Speakers of Note
Amaney Jamal, a professor of Political Science at Princeton University, gave a talk on February 27, 2014, on "US Foreign Policy and Democratization in the Middle East." Jamal has a forthcoming book on the subject entitled "Of Empires and Citizens: Pro-American Democracy or No Democracy at All?" Named a Carnegie Scholar in 2005, Jamal is a well-known expert on the democratization process across the Middle East and the issues encountered by Arab Americans. Her book Barriers to Democracy won the Best Book Award in Comparative Democratization at the American Political Science Association
Watch Amaney Jamal's talk: "US Foreign Policy and Democratization in the Middle East"
Jack S. Levy
Jack S. Levy, Board of Governors' Professor of Political Science at Rutgers University and Affiliate at the Saltzman Institute of War and Peace Studies at Columbia University, gave a two part lecture at Kansas State University entitled "Theory and Practice of Preventive War" on September 27, 2012.
Mark Tessler, Vice Provost for International Affairs and Samuel J. Eldersveld Collegiate Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Michigan, gave a public lecture entitled "Islam and the Search for a Political Formula: Findings from the Arab Barometer" in the Leadership Studies' Town Hall on November 4, 2013.
Watch Mark Tessler's talk: "Islam and the Search for a Political Formula: Findings from the Arab Barometer"
BA Political Science (2007)
When I ran for student body president in the spring semester of my junior year, I didn't sleep much – probably about three hours per night for at least six weeks. It was an understatement to say that I was exhausted pretty much all the time, and while I'm not proud of it I must admit that I fell asleep in class a time or two that semester. But the first (and only) time I fell asleep in POLSC 791 – a graduate-level political science course on Islam and the West – the late Dr. Michael Suleiman would have nothing of it.
Having taken four courses from him in route to my BA in Political Science, I was no stranger to Dr. Suleiman's expectations of excellence. But I certainly did not expect the level of disappointment he expressed in me the next day in his office while discussing the dozing off. He told me anything worth committing to was worth my best effort, and that semester I had committed to his class and the campaign and I had better give my all to both of them.
This was an influential experience in my formative years at K-State that has informed my professional career ever since, whether it be as an entrepreneur and small business owner, international climate finance consultant, academic researcher, or now as I help to manage almost $400 million in capital in two clean energy funds at the World Bank Group.
And it was representative of the experience that all the professors and the entire political science department provided throughout my time at K-State – demanding but supportive, challenging but understanding. The lessons I learned in the department have stayed with me ever since, and the education I received both inside and outside of political science classrooms prepared me well for my career over the past eight years.
Dr. Suleiman's counsel has led me to be able to say 'no' gracefully – a valuable skill in a fast-paced and demanding environment like the World Bank. As a whole, the political science curriculum and its professors helped me to hone a diverse set of skills and abilities that allowed me to thrive in the interdisciplinary masters degree I earned at Oxford University. They nurtured critical thinking skills that allowed me to start small businesses without any formal business education or training.
International and comparative political science courses encouraged me to understand other peoples' perspectives and motivations, which has aided me in everything from navigating a global workplace to negotiating contracts to investor relations. They have also helped me to communicate diplomatically and professionally when working with my colleagues in foreign governments and corporations. Taking a full course-load while also working in the department's front office on federal work study taught me the value of hard work and dedication.
Without a doubt, my time in the political science department has played a substantial role in my successes since I graduated in 2007 and I am eager to return to campus February 23-25, 2015 as part of the Alumni Association's Distinguished Young Alumni award program. And during this trip I promise I won't fall asleep in class.
BA Political Science (1999)
I enjoy recalling my days with the Kansas State Department of Political Science in Waters Hall. KSU Politcal Science classes were the beginning of a wonderful journey in my life. Following graduation from Kansas State in 1999, I attended the University of Kansas School of Law, and I received my law degree in 2002. That same year, I joined the law firm of Lathrop & Gage LLP in Kansas City, Missouri, and Overland Park, Kansas, and I am now a partner in the firm.
My political science education from Kansas State has been critically important to my career. I think the main reason is that I learned the importance of empathy in the political and business context; that is, to put myself in someone else's place (in the world of political science: a country, a political party, a religious group, or an individual leader) so I can better recognize, appreciate, and understand the thought processes and the needs that guide others' decisions and actions. Those lessons apply not just on a large geo-political scale, but in my day-to-day life as a lawyer, business owner, and community volunteer. When I truly understand the motivations and needs of another individual (opposing counsel, a concerned public citizen, a reluctant board member), I find that my negotiations for--and even just my conversations with--my clients, business partners, and colleagues are more successful.
I have been and remain a strong believer in the importance of a liberal arts education, and together with my bachelor of arts in political science, I received a B.A. in Modern Languages/Spanish from Kansas State. I was also honored to be accepted into Phi Beta Kappa. I would highly recommend that students in the political science department seek out opportunities to add an "arts and culture" lens to their political science education. Again, a well-developed sense of empathy can come by taking the time to learn about and appreciate another's society, history, language, literature, and culture. And whether in academics, business, the law, or your community, it's an important and valuable skill to have, to be able to truly see all of the variables in a situation or problem.
I have the privilege of representing public school districts, cities, and other governmental entities, and I serve on public boards myself, so politics and public affairs are simply parts of my daily business life. The Kansas State University Department of Political Science certainly helped me develop a critical perspective on, and a thoughtful approach to, all matters of public concern.
Master of Public Administration (2007)
BS Political Science (2005)
I was so appreciative of the type of training I received while earning my BA in Political Science from KSU, I decided to continue in the Master of Public Administration program in the department. As part of my graduate work, I was required to intern with a government agency. In my case, that internship was with the Kansas Legislative Division of Post Audit—a small legislative staff agency that conducts performance audits of Kansas state agencies and programs. Those audits evaluate how efficiently and effectively state government is working, and include recommendations for improvement.
While still completing my degree requirements, I was offered and quickly accepted a job with the division as an associate auditor. Much to the credit of K-State’s program and several very dedicated professors who mentored me along the way, my new job was a perfect fit for my particular talents and my educational background.
After several years, I was eventually promoted to the Deputy position within the division. In that role I work closely with Kansas legislators to help them develop audit requests, manage several audit teams, and direct our division’s IT security and data mining work. Not surprisingly, I regard my time in K-State’s BA and graduate Public Administration programs as the fundamental foundation of my career success, and I would highly recommend a career in state government (and the Legislature in particular) to any aspiring public servants.