Skip to content

Political Science is on the Move

Message from the Department Head

PrinsMany exciting changes are taking place this year in the department. Our study abroad programs returned and welcomed a new cohort of students. Our undergraduate classes, both face to face and online, have filled quickly, showing the interest students have in learning about the critical issues confronting societies today. We also renovated office space in McClung Tower, secured new donations to the department that support graduate research, and brought three UT alumni back to campus to speak with current students about their own personal career paths.

Political science additionally welcomed three new faculty members to the department this past fall, which created excitement and energy inside and outside of the classroom. Xuhong Su, whose research focuses on corruption and accountability in public institutions, came to UT from the University of South Carolina and will be taking over administration of the Masters of Public Policy and Administration program. Stephanie Pierce brings a decade worth of experience working in public policy to the department and our students. Her research on housing policy is important as cities confront the challenges of sheltering the homeless. Finally, Kelly Morrison brings expertise in international law and human rights to our program; two critical areas of research that are in demand by graduate students. These three scholars expand our course offerings, introduce new ideas to students, and bring expertise to help solve public policy problems. 

Interest in a political science undergraduate degree has continued to increase. The number of majors and minors is at its highest level in years, which coincides with UT’s largest freshman class ever. Currently, there are more than 800 undergraduate students majoring or minoring in political science. The creation of concentrations has also received support from our students. In particular, the international relations concentration and law and courts concentration continue to be very popular, and the department has expanded course offerings in these two areas to meet student demand. The department also welcomed eight bright, new graduate students this past fall. Two of these students come to Knoxville from great distances: Nigeria and Greece. The new class of graduate students joins their more senior colleagues in pursuing important policy-relevant research that will help elucidate difficult challenges confronting Tennessee and our world today, such as climate change, violent extremism, poverty, discrimination, and sustainable development. The department expects great things from these students in the future. 

Let me end by indicating how thrilled I am to step into the head role. I have big shoes to fill and hope that I can meet expectations. My research focuses on the behavior of violent non-state actors, such as terrorists, pirates, and rebels. I use geo-spatial modeling tools to map the locations of violent attacks and the subsequent responses by local and regional authorities. I have been a faculty member in the political science department for the past 15 years and absolutely love UT and the Knoxville community. As head, my role is to help faculty, students, and staff accomplish their own educational and career goals. Please be sure to visit McClung Tower and the department when you are on campus. We would love to see you. Go Vols!


Brandon Prins
rofessor & Head

The flagship campus of the University of Tennessee System and partner in the Tennessee Transfer Pathway.