Student Research

Four Principia undergraduates—Brandon McKee, Travis Sherwood, Maddie Charles and Ashley Argo—presented research papers at the annual meeting of the Illinois Political Science Association (IPSA). Professor Ira Smolensky of the Political Science Department at Monmouth College, read each of the research papers and provided a professional critique after the presentations to an audience of political science professors and graduate students, who then discussed the presentations.

This process, known as peer review, can be intense for young scholars, but Principia’s undergraduates fared so well that Professor Chris Newman, incoming editor of the Illinois Political Science Review, asked if the association could look forward to a similar panel next year.

All four students conducted their research and wrote their papers as part of the 2011 abroad to China and Kazakhstan, directed by John Williams, associate professor of political science and co-director of Asian studies at the College. The titles of their papers provide some sense of the scope of their work:

  • “China On Caffeine: The Entrance of Coffee by Westernization” (McKee)

  • “A Diploma for Nothing: A Look into the Reported Unemployment Problem for Recent Chinese University Graduates” (Sherwood)

  • “Who Will Care: The Effects of China’s One-Child Policy on Geriatric Care” (Charles)

  • “The Role of the Horse in Ancient/Modern China and Kazakhstan” (Argo)

Four students gave a panel presentation at the 2010 Popular Culture Association’s annual conference in St. Louis, Missouri. Their panel, “Vietnam Looks Outward,” grew out of the research they conducted in Vietnam and Cambodia, and included presentations on Vietnam’s colonial past and on Vietnamese views of Cambodia, Japan, and China.

At the 2008 annual meeting of the Illinois Political Science Association, Cate Norton (C'10) and Katie Palmer (C'09) presented a paper they’d co-written entitled “Candidate Sex and Voting: An Examination of Gender Bias.”

In 2008, Chelsea Kendrick (C'10) delivered her paper “An Unbroken Link: Democracy and Economics in Brazil” at the annual meeting of the Midwest Association of Latin American Studies (MALAS), held in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Her presentation was awarded second place for outstanding undergraduate paper.

I wrote a paper for a class on Latin American politics, and the professor asked me if I wanted to go to a conference in Nicaragua to present it. At the end of the conference, we had an audience with President Ortega.

John Williams, JD, and Dr. Brian Roberts presented papers on campaign advertising and project-centered learning at the Midwest Political Science Association. Recent Alum, Sarah Andrews (C'07), who is persuing her doctorate in foreign affairs at UVA, presented her research on agricultural policy in Malawi. Read more