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Faculty Profile: Visiting Professor Dr. Shyam Sriram

Posted by: hutchisonch | November 19, 2018 | No Comment |

Visiting professor Dr. Shyam Sriram made the transition from Santa Barbara, California to Charleston this summer in order to join the political science department for the 2018-19 academic year. Currently he is teaching Contemporary Political Issues and American Government; this spring, in addition to American Government, he will be teaching Religion in American Politics, and Immigration and International Relations as a special topics course.

While working on his dissertation in Santa Barbara, Sriram saw a posting for a visiting professorship at CofC and was excited about the opportunity to move back to the southeast – he had previously lived in Georgia for 12 years.  “I interviewed with Dr. Creed, Dr. Curtis, and Dr. France,” Sriram said, “and they were so enthusiastic about the college. That’s really what drew me in.”

Dr. Sriram has been especially excited to bring his unique perspective as a second generation Asian American to his students at CofC; a perspective, he feels may be new to many and “has already paid dividends in the classroom.”

His favorite class this semester is POLI 102, Contemporary Political Issues. He’s excited to teach this course in particular because he now has a thorough grasp on immigration since researching and defending his dissertation, The Politics of Refugee Resettlement, last spring. Dr. Sriram has enjoyed the positive reception he’s received from students in all his classes. In the future, Dr. Sriram hopes to develop a course on Asian American politics, as well as one on campaigning.

If there’s one thing Dr. Sriram recommends to college students, it’s travel. “Experiencing as much travel as possible has made me a better political scientist. Not just international travel. I have been to 48 states and I think traveling a lot has made me a better political scientist than any book I could have ever read. [For instance], I’ve been to two native American reservations in New Mexico. That experience really opened my eyes to what it means to live in America in a place that seems cut off from the rest of the world.”

Since Dr. Sriram is only a visiting professor, he has his eye on where the future will take him. He has applied for jobs across the country, in Indiana, Colorado, South Carolina, Alabama, Virginia, New York, Florida, and Michigan. Sriram feels up for any opportunity, but doesn’t want to live in a large city and be at a downtown campus. “I want to move to a place that’s physically inspiring. I am inspired by nature. That’s one thing I really love about living here. I go kayaking here every week.”

People have a certain impression of Dr. Sriram when they first meet, but despite appearing as a typical professor, Sriram considers himself anything but ordinary.  “I have 50% of my body tattooed. I’ve been getting tattoos since I was nineteen. It’s probably my number one hobby. When people see me they just think I’m some nerdy Indian guy in IT, but then I have all these tattoos. I think it’s funny because people often associate tattoos with anti-authoritarian behavior. I’m a state employee, I’m teaching political science in college, and meanwhile I have a grumpy cat tattoo on my leg.”

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