Wednesday, May 16, 2018

History & Political Science Banquet Honors Student Achievements

On Saturday, May 5, the History & Political Science Department held its annual banquet to celebrate graduating departmental seniors.  We honored student leadership in our departmental clubs, the Ruth Stratton Award recipient, as well as the thesis work of our graduating seniors. 

Five of our recent alumni at the annual banquet

Students & Faculty at departmental banquet

Public History students with Lenora Henson (adjunct professor & curator at the Teddy Roosevelt Inaugural Site)

At the banquet we also honored Jessica Zimpfer, the recipient of our annual Distinguished Alumni award.  Zimpfer, class of 2006, spoke eloquently about how the department shaped her career trajectory, stating, “I honestly would not be where I am in my life if I had not been a part of this program.”  Zimpfer went on to earn a Master’s degree in Social Work and currently works as a Therapist for Crisis Services in Buffalo, where she provides “free supportive counseling to survivors of sexual violence and elder abuse, bearing witness to their trauma, validating their experiences, teaching coping skills and how to use them, reminding them of their own self-worth and their progress, and moving with them as they go through the healing process.”  This is incredibly important work and we, as a department, could not be more proud of Zimpfer’s success.

Jessica Zimpfer (class of '06) speaks to department students, alumni, and faculty about how her degree impacted her career.

This year’s Ruth Stratton Award winner was Megan Racinowski .  Megan is a Political Science major—with planned minors in History, Pre-Law, and Literature—who just completed her second year at Daemen.   The Ruth Stratton Award honors the legacy of Ruth Stratton, a long-time professor in the History & Political Science department.  Stratton exhibited excellence as a teacher, advisor, and visionary for the department and College as a whole.  The Scholarship seeks to recognize a student whom we believe can someday exhibit that level of professional excellence in his or her chosen career.  We, as a department, are confident that Megan exhibits this potential for excellence.  As a Sophomore, Megan has completed the Washington Internship Institute program and has plans to attend law school when she graduates (you can read more about Megan's amazing Washington, D.C. internship here).  She will be completing a second internship this summer with Congressman Brian Higgins (NY-26), exhibiting her passion for her education and taking full advantage of the high impact practices available at Daemen. 

Megan Racinowski outside of the Russell Senate office building for her internship in Washington, D.C.

Our Best Senior Thesis Award this year went to Brianna Zichettella for her thesis entitled, “American Confederates and Deep State Subversives: Comparing Echo Chamber Formation on Hannity and The Rachel Maddow Show.” Brianna watched Rachel Maddow’s and Sean Hannity’s punditry for one month and compared their framing of news items, tone of coverage, and quality of the guests brought on to analyze newsworthy items.  Her senior thesis demonstrated the capability of both of these political pundits to create an echo chamber and further the polarization of our political dialogue.

Brianna Zichettella, winner of the Best Senior Thesis Award

In addition to Brianna, Dr. Andrew Wise and I—as the thesis instructors this year—decided to award distinction to several other senior thesis projects.  Several of our students wrote high quality theses and truly embraced the process of researching an area of interest.  Each of these students also focused on topics that exhibit the importance of civic knowledge and research related to social justice.  Taqiyah Gibbons wrote about the commodification of slavery and the importance of historical context on former slave plantations.  Shaquilla Reid researched the opioid crisis and how it compared with the 1980's war on drugs.  Her research lends credence to the idea that the racial groups affected by the crisis impact the government’s response.  Casey Young’s thesis focused on the human rights violations at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba—a topic which has continued to be apart of the national conversation about the treatment of prisoners and military detainees.  Shamella Jeffers focused on the portrayal of African Americans in popular culture, specifically focusing on the satirical take on race relations in The Boondocks.  Finally, Ryan Langer researched the role of Nestor Makhno, a Ukrainian anarchist, in the Russian Revolution.  Dr. Wise and I were both impressed with the quality of work of each of these students and were happy to grant each of them a distinction in research award. 

Senior Thesis Distinction Award recipients (from left to right): Taqiyah Gibbons, Shaquilla Reid, Brianna Zichettella, and Shamella Jeffers.  Not pictured: Ryan Langer and Casey Young

We are incredibly proud of all of our graduating seniors and wish them the best of luck with their chosen career paths! We have several students pursuing graduate school and law school as well as several who have already found jobs in their field.  We wish them all the success in the world and cannot wait to invite them back to the banquet as alumni (and maybe as distinguished speakers)!  

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Senate 101: Interning with Senator Tom Carper

Megan Racinowski outside the Russell Senate Office Building in Washington, D.C.

This semester, Megan Racinowski (sophomore, PSC major) is interning in Washington, DC, with Delaware Senator Tom Carper. She describes her experience in a guest blog post.

Senate 101: Interning with Senator Tom Carper
By Megan Racinowski
I approached Mr. Lamark Shaw early in my freshman year to discuss the Washington Internship Institute program. After our discussion I was ready to pack my bags and be off to DC, but I learned that I had to wait till at least my sophomore year to go on this journey. During my freshman year  I continued to work hard but was eager to find out what the future holds. When the time came, I sent in my application to the WII in August 2017 and got an acceptance letter the very next day. I was very excited to start this journey and to be able to try something out of my comfort zone.
"I have a strong passion for environmental work and being able to work with the committee allowed me to see first-hand a push for change in environmental policy in a time when this is so important."
Interning in Senator Tom Carper’s office is a very fun and important experience for me that is shaping the person I am becoming. The most important part for me is that Senator Carper is a ranking member on the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, which brings close cooperation with the workers on the committee. I have a strong passion for environmental work and being able to work with the committee allowed me to see first-hand a push for change in environmental policy in a time when this is so important. As an intern in Senator Carper’s office I am given the freedom to follow my policy interests by attending many different committee hearings, and connecting with individuals in those policy realms. 

Megan with Senator Tom Carper (Delaware)

As an intern I do not answer phones all day, and often get to help with important tasks in the office varying from policy research for the Legislative Correspondents to helping get various Senators’ and Representatives’ signatures for co-sponsorship on legislation. One of the most memorable experiences from my internship was being able to get lunch with my fellow interns, my internship coordinator, and Senator Carper. Senator Carper always takes the time to personally meet with his interns and get to know them and their career goals. The Senator always made a point of saying hello to the interns and bringing interns into different meetings he would have. The atmosphere in the office was always welcoming and inviting, making me feel comfortable and excited to go to work every day. I will always cherish my time in Senator Carper’s office, and will continue to grow from my experience.

At work in Senator Carper's office

The WII program pushes students to become not only better people, but to become better students and workers as well. Students in the WII program's Inside Washington track take two different classes. One is a career seminar class and the another is a class of the student's choice, either in international relations or American politics. The career seminar class teaches students about presenting yourself within the job market and how to land the job of your dreams. Some of the activities in this class included a resume and cover letter workshop, mock job interviews, practicing an elevator speech, and discussing my career goals. 

My class on American politics has pushed me outside of my comfort zone and helped me gain self-confidence that I did not have before. I now feel comfortable to one day enter the job market, because I feel prepared and confident in myself and my ability.  The class emphasizes debating skills and how to have a good discussion with peers about controversial issues like gun-control, abortion, and marriage equality. In the polarized political climate we are currently living in, the class has forced me to hear other people’s opinions and to try to understand different perspectives on issues. My fellow classmates are all working at different places--ranging from think tanks, to lobbying firms, to Capitol Hill--and being able to talk to them about their experiences helps me grow as a person and learn about the job world. I appreciate that the internship is teaching me what it is like to work in an office environment. I think the experience I am getting through my internship will set me apart from peers when I enter the job market.
At the Women's March, January 2018
My time on the Hill is influencing my growth as a student and as a person. I am seeing how government actually works, getting hands-on experience within our government, and expanding my network.

The internship pushes me to take advantage of all the opportunities that come my way. My classes have helped me develop the skills I need to be successful in my future endeavors. I have grown and will continue to grow as a person from my internship/classes and am eager for my future. My internship has reignited the fire inside of me to fight for change and make a lasting difference in the world around me.

"My internship has reignited the fire inside of me to fight for change and make a lasting difference in the world around me."

For more information on the Washington Internship Institute, contact Mr. Lamark Shaw in Daemen's Career Services office.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

              Annual Model UN Simulation
  On Wednesday, April 18th 2018, students from PSC 121: International Relations participated in a Model UN Simulation as part of Daemen's annual Academic Festival. Students represented various states in meeting of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC)  held to discuss the ongoing territorial disputes in the South China Sea and vote on the proposed resolution. The countries involved in this simulation were Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Philippines, as well as the permanent members of the UNSC (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom(UK), and the United States of America (US)).
 Each country gave a short speech introducing their positions on the issue. The states that had the most to say were China, Indonesia, and the Philippines. China reinforced their claims to the nine-dash line and claimed that the water was “historically” their property noting that several other nations recognized the nine-dash line as valid. Indonesia was the main opponent to China, in that they were disputing the validity of the nine-dash-line as well as China’s claims to the entire region; they were of course backed by the United States as well as the United Kingdom. Indonesia strongly disagreed with China’s “historical” claims to the water, and asserted their rights and sovereignty over the waters in their Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The Philippines delivered a powerful speech as well about negotiating and signing a bilateral treaty with China, and they encouraged other countries (Malaysia, Indonesia, and Japan) to do so as well. The Philippines and China both claimed that their treaty was mutually beneficial, with joint security guarantees from both countries. 
After all the countries delivered their positions on the territorial disputes in the South China Sea, the moderators conducted an open debate; the question that generated the most controversy was “Do any countries have the claim or desire to expand their territory in the South China Sea?”. The Philippines found this question particularly offensive as did China, this resulted in strained arguments among the states creating a tensed and chaotic atmosphere. Another point of note was that China claimed that the nine-dash line and the Law of the Sea were not mutually exclusive agreements and said that they were willing to create treaties with any country that approached them. 
 At the end of the debate the resolution was introduced and each state cast their vote: only two of the eight states voted for the resolution (Indonesia and Russia), one state abstained from the vote (Japan), the rest of the states adamantly voted against the resolution. No amendments were added to the resolution at any point. The moderator and the USG worked hard to synthesize all position papers and create a balanced resolution that would be appealing to all states involved. The main points of the resolution were as follows:
1.   Demands, that any and all nations halt military or other  aggressions towards one another in a timely fashion, this includes intervention by the USA, UK, France and Russia.
2.    Endorses the renaming of the area known as the South China Sea, that it gives the false impression that China is entitled to the area. 
3. Encourages all states to immediately halt their all activities in the area, and acknowledge what they have and what all countries already have. It is also advisable that no state continues with their intentions to build any other islands and enact efforts to preserve the remaining wildlife reefs.
4.     Encourages  a spirit of cooperation between all states with stake in the sea, as laid out in United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) Treaty,  to sign a treaty acknowledging each other state's claim to the area as well as indicating they will allow  free and open trade in the area.
5.   Demands, China to denounces the nine-dash line, in exchange they may keep the islands created and  claim the law of the sea from those areas (200 miles off the coast).
6.  Proposes, that any and all nations that lay similar claims to Similar Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ) under the UNCLOS Treaty work out additional treaties with each other that are both fair and righteous to both states.
7.     Advocate Support for these treaties, if needed, to be supervised and overseen by a third party (state, NGO, or IGO) with no direct benefit from either state control of more of the EEZ then the other.
8.    Proposes treaty designed to allow shared fishing territories and resources throughout the region, if so desired by state, with predetermined compensation.

Representative from France presenting their position

Speech by the representative of Indonesia

Speech from the representative of Malaysia

Moderator introducing the simulation

Team representing the Phillippines

Speech by Russia



Speech by US representative

  Students were particularly excited at having the opportunity to engage in experiential learning. They conducted several weeks of in-depth research on their assigned states and roles before the showcase. While all teams performed enthusiastically, students in the class voted to award the best performance to Team China and Team France/ UK for their outstanding knowledge and performance. A special mention to the Philippines and Indonesia who also received several votes and were runners-up for the best performance award.

Blog post by Kaitlin Kinkade (Served as Moderator in the Model UN Simulation) and Dr. Aakriti Tandon

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Thinking of majoring in History? AHA report on career paths & earnings

The stereotypes about the supposed "dead-end" of a liberal arts degree--especially in humanities disciplines such as History, English, Philosophy, and Languages--has become deeply entrenched in the public imagination. Fortunately, the importance of these liberal arts fields are being rediscovered and are gaining renewed attention as versatile and flexible areas of study that equip students with knowledge and intellectual skills that are highly valued by employers, that result in a high degree of career satisfaction, and that provide the flexibility to adapt to change careers during a lifetime of employment. (See, for example, discussion of recent books such as The Fuzzy and the Techie and Robot-Proof: Higher Education in the Age of Artificial Intelligence.)

The American Historical Association (AHA) recently published an article exploring career possibilities for history degree-holders in its magazine, Perspectives. "History is Not a Useless Major: Fighting Myths with Data" (April 2017) challenges the prevailing message that majoring in STEM disciplines is the only path to career success and examines myths about history. The article draws upon data comparing the marketability of various degrees, using census data from some 3.5 million American households, as analyzed by the American Community Survey (ACS).

History majors end up working in a wide range of career areas, as the chart below demonstrates:

"Data source: ACS 2010–14 5-year Public Use Microdata Sample (PUMS). Includes individuals who stated they were in full-time employment, between the ages of 25 and 64, had achieved a bachelor’s degree or higher, and had either history or US history as the field of study for their bachelor’s degree." (Fig. 1 from "History Is Not a Useless Major")

Describing the career paths of History graduates, the Perspectives story notes:
History majors seem particularly well-­prepared for, and attracted to, certain careers. Nearly one in five goes into education—just over half as primary-, middle-, and high-school teachers. Another 15 percent enter management positions in business, and 11 percent go into the legal professions (most becoming lawyers)....
It’s important to note that nearly half of the history majors identified by the ACS went on to graduate school—a much higher percentage than the national average (37 percent) and higher than majors in English (45 percent) and the liberal arts (26 percent). This might be because law, management, and education require advanced study. It could also mean that students interested in careers that require graduate training see a history major as a springboard. Likely it is a combination of the two. But knowing this, history departments must understand that it is imperative that they prepare majors for graduate school and offer guidance in educational and career choices.
The Perspectives story also challenges the myth of the underemployed humanities graduate, pointing out that the flexibility of the history degree results in a wide range of earnings for degree-holders--which reflect the wide range of career choices pursued by history gradates.

In fact, there is little difference in career earnings students who graduate with degrees from disciplines in the humanities, life sciences, or social sciences and behavioral sciences (see chart below). However, it is true that the earnings from the disciplinary fields in these academic areas are lower, on average, than earnings for fields such as engineering, physical sciences, health and medical sciences, and business. Since the chart explores correlations between the undergraduate degree and lifetime earnings, it is important to note that what graduates do with their bachelor's degrees, including whether they pursue further education through graduate school or professional training, can make a big difference in terms of income. Note the variation in earnings from the lowest 25th percentile, the 50th percentile, and the highest 75th percentile. (This point about the "value added" by further education is also true for bachelor's-degree holders in most disciplinary fields.)

"Data source: American Academy of Arts and Sciences Humanities Indicators, table III-4a. Available at" (source: Fig. 3 from "History Is Not a Useless Major")
The Perspectives story concludes by analyzing and contextualizing the data about the history degree:
In short, it is not that history majors are underpaid. It is that the diverse range of occupations that a history degree prepares them for includes several important, but vastly undervalued, public service careers. If the only consideration when choosing a major is whether you will be earning six figures by the age of 30, then history may not be the best field. But for students who are inspired by work in which the greatest rewards may not necessarily be financial, a history major remains an excellent option.
The ACS data shed fascinating light on some of the myths about life with a history degree. Majoring in history does not doom a graduate to a life of unemployment or under­employment. In fact, history majors go on to become much better educated than the average person, filling roles in a wider range of careers than holders of many other degrees. The worst that can be said of this situation is that many of those careers are socially undervalued. But that does not mean that a degree in history is any less valuable.

Monday, April 2, 2018

History major Taqiyah Gibbons receives AAUW scholarship to study abroad

History major Taqiyah Gibbons ('18) has received an award from the American Association of University Women's Chamberlin Grant & Loan fund, administered by the Buffalo Chapter of the AAUW. Taqiyah is a History major with minors in Public History, Pre-Law Studies, Criminal Justice, and Black Studies. She will use the award to help pay for a study abroad trip this summer.

Taqiyah Gibbons

The award from the AAUW is helping Taqiyah to realize her dream of international study:

"The American Association of University Women is an organization that I have not only supported for a long time but whose mission I closely align with. I have wanted to study abroad since my freshman year but because I come from a single parent household that idea has always seemed impossible. 

After doing my research, I decided to apply for the Chamberlin Grant through the Buffalo Chapter of AAUW. A few months and an interview later I was blessed to receive the grant, making it possible to finally study abroad. This is my final year and I wanted to end it knowing that I got the best experience out of my college career. AAUW believed in me enough to support one of my dreams and I am truly grateful that because of them this summer I will be able to leave this country for the first time and begin my journey of traveling the world."
The Chamberlin Loan program, which has been in operation since 1973, provides financial support  to underwrite educational expenses for female students, mainly in the form of low-interest loans. You can learn more about the Chamberlin Loan program and other grants offered by the AAUW's Buffalo chapter here.

Daemen's AAUW Student Organization supports and upholds the AAUW mission of expanding educational opportunities for women and narrowing the gender pay gap. The club is open to all Daemen students, who also receive a free e-membership from the AAUW because of Daemen's institutional membership in the AAUW. To join as a student member, click here and scroll down to the "Free e-Student Membership" link for AAUW College/University members. To learn more about Daemen's AAUW Student Organization, or to become a member, contact Dr. Penny Messinger, Women's Studies program director and faculty advisor for the AAUW Student Organization.

Daemen offers study-abroad opportunities all over the world. Interested in studying abroad? Contact our Global Programs office to learn more. 

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

The History and Political Science Department invites all current students, faculty and alumni of the department to join us for our annual banquet for an end of the year celebration and to honor our graduating class of 2018. Our guest speaker for the evening is Jessica Zimpfer (Class of '06, History and Government). The banquet is an opportunity for current students to meet with department alumni who have achieved success in diverse careers, building upon the foundation of their liberal arts education at Daemen College. We will also honor winners of Departmental Awards including including department valedictorian, the Samuel E. Morrison award (best thesis),  Ruth Stratton scholarship, and service to the student clubs (History and Government, Pre Law Student Association, AAUW).

The banquet is free for all current students as well as department alumni. Please RSVP to Deparment Chair, Dr. Penny Messinger by April 27 at Dear Alumni - Cant make it to the banquet? We want to hear from you! Please write to us with how your degree in History and Political Science is helping you succeed in your chosen field!

Monday, March 26, 2018

Dr. Lisa Parshall's talk at the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural Site, 3-27-18

Dr. Lisa Parshall, Professor of Political Science, will speak at the TR Inaugural Site on Tuesday night, sharing her research on the Presidential nominating system.

As Dr. Parshall explained, issues from the 1912 election has echoes still have resonance today:
The 1912 election saw TR declare, ‘I went before the people, and I won. Now the National Committee and a portion of the convention...are trying to cheat me out of the nomination. They can't do it.’  The same sentiment was echoed by Donald Trump in 2016. One man was denied the party's nomination, the other secured it -- and both nomination battles reshaped the Republican Party. Why did Roosevelt champion democratic nomination? Are presidential nominations truly democratic? And, should they be?
Dr. Parshall’s forthcoming book, Reforming the Presidential Nominating Process: Front-Loading's Consequences and the National Primary Solution (Routledge Press), will examine these questions in detail, while her talk on March 27th will look specifically at the role of Theodore Roosevelt and the election of 1912 in the fight to democratize the presidential nominating process.

Purchase your ticket at