Thomas Poston attends the Pi Sigma Alpha National Student Research Conference

In February, I had the privilege of representing Wake Forest at the 2018 Pi Sigma Alpha National Student Research Conference, at which undergraduates from colleges and universities across the nation presented research they’d conducted.

Students presented research on a diversity of topics, from American campaign finance to conflict in the South China Sea. Presenters were grouped into one of four main subfields: comparative and international politics, American politics, public policy, and political theory. I presented the research paper I had completed in my senior seminar with Dr. Walldorf, entitled “Exceptional Environmentalism: American Culture and the Fate of Multilateral Environmental Agreements,” during a comparative and international politics session that was focused on international environmental politics and law. I received some insightful feedback and critique from my panel’s lead discussant, a graduate student in international politics at George Washington University. His advice, along with feedback I received from fellow student attendees, has been immensely helpful as I work to revise and improve my paper with an eye toward possible publication.

I also had the pleasure of hearing an address by Paul Begala, a CNN commentator and former Bill Clinton strategist, who served as the conference’s keynote speaker. The views he shared on the state of American politics sparked a fruitful lunchtime discussion of the ways in which political scientists and researchers ought to contribute to current political debate.

I’m so grateful to my professors and to the entire Department of Politics and International Affairs for having made my attendance at this conference possible. I was proud to represent Wake Forest at such an exciting event and am so glad that I had the chance to share my research with a wider audience of fellow students and researchers. 

Rose O’Brien attends West Point Conference

SCUSA Group Shot

Thanks to the Politics and International Affairs Department, I had the honor of representing Wake Forest at the 2017 Student Conference on U.S. Affairs. The conference was held at the United States Military Academy at West Point, and was organized by the student cadets. The theme of the conference was the “Politics of the Aggrieved and Forgotten: Remaking the New World Order,” and our mission was to break into small groups and draft a policy recommendation for our area of focus. My group, “Migration and Refugees” had about 20 students, whose experience with immigration was both personal and academic. For three days, we debated which policies would best address the brokenness of our immigration system, while also working towards a policy recommendation. To advise us, we had the former U.S. Ambassador to the Democratic Republic of the Congo William Garvelink, and Refugee Women’s Network researcher Katharina Obser.

The event also featured interesting keynote speakers, such as Mr. Jean-Pierre Lacroix, the current UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations. The experience of visiting West Point dovetailed nicely with my POL 300 Senior Seminar about Empires and the question of whether or not the United States is an empire. Having attending SCUSA  in the historic and academic home of the USM, and engaged in dialogue about a creating a “new world order,” I gained additional clarity on that question. Visiting West Point and seeing security and international relations through the eyes of USM cadets and their superiors was an eye-opening experience. SCUSA was also an opportunity for me to meet undergraduate and graduate students from all around the world, who rang in my 22nd year with me as I celebrated my birthday during the conference. Overall, it was a very enriching experience and I’d like to thank the department for giving me the opportunity to attend and represent Wake Forest.

Nick Kean – 2017 Pi Sigma Alpha National Student Research Conference

Last February, I was invited to represent Wake Forest at the 2017 Pi Sigma Alpha National Student Research Conference. At the conference, students from universities all over the country were invited to present research they have been conducting as undergraduates.

The presentation panels were divided up in categories of Comparative Politics, International Relations, American Politics and Public Policy. The panels were made up of three or four undergraduate presenters and one panel chair. The chairpersons were political science graduate students from Georgetown and George Washington University, and they offered valuable insights into our work as well as recommendations on how our research can be improved. I was a member of the final panel on Comparative Politics, where I had the opportunity to present my Senior Seminar Research Paper I had been working on with Dr. Wei-chin Lee, titled The International Criminal Court in Africa: Responding to Shortcomings and Accusations of Bias.

Our lunchtime speaker was Max Fisher of the New York Times and writer of The Interpreter, a newsletter using political and social science to examine and explain topics in international politics. He offered terrific insights into how undergraduates can grow as researchers and use those skills in the professional world.

Overall, the conference was an incredibly enriching experience and I felt honored to be there representing Wake Forest. Thank you so much to my professors and the department for allowing me to share my research and to meet so many interesting people.

Steve Caracciolo – 57th Annual Naval Academy Foreign Affairs Conference

In April 2017, I was invited to represent Wake Forest at the 57th Annual Naval Academy Foreign Affairs Conference in Annapolis, MD. The theme for the week-long conference was: Are we in an era of new great power competition? Much of the roundtable discussion and many of the speakers focused on this topic and the debate over whether U.S global hegemony is being challenged by states such as China and Russia as well as terrorist organizations from around the world. My roundtable specifically dealt with U.S naval power projection and the ways in which the U.S can use the Navy to maintain power in regions where it might be tested.

The keynote speaker was General John Allen from the U.S Marine Corps. He played a very important role in operations in Iraq and Afghanistan during the War on Terror. His speech centered on the sources that might challenge the U.S in the future. Interestingly, they were not all other countries that challenge us politically or militarily. He mentioned urbanization and the increased use and complexity of technology as institutions that might turn into detriments for the United States and its superpower status. Many of the other speakers were commanders and admirals in the Navy who lent their expertise and advice to the student delegation and Naval Academy cadets.

I was honored to have been chosen to represent Wake Forest at such a prestigious event. I became friends with students from schools all over the country and some from other parts of the world. I even met a commander that attended my high school back home in New Jersey!

Joshua Burton – 68th Annual Student Conference on U.S. Affairs

This past November, I was fortunate to represent Wake Forest at the 68th annual Student Conference on U.S. Affairs.  The event was hosted at West Point by the United States Military Academy and was organized by cadets.  This year’s theme was Democracy and Democratization: Challenges and Opportunities.  The conference felt particularly timely as it began the day after a surprising presidential election and offered a chance to examine the global trends surrounding it in the company of other students of politics, members of the military, and a series of guest speakers.  Some of these speakers included members of the Council on Foreign Relations, the former U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan, and a number of representatives from political and human rights-related organizations.

I was part of a working group centered around Europe.  We discussed America’s interests in Europe, the conflict between national and broader European identities, security threats, and the re-emergence of far-right parties as relevant political actors.  I particularly enjoyed working with the gifted politics students and experienced advisors in my group to craft a policy recommendation paper and present our findings before the conference.  Visiting West Point and working among cadets and my civilian peers was one of the best academic and personal experiences I have had at Wake Forest and I am very grateful to have been afforded the opportunity to partake in this fascinating conference.

Hart attends Annual Naval Academy Foreign Affairs Conference

Brian Hart and former Undersecretary of Defense Michele Flournoy.
Brian Hart and former Undersecretary of Defense Michele Flournoy.

This year I was fortunate enough to be selected by the Politics and International Affairs Department to represent Wake Forest at the 56th Annual Naval Academy Foreign Affairs Conference that took place in April 2016. In celebration of the 40th anniversary of accepting women to the Naval Academy, the topic of this year’s conference was “Women and Security: The Implications of Promoting Global Gender Equality.” At the four-day conference, I got to hear from an amazing list of speakers – mostly women – who have had enormous influence in global politics. The speakers included Melanne Verveer, the first Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues; Michele Flournoy, former Undersecretary of Defense; and Samantha Power, the current U.S. Ambassador to the United Nation. I was lucky enough to get the chance to speak personally with both Ambassador Verveer and Michele Flournoy, both of whom had brilliant insights into the future of U.S. foreign policy and U.S.-China relations.

In addition to hearing from many great panelists and speakers, I also spent time on a small roundtable group that focused on gender inequality and related issues in China. We discussed the absence of women at the top of China’s political leadership, and the many problems that Chinese women still face in the workplace and in society. For me, the biggest takeaway of the conference was getting to better understand civil-military relations. About half of the delegates were from the naval academy and various other military academies around the world. It was eye-opening to see the differences in how civilians and people in the military perceive security issues differently.

It was an incredible experience, and I’d like to thank the entire department for giving me the opportunity to attend this amazing conference!

Olivia de Fouchier attends European Student Conference

Olivia-de-FouchierOlivia de Fouchier attended the European Student Conference 2016 “Envisioning a Confident Europe” at Yale University. The approximately 100 students were divided into five policy workshops and for the first time ever, a competition entrepreneurship group of which she was a participant. They discussed ideas for innovative business ventures which strive to integrate admitted immigrants into European economies and societies.

Her project, “E-U. Bridge the Gap”, a teaching program that offers a mutually beneficial exchange of language skills and career guidance between immigrants, students and senior citizens, was a finalist in the competition. The students’ efforts were assisted by E-U. representatives who, in addition to advising us on projects, gave speeches about the current state of the E-U. These included EU Ambassador to the U.S. David O’Sullivan, EU Ambassador to the UN Joao Vale de Almeida, Secretary General of the Parliament Klaus Well and Vice-President of the EU Commission Kristalina Georgieva.



Valeria Villa attends West Point Conference

Valeria-VillaI was afforded the opportunity of representing Wake Forest University’s Politics and International Affairs department at the 67th annual Student Conference on United States Affairs hosted by West Point Military Academy in November 2015.  I encountered students and scholars from all over the world with various academic backgrounds to create dialogue between civilians and military personnel from different branches.  The topic this year was”Confronting Inequality:  Wealth, Rights and Power.”

The delegates were separated into different sub-topics related to the subject of inequality and my round table discussion focused on the issue of free trade in light of the recently approved Transpacific Partnership (TPP). We presented a paper which exposed the various ways in which the TPP closed some forms of inequality while expanding others.  We demonstrated our research to all the attending delegates in a final skit which included comedic interpretative dance.  In addition to the round table discussions, I got the chance to see first Madam Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright speak on the issue of inequality.  It was an incredibly eye-opening, academically enriching, and personally-rewarding experience that I will remember fondly for years to come.


Tillinghast attends Naval Academy Leadership Conference

This past January I had the opportunity to represent Wake Forest University at the 2015 United States Naval Academy Leadership Conference in Annapolis, Maryland. The mission of the conference is to address specific issues facing emerging leaders in both the military and civilian world by breeding understanding and identifying successful themes to overcome such obstacles. The four day conference was a mixture of panel discussions, small breakout groups, and informal dialogues amongst conference attendees. The participants ranged from ROTC cadets and Naval Academy midshipmen to civilian university students and professors which permitted very productive conversations on how to address ethical issues in the information age. The speakers ranged from Pat Finn, Cisco’s U.S. public sector vice president, to General Stanley McChrystal, former commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan; the diversity of life experiences which each speaker brought to the conference was matched by those of the participants in the conference having the effect of breeding a productive and friendly environment for discussion. My resounding takeaway from the conference was the high degree of similarity which characterizes successful and ethical leadership regardless of context. Overall the conference was very inspiring for me personally and I am honored to have had the opportunity to represent Wake Forest University and the Department of Politics and International Affairs.