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Political science students wow at numerous conferences

Monday, May 6, 2013
Political science students wow at numerous conferences
By Eric Reikowski, media relations assistant

Benjamin Eveslage (center) discusses his political science poster. 
Over the past few months, students in Oakland University’s Department of Political Science have been busy presenting their work at state and national conferences. 

Four students – Dana Parke, Marc DuBuis, Benjamin Eveslage and Evan Jones– attended the 71st annual Midwest Political Science Association Conference in Chicago. Parke, a triple major in International Relations, French and African Studies, presented her paper, “Structural Adjustment, Democracy and Attitudes toward the West in Africa’s New Democracies.” 

“This project grew out of original interviews Dana conducted while studying abroad in Dakar, Senegal in the winter 2012 semester,” said Dr. Matthew Fails, assistant professor and co-author of the paper. “Specifically, the paper examines attitudes that citizens in four West African countries –Senegal, Ghana, Benin, and Nigeria – display about the costs and content of economic reform, and examines whether these patterns affect the development of what are called democratic legitimacy attitudes— namely, the extent to which citizens are satisfied and supportive of their new democratic political systems.”

Eveslage examined attitudes toward homosexuality in developing nations, while Evan Jones focused on issues surrounding the International Monetary Fund. DuBuis, a junior political science major, presented a project on private military and security companies and U.S. national interest from a realist perspective. 

Jane Dixon at the EU conference. 
“There was a good turnout and the presentations were both intriguing and insightful,” DuBuis said of the conference. “It was a great opportunity to receive feedback for my own research, and I am pleased with my paper's reception by other scholars at the conference. It was also an amazing opportunity to see the work of other intellectuals and interact in a scholarly forum.”

Meanwhile, three students took part in the 11th annual Claremont-UC Undergraduate Research Conference on the European Union in Claremont, Calif. The students – Jane Dixon, Drew Lewis and Alyssa Clark—were selected to attend the conference through a competitive process that included submitting an abstract of their papers. They conducted research as part of a course on European politics taught by Dr. Paul Kubicek, professor of political science.

Evan Jones at MPSAC.
“At the conference, our students presented their work on panels with other students, similar to how professors present their work at academic conferences,” Dr. Kubicek explained. “The conference also featured keynote addresses, including one by Lionel Jospin, former Prime Minister of France.”

Dixon’s work investigated why Greece has seen the emergence of right-wing political parties whereas Spain, which also is in the midst of an economic crisis, has not. Clark’s project compared far-right parties in Hungary and France, arguing that increased Europeanization and loss of identity has led to their emergence. Lewis’ paper examined anti-democratic actions by the current Hungarian government and the European Union’s response to those actions.

Dana Parke at MPSAC. 
Another student, Amy Urbanik, went to this year’s Michigan Academy of Science Arts & Letters Conference at Hope College. The junior public administration major presented research on how the study of behavioral economics can improve compliance to rules and regulations.

Marc DuBuis at MPSAC. 
“Public administrators try to improve compliance in various ways,” Urbanik explained. 

“For example, they can add rationale as to why they want someone to do something. “Someone is more likely to comply if you explain to them why they should do that task. In addition to providing rationale, a public administrator could provide incentives or punishment as to why someone should complete a task.” 

For more information on programs and opportunities in the Department of Political Science, view the website at oakland.edu/polisci.

Oakland University is a vibrant academic community with nearly 20,000 students and more than 260 degree and certificate programs. To learn more about academics, achievements, and events at OU, visit the news site at oakland.edu/newsatou and follow the news team on Twitter at @OaklandU_News.