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Department of Political Science

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Nate Birkhead becomes K-State's 2022-2023 Coffman Chair of Distinguished Teaching Scholars


As Kansas State University's 2022-2023 Coffman Chair for Distinguished Teaching Scholars, Nate Birkhead will assess experiential learning at the university, including identifying and assessing where its use is most successful and developing recommendations for ensuring its most effective use.

The Coffman chair was created in 1995 to highlight K-State's commitment to excellence in undergraduate teaching and learning. Each chairB_Nathaniel is an acknowledged leading teaching scholar and is provided the time and resources to conduct a research project or develop programs to improve educational methods at the university. Recipients retain the title of teaching scholar throughout their career at K-State.

Dr. Birkhead is an associate professor of political science who teaches about the American political system at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. He also serves as director of his department's undergraduate internship program. He helps around 35 students a year earn credit for serving internships with various political organizations, including in congressional and state legislative offices, the US Department of Justice and Homeland Security, and a number of various interest groups such as the Kansas Farm Bureau and the Chamber of Commerce.

His research and interest in effective pedagogy — including the use of experiential learning techniques in his courses — and engaging undergraduates in research are among the reasons Birkhead wanted to serve as Coffman Chair for Distinguished Teaching Scholars.

"Beyond my role as internship director, I regularly use experiential learning in class, whether it is in the form of involving students in research projects or through hands-on applications of course concepts," Birkhead said. "I am certainly not alone in utilizing experiential learning as a part of pedagogical practice, but the science of teaching and learning still has many questions on how exactly instructors can tailor experiential learning to suit pedagogical goals. That is, I know that what we're doing is valuable, but I want to help add to our understanding of when and what kinds of experiential learning opportunities are going to offer the best utility for students and instructors."

During the first two months of Birkhead's term as Coffman chair, he will develop a survey for K-State faculty across disciplines to determine what types and how common experiential learning techniques are used in their fields, as well as the and the nature of experiential learning opportunities most used in their subjects. A teaching assistant will be hired to help Birkhead administer the survey.

The second phase of his Coffman chair term will be used to assess experiential learning techniques. Birkhead will work with professors identified in his first phase who use such techniques so he can develop pre-test and post-test measures of learning outcomes to assess the effectiveness of each technique.

"While implementation of experiential learning techniques has been common across the country, what has not kept pace has been assessment of these techniques' effectiveness," Birkhead said. "There are many studies that show students have positive experiences with outside engagement — including my own research on this topic — but many questions remain."

Birkhead also will use the survey to compile a directory of faculty across campus using experiential learning techniques who can serve as contacts for other faculty members considering adding or revising an experiential learning component to their courses. He also plans to share results from his Coffman project in a pedagogical journal.

Birkhead, who joined K-State in 2012, has previously been recognized as one of K-State's top teachers, earning the Commerce Bank and W.T. Kemper Foundation Outstanding Teaching Award in 2016 and the Presidential Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching in 2017. He also received an Open/Alternative Textbook Award in 2018.

Along with teaching at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, Birkhead is sought after for student mentoring and research. He serves as a research mentor to students who are working on projects as part of the College of Arts and Sciences' undergraduate research program. Recently, he received a National Science Foundation grant and hired seven students to help him with data collection for the project to develop an open knowledge network for public policy. He has also served as a research mentor for the Manhattan High School University Level Research Mentorship program.

Birkhead's work has been published in serval leading journals, including Political Research Quarterly, Legislative Studies Quarterly and American Politics Research. He is the co-author of the book "Congress in Reverse: Repeals from Reconstruction to the Present," published in 2020 by the University of Chicago Press. He also has given invited talks across the nation on effective teaching and more.

A native of Colorado, Birkhead earned his bachelor's degree in political science from the University of Colorado and a doctorate in political science from Indiana University.

Political Science Faculty Members Receive Interdisciplinary Research Grant from Chapman Center


The Chapman Center for Rural Studies, a center of excellence in the College of Arts and Sciences, announces Ethan Bernick, Brianne Heidbreder and Chardie Baird as recipients of the 2022 Interdisciplinary Research Grant. Bernick, Heidbreder and Baird will use this grant on their interdisciplinary project, "Gendered Pathways: In Pursuit of Local Elected Office." The project focuses on the reasons why AmericanHeidbreder political institutions are male-dominated and positions of county clerks, especially in rural communities, are female-dominated. There is very little known about how and why this happens, and the team’s exploration will tackle this question by using insights from sociological and political science research.

“I am excited that the Chapman Center is providing such a great opportunity to work with community leaders and, hopefully, soon-to-be community leaders as we try to better understand how we can help improve governance and inequity in rural America while embracing K-State’s land-grant mission,” Bernick said.

Bernick, Heidbreder and Baird receive a stipend to encourage their interdisciplinary work. The aim of Bernickthe Interdisciplinary Research Grant is to generate new insights into the dynamics of rural life through partnerships with rural Kansas communities or with the potential to improve the quality of life for rural Kansas residents. The project embodies this mission as it explores and creates collaborations and support systems between K-State and rural elected officials throughout Kansas.

"This project is such a great fit with the work of the center," said Mary Kohn, Chapman Center director. “The team is well-poised to provide valuable research experiences to our undergraduate researchers while also producing work that speaks directly to the unique experiences of rural Kansas communities. This isBaird exactly the kind of work the Chapman Center hopes to promote.”

“I am so excited about the Chapman Center’s new IRG projects,” said Amit Chakrabarti, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “These funded topics show the interdisciplinary breadth of our faculty’s research and scholarly work in the college. We are grateful to Mark Chapman and Cheryl Mellenthin for their support of the Chapman Center. With private support and federal grant dollars, the center is quickly becoming a leader in Kansas for interdisciplinary humanities research.”

To learn more about the center’s annual Interdisciplinary Research Grant and previous recipients, visit the IRG webpage. 

Information about the next round of grants will be available in fall 2023.

Political Science Department Congratulates Scholarship Winners & GTAs for 2022-2023


For the 2022-2023 academic year, the Political Science department awarded more than $25,000 in scholarship funds to its undergraduate and graduate winners. The department also awarded stipends for graduate assistantships to seven students across three graduate programs.

The following are 2022-2023 scholarship recipients:

  • Rhianna Thomas, junior in political science and international studies
    • Don and Marian Button Political Science Scholarship
  • Braden Johnson, Master's student in Public Administration
    • John W. and Lynn L. Carlin Public Administration Scholarship
  • Scout Molder, junior in political science
    • Reba L. Cobb Memorial Scholarship for Outstanding Women in Political Science
  • Georgia Ubel, junior in political science and sociology
    • Sally Coberly Political Science Scholarship
  • Duru Dogan, senior in political science and statistics and data sciences
    • Louis H. Douglas Scholarship
  • Adrein McFarland, sophomore in political science
    • Joseph Hajda Student Scholarship
  • Michael H. Thompson, sophomore in political science and history
    • Donald R. Hill Scholarship in Political Science
  • Elizabeth Chapman, junior in political science and international studies
    • Orma Linford Scholarship
  • John F. Scott V, senior in political science
    • Edward Allen McCoy, Jr. Memorial Scholarship in Political Science
  • Kate Thomas, sophomore in political science and history
    • Edward Allen McCoy Jr. Memorial Scholarship in Political Science
  • Laura Anderson, junior in political science
    • Barbara Meyer Memorial Scholarship
  • Sierra Salazar, junior in political science
    • Richter Family "Beyond the Campus" Scholarship
  • Andrew Navarro, sophomore in political science
    • Rieger-McCrery Scholarship
  • Cathleen Cowell, senior in political science and international studies
    • Rieger-McCrery Scholarship
  • Muhammad Mohsin Raza, Doctoral student in Security Studies
    • Nicolas Salgo Political Science Scholarship
  • Jada Marie Harris, sophomore in political science
    • Dennis K. Tapsak Memorial Scholarship
  • Sawyer Shutts, junior in political science and international studies
    • Jon David Wagner Scholarship
  • Dawson Maring, senior in political science and history
    • Tummala's Master of Public Administration Fellowship
  • Katie Sleichter, senior in political science and global food systems
    • Jon Wefald International Security Scholarship
  • Andrew Rieper, Master's student in Security Studies
    • Jon Wefald International Security Scholarship.
  • Lasath Channa Dissanayake, Doctoral student in Security Studies
    • Raoul Wallenberg Scholarship in International Relations

The following are 2022-2023 graduate teaching/research assistantship recipients:

  • Noëlie Frix, Doctoral student in Security Studies
  • Arcadio Luis Guerra Munoz, Doctoral student in Security Studies
  • Domenic Alexander Corrado, Master's student in Public Administration
  • Richard Johnson, Doctoral student in Security Studies
  • Korey Kneisley, Master's student in Public Administration
  • MaKenna Eilert, Master's student in Public Administration

Congratulations to all the award recipients and thank you to all the donors who make these scholarships possible!

Katie Sleichter becomes Kansas State University's 37th Truman Scholar


Katie-SleichterKatie Sleichter, junior in political science, Clay Center, is Kansas State University’s 37th Truman scholar.

Sleichter is receiving a 2022 Harry S. Truman scholarship for her academic excellence, leadership and commitment to a career in public service.

The Truman scholarship is a highly competitive national award that provides up to $30,000 for graduate studies, leadership training, career counseling, and special internship and fellowship opportunities within the federal government. According to the Truman Foundation, 58 scholarships were awarded this year from a candidate pool of 705 students nominated by 275 colleges and universities.

"We wish to congratulate Katie on this tremendous honor," said President Richard Linton. "She joins a long line of K-State Truman scholars committed to public service. Katie's dedication to understanding global cooperation and food insecurity shows how K-Staters put our land-grant mission into action to advance the well-being of Kansas, the nation and the world. She represents the best of K-State, and we are so proud of her."

Sleichter also is pursuing a secondary major in global food systems leadership at K-State. After graduation, she plans to earn a Master of Foreign Service at Georgetown University. She wants to pursue a career in the foreign service as a political officer or a public diplomacy officer so that she can increase global cooperation on borderless issues.

"Many of the issues that are facing the world, such as food security, climate change and the refugee crises, require collaboration between not only a variety of different organizations but also many countries," Sleichter said. "I believe that by studying foreign service at a graduate level, I will be better equipped to begin tackling issues such as these through increased global cooperation during my career." 

Sleichter grew up on a vegetable farm in rural Kansas, which has inspired her passion for addressing food insecurity and other global issues. Her family has lived in rural Kansas for more than a century.

At K-State, Sleichter is a food security scholar, which is a leadership program for students interested in understanding food systems and challenging the way we think about food insecurity. She is involved in International Buddies and the Food Recovery Network and is a coordinator for International Service Teams. She has been selected into Blue Key Honor Society and will serve as the director of leadership programming for 2022-2023.

She also has been involved in the Kansas State University Student Foundation, Student Governing Association as the campus culture director, Quest Freshman Honorary and West Hall governing board. She is a Hagan scholar, 4-H Key Award recipient, Borlaug scholar and Kansas honors scholar. She has received an FFA state degree and an animal science academic achievement award.

Sleichter is the daughter of Jay and Linda Sleichter and is a 2019 graduate of Clay Center Community High School.

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