Eastern Polisci-Economics student Tess Candler presents her work to members of Congress at Capitol Hill in Washington DC

By Joshua Newhall

Double major polisci-economics student Tess Candler presenting her work in Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.

The Council on Undergraduate Research is national non-profit organization. The goal of the group is to cooperate with legislators and universities in order to encourage undergraduates to assist their professors with research, and to conduct their own. One of the cornerstone events of the organization is its annual Posters on the Hill event that meets every spring on Capitol Hill, Washington DC. The purpose of the event is to gather students from undergraduate programs around the country in one location to present their independent research. These are not your typical presentations though. Rather than explaining research in an academic setting to professors and fellow students, the undergraduates who attend Posters on the Hill have the unique honor of presenting to various members of Congress.

Hundreds of applicants request to attend the prestigious conference every year, but only sixty are accepted. This year, Eastern’s own Tess Candler was selected as one of the few people to present at Posters on the Hill. Needless to say, her presence at this event is indicative of the quality of both Eastern Connecticut State University, and its Political Science and Economics departments. In the Fall, Tess submitted her application for the conference to the Council on Undergraduate Research. The application required an abstract on her research idea, her history with academic presentations, and a letter of recommendation from her advisor. In March, 

Connecticut Representative Joe Courtney shares some moments to chat and pose with Eastern’s Tess Candler during her work in DC.

Tess was informed that her application had been accepted.Tess, along with her advisor Professor Courtney Broscious, traveled to DC together to attend the conference where she presented her research on environmental policy. Specifically, her research project aims at identifying the determinants of environmental policies that conservatives support. Tess’ research found a negative correlation between conservative support for environmental policy and bills that directly increase the size of government, hinder businesses, or decrease states’ rights. Tess hopes this research will prove beneficial to legislators attempting to pass environmental policy.

While at the conference, Tess presented her work to an audience of legislators, academics and students from different corners of the country. Perhaps the most exciting dialogue Tess had during her time in DC was that with Connecticut’s representative Joe Courtney. Tess had a personal conversation with the state representative about the importance of undergraduate research.

Tess’ experience is just another example of an Eastern success story. She noted that she had a great experience at the conference, and enjoyed meeting plenty of academics and representatives of congress. Any student who is interested in undergraduate research should reach out to their academic advisers.

Professor Christopher Vasillopulos invited as Distinguished Scholar to Address the International Association of Greek Philosophy

Political Science Professor Christopher Vasillopulos.

Political Science Professor Vasillopulos will speak this July on the Origins of Globalization at the 30th International Conference of the International Association of Greek Philosophy in Athens, Greece. His presentation will trace the conditions of the formation of the Global economy, beginning with the rise of 5th century Athens, tracing Alexander the Great’s creation of the Hellenistic trading system, the development of Renaissance Venice as the center of international commerce, the impact of the Industrial Revolution and the rise of the Middle Classes in Western Europe, and the role of the United States after World War Two.  The presentation will stress the links between prosperity and liberal political institutions, especially the protection of property rights.  It will indicate the differences between imperialism, which restricts the economic development of colonial peoples, and Globalization, which has been creating hundreds of millions of  middle class people, most spectacularly in India and China.    

SUNY Old Westbury Professor Llana Barber visits Eastern

By: Casandra Rivera

“White picket fences, apple orchards” and cookie cutter houses in the suburbs, cross an “unmarked barrier to find condemned mills and poverty in the city”. “How did the city get like this? How did it not affect the suburbs? Is segregation responsible?” These questions ran through my mind as SUNY Old Westbury Professor Llana Barber set the scene and placed me in the city of Lawrence, Massachusetts from 1945 to 2000.

SUNY Old Westbury Professor Llana Barber talking about her new book Latino City at Eastern.

In her recent visit to campus, Barber told the story of Dominican and Puerto Rican individuals migrating to the United States in search of what we know as the “American Dream.” However, what was initially expected from America was far from what they received.

These individuals initially settled in New York City, but the city was enduring an urban crisis: poverty and unemployment were rampant, and it was sometimes not safe. In search of a safer and more prosperous place to start their new lives, they migrated to the city of Lawrence, Massachusetts.

Lawrence was also, experiencing an urban crisis of its own due to what is known as the “suburb boom.” During this time Lawrence’s suburbs “expanded, doubling in size and individuals from the city moved into these suburban areas, causing the city to go through a downward spiral.”

The people of Lawrence were looking for a scapegoat for the city’s decline, someone to blame for the urban crisis, this scapegoat became Dominican and Puerto Rican settlers. These individuals were blamed for bringing poverty, crime, and welfare dependency to the city of Lawrence.

However, through the hard times, Dominican and Puerto Rican residents of Lawrence were determined to prove this narrative false. Instead they halted Lawrence’s decline: they increased the population of the city, they increased funding for schools, they saved local industries that were hanging by a thread and they insured that Hispanics had a voice in the community. It was an act of activism that revitalized the city, these individuals came together to transform the city of Lawrence.

 

 

Polisci Professor Mendoza-Botelho Presents at Symposium on Bolivia

By Anne Pappalardo

Willimantic, CT — Eastern Political Science Professor Martin Mendoza-Botelho was invited by a small group of panelists to discuss “Bolivia: Assessing the Contemporary Social and Political Landscape” at a public symposium at American University in Washington, DC, on March 5.

Presenters at the event addressed the significance of Bolivian President Evo Morales’ term in office and the MAS, Bolivia’s governing party under Morales. They also discussed the historical impact of the era, key policies and initiatives, and addressed challenges and controversies that promise to shape Bolivia’s present and future.

Eastern Political Science Professor Martin Mendoza-Botelho (center), accompanied by symposium hosts Professor of Latin American Studies Robert Albro (left) and Dean of Academic Affairs Núria Vilanova (right), both of American University.

“Among other things, I commented on Bolivia’s Welfare State, including social policies such as education, healthcare and pensions, as well as how some recent changes will affect them, such as the reduction in price of key commodities, such as natural gas, that Bolivia exports,” said Mendoza-Botelho.

Since the beginning of his presidency in 2006, Morales has set an ambitious program of reform mainly aimed at incorporating long-standing social demands of indigenous and less privileged groups. Benefiting from the high prices of international commodities, the Bolivian government has been able to implement important reforms that have allowed the country to cut poverty by more than half, in addition to implementing important institutional changes such as the rewriting of the country’s Constitution.

“I hope this conference will foster an informed debate among experts that will eventually resonate among policymakers,” concluded Mendoza-Botelho. “In the recent past, the Morales administration has achieved impressive and positive social and economic changes that have benefited many sectors of the population, in particular indigenous groups that were historically marginalized.”

Mendoza-Botelho began his professional career with UNICEF and worked for several organizations including the U.N. Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean and the Organization of American States. He received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Cambridge, is a member of the Bolivian Studies Association and was editor-in-chief of the Bolivian Research Review journal. He became a faculty member at Eastern in 2013.

Eastern polisci students present their work at the Northeastern Political Science Association Annual Conference in Philadelphia

By Adam Murphy

A week ago, a group of us, polisci students, presented our work at the Northeast Regional Political Science Association annual conference in Philadelphia. The group included Tess Candler, Emma Avery, Mikhela Hull and me. We spent the entire weekend attending academic panels of scholar on a range of topics, together with Professors Nicole Krassas and Courtney Broscious. For me the conference was an amazing experience, as I was able to hear political scientists talk about food riots in India in one panel and educational assessment in another. Another group went to another panel entitled “Analyzing the Trump Presidency”. In her own words, Emma greatly appreciated “…the diverse viewpoints that came from around the country and the academic discourse

From left to right, Eastern students Tess Candler, Emma , Adam Murphy and Mikhaela a the NPSA 2017 Annual Conference in Philadelphia.

From left to right, polisci Eastern students Tess Candler, Emma Avery, Adam Murphy and Mikhela Hull at the NPSA 2017 Annual Conference in Philadelphia.

that took place”. Moreover, Emma and Tess presented a co-authored paper on environmental policy in congress; while Mikhela presented a paper examining child protection policy failures. My paper explored trust in government among college students. All of us received great feedback and enjoyed being able to present our research to a specialized audience. As part of this trip we were also able to take some time to view a historic city, and enjoyed our tour of the Reading Terminal Market, Independence Hall and the Philadelphia Magic Garden. In between academic panels, we were able to visit some food places unique to Philadelphia.We recommend anyone interested in presenting their research, take advantage of opportunities to receive valuable feedback from an audience and see a new city.

 

Welcoming Back Pizza and Politics

By Alaina Beyers

Economic prestige discussion

Eastern students participating in the last Pizza and Politics night.

November 1st marked the kick off of the Political Science department’s first Pizza and Politics event of the fall 2017 semester! The Political Science department, in conjunction with Eastern’s Pre Law Society, hosted an open discussion on the effects a country’s level of prestigious status has on its ability to interact politically and economically with the international community. Dr. Martín Mendoza-Botelho, Dr. Chris Vasillopulos and Dr. Patrick Vitale, each from different niches of the Department, lent their expertise as framers of the discussion by setting up individual arguments based on the three questions below to an audience of more than 30 students.

1. How do you define economic prestige from your discipline/theoretical perspective and how it relates to political power?

2. Would you say that there is a loss of economic prestige in the U.S. and in the Western World in general? If so, what are the immediate and long term effects?

3. In a globalized world (and economies), can governments still use economic prestige as a nationalist tool?

From the various responses that each of the professors gave, the students followed up by breaking into groups and conversing amongst themselves, picking out assumptions made by each professor, and deciding which of the arguments from their perspectives contained the strongest and weakest points. Members of the Pre Law Society Bianca Little, Kyle Gray, Alaina Beyers, and Taylor Moore lead the discussions in these small groups, and then reported out to the collective on the conclusions of each discussion.

Each of the professors were game to field any questions or comments sent their way from eager Eastern students, and the atmosphere of engaged excitement was tangible! Thank you to all the professors involved, the Pre Law Society, and the student audience. We hope to see even more Eastern students at the next Pizza at Politics!

For anyone interested in more information please contact the President of the Pre Law Society, Megan E. Hull at prelawsociety@my.easternct.edu.