March 6, 2020 Newsletter

 Opportunities and Announcements

 for the Week of March 6, 2020

Social Science, Democracy, and Health.
As faculty receive information about preparations for potential disruption of classes by the coronavirus, we might want to consider the role of the social sciences in helping to address the spread of diseases and in facilitating cures.  Particularly relevant here is work by Nobel Prize laureate Amartya Sen. In his book Development as Freedom, Sen shows how democratic freedoms support governments’ ability to identify and to address potential calamities such as famine.  Sen writes,[P]rotection against … epidemics … is itself an enhancement of the opportunity to live securely and well.  The prevention of devastating crises is … part and parcel of the freedom that people have reason to value…. [T]he process of preventing … crises is significantly helped by the use of instrumental freedoms, such as the opportunity of open discussion, public scrutiny, electoral politics, and uncensored media….  [T]he open and oppositional politics of a democratic country tends to force any government in office to take timely and effective steps” (188).In the United States, the Preamble to the Constitution states as its purpose the promotion of “the general welfare;” one purpose of the US government is to protect the “permanent and aggregate interests of the community (Madison, Federalist Paper #10).  Democratic government and good governance are crucial to identifying and to solving problems affecting large numbers of people.  

The social sciences and political science in particular are key to such identification and solution.  
Science alone cannot solve problems created by challenges to widespread health of the commonweal; science and the study and understanding of government can help us foresee such challenges, as well as to confront them with appropriate public policy in a context of political legitimacy.  As a recent article in The Atlantic observed, “the puzzle of how to respond to COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, is not solely a scientific one, but a social and political one requiring widespread buy-in.”  And to that end, the National Science Foundation yesterday sent out a call for nonmedical research proposals that propose “non-medical, non-clinical-care research that can be used immediately to explore how to model and understand the spread of COVID-19, to inform and educate about the science of virus transmission and prevention, and to encourage the development of processes and actions to address this global challenge.”

The social sciences focus on human society and social relationships, including those that involve political relationships of ruler and ruled, of state actors and citizens, of relations of dominance and subordination, of authority, compliance, and resistance.  Political science, as we note on our website, “… is primarily concerned with political power, governance, and the state, broadly understood….  The study of political science can strengthen [our] understanding of the meaning of citizenship, regardless of country, and can enhance [our] appreciation of democracy, both at the level of the individual citizen and of the state.”

The social sciences, including political science, are a challenging set of disciplines because they address issues of human power and the institutions that shape and structure power and, as a result, because the social sciences study the powerful.  This positions the social sciences as both necessary and challenging, and explains in part why political science and other social sciences are included in the National Science Foundation, under the Directorate of Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE).  

There are important major questions that political science, and the social sciences, are best positioned to address.  Political science asks questions, for example, about human agency in politics, about the consequences of political decisions and policies, about the best form of a national legislature, about resolving collective action challenges to global problems.  Political science answers these questions, through policy research, area studies, political theorizing, and sophisticated empirical research undertaken with clear standards of organization and evaluation.  As the MIT Department of Political Science states, “Societies in all regions of the world face unprecedented challenges. Globalization and economic uncertainty, immigration, asymmetric security threats, energy dependence and the environment, health care provision, poverty, and polarization of electorates are among the issues that test our understanding of how human communities function.”  

As the world grapples with the global challenge of the coronavirus – as well as with major issues of climate change, growing inequalities of wealth and power, human movement in migration, immigration, and refuge- and asylum-seeking, political science identifies these questions and is a discipline well positioned to provide answers. 

(And just FYI, from a US government agencyhere’s how to wash your hands!)

Election Watch Parties:  Let’s Do This Again
Many thanks to Professors Joe White and Girma Parris for organizing a Super Tuesday Primary Election Watch Party!  Approximately 30 students and faculty members attended the watch party on Tuesday, enjoying pizza and good discussion about the media and the various election results.

The success of this Primary Election Watch Party has prompted another watch party, for the primary elections in Arizona, Florida, Illinois, and Ohio.  Everyone is invited to join us in Mather House 100 on Tuesday, March 17, starting at 7:30pm. Pizza and other good things to eat will be provided. Many thanks to Professor White for organizing another watch party; special thanks to the Constitution Day Committee for moving the location of their meeting to Mather House 203!

Spring Break.  Wishing everyone a happy and healthy spring break!  Remember to vote in your party’s primary election, if you are registered to vote and returning to a state holding a primary this coming week (Idaho, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, North Dakota, Washington, among others).


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

Upcoming Events

Friday Public Affairs Discussion Lunch: The Racial Geography of Cleveland Heights
March 6, 12:30-1:30pm, KSL Dampeer Room
Recent demographic and economic trends have affected many inner-ring suburbs, for example Cleveland Heights, have manifested in challenges involving housing and education.  This discussion will explore what are the trends, causes, and consequences of the demography of Cleveland Heights? Professor Jessica A Kelly will describe Cleveland Heights’ situation and to discuss policy challenges facing the city and other inner-ring suburbs.

American Diplomacy in a Disordered World
March 11, 5:30-7:30pm, Union Club, Ballroom
With more than three decades of experience as an American diplomat, Ambassador Burns played a significant role in the most important diplomatic events of his time- including the end of the Cold War, post-Cold War relations between the United States and Russia, the changing international landscape post-9/11, and the nuclear talks with Iran. Ambassador William J. Burns, author of ‘The Back Channel: A Memoir of American Diplomacy and the Case for its Renewal’ and president of the Carnegie Endowment for Peace, will discuss what can effective American leadership look like in today’s world?

Prison Abolition and a Mule
March 18, 4:30-5:30pm, CWRU Law Moot Courtroom
Incarceration is a relatively recent development in the history of punishment, with the first modern prison constructed in Philadelphia in the early 1800s.  Because the United States now locks up more people than almost any country in the history of the world, this nation is perhaps the best laboratory to assess the success of the experiment. By virtually any measure, prisons have not worked. Abolition of prison could be the ultimate reform. The lecture will suggest what would replace prisons, how people who cause harm could be dealt with in the absence of incarceration, and why abolition would make everyone safer and our society more just.

AmeRícan: Celebrating Puerto Rican Resilience and Resistance
March 18, 1-8:00pm, Linsalata Alumni Center
The Social Justice Institute is hosting a day-long conference and conversation on the history of social movements in Puerto Rico and the diaspora, the intersection of arts and activism, the question of building community power, and the need for political advocacy and education. The event will feature keynote speaker Juan González.

Supreme Court Justice of Ohio Michael P. Donnelly: My Journey in the Field of Law
March 20, 12:45-2:00pm, Wickenden Building, Room 321
Justice Michael P. Donnelly, the 160th justice of the Supreme Court of Ohio, will address his journey to a life in law. A light lunch will be provided.  RSVPs are requested.


Current Opportunities

ThinkEnergy Fellowship
This program exposes students to a wide variety of energy topics including technology, policy, entrepreneurship, and research. ThinkEnergy connects students with faculty, industry professionals, entrepreneurs, investors, and government officials. It often gives students an opportunity to operate outside of their comfort zones, developing competencies that are dissimilar to what they learn in their courses. 2020-2021 cohort applications are due by 9am on March 9, 2020.

All Politics is Local (APiL) Conference and Call for Papers
The 17th annual APiL Conference for undergraduate students interested in Political Science and International Relations is Saturday, April 18, 2020 at Walsh University in North Canton, Ohio. Students may present papers or posters in any areas of the conference’s discipline. Registration for those presenting papers is due by April 1 and papers are due by April 10.  For more information on the conference and the call for papers, click here.


Competition Opportunities

NYU Policy Case Competition
The 2020 NYU Policy Case Competition, hosted by New York University’s Politics Society, is an annual competition that brings together teams of undergraduate and graduate students to design and propose policy solutions to current international and domestic issues. The competition is from April 25-26  in New York City.  Registration is $5 and closes on March 6; The CWRU Political Science Department will reimburse the registration fee for students that apply.


Scholarship Opportunities

OCCDF Public Service Scholarship
The Ohio Conference of Community Development Public Service Scholarship is intended to help students dedicated to a career in public service.  Applications are due by April 13.

Summer Funding Opportunities
CWRU’s Baker-Nord Center offers three different grant competitions for summer funding.  Applications are due April 15, 2020.


Summer Opportunities

Center for Global Development Internships 
CGD seeks summer interns to assist with research, outreach, and assisting with CGD’s goal of reducing global poverty and inequality. Deadline for Application is March 15, 2020.

Hoover Institution Summer Policy Boot Camp
The Hoover Institution’s Summer Policy Boot Camp (HISPBC) is an intensive, one week residential immersion program in the essentials of today’s national and international United States policy. Applications are due March 16, 2020.

Department of Veteran Affairs Summer Internship
The VA National Diversity Internship Program (NDIP) provides internship opportunities to undergraduate and graduate students. Applications are open year-round.

Foundation for the Defense of Democracies
The FDD offers a variety of unpaid internships to undergraduate students. Applications are open until all positions are filled.

Democratic National Committee 
The DNC internships help students to gain real life, hands-on experience in Democratic politics, strengthen their understanding of the political process and prepare for future political opportunities. Applications close on March 18, 2020.

Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities Governmental Affairs Summer Internship
The APLU CGA internship is an unpaid opportunity for students with an interest in politics and the political process, as well as for those interested in higher education and/or science or technology policy. Applications should be submitted 2 months prior to the start date of the internship.

American Enterprise Institute Summer Internships
AEI provides various internships to undergraduate students. Internships are unpaid, but applicants can apply for a scholarship to provide a monthly stipend. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis until all positions are filled.

City of Canton Mayor’s Internship Program
The City of Canton Mayor’s office provides students with real work experience, while exposing participants to the diverse functions and operations of a municipal government. Applications should be submitted 1-2 months before anticipated start date.


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 March 6, 2020.

Ohio Legislative Service Commission Legislative Fellowship Program
The LSC sponsors 23 – 24 paid thirteen-month legislative fellowship positions designed to provide college graduates with practical experience in the legislative process. The fellowship program begins the first week in December of each year and continues through December 31 of the following year. Applications for legislative fellowship positions are due April 1. Applications for media production fellowship positions are due May 31.

EPIK invites recently graduated students from English-speaking countries with a motivation to share their knowledge and language with Korean students and teachers through teaching classes. Applications are open from February to July for the Fall term.


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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