Political Science

Notable Faculty & Student Achievements

June 2020

  • Conner Joyce ’19  had his paper, “A Path-Dependent Explanation of Divergent Nuclear Trajectories,” accepted for publication in the Pi Sigma Alpha Undergraduate Journal of Politics. The paper is based on Joyce’s honors thesis in political science in 2019. It examines why some countries attempt to acquire nuclear weapons and others do not. Joyce is currently in a master’s program at the LBJ School at the University of Texas. 

  • Professor of Political Science Eric Selbin helped organize and served as a “mentor” for the International Studies Association’s (ISA’s) Second Emerging Global South Scholar Workshop. The workshop brought together 20 Global South scholars from Argentina, Brazil, China, Colombia, India, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Lebanon, Mexico, Nigeria, Pakistan, Portugal, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Uganda, and the U.S. (selected from more than 250 applicants) with seven “mentors” from Egypt, India, Mexico, South Africa, the U.S, and the U.K. During the workshop, Selbin specifically cochaired a session on publishing strategies for peer-reviewed journals. Originally scheduled for Ifrane, Morocco, the workshop was funded by the ISA’s Committee on the Status of Engagement with the Global South, who, along with the Global South Caucus of the ISA, sponsored the event.

  • Professor of Political Science Shannon Mariotti  worked with several friends to organize a Racial Justice March in solidarity and partnership with Black Lives Matter in the community of Alamo Heights. The march took place Saturday, June 6, and more than 500 people turned out to protest against White Silence and support Black Lives Matter. One goal was to begin a community conversation about white privilege as it relates to racial injustice and police violence. Media outlets covered the march and interviewed Mariotti; you can read the Texas Public Radio article here , as well as an article by the San Antonio Express News  here .

May 2020

  • Assistant Professor of Political Science Emily Sydnor talked about her recent book, Disrespectful Democracy: The Psychology of Political Incivility, the concerns raised by calls for civility, and who the most conflict-avoidant president might have been on the podcast Politics in Question. The episode is available here.

  • Professor of Political Science Shannon Mariotti coorganized the second annual interdisciplinary Politics of the Mindful Revolution miniconference as part of the Western Political Science Association conference. She helped organize three author-meets-critics roundtables. One panel features law professor and mindfulness teacher Rhonda Magee speaking with commentators about her book The Inner Work of Racial Justice. Another panel features religious studies professor Ann Gleig speaking with commentators about her book American Dharma: Buddhism beyond Modernity. A third panel features the sociologist, yoga teacher, and poet Becky Thompson speaking with commentators about her book Teaching with Tenderness: Toward an Embodied Practice. Our panels are all open to the public and will take place on Zoom throughout the day on Thursday, May 21. You can find the full program here .

  • Professor of Political Science and Dean of the Faculty Alisa Gaunder’s article “Conservative Women in Germany and Japan: Chancellors versus Madonnas,” coauthored with Sarah Wiliarty, appears in hard copy in the latest issue of Politics and Gender (vol. 16, pp. 99-122).

  • Professor of Political Science Eric Selbin has been appointed by International Studies Association (ISA) President Helen V. Milner and approved by the ISA Governing Council as one of the nine members of the ISA Publications Committee. The committee is responsible for overseeing the eight journals the association publishes. As a member of the Feminist Theory & Gender Studies, Global Development Studies, and Theory Sections and the Global South and Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, & Allies Caucuses, as well as being affiliated with the Women’s Caucus, Selbin intends to work to further the groups’ respective agendas as well as to be a voice for small liberal-arts college faculty in the publication process.

February 2020

  • Professor of Political Science Shannon Mariotti published an invited article for the volume A Companion to Adorno, edited by Peter Gordon, Espen Hammer, and Max Pensky. This volume is part of the Blackwell Companions to Philosophy  series and, with 40 essays, is the largest collection of essays by Adorno specialists ever gathered in a single volume. Her piece is titled “Adorno’s Democratic Modernism in America: Leaders and Educators as Political Artists.” Bridging disciplinary divides, this essay brings the lens of artistic modernism to bear on Adorno’s writings on democracy in America to illuminate the distinctive contributions of a political theory that might only appear partial and preliminary when analyzed through the lens of conventional politics. Adorno’s understanding of “democratic enlightenment” resonates with the modernist concept of epiphany and represents a translation of artistic modernism to the political realm. She shows how Adorno’s lessons on the meaningful everyday practice of democracy speak powerfully and practically to people in the U.S. today.

January 2020

  • Assistant Professor of Political Science Emily Sydnor  was interviewed about her recently published book, Disrespectful Democracy: The Psychology of Political Incivility  (Columbia University Press, 2019), as part of the National Institute for Civil Discourse’s podcast series. The conversation ranged from the specific findings of the book to broader debates about the role that civility and incivility have in democracies. The interview is available here .

  • Professor of Political Science Eric Selbin published a review of the redoubtable Margaret Randall’s Exporting Revolution: Cuba’s Global Solidarity(Duke University Press, 2017) in the Canadian journal Left History: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Historical Inquiry and Debate.

November 2019

  • Professor of Political Science Shannon Mariotti published an article titled “Zen and the Art of Democracy: Contemplative Practice as Ordinary Political Theory” in the journal Political Theory. This piece explores resonances between the radical democratic theory of Jacques Rancière and Zen works by Shunryu Suzuki and others, showing how meditation can be understood as an aesthetic practice that cultivates modes of experience, perception, thinking, and feeling that further radical democratic projects at a basic level. The article also shows how meditative practice can supplement democratic projects today focused on abolitionism and social justice, care work and dependency work, and reclaiming experience to work against the appropriation of the “attentional commons.” This piece draws from a current book project exploring contemplative practices as modes of embodied social change that can enact and extend the ordinary practice of democracy in everyday life.

  • Professor of Political Science Eric Selbin ’s book Revolution, Rebellion, Resistance: The Power of Story  has been published in Turkey as Devrim, Isyan, Direnis: Hikayenin Gücü   by the publisher Abis Yayincilik. This edition joins previously published translations in Arabic, German, and Spanish along with an Indian-only English language edition.

October 2019

  • Professor of Political Science and Dean of the Faculty Alisa Gaunder published a book review of The Abe Administration and the Rise of the Prime Ministerial Executive by Aurelia George Mulgan in the latest issue of Monumenta Nipponica 74 (1): 157–160.

September 2019

  • In the wake of every election, Tufts University’s Institute for Democracy and Higher Education produces reports detailing overall college student turnout rates and campus-specific turnout for hundreds of college campuses. The 2018 reports came out September 19. Below are some highlights from Southwestern’s report:

      • The 2018 voting rate on SU’s campus was 51.7%! That surpasses both the 30% goal Assistant Professor of Political Science Emily Sydnor encouraged the student organizers to set and the 50% goal they wanted to work toward.
      • Southwestern showed a 33% increase from the voting rate at SU in 2014 and held steady at the rate SU voted in the 2016 presidential election (50% in 2016). As you might imagine, this is unusual for a midterm election.
      • SU’s rate was substantially higher than those of other institutions across the U.S.: 12.6% higher than the average across all institutions. SU’s was also higher than the national rate, which was 49.3%.
      • While turnout was up across the country in 2018, Southwestern’s impressive increase in voting rates was in part the result of concerted get-out-the-vote efforts by Sydnor, Senior Director of Integrative and Community-Engaged Learning Sarah Brackman, Teresa Cropper ’20, Laura Rativa ’20, Camille Martin ’19, Caroline Haywood ’18 and the Office of Community-Engaged Learning. 

  • This week, Columbia University Press released Disrespectful Democracy: The Psychology of Political Incivility , the first book by Assistant Professor of Political Science Emily Sydnor.The book demonstrates that incivility shapes people’s attitudes and emotional reactions to politics, but it does so differently based on how they as individuals respond to conflict and confrontation. Using data collected both at the University of Virginia and at Southwestern, the book shows that for some people, incivility can lead them to share more specific policy opinions and feel more positively about politics. 

  • Assistant Professor of Political Science Emily Sydnorpresented at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association (APSA) and at the APSA Political Communication Preconference, which were held in Washington, DC, August 27–September 1. Her pre-conference paper, “Confronting Politics: The Role of Conflict Orientation in Shaping Political Debate,” was coauthored by Emily Tesmer ’20 and Breely Peterson ’21. The conference paper, “Stressing Incivility: Physiological Arousal and Incivility,” reported findings from a joint project with Tesmer and Associate Professor of Psychology Erin Crockett. Both papers would not be possible without great research assistance from Ashton Eggers ’21, Madison Flores ’20, Emma Lopez ’21, Camille Martin ’19, and Olivia Montreuil ’20.

July 2019

  • Assistant Professor of Political Science Emily Sydnor  was interviewed by KXAN and the Williamson County Sun   about a new Texas law that prevents mobile polling locations during early voting. She discussed the effects of polling locations on voter turnout, particularly among college students.

  • Professor of Political Science and Dean of the Faculty Alisa Gaunder  argued against the resolution: “Japan needs a two-party system” in an article published in the Center for Strategic and International Studies newsletter Debating Japan . Debating Japan  is “a platform for scholars around the world to address pressing issues in Japan’s policy debate and U.S.–Japan relations.” Each author is asked to take a particular position on a policy issue. This issue of the newsletter focuses on the party system in the wake of the recent upper house parliamentary election on July 21, 2019.

  • Professor of Political Science Eric Selbin and journalist, editor, and singer Helen Cordes published “Singing Resistance, Rebellion, and Revolution into Being: Collective Political Action and Song,” the lead chapter in the anthology Sonic Politics: Music and the Narration of the Social in the Americas from the 1960s to the Present, edited by Olaf Kaltmeier and Wilfried Raussert and published by Routledge. The publication is accompanied by a webpage and a YouTube channel with playlists created for the individual chapters, providing the opportunity to listen to the songs under discussion while reading the essays, thus making the topic acoustically more “tangible.”