Wednesday, October 11, 2017

The Thoughtful Coal Miner--"Coal, Climate, and Environmental Backlash" tour--coming to Daemen on October 24

Nick Mullins, a 5th-generation former coal miner and author of The Thoughtful Coal Miner blog, will speak at Daemen College on October 24 as part of his "Coal, Climate, and Environmental Backlash" tour. His talk is sponsored by the History & Political Science Department (History & Politics Event Series), the Department of Modern Languages, the Social Work & Sociology Department, and the Department of Global and Local Sustainability at Daemen College. 

Details: Tuesday, October 24, from 11:30-12:30, in Scheck Hall, room 202, Daemen College (4380 Main Street, Amherst, NY 14226). This event is free & open to the public.

Nick Mullins
Mullins will draw upon his personal history as a former underground coal miner and energy transition advocate to explain the socioeconomic transition currently underway in Appalachia, as the region has shifted from being a bedrock of labor rights into a bastion of political conservatism, rallying around the coal industry's claims of being victimized in a "war on coal." The story in Appalachia is a microcosm of national patterns, where strong environmental advocacy movements have been undermined by the gutting of regulatory agencies charged with protecting public health and safety as well as regulatory capture, with industry officials appointed to positions in the agencies charged with industrial regulation. Meanwhile, scientific studies and enforcement initiatives related to climate change are being defunded, and social justice initiatives undermined.

Mullins arranged the "Coal, Climate, and Environmental Backlash" tour in order to help audiences understand the issues faced by working-class communities, as well as to rebuild stronger relationships among people in different parts of the country. His talk will address a range of topics, including the following:
  • Corporate manipulation of cultural values
  • The backlash in rural communities against environmentalism and liberalism
  • Outside exploitation of Appalachian resources and people
  • The power of the Jobs vs. Environment debate
  • Learning how to communicate across political and cultural lines

For more information about the tour, visit The Thoughtful Coal Miner blog or contact Dr. Penny Messinger.
Sponsored by: the History & Politics Event Series (History & Political Science Department); the Modern Languages Department,the Social Work & Sociology Department, and the Department of Global & Local Sustainability at Daemen College.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

History and Politics Event Series Presents: The New York State Constitutional Question

Ballot Choice 2017: Open Classroom Presentation 

On November 7, 2017, the voters of New York will confront a ballot question: “Shall there be a convention to revise the constitution and amend the same?” The New York State Constitution (Article XIX) mandates that this question be presented to the voters at least every 20 years. For a brief history and discussion of the convention process, see my earlier blog post and Chair’s report from the 2017 New York State Political Science Association Meeting.

The constitutional convention question is a unique opportunity for voters to review the foundation of New York State's governance and to compel a convention to study and propose necessary changes. The best way to make an informed decision on the ballot vote is to learn everything one can about the process. With less than a month to go before the vote, many New Yorkers have heard very little about the convention, or have received misinformation about the process and possible outcomes.

To help our students and interested members of the community better understand the process and issues, the History and Politics Event Series will offer a free public lecture on the New York State Constitutional Convention Question: Ballot Choice 2017. Two of the authors of New York’s Broken Constitution (2016 SUNY-Albany Press) will address the convention question in light of New York’s constitutional history, with an emphasis on the moment of opportunity that the 2017 ballot choice represents. The presentation will be followed by an opportunity for audience Q&A. This open classroom lecture is free and open to members of the public. 

The event will begin at 6:00 pm in Room 236 Duns Scotus Hall
Daemen College Main Campus
4380 Main Street, Amherst NY   

For questions, please contact Dr. Lisa Parshall (, Associate Professor of Political Science and Section Chair, State and Local Politics, New York Political Science Association (NYPSA).

About the Speakers

Christopher Bopst, Chief Legal and Financial Officer at Sam-Son Logistics
Christopher Bopst is the Chief Legal and Financial Officer at Sam-Son Logistics in Buffalo, New York. Before that, he was a constitutional litigation partner at law firms in New York and Florida. He is the co-author with Professor Peter Galie of the leading reference work on New York’s State Constitution, The New York Constitution 2nd ed.(Oxford University Press, 2012), as well as numerous articles on the state constitution. He is also a contributor to and co-editor with Peter Galie and Gerald Benjamin) of a volume of essays entitled New York’s Broken Constitution: The Governance Crisis and the Path to Renewed Greatness (SUNY Press, 2016). In 2016, he was appointed to a Judicial Task Force on the New York Constitution formed to advise the Chief Judge and the New York Court System on issues related to the upcoming vote in 2017 on the holding of a constitutional convention.

Peter J. Galie, Emeritus Professor of Political Science, Canisius College
Peter J. Galie is Emeritus Professor of Political Science, Canisius College in Buffalo, New York. He is the author of Ordered Liberty: A Constitutional History of New York (Fordham Press, 1996);with Christopher Bopst, The New York State Constitution, 2nd ed. (Oxford University Press, 2012) ; an co-editor with Christopher Bopst and Gerald Benjamin, New York’s Broken Constitution: The Crisis in Governance and the Path to Renewed Greatness (SUNY Press, 2016). Other publications include The New York Constitution and the Federal System,” in the Oxford Handbook on New York State Government (Oxford University Press, 2012) and numerous articles on state constitutional law. He was an expert witness retained by the Attorney General of New York to prepare a report for the A-G’s appellate brief in Hayden v. Pataki, “The Felony Disenfranchisement Clause of the New York Constitution 1821–1938: Background, Chronology, Origin & Purpose” (June, 2004), and co-author, amicus brief submitted to the New York Court of Appeals in the case of Skelos v. Paterson (2009) on the question: “Does the Governor have the authority to fill a vacancy in the Lieutenant-Governor’s Office by appointment?” In 2016 he was appointed to a Judicial Task Force on the New York Constitution formed to advise the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals on issues related to the upcoming vote in 2017 on the holding of a constitutional convention.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Alumni profile: Christina Auguste

Christina Auguste at Niagara Falls
Guest blog post by Christina Auguste
I'm Christina Auguste and I recently graduated from Daemen College's Political Science program. I had several minors: Black Studies, Global Studies, and Religion and Philosophy. In my final year at Daemen I completed an internship at the International Institute of Buffalo in their Regugee Resettlement Department, as well as writing my senior thesis, entitled "Economic Recovery and the Rwandan Genocide." It wasn't all easy, but with a healthy amount of complaining (on my part) and guidance from my instructors I was able to get it all done. 
Auguste with Daemen President Gary A. Olson, receiving the Canavan Award

On the eve of graduation I was awarded the Mary Angela Canavan Award. [note: The Mary Angela Canavan Award is a prestigious award recognizing a graduating senior who has made significant contributions to the improvement of student life at the college.] The Canavan Award recognized my work in creating a program to increase diversity amongst the Orientation Leader staff. Even though this project wasn't related to my coursework, I received help and support from the History & Political Science Department faculty from conception to implementation. All the professors shared my passion for the project, which made me feel like I had a team behind me. 
My advisor, Dr. Aakriti Tandon, guided me through my senior year, particularly when I was applying to graduate programs. Thanks to her, to the department, and to my peers, I currently attend New York University's School of Professional Studies (SPS). I've joined their Masters of Science in Global Affairs Program. It's a new life at NYU and a little daunting at times but I know I can always call my favorite professor, Dr. Jay Wendland, to complain, and to get words of encouragement. 
Christina poses with Dr. Jay Wendland, Assistant Professor of Political Science, after commencement.

Friday, September 22, 2017

Constitution Day: Building Civic Literacy

National Constitution Day and Citizenship Day: Understanding the Importance of Civic Education 

The United States Constitution was signed by the delegates of the constitutional convention on September 17, 1787.  Ratified and put into effect in 1789, it is the oldest, functioning written constitution in the world.  All federal and state officials are required to take an oath to support and defend the U.S. Constitution. To satisfy the requirements for naturalization, all new citizens must pass a citizenship test which tests their knowledge of its contents and the functioning of the U.S. political system.  In 2004, Senator Robert Byrd (WV) sponsored legislation to mandate a National Constitution and Citizenship Day to encourage all citizens to reflect upon and learn about the the foundation of our constitutional system of government. 

Basic civic literacy is arguably the cornerstone of a healthy, functioning democracy. Our system of representative government is predicated upon an active and informed citizenry.  Unfortunately, while the value of civic knowledge receives considerable lip service, the quality of civic education in the United States can be viewed as lacking. A recent survey by the Annenberg Public Policy Center found that only 26% of people could correctly identify all three branches of government; 33% could not name a single one. Americans' low level of political knowledge has been much lamented and is a popular subject for late-night comedy shows which feature respondents who are unable to answer basic questions about political and current events. But the lack of civic knowledge is really no laughing matter.

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For "we the people" to play an active role in shaping the system, laws, and structure of the society in which we live, we must first and foremost understand the system, its rules and processes and the history and events which led to its development. For "we the people" to exercise an informed voice, we must have familiarity with the the range of actors who exercise power in the policy making environment. Knowledge, as they say, is power.  

It is the mission of the History and Political Science Department to promote civic literacy and to empower our students in their role as citizens. To that end, we have honored Constitution Day and Citizenship Day through a broad range of activities, including educational programming, nonpartisan voter registration efforts, and the assessment and promotion of civic knowledge.  This year, student representatives of the Pre-Law Student Association (PLSA) and History and Government Clubs (H&G Club) handed out free copies of the U.S. Constitution, assisted with voter registration, and administered a quiz for students to test their knowledge of the Constitution. 

82 Students took our Constitution Day Quiz. This was a non-random sampling comprised of students who were willing to take a pop-quiz motivated by a free mini-constitution and a chance to win one of three $10 Amazon Gift Cards.

Members of the Pre-Law Student Association (PLSA) and History & Government Club staffed
a Constitution Day Table, assisting with voter registration and handing out
 free mini-constitutions and prizes for students taking the Constitution Day Quiz.

The results of our quiz were somewhat mixed. 

On the basics of separation of powers, 94% of respondents correctly identified the president as the head of the executive branch. Daemen students also did well with recalling specific details (fill-in-the-blank). 73% correctly indicated the length of the term of U.S. Senators is 6 years; 61% correctly identified the number of electoral College votes necessary to win the presidency as 270 and the number of times the Constitution has been amended as 27.  Just over half, however, correctly identified declaration of war as one of the enumerated powers assigned to Congress.

Less than 30% could answer a basic question about the constitutional process of impeachment (specifically, that it is the U.S. Senate which tries impeachment cases).  And almost half (49%) believed that Congress has the authority to revise the constitution by a simple majority vote in both chambers. (In actuality, an amendment requires two-thirds approval by both Houses of Congress followed by ratification by three-fourths of the states--a very demanding threshold).  And only 28% knew that when no candidate receives 270 electoral college votes, the selection of the president falls to the U.S. House of Representatives.  

So while our students were proficient on some of the basics, their understanding of more in-depth constitutional processes was lacking, suggesting that there is more work to be done.

For now, many students left happy with a shiny copy of the U.S. Constitution. And three students were the lucky winners of our raffle: Carly Hardick, Bryon Anglade, and Darcy Paradiso. Congratulations!

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Happy Constitution Day!

The Pre-Law Student Association and History and Government Club Celebrate Constitution Day

September 17, 2017 is national Constitution and Citizenship Day, commemorating the signing of the United States Constitution on September 17, 1787.  The Constitution achieved ratification in June, 1788 having received the required approval of 9 of the 13 States (U.S. Constitution, Article 7). Consisting of 7 original articles and clocking in at just over 7,500 words, the Constitution has been amended just 27 times in the last 226 years. It is a document of extraordinary legitimacy and longevity. On this day, all citizens are encouraged to reflect upon our shared constitutional history and values, and to reaffirm our shared commitment to participating as an active, informed citizen in a representative democracy.   

To honor this day, the History and Political Science Department and affiliated student organizations, have offered a wide-range of constitutional day activities, programming, and events.  This year, we are inviting students, faculty, and staff to test their knowledge of the Constitution by taking a quick Constitution Day Quiz.  Stop by our table in the Wick Center Lobby on Monday, September 18 (from 11:00 - 1:00) and enter your quiz results for a chance to win one of three gift cards (raffle to be conducted the following week).  

We will also be giving away free pocket-sized Constitutions, a booklet containing the texts of the U.S. Declaration of Independence and United States Constitution, along with fun facts and historical tidbits on the founding documents.  

We will also have voter registration forms on hands and will assist anyone looking to register to vote.  (We'll even take care of the postage for you). 

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Focusing on Constitutional Reform

Upcoming Talk: "Responding to Constitutional Imperfections: The Theory and Practice of Constitutional Amendment Throughout the United States."

On Tuesday, September 12 at 7.30 pm, Dr. Parshall, Associate Professor of Political Science, will participate in a Constitution Day Panel sponsored by the Canisius College Raichle Pre-Law Center and the Bar Association of Erie County.

The panel will examine how constitutions in the United States—federal and state—are subject to amendment. The history of amendments to the U.S. Constitution, the infrequency of amendments following the Bill of Rights, and recent efforts by state legislatures to convene a federal constitutional convention will be discussed. We will also present an overview of the various ways that state constitutions can be amended, such as through ballot initiative and legislative amendments. Given that the question of whether to hold a convention to revise the New York State Constitution will be on the ballot this November, there will be a focus on the methods by which the New York Constitution can be revised, and the reasons why voters have rejected calls for a constitutional convention in the past. The political obstacles to constitutional amendments, and the role of the legal community in helping voters navigate the competing narratives attending the process will also be considered.

Speakers will include:
Christopher Bopst, chief legal and financial officer, Sam-Son Logistics
Professor James Gardner, University at Buffalo Law School
Lisa Parshall, PhD, associate professor of Political Science, Daemen College
Robert A. Klump, director of the Frank G. Raichle Pre-Law Center, will serve as moderator.Image result for constitution day 2017 free clipart
Event Details 
Responding to Constitutional Imperfections: The Theory and Practice of Constitutional Amendment throughout the United States 
Tuesday, September 12, 2017 ~ 7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. 
Canisius College, Grupp Fireside Lounge, Richard E. Winter Student Center 
1.5 CLE credits: Areas of Professional Practice (Appropriate for all attorneys): For Information see here at the Erie County Bar Association Website. 

Daemen College Students should identify themselves at the door for free admission (Please bring your student ID). 

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Welcome Dr. Karolina Krasuska!

Dr. Krasuska

Dr. Karolina Krasuska has joined the faculty of the History & Political Science Department this semester as a Visiting Assistant Professor of History through faculty exchange with the American Studies Center at the University of Warsaw, Poland. She will be at Daemen through early October and is co-teaching our 20th Century European history class (HST206) with Dr. Andrew Wise.

Dr. Krasuska is an expert in cultural studies, gender analysis, and transnational literature. Her teaching portfolio at the University of Warsaw includes classes on cultural studies, masculinities, American Jewishness, and literature.

Dr. Krasuska will give two public lectures during her visit: 
  • Women in the Holocaust on Monday, September 11, 7:00pm at Canisius College Regis Rooms
  • POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews on Tuesday, October 3, 7:00pm at Daemen College Research & Information Commons (RIC), Room 120 (Palisano Room). The POLIN Museum opened in 2014 at the site of the former Warsaw Ghetto. The museum will be familiar to students who have participated in recent Polish Study-Abroad classes led by Dr. Wise.  
Dr. Krasuska's public lectures are part of an extensive series of events marking Buffalo's 2017 Polish Cultural Festival, arranged in collaboration with multiple educational and community organizations (including Daemen College) and publicized through the Permanent Chair of Polish Studies at Canisus College. Four of the events in this series will be hosted by Daemen College:
  • September 14-October 27: Exhibition of Artworks by Polish artist Wieslaw Skibinski at Karamanoukian Gallery, Haberman Gagioch Arts Center, Daemen College. Opening reception on Thursday, September 14, 5:00-7:00 pm. Free and open to the public.
  • September 17: Jedliniok Folk Dance Group of Wroclaw: 3:00pm at the Daemen College Wick Center Social Room. A performance of the Polish academic song and dance ensemble. Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 at the door, $10 for students. Tickets are available at the Am-Pol Eagle Offices, 3620 Harlem Rd; call 983-5084 or 681-0813
  • September 19: Raise the Roof--screening at 7:00pm at Daemen's Research and Information Commons (RIC) Room 120 (Palisano Room). This documentary film explores the reconstruction of the roof and bimah of the 18th Century Wooden Synagogue in Gwozdziec (formerly in Poland), by artists Rick and Laura Brown, which is now the center of the POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews. The documentary is by Tari & Cary Wolinsky and is presented courtesy of the National Center for Jewish Film. Copyright Trillium Studios. Find more information at:
  • October 3: Dr. Karolina Krasuska's lecture on POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews--7:00pm at Daemen College Research & Information Commons (RIC), Room 120 (Palisano Room). The POLIN Museum opened in 2014 at the site of the former Warsaw Ghetto.
Join us in welcoming Dr. Krasuska to Daemen College!

Dr. Krasuska's faculty profile from the University of Warsaw:

Karolina Krasuska is Assistant Professor at American Studies Center at the University of Warsaw and also a member of the research group “Gender and Literature” at the Institute for Literary Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences. She holds a PhD in Cultural Studies from European University Viadrina, Frankfurt/Oder (2010). She is the author of a book-length study examining modernist literature from a transnational, gender-oriented perspective, published in Polish as Płeć i naród: Trans/lokacje. Maria Komornicka/Piotr Odmieniec Włast, Else Lasker-Schüler, Mina Loy (Warszawa 2012). She is also the Polish translator of Judith Butler’s Gender Trouble (Uwikłani w płeć, Warszawa 2008). Her most recent publication is the collection Women and the Holocaust: New Perspectives and Challenges (Warszawa 2015), which she co-edited with Andrea Petö and Louise Hecht.