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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

Faculty Spotlight With Dr. Jo Ann Ewalt

Posted by: wichmannkm | November 2, 2016 | No Comment |
Dr. Jo Ann Ewalt

     Dr. Jo Ann Ewalt

This December Dr. Jo Ann Ewalt will retire from her successful career at College of Charleston. Professor Ewalt joined the Department of Political Science in July 2011 and served as the Director of the Master of Public Administration (MPA) program. She has taught public administration, public policy, and research methods classes at the graduate level and also in the undergraduate Political Science program. Dr. Ewalt earned her Ph.D. in public policy and administration and her MPA from the Martin School at the University of Kentucky, and her BA in English from Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Her research has focused on policy implementation, with an emphasis on education, health, and welfare policy. She has also written about public administration pedagogy. We were fortunate to talk with Dr. Ewalt about her time at College of Charleston.


How did you decide to pursue a career in public policy?

I was working for the Council of State Governments. My bachelor’s degree was in English and I was involved with marketing and writing magazine articles, but I was more interested in policy than marketing so I decided to pursue a master’s degree in public administration. I was about halfway through my MPA degree when one of my professors found a policy research paper that I had written about social welfare programs interesting and she said that I should consider getting a PhD. If she hadn’t steered me in that direction, I honestly don’t know if I would have done it. It was one of my professors who encouraged me.

What was your role as the Director of the MPA program at the College of Charleston?

I feel so grateful to have had that opportunity. The MPA program is a wonderful program where students are doing incredible things in the community as well as the classroom. As MPA director, I was responsible for the administration of the program – recruiting students and facilitating the enrollment process, but also involving the MPA program in community research projects, helping students get internships that will enhance their marketability once they graduate, and facilitating networking opportunities. When you are looking for jobs, the more professionals you can meet, the better your chances are in terms of getting the kind of job you are looking for. As a program we did a number of applied research projects that we are very proud of. For example, we worked with the South Carolina Homeless Coalition and the Lowcountry Homeless Coalition to identify not just the number of homeless individuals but also the conditions of the people that are homeless. We examined the factors that might be increasing the likelihood of homelessness and identified policy areas that might address these issues.

What courses have you taught?

For political science, I taught the research methods course. Students come in a bit nervous when it comes to research and statistics, and I really enjoy seeing the growth of students in that class. In the MPA program, I taught a variety of classes, the foundational course that introduces students to the subfields of public administration, along with research methods, public policy, program evaluation, and capstone courses. The capstone is fun because students are at the end of their academic career and you see the integration of all the courses, what they learned in their internships, and many students do useful projects that help organizations. One of the themes of the MPA program is bridging theory and practice, so students get to see why theory and research are so important to organizations.

What has been your research focus?

Most of my research has been in the area of examining social welfare programs. I look at programs and policies such as Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) and food stamps. One running theme through much of my research has been trying to explain why some states are more likely to enact certain policies than other states. Since moving to Charleston, I’ve done a number of projects around homeless policy. One part of my research is looking at a policy called Housing First.  The idea behind Housing First is that if you can get someone a place to live, other health and behavioral problems can be more productively addressed. After I retire I have several research projects around that whole idea. I look forward to continuing that.

Why did you become particularly interested in homelessness in Charleston?

I had moved from Kentucky, and there are homeless people in Lexington, but they are certainly not as visible as they are in Charleston and the problem is larger in Charleston. Some of that has to do with something as simple as good weather, so it is less arduous to live on the streets but some of it has to do with policy. There is often a lack of capacity to help people and policy decisions that create temporary solutions like shelters as opposed to more permanent solutions.

What are your favorite College of Charleston memories?

I think there are three things. I’ll start with my colleagues. The political science department and MPA faculty are so student-centered and I just love that. They are amazing teachers, wonderful scholars and they really do embrace the teacher-scholar model which says scholarship is very important but really the emphasis of using scholarship to aid students is something I embrace. The MPA students here are so inspiring. They come in with a passion about making a difference. That’s really the primary theme of MPA students. Whether they want to work for local governments, nonprofits, environmental agencies, or arts organizations, they have identified what’s most important to them is making the world a better place. And how can you not be inspired by that? The third thing is the willingness of the community around us to use faculty from the college in important ways. Many of my colleagues work with nonprofits, local government, and agencies to try and help solve problems. Governments and nonprofit organizations are often working on intractable problems. From the beginning, you wonder how they can possibly solve them, and so it’s so rewarding to work with professionals and be involved in addressing really hard social problems.

What do you see for the future for our students?

For both political science and MPA students, the need for them to be engaged in their communities has never been greater. Whether it is involvement in the political system, working for governments or nonprofits, they are getting excellent training here. They are learning to think critically about hard problems. My hope is that our students see that they are the solutions to our problems and they’re so well-positioned. I hope they do whatever they can to make the world a better place.

What are your plans for retirement?

I have two grandchildren, so I plan to spend time with them. I have still some research projects I’ll be doing. My husband has been retired for a while so we plan to do some traveling. We also are avid hikers and bikers so I look forward to being out the great South Carolina countryside.


under: Faculty

Alumni Spotlight with Brady Quirk-Garvan

Posted by: wichmannkm | October 27, 2016 | No Comment |
Brady Quirk-Garvan (C'08)

Brady Quirk-Garvan (C’08)

Brady Quirk-Garvan graduated from the College of Charleston as a political science major in 2008. He is currently a Business Development Associate at Natural Investments: Money With A Mission and Chairman of the Charleston Democratic Party. Our department had the fortunate opportunity to learn more about Brady’s successful career.

What is your role as the Business Development Associate at Natural Investments: Money With A Mission?
My role is to talk with people about how they can align their personal values with their financial life. For example, some of my clients want to invest in alternative energy companies, others want to focus on how many women are on the board of a company, while others might be concerned with whether the company provides benefits to same sex partners. We help people who want to promote progressive values not just in their day-to-day choices in where they shop but also in their retirement and investment accounts.

How did you get involved with this type of work?
I worked on political campaigns and nonprofits for a number of years and realized a good portion of time was spent chasing after money. I decided to move to where the money is and help try to redirect it in a better way. Also, I have family members who have been doing this for a number of years, and was able to shadow them.  I soon realized this is truly what I wanted to be doing. It’s been six years and I love it. I get to spend all day talking with people about what they care about but also investing money to create change in this world.

What previous nonprofits and political campaigns did you work with?
I spent two years working for the Palmetto Project which is a statewide nonprofit. I was a project manager, and partnered with the College to help students become poll managers. As we moved to a more digital world, I was able to provide a youthful perspective to this organization.

In college, I worked on smaller political campaigns but right after graduation I had the privilege to spend six months working for Barack Obama in Ohio. I worked in a couple of counties in the southern part of the state. I could not have been more grateful of that opportunity to help elect the first African American president and to work in a critical swing state like Ohio. It was the experience of a lifetime. Following the 2008 election, I worked on State House, county-wide, and city council races. I became a paid consultant, helping people get elected on the local level.

How did you become Chairman of the Charleston Democratic Party and what types of responsibilities and challenges do you face?
From the time I started college in 2004, there has been a trend where Charleston County is becoming more Democratic. You see progressive agenda items like Charleston going smoke free and new opportunities for Democrats to become elected. I’ve known all of the chairs of the party and when I heard that the former chair was not running for reelection, some people reached out to me and asked if I would consider running. After talking with my wife, I agreed to it and ran. Last year, I ran for reelection and was unopposed for the two year term. I am in the first year of my second term as Chairman and I love it.

A lot of my time is spent working with candidates before they decide to run, laying out the realities of what it is like to run for office. We want qualified candidates, but we also want them to be prepared for the realities of running for office.  They need to know how much time they will spend on the phone raising money, knocking on doors, and whether they will be comfortable talking to people they have never met before. When they do want to move forward, my job is to be as supportive as possible in helping them get elected.

Being a Democrat in South Carolina is not necessarily the easiest role in the world. It is certainly easier in Charleston than other parts of the state. Our biggest challenge is raising money. In South Carolina, we get no money from the National Democratic Party. We have been able to use some unique strategies to stretch our relatively small budget, but coping with limited resources has certainly been a challenge. My job is to make sure that the local party has the resources needed to be effective on Election Day.

It sounds like you have to be very creative with your resources.
Yes. It requires us to be creative in how we fundraise and spend money. When I talk to counterparts in more liberal states, where they are getting support from the national and state parties, they have much larger budgets and can engage in much more expansive operations. We don’t have that ability. Instead, we rely on leveraging volunteers and spending our money in very targeted ways. We reach out to very specific voters, and utilize volunteers to supplement our efforts.

You attended the Democratic National Convention. What was that experience like?
It was incredible. I had the privilege to go to Charlotte in 2012 to support Barack Obama and recently to Philadelphia where we nominated Hillary Clinton.  It’s great to meet people across the country who are willing to take time out of their schedule and spend their own money to be involved in the democratic process. I’d encourage a lot more people to do this. It’s really unique and invigorating for those who care about American democracy.

What has it been like to be interviewed by local media?
When we talk about having limited resources, one of the things we can do as Democrats is use the media that is out there to try and get our message out to people. I spend a lot of time talking with reporters and making sure that both sides are represented. One of the things we find in a Republican-dominated state, like South Carolina, is that sometimes the media just goes to Republicans for quotes and information.  As a result, I want to show that Democrats are alive and well in Charleston County and that our point of view is out there.

Are you contacted by the media or do you have to reach out to them?
It’s a combination of both. Around the presidential primaries, the media was reaching out to me. For local issues, it usually requires me reaching out to the media. For example, we had filed ethics charges against two Republicans. The Ethics Commissions found them guilty, and they were fined. In that instance, no one was really covering it, so we had to go to the media. It’s making sure that the media is in tune with what is going on at the local level.

How has your political science degree helped prepare you for your current roles?
My time at College of Charleston was invaluable. I had professors and advisors who encouraged me to not only spend time in the academic setting, but also to explore Charleston, work on campaigns and get real-world experience. I will for always be grateful to them for encouraging me to do that.

The College provides a unique opportunity for people who not only want a strong academic core, but who also want to see what it is like to be engaged in a thriving city. Charleston is such a dynamic place, and the College of Charleston is so integrated into the city that you can’t help but see how the city and College interact and how government affects your life. I think that is one of the great things about the Political Science department – there is this strong academic core and you also have the availability of the rest of the city to see how those academic principles play out in the real world.

under: Alumni
From left to right – Marijana Radic Boone (‘01), James Carroll (’12), Leah Cockerham (’14), and Dr. Phil Jos

From left to right – Marijana Radic Boone (‘01), James Carroll (’12), Leah Cockerham (’14), and Dr. Phil Jos

The Department of Political Science hosted the second luncheon in their Career Café Series on October 14. The event focused on nonprofit sector career opportunities, and featured alumni participants Marijana Radic Boone (’01), Director of Advancement Services at College of Charleston; James Carroll (’12), Managing Director at The Islands Society; and Leah Cockerham (’14), Former Program Manager and Executive Assistant at Engaging Creative Minds. In addition, College of Charleston Master of Public Administration Director, Dr. Phil Jos, shared valuable information about employment trends and various tips on how to become involved in the nonprofit sector.

The panelists spoke about why they were interested in working in the nonprofit sector, their career paths, and how majoring in political science helped prepare them for their roles. Even though each panelist’s career path was unique, all of the speakers expressed a desire to make a difference and to work in an area that where they have a true passion. They emphasized the importance of writing and technology skills along with the ability to fundraise, oversee budgets, and be creative. Compared to for-profit institutions, small nonprofits typically give their employees the ability to take on responsibilities at earlier points in their careers and to obtain new skills at a quicker pace.

According to Political Science Department Chair, Gibbs Knotts, “we have many distinguished alumni in the nonprofit sector and very much appreciate Marijana, James, and Leah taking the time to visit with our students.”

Given the success of the first two Career Café Series events, the department plans to offer two additional spring luncheons, focusing on careers in the public and private sectors.

under: Alumni, Events, Student

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