Honors Symposia – Michael Coon

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Dr. Michael Coon, UT Professor of Economics, gave the opening symposium of the 2018-2019 academic year on September 10. Dr. Coon’s presentation focused on various US federal government immigration programs, with a particular emphasis on 287(g). The presentation detailed the many negative consequences of these programs, both insofar as they harm the immigrants themselves but also public safety and waste taxpayer money as they are generally not effective in reducing crime.

Conferences – Layaal Hage

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From April 5th through the 8th, I attended the Midwest Political Science Association Conference in Chicago, Illinois. Taking place for the 76th year, the MPSA Conference is an opportunity for political science scholars to present their research in a variety of sessions, ranging from lectures and lightning talks to roundtable discussions and panel presentations.

As a participant in the Undergraduate Poster Session on The Politics of Natural Resources and the Environment, I presented my research titled, “The Impact of Ghana’s 2011 Oil Production on the Western Region’s Oil-Bearing Communities,” which I had conducted for Dr. Kevin Fridy’s course on the Political Economy of Africa in the spring 2017 semester. During the hour-and-a-half-long poster session, I got the chance to give ninety-second presentations of my twenty-page paper, answer questions about my research, receive feedback on what to add, remove, or modify in future replications of the research, and embark on discussions that integrated both my research and those of the attendees. The attendees I interacted with and who toured the poster session were all at different stages of their political science academic or professional experience; while some were graduate school students and PhD candidates, others were session discussants and on-the-field professionals. Not only did my participation as a poster presenter put me on the spot and force me to think on my feet countless times, but, even more interestingly, it shed light on the power a subject of interest can have in tying together individuals from completely unrelated backgrounds. None of us knew each other’s names, nationalities, or experiences, yet we talked about natural resources, developing nations, African governments and citizens, and so on, endlessly!

In addition to being a conference participant, I got the opportunity to attend others’ presentations, two of which were paper sessions pertaining to Economic Development, particularly development outcomes, inequality, and ethnicity. Conducted differently than poster sessions, these paper sessions entailed three to four presenters discussing their research papers, discussants raising questions about and providing feedback on these presentations, and both presenters and discussants addressing questions from the audience. Right in front of me was a forum for productive discussions, debates, and exchanges of ideas that was more confident, mature, and advanced than any classroom lecture or group meeting I had ever attended or participated in. While presenting my research at this conference is a testament to the knowledge and experience I acquired during my four-year experience at UT, participating in discussions on various research topics and attending others’ presentations gave me a slight glimpse of all that I have yet to learn as a political science student and scholar!

Conferences – Ashley Morales-Pacheco

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The Florida Political Science Association (FPSA) conference at Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU) in Ft. Myers was an unforgettable experience. I enjoyed being around other political scientists looking to explore different questions relevant to our world today. It was fascinating to see what undergraduate and graduate students are coming up with and what research topics are seeing more interest.

Being able to present my research regarding the effects of education on perceived government threats with my partner, Anne Kerda, was very exciting, especially because we received helpful feedback to aid us in moving forward with this line of research. The faculty in the political science department at UT were especially helpful in preparing us, allowing us to excel and stand out at the conference. The amount of preparation we had compared to other presenters truly puts into perspective how much our political science department pushes us for exceptional achievement.

Prior to the FPSA conference, I had attended other conferences, but this one was by far the best one! I felt right at home with “my people” [other political scientists] and I was thrilled to share the experience with UT colleagues. In the end, I was happy to hear that the next FPSA conference will be held at our very own campus, so I definitely look forward to participating in the conference again next year!

Harvard National Model United Nations – Ioana Zanchi

 

Harvard National Model United Nations two time participant, Ioana Zanchi, shares her thoughts on participating in this Honors opportunity:

I am so honored and humbled to have been able to be part of HNMUN for the second time. I really enjoyed being able to meet and exchange different world and regional views with people who come from China, The Netherlands, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, and various parts of the US. HNMUN is truly an experience of a lifetime where you can learn, engage, and compete with like-minded students who have a passion and fire for change. It was also extremely humbling to get to be one of the few delegations to win awards! I would definitely recommend HNMUN to anybody who would like the chance to learn diplomacy while meeting an array of new people.

Honors Symposia – Dr. Stephen Blank

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Dr. Stephen Blank, a Russian foreign policy expert from the American Foreign Policy Council, spoke to UT Honors Students on February 1st. The focus of the talk was on Russian foreign policy in the modern era. The talk included discussion about how Russian foreign policy is in many ways a continuation of Cold War era policies. According to Dr. Blank, Russia wants to be respected and considered a great power, and in order for that to be the case, Russia needs to be feared. Thus, Russian foreign policy is driven by imperialism and efforts to unbalance other governments, creating room for Russian influence.

Coffee Conversation – Dr. Kevin Fridy

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On Friday, September 22nd, roughly 15 Honors students joined Dr. Kevin Fridy in the McKay Hall common room for a coffee conversation. In this more intimate setting, the students discussed, “How are power, privilege, and politics reflected in disaster vulnerability?” Over coffee, tea, and muffins, the students engaged in a conversation about the topic, which was tied directly to the recent experiences all of the participants had with Hurricane Irma.