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Faculty News and Achievements

Diplomacy Lab Coming

Subject to a final review and confirmation by the U.S. State Department, the University of Tennessee, through the Howard Baker, Jr. Center for Public Policy, has been selected to be a partner institution in Diplomacy Lab. UT will be one of a handful of universities participating in the program. Professors Brandon Prins and Krista Wiegand will develop a class related to real world security challenges identified by State Department.  Undergraduate students will work on policy responses to these challenges. Students will interact with State Department officials both via video conference and travel to DC to present and discuss their ideas and work. This will be a great collaborative program for the Baker Center and the Department of Political Science, but most importantly, it offers a unique opportunity for our students.


Faculty News

Adam Eckerd joined the department and the MPPA Program as assistant professor.  Eckerd joins us by way of the University of Kansas and most recently, Virginia Tech.  He holds a doctorate from the John Glenn School of Public Affairs at The Ohio State University, and a master's degree in Government from Johns Hopkins University. Eckerd conducts research on organizational decision making and the complex relationship between these and other policy decisions and social outcomes. His primary interests lie in understanding the outcomes for people and communities when government priorities are altered, particularly with regard to the social distribution of environmental quality, in addition to considering the role of nonprofit organizations in the provision of public services. Adam has published over a dozen articles and a book, Rethinking Environmental Justice in Sustainable Communities. He will be teaching courses on environmental policy, non-profit organizations and management and methods. In his free time, Adam enjoys hiking, running, and brewing beer.

This summer Professors Jana Morgan and Nathan Kelly have been doing research in Peru, for a project examining how social and economic exclusion and limited opportunities for political representation affect democratic legitimacy among historically marginalized sectors of the population. They have been interviewing local experts, government functionaries, and civil society leaders to better understand patterns of representation for marginalized groups, like indigenous, rural and Afro-Peruvians.

Morgan and Kelly have also accessed news reports and other secondary sources, collected extensive public opinion data, and analyzed household income data extending back before Peru's most recent transition to democracy. This research forms part of a larger project explore patterns of economic, social and political exclusion/inclusion in Latin America. For about one month of the three-month trip, Alina Clay (an undergraduate in the Chancellor's Honors program) worked alongside them as a research assistant while also doing some of the groundwork for her own honor's thesis on gender inequality and women's representation in Latin America and Eastern Europe.

Professor Danielle Atkins received the Robert C. Anderson Memorial Award from the University of Georgia where she received her doctorate. This award reflects an outstanding record of research accomplishment carried out as part of a candidate's graduate studies and during the period immediately following receipt of the terminal degree. The award is based on the scope and difficulty of the research, degree of innovation and independent thought, development of new ideas, techniques and methodology, and the significance of the candidate's research to his or her field. 

In announcing the award, the committee noted that  Atkins had already made numerous substantial contributions to her field. Her research seeks to understand how policies related to women's reproductive health influence individual decision making and health outcomes. Atkins has studied the impact of federal and state-level policy changes and how school-level policies such as on-site day care for the children of students, affect teenage sexual behavior and pregnancy risk. Her research findings have been widely disseminated throughout the media and have entered into the policy debate at many levels.

Professor Krista Wiegand traveled the world in the Spring 2015. She taught classes during the Semester at Sea's voyage on the M.V. Explorer, There were 630 students and about thirty-five  faculty members teaching classes on the ship. They traveled 23,500 nautical miles to twelve countries in East Asia, South Asia, and Africa. Professor Wiegand taught three courses: Human Rights, International Relations, and Politics of Developing Areas. She led her classes on visits to Non-Governmental Organizations in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam and the U.S. Consulate in Shanghai, China as field trips related to the courses. Classes were held almost every day when the group was at sea, with two to seven day trips to ports of call where students and faculty explored Myanmar, India, Mauritius, and South Africa. Professor Wiegand reports that the experience was incredible. Not only were the faculty and students able to see the world and live and work on a ship for four months, but to learn so much more about international relations and global security to supplement her research, as well as to broaden experiences she can share with students at UT.

During the summer 2015 Professor Ian Down led a group of UT students on a study abroad trip to London. The students lived in the center of London and undertook a course on the British Political System and Political Culture, combining class material with visits to historic sites, such as the Banqueting House, Westminster Abbey, the Houses of Parliament, the Cabinet War Rooms, the Royal Courts of Justice, Windsor Castle and Hampton Court Palace. In addition, students met with representatives of the United Kingdom political parties – the Conservative Party, the Labour Party, the United Kingdom Independence Party and the Scottish National Party – and visited a variety of politically and historically relevant locations within London. Professor Down is already planning a similar trip for summer 2016.


 Recent Faculty Achievements

Yang Zhong published "Do Chinese People Trust Their Government and Why?" Problems of Post-Communism, (2014) and "Urban Government Performance in the Eyes of Chinese Urban Residents," Asian Journal of Social Sciences (2015) .

Krista Wiegand had her edited volume, Islands of Contention: The China-Japan Border Dispute in a Multidisciplinary Perspective, (co-edited with Tim Liao and Kimie Hara) published in 2015. She also published an article, "The Korean-Japanese Security Relationship and the Dokdo Islets Dispute," The Pacific Review, vol. 28, (2015), p. 347-366.  Wiegand was also successful in attracting two grants. One of the grants from the Office of Naval Research, Minerva Research Initiative, ~$650,000, funded, 2015-2017, with University of North Texas, University of Iowa, and University of Georgia on the "Issue Correlates of War: Identity Claims." The other grant came from the South Korea Ministry of Foreign Affairs & KAUPA, funded for $10,000.

Professors John Scheb and Hemant Sharma published the fourth edition of their book, An Introduction to the American Legal System.

Professor Richard Pacelle had his book, The Supreme Court in a Separation of Powers System published.

Professor Anthony Nownes had the ninth edition of his co-edited volume, Interest Group Politics published.

Professor Jana Morgan had two recent publications. She co-authored an article with Alissandra Stoyan, Sara Niedzwiecki, Jonathan Hartlyn, and Rosario Espinal. "Trust in Government Institutions: The Effects of Performance and Participation in the Dominican Republic and Haiti." in International Political Science Review. And her chapter, "Gender and the Latin American Voter" appeared in the book, The Latin American Voter, (eds. Ryan Carlin, Matthew Singer and Elizabeth Zechmeister) with the University of Michigan Press.

Professor Nate Kelly (along with Eric Keller, featured elsewhere in this newsletter) published "Partisan Politics, Financial Deregulation, and the New Gilded Age," in Political Research Quarterly.

Professor Kyung Joon Han published "The Impact of Radical Right-Wing Parties on the Positions of Mainstream Parties Regarding Multiculturalism," in West European Politics (2014).

Professor Michael Fitzgerald received an Institute for Nuclear Security Seed Grant for "A Longitudinal Study of International Public Opinion and Mass Media Coverage of American Global Leadership and Foreign Policy:  Exploring the Dynamics of Global and Regional Anti-Americanism" in the amount of $18,000.


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