Tag Archive for Government Department

Velez Studies Political Psychology, Racial and Ethnic Politics

Assistant Professor of Government Yamil Velez's expertise lies at the intersection of psychology and political science.

Assistant Professor of Government Yamil Velez’s expertise lies at the intersection of psychology and political science. This year he is teaching Racial and Ethnic Politics and Place and Politics. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

In this News @ Wesleyan story, we speak with Yamil Velez, a new member of Wesleyan’s Government Department.

Q: Welcome to Wesleyan! Please tell us about your background—where did you grow up, go to school, etc?

A: I grew up in Miami, Florida as the only son of two immigrant parents. My parents divorced at an early age and since my mother had to work and go to school to support us, I spent a lot of time with my grandparents. It was my grandmother who instilled a passion for politics in me, as I would spend every afternoon listening to talk radio and discussing contemporary politics with her. When it was time to go to college, I opted for a university in the capital of Florida with a great political science department – Florida State University – and there I began my journey as a political scientist. Political science appealed to me because it reminded me of the long conversations I would have with my grandmother about local and global politics, and I was excited to contribute to the discussion.

Q: As an undergrad, you double majored in political science and psychology. How did this inform your graduate work and scholarly interests today?

A: I appreciated political science for its focus on understanding how different political actors interact and its emphasis on institutions. However, I always felt like these courses did not place enough importance on the individual so I sought out psychology

Schwartz ’17 Founder of Wesleyan Radio Control/ Drone Club

David Schwartz '17, founder and president of the Wesleyan Radio Control/ Drone Club, flies a drone behind South College July 28. He's also on Wesleyan's ski team, rock climbing team and sailing team. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

David Schwartz ’17, founder and president of the Wesleyan Radio Control/ Drone Club, flies a drone behind South College July 28. He’s also on Wesleyan’s ski team, rock climbing team and sailing team. (Photo by Olivia Drake)

In this News @ Wesleyan story, we speak with David Schwartz from the Class of 2017.

Q: David, where are you from and what is your major?

A: I grew up in Amherst, Mass. When I first came to Wesleyan, I walked around wearing my Amherst sweatshirt for awhile before realizing there was a bit of a rivalry. I’m an Economics and Government double major, with a minor in data analysis. I’m particularly interested in applying “big data” techniques to government policymaking.

David Schwartz operates the DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ drone "that was very user-friendly and intuitive to learn," he said.

David Schwartz operates the DJI Phantom 2 Vision+ drone “that was very user-friendly and intuitive to learn,” he said.

Q: You are founder and president of the Wesleyan Radio Control/ Drone Club. How did your interest in aerial photography begin?

A: I’ve always had a passion for flying, but unfortunately I get air-sick in small planes, so I’ve been able to apply my interest by being involved in the radio control community. Last summer, I spent my free time building an aerial photography quad copter and coding a basic auto-pilot system. For example, if the gyroscope was leaning left, the program would simply instruct the servos (motor) controlling the ailerons (parts on the wings that tilt the plane) to counter this movement until the plane was stable again. When I was able to stabilize the aircraft, I noticed that the camera on it was able to take some really clear photographs.

Q: Why did you decide to start the club? How many members do you have?

A: After telling my friends about my project building a drone last summer

7 Faculty Promoted, 1 Awarded Tenure

In its most recent meeting, the Board of Trustees conferred tenure on Hari Krishnan, associate professor of dance. He joins seven other faculty members who were awarded tenure earlier this spring.

In addition, seven faculty members were promoted to Full Professor: Mary Alice Haddad, professor of government; Scott Higgins, professor of film studies; Tsampikos Kottos, professor of physics; Edward Moran, professor of astronomy; Dana Royer, professor of earth and environmental sciences; Mary-Jane Rubenstein, professor of religion; and Gina Athena Ulysse, professor of anthropology.

Brief descriptions of their research and teaching appear below.

Associate Professor Krishnan teaches studio- and lecture-based dance courses on Mobilizing Dance: Cinema, the Body, and Culture in South Asia; Modern Dance 3; and Bharata Natyam.  His academic and choreographic interests include queering the dancing body, critical readings of Indian dance and the history of courtesan dance traditions in South India. He is a scholar and master of historical Bharatanatyam and also an internationally acclaimed choreographer of contemporary dance from global perspectives.

Professor Haddad teaches courses about comparative, East Asian, and environmental politics. She has authored two books, Building Democracy in Japan and Politics and Volunteering in Japan: A Global Perspective, and co-edited a third, NIMBY is Beautiful: Local Activism and Environmental Innovation in Germany and Beyond. She is currently working on a book about effective advocacy and East Asian environmental politics.

Professor Higgins teaches courses in film history, theory, and genre, and is a 2011 recipient of Wesleyan’s Binswanger Prize for Excellence in Teaching.  His research interests include moving-image aesthetics, feature and serial storytelling, and cinema’s technological history. He is author of Harnessing the Rainbow: Technicolor Aesthetics in the 1930s and Matinee Melodrama: Playing with Formula in the Sound Serial (forthcoming), and editor of Arnheim for Film and Media Studies.

Professor Kottos offers courses on Quantum Mechanics; Condensed Matter Physics; and Advanced Topics in Theoretical Physics. He has published more than 100 papers on the understanding of wave propagation in complex media, which have received more than 3,000 citations. His current research focuses on the development of non-Hermitian Optics. This year, the Air Force Office of Scientific Research has recognized his theoretical proposal on optical limiters as a high priority strategic goal of the agency.

Professor Moran teaches introductory courses such as Descriptive Astronomy and The Dark Side of the Universe, in addition to courses on observational and extragalactic astronomy.  His research focuses on extragalactic X-ray sources and the X-ray background, and his expertise in spectroscopic instrumentation combined with an insightful conceptual appreciation of galaxy formation have positioned him as a leader in observational black hole research.

Professor Royer offers courses on Environmental Studies; Geobiology; and Soils.  His research explores how plants can be used to reconstruct ancient environments, and the (paleo-) physiological underpinnings behind these plant-environment relationships.  His recent work on the relationship between atmospheric carbon dioxide levels and climate over geologic time has had significant impact on the field of paleoclimatology.

Professor Rubenstein teaches courses in philosophy of religion; pre- and postmodern theologies; and the intersections of religion, sex, gender, and science.  Her research interests include continental philosophy, theology, gender and sexuality studies, and the history and philosophy of cosmology.  She is the author of Strange Wonder: The Closure of Metaphysics and the Opening of Awe, and Worlds without End: The Many Lives of the Multiverse.

Professor Ulysse offers courses on Crafting Ethnography; Haiti: Between Anthropology and Journalism; Key Issues in Black Feminism; and Theory 2: Beyond Me, Me, Me: Reflexive Anthropology. Her research examines black diasporic conditions. Her recent work combines scholarship, performance, and exposition to ponder the fate of Haiti in the modern world and how it is narrated in different outlets and genres.  She is the author of Downtown Ladies: Informal Commercial Importers, A Haitian Anthropologist and Self-Making in Jamaica, and Why Haiti Needs New Narratives.

Brady ’15 Examines Conflict and Cooperation in the Nile Basin


Aletta Brady ’15 conducted firsthand interviews with leaders in three Nile basin countries for her thesis, “Freshwater Negotiation in the Nile River Basin: What Explains the Patterns of Conflict and Cooperation?” (Photo courtesy of Aletta Brady)

In this News @ Wesleyan story, we speak with C. Aletta Brady from the Class of 2015. Brady is a government major with a concentration in international politics. She is a research assistant in the Department of Government, president of the Wesleyan Chapter of Active Minds and co-chair of the Government Majors Committee.

Q: How did you choose your thesis subject?

A: Last summer when I was swimming in the Red Sea in Egypt, someone asked me why I was investigating water scarcity and transnational water cooperation. The water was turquoise and completely clear; I could see my toes. I told them that water is vital for life, and that the number of people without access to sufficient and clean freshwater is only growing. They pushed me to go deeper. I looked down at my red toenail polish surrounded by vibrant coral reefs and schools of fish. It hit me in that moment that the root of it all was that I love water. I grew up in water. I’m from Minnesota, where we have more than 10,000 lakes, and I grew up swimming, waterskiing, tubing, canoeing, skinny-dipping, fishing and floating in water. I can’t imagine my life without it. It’s my favorite drink, and it’s where I’m most alive and most at peace. So, while I have an intellectual interest in how to preserve scarce freshwater resources, at the root of it, my interest is personal.

Female Voice in Politics Conference Inspires Future Leaders

On May 2, The Female Voice in Politics Conference brought notable and accomplished female politicians and leaders together at Daniel Family Commons in Usdan University Center to discuss the underrepresentation of women in U.S. politics and other issues facing women in the political arena today. Speakers included Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut; Connecticut State Sen. Toni Boucher; Dominique Thornton, former mayor of Middletown; Susan Bysiewicz, former Connecticut Secretary of State; Sidney Powell, attorney and author of Licensed to Lie; and Sarah Wiliarty, director of the Public Affairs Center, associate professor of government, tutor in the College of Social Sciences. The event was organized by Darcie Binder ’15 and Kevin Winnie ’16 and supported by the Government Department, Allbritton Center for the Study of Public Life, Public Affairs Center, American Studies Department, History Department, and Feminism, Gender and Sexuality Studies. (Photos by Hannah Norman ’16.)


Rosa DeLauro, U.S. Representative of Connecticut’s 3rd Congressional District, speaks to attendees at The Female Voice in Politics Conference.

Rutland to Serve as Visiting Professor at University of Manchester With Grant

Peter Rutland

Peter Rutland

Peter Rutland, the Colin and Nancy Campbell Professor in Global Issues and Democratic Thought, has won an $85,000 grant from the Leverhulme Trust to serve as a visiting professor at the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom in 2016. There, he will be working on a research project titled, “Visualizing the Nation” with Manchester professors Vera Tolz and Stephen Hutchings.

The Centre for Russian and Eurasian Studies at Manchester is a leading institution in the study of Russian television and mass media.

Rutland is also professor of government, professor of Russian and Eastern European studies, tutor in the College of Social Studies. From May to June 2015, he will be a visiting scholars in the Centre for European Studies at Australian National University in Canberra.

Government Major Sveen Promotes Political Diversity on Campus through the Wesleyan Republican Committee

Emmakristina Sveen '17, of Denver, co-founded the Wesleyan Republican Committee this fall. The group now has more than 75 active members.

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,

Rutland’s Paper Focuses on Oil, Gas and National Identity in Russia

Peter Rutland

Peter Rutland

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.

Choice Names Eisner’s Book a “Outstanding Academic Title”

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.

NEH Awards Haddad, Shieh with Research Fellowships

Sanford Shieh and Mary Alice Haddad recently received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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,

McGuire Authors Chapter on Democracy, Political Regimes

James McGuire and Guillermo O'Donnell in 1985.

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.



Wang ’16 Advocates for Asian American Civil Rights

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.

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.