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Department of Political Science

Greetings from the Faculty and the Chair

Dr. Sean K. Anderson
Department of Political Science
Email: andesean@isu.edu

Dr. Sean K. Anderson

August 2013

Welcome to the Department of Political Science at Idaho State University!
My fellow faculty members and I welcome you! We look forward to another productive and rewarding academic year serving our students, our profession, and our community. Our challenge is to continue to refine our department offerings in this ever changing world to offer our students the best education possible. The Department of Political Science continues to be a significant presence within the College of Arts and Letters with over 170 undergraduate majors and 67 graduate students making it the third largest graduate department in the College of Arts and Letters. Our graduate programs have all experienced growth over the last year with total numbers growing from 45 to 67 graduate students, an increase of 49 percent. As the Chair of this department I endeavor to serve you, our students, and to serve my fellow teachers by seeking to increase and improve the resources needed to give you the best possible education in learning and appreciating our discipline of Political Science.

Moving forward:
As part of an ambitious university-wide reorganization the university has created two new colleges: the College of Sciences and Engineering, and the College of Arts and Letters, which is the home of our department. The new College of Arts and Letters has benefited from the energy and vision of its first and current Dean, Professor Kandi Turley-Ames, formerly the Chair of the Department of Psychology. The College has an Arts and Letters Division, headed by Associate Dean Randy Earles, and the Social Sciences Division, headed by Associate Dean Ron Hatzenbuehler, in which are found Political Science, Anthropology, Economics, History, the International Studies Program, the James E. Rogers Department of Mass Communication, Military Science, Psychology, and Sociology. As of August 31st Dr. Ron Hatzebuehler will retire after concluding 41 years of service at ISU. His role will be filled by acting associate deans Dr. Mark McBeth and Dr. John Grivas.

In order to expand faculty input into college-wide decision making processes, the University mandated the creation of a new College Executive Committee whost first President was Professor Mark McBeth, a senior faculty member of our Department who is now working with the Office of the Dean of the College of Arts and Letters.

The Department of Political Science has a history of excellence as recognized by our peers at Idaho State University spanning over 30 years: we have had four Most Distinguished Teachers, one Most Distinguished Public Servant, three Master Teacher awards, two Outstanding Researcher awards, as well as two Outstanding Public Service awards. Even better days lie ahead as this Department is experiencing growth and development of our faculty with the addition of new dynamic scholars who are also highly committed to our students' success in active learning and intellectual development. We are fortunate to welcome Dr. Jeffrey Callen back. Professor Callen is no longer a Visiting Professor but he returns as a tenure-track Assistant Professor. Last year as Visiting Professor Dr. Callen taught Administrative Process, Urban and Metropolitan Studies, Research Methods for Public Administration, Public Service Ethics, as well as the Introduction to American Government course. Dr. Callen also taught a graduate seminar based on his research interests exploring the intersection of emerging technology, neoliberalism, individualism, and the state.

We are also pleased to welcome Dr. Daniel Hummel whose specialties in public administration include Public Budgeting, Alternative Municipal Finance, the Right-Sizing of cities, and Minority Group Interaction with Local Governments. Dr. Hummel also is an expert in local government development in Indonesia where he resided for some time. He brings experiential knowledge about the issues of development and democratization in newly-democratizing nations. It is noteworthy that our Department is attracting and retaining junior faculty who are not only cutting-edge researchers but also have shown highly effective teaching methods as well. Dr. Earl Phippen continues to serve as a Visiting Professor and is our main teacher of U.S. Constitutional Law and adviser of pre-law students.

Currently our Department is recruiting more new faculty to fill two open positions. It should be noted that one of our Professors Emeriti, Dr. Douglas Nilson, continues to teach courses when the need for an additional instructor arises. He also continues to advise students. Dr. Nilson received the Most Distinguished Public Service Award in 2005.

I am also very happy to report that Dr. Donna Lybecker won the 2013 Most Distinguished Teacher Award. The award is the most prestigious internal honor awarded to faculty in this university. She was also similarly recognized as a Master Teacher at ISU in 2011, providing further proof that our department is attracting and retaining high quality faculty. Also Dr. Lybecker currently serves as Director of our Graduate Programs.

Dr. Mark McBeth, Professor of Public Administration, is a prolific researcher of public policy issues related to environmental affairs. Dr. McBeth pioneered development of a very useful new tool of quantitative analysis namely The Narrative Policy Framework (NPF) which received high praise in two major public policy texts in 2012. In 2012 alone Dr. McBeth and his NPF have been cited 75 times. His Narrative Policy Framework was given extended treatment in Smith and Larimer's 2013 edition of their book Public Policy Primer. The NPF originated in his graduate student research teams at Idaho State University and its national and international success is a positive reflection on the faculty and graduate students in our department. It should be noted that Mark McBeth also won the Master Teacher Award in 2001, then the Most Distinguished Teacher award in 2005 and in 2011 was recognized by the Outstanding Researcher award.

Dr. Wayne Gabardi, who was Chair from 2005 until 2011, also was named a Master teacher in 2004. He continues to be our department liaison for the High School Dual Enrollment Program and continues his service on the departmental graduate committee. He teaches courses in Political Theory, Political Philosophy, our Introduction to Politics course, a doctoral Seminar on the Philosophy of the Social Sciences, and our Senior Seminar course. Dr. Gabardi remains up to date in his field as he is a voracious reader of his discipline. He spent much of his time as chair developing a book project that focuses on examining Western anthropocentric thinking from the ancient Greeks to the present. With the title The Next Social Contract: Life in the Anthropocene, the finished book will have six chapters and will be around 250 pages. The Anthropocene is the term for that portion of geological history for which there is evidence of human activity affecting the world's ecology and environment.

Our adjunct (part time) faculty are much valued by our department, bringing invaluable practitioner experience into the classroom. This superb group of instructors includes attorney Mr. Tom Eckert, Esq., who teaches criminal law, and our own Doctor of Arts (DA) graduates Dr. Henry Evans who is also an ISU administrator, Dr. Earl Phippen, a former Air Force Academy instructor, and Dr. Seth Kellam, who teaches courses at our Idaho Falls facility.

More Opportunities for Quality Education For Our Students:
During the past year our Department has put a number of courses entirely on-line, including several sections of our basic Introduction to American Government course as well as the Introduction to Politics course. Our Department members are considering how best to put higher division courses on-line. Thanks also to our new hires, four more courses are available for our students: Finance and Budgeting is again being offered by Dr. Hummel, who is also beginning a new course, Community and Regional Planning. Dr. Callen taught a new course, Metropolitan and Urban Studies, and also taught a Seminar in Online Teaching which will strengthen the D.A. degree. Drs. Callen and McBeth won infrastructure development grants to provide four computer work stations for the use of students and visitors which are being installed, one in the Department Library (Graveley Hall 300) and the other in the Conference Room (Graveley Hall 313). We hope to make the Department's suite more inviting for all our students and for visitors and so help to foster a warmer sense of community.

Through the forward-looking work of Dr. Donna Lybecker, an agreement was concluded between ISU and Brigham Young University-Idaho that will allow seniors in BYU-I's Political Science program to begin Political Science graduate coursework as part of a program of pre-graduation acceptance into our Masters of Arts program. This is likely to be the first of several such programs to give students graduating from other Idaho or regional colleges the opportunity to transition into graduate programs at ISU. Dr. Lybecker has also become the Social Science site leader for the NSF EPSCoR-funded project: Idaho Research Infrastructure Improvement: Water Resources in a Changing Climate. The NSF EPSCoR project has trained numerous undergraduate and graduate students in research and outreach activities, provided start-up and facilities augmentation for faculty campus wide, helped jump-start existing junior faculty, and placed ISU in the national and international research and outreach spotlight. This will no doubt provide many Political Science graduate and undergraduate students a chance to participate in basic research to address the practical problems of water resources management in Idaho and which will benefit other arid Western States as well.

Our Department also continues to work with the International Studies Program, and its full-time Director, Dr. Raphael Njoku, while many political science majors also participate in the International Affairs Council. During the 42nd Annual Frank Church Symposium on International Affairs, named in honor of the late U.S. Senator from Idaho, that was held from February 27 to March 1, Idaho State University's International Affairs Council featured the theme of "Leadership and Power Struggles in the Contemporary World." General Amos "Joe" Jordan delivered the keynote address "Global Deal Breakers: Eight Crucial Challenges Facing the United States" in which he identified U.S. public and private debt as the leading threat to the ability of the United States to maintain a positive leadership role in the world. He also discussed the tense and problematic relations between China and the United States, and the threats emanating from Iran's nuclear ambitions, North Korea, nuclear proliferation in general, and the uncertain outcome of the recent turmoils within the Middle East. Brigadier General Amos Jordan, who was born in Idaho, has served as Deputy Undersecretary of Defense in the Department of Defense and also as Deputy Undersecretary of State in the U.S. State Department.

Fond Farewell to Cheryl Hardy and Warm Welcome to Michelle Munoz
The first person whom you are likely to see seated behind the entrance-way desk when you enter the Political Science Department office suite is the Department's Administrative Assistant. As our experienced undergraduate majors and graduate students know, the Administrative Assistant does much of the behind-the-scenes busy-work of advising, preparing schedules, programs of study, graduation auditing, and a number of other tasks involving budget management, and maintaining vital communications between our department and other university bodies. Without that person our Department would be less able to deliver you the best education possible needed to achieve your goals. For over 20 years Cheryl Hardy was that person whose dedicated work ethic, accumulated knowledge, problem-solving skills, friendliness, and sociability made the Department able to function effectively through good and bad times. We wish her well as she begins her retirement and hope the best for her and her family.

After a very extensive search among a large number of highly-qualified candidates our Department selection committee, consisting of the Chair, and two high-level staff of the College of Arts and Letters, conducted interviews and chose Michelle W. Munoz to become our Department's new Administrative Assistant. Michelle previously served as an A.A. with the former Chair of the History Department who is now our current Provost, Dr. Laura Woodworth-Ney. Therefore she comes to us with a good background of institutional knowledge of ISU and its processes and also from a background of serving as a student adviser. She is a cheerful and energetic person who will continue Cheryl Hardy's tradition of professionalism, pride in her work, and eagerness to help both the faculty members and the ordinary students succeed in our common educational mission.

Given the substantial positive roles that our Administrative Assistants play in helping our students achieve their academic and career goals some students have asked me, "Why don't you put Cheryl's photo in the Faculty and Staff page?" The truth is, I did ask her, and her reply was that she did not want her photo there. When I asked Michelle if she wanted her picture on the page she also declined. To me this shows that professionalism in our staff is crowned with the grace of humility: they have put serving you and ISU as their first priority.

Some words of advice to new undergraduate majors and minors: be pro-active, creative, and entrepreneurial in planning and completing your programs! Currently the employment scene for a newly-graduated liberal arts major is daunting. Public sector employment is no longer a given in an era of increasing fiscal restraints and likely cutbacks in public spending. In truth opportunities for employment in higher academia are also intensely competitive. When picking electives to complete your B.A. or B.S. requirements you should consider acquiring skills in demand in the changing job markets, e.g. internet technology, accounting, computer information assurance, and the like. Any political science graduate with a strong foundation in statistics will be a more desirable hire than one lacking such a background. But most of all your potential employers will be interested in whatever practical experience you have acquired: Many are skeptical of four-point GPAs and praise-filled letters from your instructors. They are much more impressed with letters of recommendation from people whom you worked for as interns, campaign workers, service organization volunteers, or private sector employees.

One opportunity available at ISU for students to gain "real world" experience on and off campus is the Career Path Internship which enables students to be employed in substantive activities, such as in office-based or field-work research with an ISU faculty member, or work within an ISU-community joint project. Not only does the CPI intern receive actual pay for his or her work but there is evidence that CPI interns experience improvements in their academic performance as well.

When your former supervisors can vouch for your having a strong work ethic, good social skills in dealing with fellow workers, effective service of their clients, and also effective communication skills, then the doors of employers are more likely to welcome you than if you appear before them with only a diploma in hand. Similarly if you are among those who have already decided to pursue some sort of post-graduate studies or law school acquaint yourself with the facts regarding the job market for graduates of post-graduate academic or professional programs. In a nation whose law schools are producing more lawyers per capita than anywhere else in the world, or even more than in our previous history, you will be a more attractive candidate to potential employers if you have extra skills and work experience, such as some International Studies background, multi-lingual fluency, or some previous work experience in a law office or in an internship. These are just the hard facts of our job market . . and making yourself aware of your job market and economic environment is also a part of the discipline of political science.

Overall I am enthusiastic about where our department currently is and where we are headed. Please feel free to visit the other links on our website to learn more about our programs, our faculty, and our students. We are especially interested in hearing from former students. Send us an email to let us know what you are doing now.

Also I wish to thank Mr. Paul Camuso for his help in editing and revising this page.

Best Wishes,

Sean Anderson

Last Modified: 02/11/14 at 01:17:18 PM
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