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The College of Charleston Model United Nations Club recently participated in the Southern Regional Model United Nations (SRMUN) Conference in Charlotte, North Carolina. The sixteen member team secured two awards – “Outstanding Position Paper Representing China” and “Honorable Delegation Representing China.”

The awards are particularly impressive since this is the club’s second year as a campus organization. Senior Morgan Godfrey started the club as an extension of the Model United Nations course taught in the fall and as an opportunity for students who could not fit the class into their schedules. The club’s membership grew by 50 percent this year. Dr. Max Kovalov serves as the club’s advisor.

To prepare for the competition, the club met once a week for an hour to draft position papers and engage in debate practice. The SRMUN competition kicked off with opening ceremonies and a key note lecture and then progressed to the various committee sessions. According to Club president Sean Killion, “all members did a phenomenal job of engaging in the tasks at hand even if they had no prior experience with the organization.” He also noted that “club participation enhances public speaking, negotiation, and writing skills.”

Students interested in learning more about the Model UN Club can learn more at the fall annual club fair on campus. The Model UN Club meets on Tuesdays at 6:00 pm in Maybank 300.

under: Events, Scholarships and Awards, Student

Senior Reflects on Model African Union Experience

Posted by: wichmannkm | April 7, 2017 | No Comment |

This past February, Dr. Chris Day’s Model African Union class participated in the 2017 National Model African Union Conference at Howard University in Washington, DC. Senior political science major Jacob Docalavich reflected on his experience.

Model African Union, as well as Model UN (United Nations), Model ASEAN (Association of South East Asian Nations), and other similar models have been among the most useful classes I’ve taken since coming to College of Charleston, as well as one of the most enjoyable. The skills I learned through navigating the often-chaotic world of African politics are skills that I can use throughout my entire lifetime. Conflict management, negotiation, debate, compromise, etc. are all packed into each model. As a student studying international politics, it’s clear that I am in the best position to benefit from a class like Model AU, but anybody wishing to enter the professional world would appreciate the class and what it has to offer.

On top of all you can learn from the regular class meetings, there’s also plenty to do when the class travels as a group to the nation’s capital.  My class traveled to Washington DC to do our model, and when we weren’t working, we were out exploring the city’s landmarks, food, and culture. Our delegation, representing the nation of Sudan, was even invited to visit the Sudanese embassy, talked directly with diplomats. Meeting with the diplomats of the country I was representing, knowing that I was in a way working with them to help further awareness for issues they currently face, was honestly one of the most humbling experiences I’ve had during my college career.

I would happily recommend to anyone at CofC that they should sign up for a Model African Union, or other similar courses. The friends and connections I made while participating will not only help to further my professional career, but improve my life in general. I will remember the time I spent in Washington with high regard, even long after I graduate from college. Ask your academic advisor to see if you are eligible to enroll, as sometimes there’s a waiting list to get into a Model course. While you may have to make time to travel in order to attend, the investment is well worth it in the end.



under: Faculty, Student

The 7th annual William V. Moore Student Research Conference took place on Friday, March 31, in the College of Charleston’s Stern Student Center. The conference is an opportunity for advanced high school, undergraduate, and graduate students to present research on a variety of topics including international relations, comparative politics, American politics, and public policy. Approximately 50 students from various majors presented in 11 panels. The conference co-directors were Chris Day and Mark Long, and the research panels were moderated by college of Charleston faculty Claire Curtis, Ali Demirdas, Lynne Ford, Phil Jos, Gibbs Knotts, Max Kovalov, Guoli Liu, Matt Nowlin, Robert Westerfelhaus, and Claire Wofford.

Each year the conference closes with a luncheon, keynote speech, and awards ceremony. Keynote speaker Kayla Gilchrist, Lead Organizer of the Central Midlands Justice Ministry, helped students understand her role as community organizer and inspired them to get involved with the local community.

Awards were presented to the following students for best presentations and papers.

Best Presentation Award
1st Place – Lauren Johnson and Deon McCray
2nd Place – David Ahnen
3rd Place – Janelle Green

Best High School Paper Award
Grace Ford-Dirks

Best Undergraduate Paper Awards
1st Place – Meredith Jackson
2nd Place – Victoria Butler
3rd Place – Taryn DiPalma

The conference is held in honor of longtime College of Charleston professor, William V. Moore, and reflects Professor Moore’s passionate commitment to undergraduate education and improving political discourse and educational and economic opportunities for all South Carolinians.

In 2009, Bill’s family began the William V. Moore Endowed Scholarship Fund that provides a renewable scholarship to a student who demonstrates a commitment to improve the quality of life for all South Carolinians. Other contributions from colleagues, family, and many friends and supporters have also established the William V. Moore Memorial Fund in Political Science which supports the student research conference and other initiatives.  To make a donation to either the Memorial Fund or the Scholarship Fund, please visit our web site (http://polisci.cofc.edu/giving/index.php) or contact the Department of Political Science Office (843-953-5724).

under: Events, Faculty, Scholarships and Awards, Student

From left to right – Carmen Scott (’96), Kenny Gardner (’08), Les Blankenship (’05), and Michael Bender (’00)

The Department of Political Science and the College’s Pre-Law Advising Program hosted the third luncheon in their Career Café Series on March 24. The event focused on legal sector career opportunities, and featured political science alumni participants Michael Bender (’00), Corporate Counsel at The InterTech Group, Inc.; Ronald “Les” Blankenship (’05), Deputy County Supervisor and Special Counsel at the Berkeley County Legal Department; Kenyatta “Kenny” Gardner (’08), Associate at Nexsen Pruet; and Carmen Sessions Scott (’96), Attorney at Law at Motley Rice.

The panelists represented a variety of specialties within law and provided excellent insights into their fields and career paths. They emphasized the importance of taking undergraduate classes that focus on critical thinking, writing, and reading skills to prepare for law school and an eventual career. They also recommended that students gain valuable experience by seeking internships with the state and federal courts along with victim advocacy groups. In addition, law school applicants can make their applications more competitive by taking courses in other disciplines such as science, business, and engineering.

As the field of law changes and less cases actually go to trial, the alumni noted that future lawyers will need to be creative and seek alternative ways to solve problems. They also mentioned that it is essential to be able to process large volumes of information and communicate findings effectively. Pursuing a law career is demanding and students were encouraged to make sure that they are passionate about the field before embarking on this profession.  The panelists also reminded students to take time for family, friends, and hobbies.

“We were so thankful that four of our outstanding alumni were willing to take the time to share their journeys with our students,” said political science department chair, Dr. Gibbs Knotts.

The Career Café Luncheon Series is an opportunity for students to learn from alumni about the various types of careers political science majors pursue. Based on its success, the department plans to focus on the private and public sectors for the next academic year.

under: Alumni, Events, Student

Faculty Spotlight With Dr. Andy Felts

Posted by: wichmannkm | March 14, 2017 | No Comment |

This May Dr. Andy Felts will retire from teaching at College of Charleston. Professor Felts joined the Department of Political Science in 1989 and served for a decade as the Director of the Joseph P. Riley, Jr. Center for Public Affairs and Policy Studies. Dr. Felts earned his Ph.D. and M.A. in Political Science from The Pennsylvania State University and his B.A. from Miami University in Political Science and History. We were fortunate to talk with Dr. Felts about his time at College of Charleston.

How did you decide to pursue a career in academia?

I knew I wanted to teach, but wasn’t sure if I wanted to teach in high school or college. I decided to pursue college because I had the impression that students who would register for my class would want to be there.

What courses have you taught at the college?

One of the first courses I taught was Introduction to American Politics. I really enjoyed teaching this course because it was the first exposure students had to American government. For the public administration program, I taught a course that focused on public budgeting. More recently I have taught courses on political thought and a special topics class that discusses the influence of technology in politics. In the technology course, students are suddenly becoming aware of the fact that social media can make a difference in how you can see the world. I try to help them think of things objectively and understand how much their worldview is influenced by what they read on the Internet.

What has been your research focus?

My current focus is on social acceleration, the idea that communication is accelerating at a pace much faster than people are. I’m particularly concerned with where students are getting information and how quick that information is getting to them.

What are your favorite CofC memories?

There are many because I have been here a long time. My favorites are when students who come back years after graduation and say that I have made a difference in their lives.

What do you see for the future of our students?

Our students are going to have to be agile and anticipate changes in their profession.

What are your plans for retirement?

I plan to travel. I would especially like to see the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) and also to travel to Iceland. I will continue to be a lifelong learner.

under: Faculty

The 7th annual William V. Moore Student Research Conference will take place on Friday, March 31 in the Stern Center. Student presentations are scheduled at 9:00-10:15 am, 10:30-11:45 am, and 12:00-1:15 pm. A list of panels can be found below. All are welcome to attend the presentations.

9:00-10:15 SESSION

Panel 1: (SSC 409) Donald J. Trump & the 2016 Presidential Election

Panel 2: (SSC 201) New Research in Policy Issues

Panel 3: (SSC 205) Fear & Hope in 2017 (Political Science Capstone Research)

Panel 4: (SSC 206) Politics Through Media & Fiction

10:30-11:45 SESSION

Panel 5: (SSC 409) Executive Power at Home & Abroad

Panel 6: (SSC 201) Dynamics of Conflict & Post-Conflict

Panel 7: (SSC 205) Understanding War I (FYE Panel)

Panel 8: (SSC 206) Democracy & Democratization

12:00-1:15 SESSION

Panel 9: (SSC 409) The Politics of Marginalized Communities

Panel 10: (SSC 201) Politics & Policy in Charleston (MPA Panel)

Panel 11: (SSC 205) The Micropolitics of the Local

Panel 12: (SSC 206) Understanding War II (FYE Panel)


under: Events, Scholarships and Awards, Student

Moore Student Research Conference Accepting Applications

Posted by: wichmannkm | January 20, 2017 | No Comment |

The 2017 William Moore Student Research Conference will take place on Friday, March 31. Students interested in participating can apply at http://goo.gl/forms/qbkNf0hNgC. Applications are due Friday, February 17. The conference is an opportunity for advanced high school and undergraduate students to present research on a variety of topics, including Southern and South Carolina politics, civil rights, political extremism, educational opportunity and economic development, political communication, human geographies and world politics. It is held in honor of William V. Moore, Ph.D., and reflects Professor Moore’s passionate commitment to undergraduate education and improving political discourse and educational and economic opportunities for all South Carolinians. Questions about this conference can be directed to Dr. Mark Long (LongM@cofc.edu) or Dr. Chris Day (DayC@cofc.edu).  Additional information about the conference can be found at http://polisci.cofc.edu/student-ops/student-research-conf.php.

under: Faculty, Scholarships and Awards, Student

grad-schoolOver the past six years, approximately 20 percent of senior political science majors indicated in their graduation surveys that they planned to pursue a graduate degree. To help students prepare for graduate school, the political science department offers an annual graduate school advising session. At this event, professors provide an overview of master’s and Ph.D. programs and discuss the application process for students interested in continuing their education.

Since master’s degrees can be expensive, professors urged students to look at their ideal job’s resume to determine if further education is needed. For example, a master’s degree is an entry-level qualification for NGOs in Washington, D.C. but not necessary for many other careers. They also emphasized the importance of viewing the degree as an opportunity to build a solid skillset and not just a credentialing exercise.

When it comes to pursuing a Ph.D., all professors agreed that students should be passionate about their subject matter and not see themselves doing anything else but that type of work. Ph.D. programs can be pursued after completing bachelor’s or master’s degrees and have academic and non-academic career options. Professors cautioned that the job market for academic careers is declining because professors are delaying retirement, the continued negative effects of the 2008 financial crisis, increasing reliance on part-time faculty at some institutions, and limited institutional funding.

Ph.D. programs take four or more years to complete and some programs award students master’s degrees while enrolled in a Ph.D. program. Drawing from their own experiences, professors noted that there is a high dropout rate for Ph.D. programs, and students typically feel overwhelmed especially the first year. They recommended that those pursuing these types of programs treat themselves with kindness and compassion. All professors agreed they were glad they persevered for the end result.

Whether political science students decide to pursue a master’s degree or Ph.D., the professors recommended thoroughly researching programs and visiting campuses to speak with current students and faculty. They also stressed the importance of understanding the program’s average completion and success rates along with the job placements of alumni. Students should also be knowledgeable on what types of funding and assistantships are available.  Ph.D. programs often provide tuition waivers as well as research and teaching assistantships.

“To be clear, none of this is to discourage students from seeking a graduate degree, which is a highly rewarding experience,” noted Assistant Professor of Political Science and event organizer Dr. Chris Day. “We encourage students to understand the terrain and go in with their eyes open. Graduate school is not a place to warehouse yourself while you figure out your life. It should be part of a plan.”

under: Events, Faculty, Student

Senior Kat Calabro pictured above during a study abroad trip to Morocco.

By the time senior Katherine (Kat) Calabro graduates in May 2017, she will have interned for four semesters in counterintelligence at Defense Security Service (DSS) in North Charleston. As part of the U.S. Department of Defense, DSS oversees the protection of U.S. and foreign classified information and technologies in the hands of cleared industry under the National Industrial Security Program by providing professional risk management services. The internship has given Kat the chance to gain hands-on experience in this field.

Although she is not able to go into great detail about her work, Kat did share that she is responsible for the research and analysis of raw intelligence data, counterintelligence reports, and drafting reports for her supervisor. The internship has enhanced her analytical, research, and writing skills along with expanding her domestic and global awareness. Kat has also gained proficiency in utilizing specific technical research tools and analytical software.

Kat’s political science coursework provided a solid foundation for her internship success. She noted that while every class has been beneficial, she particularly found Dr. Desjean’s Intelligence Community and International Terrorism and Counterterrorism courses to be extremely relevant. Kat’s previous work at a local law firm also helped her know what to expect of a professional and collaborative environment.

Along with integrating coursework and building professional skills, Kat’s internship helped solidify her interest in the Department of Defense and narrow her career focus. She always knew that she wanted to work in an intelligence field, but recently realized she wants to be an analyst.

Managing an internship, being a full-time student, and serving as President of the Political Science Club requires excellent time management skills. Kat recommends getting a lot of sleep and planning ahead. She has scheduled her classes in the morning, internship in the afternoon, and has learned to delegate tasks to other club officers.

Kat advises her peers seeking internships to consider three suggestion: –1) apply for an internship even if you don’t think you are qualified since you never know what applying can lead to; 2) get involved in campus life so you can meet new people and network; 3) don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone.

under: intern, Student
Trevor Potter

Trevor Potter

The Political Science Department hosted Trevor Potter as their annual Convocation of Majors speaker on Tuesday, November 1. Potter is the former chairman of the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and is one of the top campaign finance lawyers in the country. Notably, he has appeared numerous times on The Colbert Report, helping Stephen Colbert set up a Super PAC. His talk focused on campaign finance and the role of money in American politics.

Potter noted that even in our extremely polarized political environment, most Americans, and even the 2016 presidential candidates, agree that the campaign finance system needs fundamental change. Americans believe that the current system is corrupt, and that our government is now being run by a few big interest groups and is disproportionately influenced by the wealthy. Only 1/4 of 1% of all Americans give the minimum of $250 to candidates, the amount required to appear in an FEC database. He argued that this issue is critical to address because a democracy depends on citizens having equal opportunity to influence election outcomes.

He also pointed out that only 29% of Americans in the 1960s thought that there was a problem with money in politics, noting that the current problems are relatively new in American political history. In addition, he talked about the trend where presidential candidates are no longer opting to participate in the public funding system where they receive federal funds to pay for campaign expenses. They are now participating in personal fundraising, primarily through super PACs. Mr. Potter also talked about how much time members of Congress spend fundraising.  He said that members of the U.S. House spend an average of four hours per day on the phone soliciting money for their campaigns. Not only are politicians spending less time during the day governing, there are also no legal measures to track some donations and spending.

When asked what his potential solutions were for solving America’s money in politics dilemma, Potter suggested implementing stipulations that do not allow Congress to fundraise during office hours. Additionally, there should be laws that make it mandatory for politicians to track “dark money” donations to 501(c)(4) organizations. Potter is also a proponent of having politicians participate in the public funding system as opposed to personal fundraising. He cited the innovative “democracy voucher” program in Seattle, where the government will send each registered voter four $25 vouchers that they can give to local candidates of their choice.

According to Political Science Professor, and Convocation organizer, Jordan Ragusa, “It is important to expose students to leading public figures and allow them to ask questions in a public forum.  I was extremely happy with how many students attended and asked thoughtful questions of Mr. Potter.”

under: Events, Faculty, Student

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