Emmakristina Sveen ’17, of Denver, Colo. co-founded the Wesleyan Republican Committee this fall. The group now has more than 75 active members. (Photos by Olivia Drake)
In this Q&A we speak with Emmakristina Sveen from the Class of 2017.
Q: How and when did you form the Wesleyan Republican Committee (WRC)?
A: Meghan Kelly ’17 and I founded the Wesleyan Republican Committee this fall. The previous Republican student group on campus, which was started in 2009, gradually deteriorated after the 2012 elections and after their senior leadership graduated. We wanted to establish a club that served as a vehicle in which students with any level of affiliation with the Republican Party could discuss their political views in a safe environment. With the help of Meghan’s brother, who served as chairman of the College Republican chapter at Northeastern, we received our charter from the College Republican National Committee and the Connecticut Federation of College Republicans. We are now the largest College Republican chapter in the state of Connecticut.
Q: Wesleyan has a reputation as being a rather liberal institution. Was political diversity a consideration for you in choosing a college, and how did you feel about Wesleyan?
A: Wesleyan is an incredibly liberal institution,
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Professor Peter Rutland is the author of an article titled “Petronation? Oil, gas and national identity in Russia,” published in Post-Soviet Affairs, Volume 31, Issue 1, January 2015. Rutland is professor of government, the Colin and Nancy Campbell Professor in Global Issues and Democratic Thought, professor of Russian and Eastern European studies and tutor in the College of Social Studies.
The article was written as part of the research project “Nation-Building and Nationalism in Today’s Russia (NEORUSS),” financed by the Norwegian Research Council.
Based on survey research, elite interviews, and an analysis of media treatment, Rutland’s article explores the place of oil and gas in Russia’s national narrative and self-identity. Objectively, Russia’s economic development, political stability, and ability to project power abroad rest on its oil and gas resources. Subjectively, however, Russians are somewhat reluctant to accept that oil and gas dependency is part of their national identity. One of the unexpected findings to emerge from the survey data is the strong regional differences on the question of whether Russia should be proud of its reliance on energy.
The article concludes with an analysis of the factors constraining the role of energy in Russia’s national narrative: the prominent history of military victories and territorial expansion; a strong commitment to modernization through science and industry; and concerns over corruption, environmental degradation and foreign exploitation.
A book by Marc Eisner, the Henry Merritt Wriston Chair of Public Policy, was selected as a winner of the Outstanding Academic Titles by Choice in 2014.
Eisner’s book, The American Political Economy was published in 2014. In this innovative text, he portrays the state and the market as inextricably linked, exploring the variety of institutions subsumed by the market and the role that the state plays in creating the institutional foundations of economic activity. Through a historical approach, Eisner situates the study of American political economy within a larger evolutionary-institutional framework that integrates perspectives in American political development and economic sociology.
Eisner also is chair and professor of government, professor of environmental studies.
Sanford Shieh and Mary Alice Haddad recently received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Wesleyan recently received two grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities. The awards will support research by Wesleyan faculty Mary Alice Haddad and Sanford Shieh.
Mary Alice Haddad, associate professor of government, received a $33,600 grant for the NEH Fellowships for Advanced Social Science Research on Japan project titled, “Environmental Politics in East Asia: Strategies that Work.”
“Japan has experienced some of the world’s most intense environmental crises and taken leadership roles in finding solutions,” Haddad said. “The Fellowship for Advanced Social Science Research on Japan will enable me to examine the ways that Japan’s experience has served as a model for encouraging better environmental behavior among individuals, corporations and governments in East Asia and the world.”
Sanford Shieh, associate professor of philosophy,
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James McGuire and Guillermo O’Donnell in 1985.
Professor of Government James McGuire is the author of a book chapter titled “Democracy, Agency and the Classification of Political Regimes,” published in Reflections on Uneven Democracies: The Legacy of Guillermo O’Donnell by Johns Hopkins University Press, 2014.
Guillermo O’Donnell (1936-2011) was widely recognized as the world’s leading scholar of Latin American politics. During his doctoral studies, McGuire worked closely with O’Donnell in both Argentina and the United States, translating from Spanish to English O’Donnell’s Bureaucratic Authoritarianism: Argentina, 1966-1973, in Comparative Perspective (University of California Press, 1988).
McGuire’s chapter in this new volume commemorating O’Donnell’s life and work argues that schemes for classifying political regimes in Latin America could be improved by defining democracy in a way that gives more priority to human agency, and thereby to the opportunity to lead a thoughtfully chosen life; by recognizing that democracy affects social and political outcomes not only through electoral competition, but also through the freedoms of expression and organization, as well as through long-term cultural changes; and by applying contemporary rather than past standards to decide whether a country meets the operational criteria for democracy.
Alton Wang ’16 is a sociology and government double major who plans to enter public service after graduation, advocating for the rights of the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. He’s currently a member of the Asian American Student Collective. (Photo by Olivia Drake)
In this Q&A, meet Alton Wang from the Class of 2016.
Q: Hi Alton! Please tell us about where you grew up and your high school experience.
A: I grew up in Arcadia, Calif., which is about 40 minutes outside of downtown Los Angeles. The community in my high school was predominantly Asian and Asian American, so most people looked like me. I personally wanted to break out from that mold and try something completely different for college. So not only was Wesleyan was far away from home, it was not a place I’d ever previously considered going to college.
Q: So how did you wind up coming to Wesleyan?
A: I discovered it by chance. A guidance counselor suggested that I might be interested in Wesleyan, so I said, “Sure, I’ll add it to my list.” I didn’t give it another thought until the acceptances were in and I had to choose a school. When I visited Wesleyan in the spring of my senior year of high school, I fell in love with the campus. I just felt really comfortable here.
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Ioana Emy Matesan, assistant professor of government, is teaching two sections of GOVT 157 Democracy and Dictatorship. Matesan is an expert on Middle Eastern politics and joined the faculty this fall. (Photo by Cynthia Rockwell)
Q: Welcome to Wesleyan, Professor Matesan! Can you please tell us a little about your background?
A: I’m originally from Romania. I came to the U.S. for undergrad in 1998, and earned a degree in economics and political science from Monmouth College in Illinois. Coming from Romania, I had no sense of differences in states. I got together with a couple friends, and we looked at the admission of international students and amount of aid for them at different colleges, and we applied to the colleges with the most aid per international student. It was very much a cost-benefit analysis. I loved the small liberal arts college experience, which is one of the reasons why I love Wesleyan. It was a very good transition coming from Romania on my own at 18—I made meaningful connections with both faculty and students. After undergrad, I worked with a Romanian-American nonprofit, which I had volunteered with in Romania. They had incorporated as a 501(c)(3), and were looking for someone to start the fundraising arm in the U.S. We worked with families who were at risk of abandoning their children to orphanages because of economic or social problems. We offered tutoring and social activities for the children; we helped the parents get jobs, training, etc. After three years at the nonprofit, I decided to go to grad school at Arizona State, where I got my master’s in political science. Then I went on to Syracuse University and got my Ph.D. in political science. From there, I came to Wesleyan.
Q: How did you become interested in studying Middle Eastern politics?
A: I specialize in contentious politics and political violence, with a regional focus in the Middle East. The very first time I became interested in this topic was when I attended a youth UN conference in 1993. There, I met children from Israel and Palestine. I learned a lot about the conflict, but it also became very real, and I suddenly had friends I could associate with both sides.
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Erika Franklin Fowler is co-director of The Wesleyan Media Project.
Erika Franklin Fowler, assistant professor of government and co-director of the Wesleyan Media Project, recently joined the Campaign Finance Institute’s (CFI) Academic Advisory Board.
Fowler was one of 16 academics appointed to the board, which advises CFI as it plans and works through its research agenda. Also appointed was Michael Franz, co-director of the Wesleyan Media Project and a professor at Bowdoin College.
Founded in 1999, CFI is a campaign finance policy think tank. According to the website, its original work is published in academic journals, and is regularly used by the media and policymakers. Its tools are made available to stimulate new research by others, while its bibliographies bring the results of recent scholarship to the attention of the policy community. More information about the board is available here.
Leonid Liu ’14, Project Manager Laura Baum, P. Marshal Lawler ’16, Michael Linden ’15, Eliza Loomis ’15, Zachary Wulderk ’15 and Assistant Professor of Government Erika Franklin Fowler attended the American Political Science Association meeting.
Assistant Professor of Government Erika Franklin Fowler, Project Manager in the Government Department Laura Baum, and four students presented a paper titled, “A Messenger Like Me: The Effect of Ordinary Spokespeople in Campaign Advertising” at the 2014 annual meeting of the American Political Science Association Conference, Aug. 30 in Washington, D.C.
The student authors are P. Marshal Lawler ’16, Michael Linden ’15, Eliza Loomis ’15 and Zachary Wulderk ’15.
The paper considers the effects of using non-elite spokespeople (ie. “the everyman”) in political advertising. The authors draw upon the Wesleyan Media Project’s vast database of political advertising, as well as original coding on almost 300 ads, and a new large-scale survey data set assessing the effectiveness and credibility of 2012 campaign ads. They found that using ordinary spokespeople is a common tactic, particularly in negative campaign advertising, and that their use is associated with higher credibility scores than ads without them, even after controlling for partisanship and political sophistication.
The paper grew out of a fall 2013 pilot course at Wesleyan, GOVT 378 Advanced Topics in Media Analysis. Read the full paper online here.
New book by Sonali Chakravarti.
Sonali Chakravarti, assistant professor of government, is the author of Sing the Rage: Listening to Anger after Mass Violence, published by University Of Chicago Press on April 23.
In Sing the Rage, Sonali Chakravarti examines the relationship between anger and justice through a careful look at the emotionally charged South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Between 1996 and 1998, the commission saw, day after day, individuals taking the stand to speak—to cry, scream, and wail—about the atrocities of apartheid. Uncomfortable and surprising, these public emotional displays, she argues, proved to be of immense value, vital to the success of transitional justice and future political possibilities.
Chakravarti takes up the issue from Adam Smith and Hannah Arendt, who famously understood both the dangers of anger in politics and the costs of its exclusion. Building on their perspectives, she argues that the expression and reception of anger reveal truths otherwise unavailable to us about the emerging political order, the obstacles to full civic participation, and indeed the limits—the frontiers—of political life altogether. Most important, anger and the development of skills needed to truly listen to it foster trust among citizens and recognition of shared dignity and worth. An urgent work of political philosophy in an era of continued revolution, Sing the Rage offers a clear understanding of one of our most volatile—and important—political responses.
The Wesleyan Media Project received a grant of $74,851 from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation to track and analyze campaign ad spending in the 2014 midterm election cycle.
The project is directed by Assistant Professor of Government Erika Franklin Fowler, along with Michael Franz of Bowdoin College and Travis Ridout of Washington State University. A resource for journalists, policymakers, scholars and voters, the project has worked to increase transparency in federal elections since it was established in 2010 with support from the Knight Foundation.