistants for his project on “National Movements and Political Violence,” allowing students to learn and conduct research for books and articles addressing everything from the causes of terrorism to the effects of nationalism in the Middle East. Meanwhile, the Department continued a new extracurricular program on Post Graduate Pathways in Politics and Policy, under the direction of Tim Crawford, and funded by a university Teaching, Advising, and Mentoring (TAM) grant. The program included Professional Skills Workshops, Post Graduate Pathways Seminars, and an initiative to promote student publications and conference participation. In Spring 2016, the program sponsored a general lecture and a dinner workshop with Adam Garfinkle, the editor of the policy journal The American Interest, and the author of the book Political Writing. In Fall 2016, we hosted Justin Vaisse, the Director of Policy Planning in the French Foreign Ministry, who gave a general lecture on US-European Relations under President Trump, and a separate presentation on doing research abroad.

Not all of our attention has been on the electoral drama and international crises. The department sponsored a conference in the Spring on one of our oldest legal institutions, the American jury, prompted by the publication of Dennis Hale’s study, The American Jury: Triumph and Decline. The conference featured political scientists, law professors, and U. S. District Judge William Young, looking at the jury’s history, its current role in the American legal order, and its probable future.

Finally, Kay Scholzman speaks, no doubt, for the department when she reports that in her undergraduate seminar, there were many long faces on the day after the presidential election, yet she saw no reason for either cancelled classes or grief counselors. Instead, “we acted like political scientists” and tried to “figure out what happened and why.” And so should we all.