Political Science

Notable Faculty & Student Achievements

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.”

June 2019

  • Dean of the Faculty and Professor of Political Science Alisa Gaunder was the program cochair for the Deans’ Program at the Annapolis Group Annual Meeting, June 17–19, 2019. The Annapolis Group of Liberal Arts Colleges comprises approximately 130 leading national liberal-arts colleges. The Annapolis Group provides a forum for member institutions to “share best practices, seek higher levels of excellence, and advance the cause of liberal arts education on a national scale.” In addition to serving as program cochair, Gaunder also served as a panel participant in the session on Curricular Innovations.

May 2019

  • Professor of Political Science Shannon Mariotti was invited to join the editorial board of American Political Thought: A Journal of Ideas, Institutions, and Culture, published by the University of Chicago Press.

April 2019

  • Professor of Political Science Eric Selbin published an article titled “Resistance and Revolution in the Age of Authoritarian Revanchism: The Power of Revolutionary Imaginaries in the Austerity–Security State Era” in Millennium, one of the U.K.’s top international relations journals.

  • Assistant Professor of Political Science Emily Sydnor presented her paper, “Uncivil Boundaries: The Effects of Online Civility Contests on Perceptions of Protest,” at a workshop on race, gender, and toxicity online at The University of Texas’ Moody School of Communication on April 25–26, 2019. The workshop was sponsored by the Social Science Research Council’s Program on Media and Democracy.

  • Avery Beam  ’19 presented her honors thesis in political science, “Ideology in Russia’s Clash with the West,” at the Midwestern Political Science Association’s annual conference, in Chicago, IL,  April 7.

  • Professor of Political Science Shannon Mariotti presented a paper, “Everyday Democracy and Meditative Practices: Tactics to Resist the Appropriation of the Attentional Commons,” at the Western Political Science Association conference on April 20, 2019. She also served as chair on a panel titled “Spatial and Social Imaginaries: Buddhism in Context” and a discussant on a panel titled “Buddhism, Feminism, and the Body Politic.” This was all part of a miniconference she coorganized titled “The Politics of the Mindful Revolution.” Thirty interdisciplinary academics met over the course of two days to attend eight panels that explored political problems and possibilities arising from the mainstreaming of meditation and mindfulness that is known as “Buddhist modernism.”   

  • Professor of Political Science Eric Selbin has been named an associate faculty member at the Observatorio de la Relación Binacional México–EE.UU. (Observatory of the Binational Relationship Mexico–USA) of the Faculty of Political and Social Sciences at the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). Read the full story here .

  • Professor of Political Science Eric Selbin served as one of the mentors to the 20 young Global South Scholars selected from several hundred globally to participate in the daylong International Studies Association’s First Emerging Global South Scholar Workshop sponsored by the International Studies Association’s (ISA’s) Committee on the Status of Engagement with the Global South (CSEGS) and the Global South Caucus (GSCIS). Among the activities, Selbin led a session on teaching experiences and challenges. Selbin also facilitated a panel at the ISA conference on publication strategies at an Intergenerational Café sponsored by the recently inaugurated Committee on the Status of the Global South with support from the ISA Global South Taskforce and the Global South Caucus. Finally, Selbin cochaired the final meeting of the 2014–2019 editorial team of International Studies Perspectives, one of the ISA’s journals.

  • Conner Joyce  ’19 presented his honors thesis in political science, “A Path-Dependent Explanation of Divergent Nuclear Trajectories,” at the Midwestern Political Science Association’s annual conference in Chicago, IL, April 7.