January 17, 2020 Newsletter

Opportunities and Announcements

     for the Week of January 17, 2020

At this time of year, students are applying for internships and fellowships, and for employment; some students will be considering transferring to other institutions; and some POSC majors will be applying for Wellman Hill internship grants.  In these instances, letters of recommendation are generally required. Here are some suggestions for students seeking letters of recommendation from faculty in the Department of Political Science.

  • Students should think about the purpose of the specific letter they are requesting and who, among the faculty, might be the most appropriate person to write that specific letter.  Generally, the best person will be one’s academic advisor or a faculty member with whom the student has had one or more courses and where the student has been successful in the course.  Many recommendation forms require referees (the persons writing the letter) to explain how, and how well, they know the student.
  • Requests that a faculty member write a letter of recommendation should be made in person, face-to-face, rather than as an email message.  A discussion about a letter of recommendation can be very helpful to the faculty member who agrees to write the letter.  It helps a faculty member to understand how to craft the letter and how best to leverage the student’s strengths for a positive (and ultimately helpful) letter.
  • Faculty members are free to decline requests to write letters of recommendation.  We do not decline on the basis of disinterest, but primarily on the basis that, as individuals, we may not be the most appropriate person to write the letter.  A tepid or under-informed letter of recommendation is not helpful.  A face-to-face discussion with a faculty member will help to clarify who might be a better alternative referee for a student seeking a letter of recommendation.
  • Faculty members are busy persons.  Beyond our regular teaching responsibilities, we have papers and exams to grade, other letters of recommendation to write, manuscripts to review for journals and presses, meetings to attend, reports to write, articles to submit or to revise for resubmission to scholarly journals – all of these tasks (and more) are routine, perpetual, and have serious deadlines.  So:  students should anticipate well in advance the need for a letter of recommendation and the deadline for such letters.  Provide our faculty with at least two weeks’ notice of the need for a letter.  This is not only a professional courtesy; it increases the likelihood that the faculty member will be able to write a letter of recommendation and will be willing to do so.
  • As a condition of writing a letter of recommendation, some faculty ask for substantial information about each application for which a student is requesting a letter.  This information may include 1) the student’s application (or personal) statement, 2) the requirements of the position or school, 3) a copy of the student’s résumé, and 4) the student’s unofficial transcript.  This kind of information supports faculty members in writing the strongest possible letter of recommendation.  The strongest letters are those that “sing in harmony” with the student’s application (for a job, for admission to graduate or law school, for an internship).  General “all-purpose” letters of recommendation are, generally, not helpful, and certainly not as powerful as the kind of carefully crafted, targeted letters that our faculty can write when we have full information well in advance of a deadline.   Providing such information to a faculty member from whom a student is requesting a letter of recommendation is also, again, a professional courtesy.

Two final points.  
Let the referee know the outcome.  Students should be sure to let those who have written letters of recommendation for them what the outcome of the letters were.  If a student had won the scholarship, or was turned down by a law school, or was accepted by the Peace Corps, the student should share the information with the referee.

Thank the referee.  Students should always thank the faculty members who have supported them by writing letters of recommendation for them.  A simple written note of thanks, or a face-to-face conversation will suffice. Although students may wish to express their gratitude to a faculty member by a token gift, it is my personal preference that students not do so (although I understand the impetus of generosity that a student might feel).

Our students have a good record of success in winning fellowships, gaining employment, securing prestigious and meaningful internships, and in admission to highly ranked law schools and graduate schools.  The excellent, professional, supportive letters our faculty write contribute to our students’ successes, and we are happy to make this contribution.


Karen Beckwith
Flora Stone Mather Professor and Chair
Department of Political Science

General Announcements


Upcoming Events

Friday Lunch: President Trump and the Constitution
January 17, 12:30-1:30pm, KSL Dampeer Room
Join Professors Jonathan Entin and Joseph White for a wide-ranging discussion on how President Trump fits with the Constitution.

Martin Luther King Jr. Convocation with Khalil Gibran Muhammad
January 17, 12:45pm, TVUC Ballroom
The 2020 Martin Luther King Jr. Convocation speaker, Khalil Gibran Muhammad, is a Harvard Kennedy School Professor of History, Race, and Public Policy. He explains how “bias education”—race education—can help individuals and institutions reconcile the past within the present, and move towards greater equity, together. Read more about the speaker here. This event is free and open to the public; registration is requested.

Apple, Antitrust, and Irony: What Americans Really Think About Competition
January 22, 12-1:30pm, City Club of Cleveland
In 2019, the federal government began looking into tech giants and whether they are violating antitrust laws. The four, Apple, Amazon, Google, and Facebook, are under scrutiny to determine if their practices stifle competition. How has antitrust policy evolved over time as new technology and technology companies are introduced? Tickets are $38. Livestream and broadcast on 90.3 WCPN are available.

Trade, Politics, and the Global Economic Outlook in 2020
January 22, 5:30-7:15pm, The Union Club
Global growth slowed considerably over the last three quarters of 2018 and into 2019, and rising trade and global tensions have increased uncertainty in both the global trading system and in international cooperation in general. In an overall economic outlook published in November of 2019, it was projected that world economic growth would be at a decade low in 2020. How will governments react to global economic challenges in the new year? Student tickets are $5.

Rethinking Diabetes: Considerations of Hunger, Trauma, Precarity, and Insulin
January 23, 4:30-6pm, TVUC Senior Classroom
Dr. Emily Mendenhall from Georgetown University will discuss her work on the intersection of social trauma, poverty, and chronic disease globally.

Ohio’s Transportation Future
January 24, 12-1:30pm, City Club of Cleveland
Join us as Dr. Marchbanks, Director of the Ohio Department of Transportation, addresses the challenges and opportunities facing the future of mobility in Ohio and the impact the gas tax and increases in public transportation will have on Ohio’s transportation future.

Friday Lunch: Public Health Approaches to Gun Violence
January 24, 12:30-1:30pm, KSL Dampeer Room
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation has called gun violence, “a public health epidemic.” Why does it make sense to frame this as a public health issue, rather than law enforcement? Join Dr. Jane Timmons Mitchell for a discussion that considers both research and policy.


Summer Opportunities

FIRE Summer Internship Program
FIRE offers a ten-week, paid summer internship to current undergraduates the opportunity to assist FIRE in defending civil liberties on campuses across the country. The early decision deadline is January 20, 2020. 

Cleveland Foundation Summer Internship
Connects undergraduate students with meaningful, career-related experiences in the nonprofit and public sectors. Interns are placed at nonprofit and governmental agencies across Greater Cleveland for an 11-week paid summer internship. Summer 2020 applications are due January 21, 2020.

Public Policy Fellowship Program
The Office of the Cuyahoga County Executive offers summer opportunities for students to gain a broad overview of county government though practical experience in a variety of policy areas. 2020 applications are due January 31, 2020.

National Museum of American History: Special Events Internship
This internship offers opportunity for students interested in event planning and coordinating to delve into the museum environment and gain hands-on skills from a highly esteemed workplace.

Center for American Progress Action Internship
American Progress offers paid full- and part-time internships each summer to undergraduate, master’s, JD and PhD students. Interns will directly engage with the organization’s policy experts and participate in a variety of activities. Summer 2020 Applications are due February 14, 2020.

International Economic Development Council
IEDC offers an extensive internship program for graduate and undergraduate students organized into four different categories: economic development technical, public policy, member services, and communications/marketing. Summer 2020 applications close February 15, 2020.

National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations Summer Internship
This program offers undergraduate and graduate students a ten-week professional, academic, and career opportunity internship in the nation’s capital. The application deadline is February 21, 2020.

Brookings Institution
The Brookings Internship program provides students and recent graduates with a pre-professional, meaningful, and practical work experience related to the student’s field of study or career interest. Interns may work with Brookings’s staff in research areas – Economic Studies, Foreign Policy, Global Economy and Development, Governance Studies, and Metropolitan Policy. Summer 2020 applications are due February 28, 2020.


Graduating Senior Opportunities

City Year
The role of a City Year AmeriCorps member is designed to help students build the social-emotional and academic skills to achieve their goals. The next application deadline in January 24, 2020.

Cleveland Foundation Public Service Fellowship
This paid fellowship provides recent graduates with the opportunity to develop a network within the public service sector in Cleveland. Applications are due January 27, 2020.

Teach for America
As a corps member, you’ll be challenged to think creatively and lead boldly. You’ll leverage your unique talents to dismantle inequities from the classroom and beyond. The next application deadline is January 31, 2020.


A Little Extra…

  • Professor Kathryn Lavelle joined Sound of Ideas for a panel discussion on the 2020 presidential election. Have a listen here!


Please note that the Department of Political Science alerts our students to a range of opportunities, including internships, fellowships, and jobs.  We do not endorse or sponsor these, and leave it to the judgment of our students what is most useful and appropriate to them.

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