This past fall I had the privilege of attending the 64th Student Conference on US Affairs (SCUSA 64), hosted by West Point Military Academy. This year’s theme was “Leading in Lean Times: Assuring Accountability and Assessing American Priorities in an Age of Austerity.” The conference featured 16 round tables where students discussed, debated, and drafted policy papers on national security issues pertaining to the United States. The challenge was framing these policy papers within the context of austerity; how to face global challenges while consolidating the United States debt. I sat on the round table “Can’t Stop Da Bomb: Arms Control and Proliferation” where we discussed Nuclear Non-Proliferation and the threat nuclear weapons pose to United States national security.
In between round table sessions I attended panel discussions, keynote addresses, and toured the West Point campus. Aside from the formal proceedings, I was also fortunate to interact with many cadets on a more personal level. I stayed in the barracks with cadets where I experienced firsthand the unique routine that cadets follow on a daily basis. Be it the 6:00 am daily wake up, the full day of classes, or the mandatory workouts and conditioning, I was thoroughly impressed by how much these cadets take on and how well they balance all of their duties. Having connected with them on a personal and academic level, I feel safe and blessed knowing these fine men and women will be the future officers of the United States Army.
The Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress was an incredible experience for me. Having the honor of representing Wake Forest at an academic conference was very exciting for me, but it was the experience of meeting other fellows from across the country and sharing ideas that was the most memorable. Just being in the room with some of the speakers and honored guests (i.e Former Justice O’Connor) who attended our fall and spring conferences was a once in a lifetime experience. I was very fortunate in that I found a topic that was really fascinating to me with drone warfare. As I researched and wrote my paper, there were more articles coming out daily about the latest developments in the drone warfare debate. With the help of a CSPC mentor in Washington and several WFU professors, putting together the research paper for the spring conference was actually very rewarding. I have nothing but positive things to say about the entire fellowship experience–the people I met were outstanding and the opportunity to engage with minds young and old about today’s biggest political issues was as rewarding an experience as any I’ve had as a Wake Forest student.
This April, I had the privilege to represent Wake Forest at the Naval Academy Foreign Affairs Conference in Annapolis. Over the course of three very full days, we heard from politicians, military leaders, journalists, and academics, we discussed foreign policy in breakout groups, and we learned what it was like to be a Midshipman at the Naval Academy. We were also able to fit in an afternoon of sailing and touring “the Yard.”
The theme of this year’s conference was “A Time of Transition” so we addressed the rebalancing toward Asia, the immediate threats to the United States, and what our nation’s long-term course of action should look like. Some of the speakers were former Dep. Sec. State Richard Armitage, Ambassador Dennis Ross, and Admiral McRaven. It was truly fascinating to hear the perspectives of those who shape and enact foreign policy. Probably, my biggest takeaway from my conference experience was the time that I spent with the Midshipmen. I found the Midshipmen to be just as intellectually engaged and dynamic as students at Wake Forest. And after getting to know many Midshipmen, I am happy to know that our country will be served by such fine military officers. Overall, I am very thankful for this experience and it is one of my greatest academic memories from my time at Wake Forest.
I was excited to represent Wake Forest as a 2011-2012 Presidential Fellow at the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress. As a Fellow, I joined a class of 80 other undergraduate and graduate students in two conferences in Washington, DC. As part of the conferences, Fellows heard from speakers on a range of domestic and foreign policy issues with the keynote address in the spring being given by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. I really enjoyed hearing from former DC mayor Adrian Fenty, who shared his thoughts on public education reform and the political realities surrounding the issue. In addition to the conferences, Fellows also had the opportunity to write papers about presidential issues. The topic of my paper was presidential signing statements and how they can be classified based on their intent and realized effect. The paper, as well as the camaraderie of the other Fellows in my class, made my experience with the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress a rewarding part of my final year at Wake.
In April I had the opportunity to represent Wake Forest at the 2012 Naval Academy Foreign Affairs Conference in Annapolis, Maryland. This year’s delegation was the largest in the conference’s history, with about 130 participants from 30 countries. In accordance with the theme “The Eclipse of the West?”, we explored global power relations through debates, round tables, and guest speakers. I participated in the “Soft Power” round table with delegates from the United States, Germany, Pakistan, Japan, Portugal, and Jamaica, discussing non-military methods for exerting international influence. Throughout the week, I also heard from prominent figures such as Hillary Clinton, Jon Huntsman, and Paul Wolfowitz. I recognize that the knowledge and experiences I gained while in Annapolis will be invaluable to my future as a student and global citizen.
In November 2011, I had the pleasure of attending the 63rd Annual Student Conference on U.S. Affairs (SCUSA), held annually at the United States Military Academy in West Point, New York. This year’s conference dealt with the theme of “Thinking Beyond Boundaries: Contemporary Challenges to U.S. Foreign Policy,” and students were split into fourteen roundtables to discuss thematic topics, including cyberterrorism, regional conflicts, and the role of international organizations in formulating foreign policy. I was assigned to “The Americas at a Crossroads: Drugs, Crime, and State Fracture,” which examined the particular challenges faced by Latin America in today’s policy arena. During the conference, each round table had to tackle a policy issue (ours was the legalization of drugs), craft a policy proposal, and present it along with a skit to the entire conference on the last day. The conference offered a valuable opportunity to debate and develop foreign policy with bright college students. Moreover, the conference gave me a valuable glimpse into the complexities of life at West Point, a far different academic culture from that of Wake Forest.
Two students presented research papers at the Undergraduate Research Symposium organized by the University of Pittsburgh in March 2012. Sara Olson presented “Transitional Justice and the Rule of Law: Lustration and Criminal Persecution in Post-Communist States;“ Thomas Walker presented “A Balancing Act: Russia and the Arctic.”
Ken Meyer presented a paper at the National Conference on Undergraduate Research in Salt Lake City. His paper was titled: Tearing Apart the Online Electorate: How the Social Media of the Political Parties Polarizes the American Public.”
Two students co-authored research papers or posters presented at political science association meetings: Blakeney Brown was a co-author with Professor Wilkinson on a poster presented at the American Political Science Association conference in Seattle in September 2011. The title of the paper was ““From stranger to brother? Exploring the relationship between racial context and interracial contact for Blacks and Latinos.”
Emily Earle was a co-author with Professor Wilkinson on a paper presented at the Southern Political Science Association conference in New Orleans in January 2012. The title of the paper was “Taking a New Perspective to Latino Attitudes: Examining the Effects of Skin Color and Contact on Latino Perceptions of Commonality and Competition with Whites and Blacks.”
This past year I had the opportunity to represent Wake Forest as a Presidential Fellow at the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress. Through this fellowship I was able to join eighty other students from around the country for two conferences in Washington, DC. These conferences included presentations and panel discussions on both domestic issues and foreign affairs – everything from the midterm elections and the deficit to the war in Afghanistan. Speakers included Dr. Anne Marie Slaughter, the Director of Policy Planning for the US State Department, Daniel Ellsberg, the man who leaked the Pentagon papers, and Admiral Mike Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Hearing such accomplished speakers offer their insight into some of the most pressing issues of our time was an incredibly enriching experience and one I will not soon forget. As part of this program, Fellows also wrote and presented papers on issues related to the presidency and congress. The topic of my paper was political polarization and its effect on presidential ability to govern. Writing this paper was an excellent opportunity for me to explore my personal research interests outside of the classroom, and helped make my experience with the Center for the Study of the Presidency even more rewarding.
NB: Caitlin’s paper “Divided Public, Divided Roles: Presidential Role Performance in a Polarized Political Climate” was published in The Fellows Review. Selected Papers of the 2010-2011 Presidential Fellows. Eds. Parry K. VanLandingham and Wuleta Endale. Washington, DC: Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress, 2011, 259-78. The anthology includes the twenty best papers written by the 2010-2011 Presidential Fellows.
In 2011 I had the privilege of attending the Naval Academy Foreign Affairs Conference as the delegate for Wake Forest University. Both military and civilian representatives from across the globe discussed the topic “People, Power, and Politics in the Internet Age.” Each delegate was assigned to a particular roundtable with about ten other delegates. I was a part of the “Homeland Cyber Security and Civil-Military Relations” roundtable, and I wrote a paper exploring the United States’ cyber security structure. For the next three days, our roundtable met and discussed subjects such as the cyber-threats the United States faces and the potential solutions which could be implemented. Among the many notable speakers were Ethan Zuckerman from Harvard, Sheryl Sandburg – the COO of Facebook, and Admiral Dennis Blair. The speakers were provided valuable insight into subjects including leadership and the impact of technology on foreign affairs today. The Naval Academy Foreign Affairs Conference was one of the most wonderful experiences I have had during my years as a student at Wake Forest University, and I will always remember the people I met and the time that I spent in Annapolis.
In November 2010, I attended the Student Conference on US Affairs (SCUSA) which is held annually at West Point. During this four-day conference students from the US and several other countries discuss topics affecting US foreign policy. This year’s conference theme was “Reconsidering American Hegemony: Facing 21st Century Challenges and the Limits of the US Force and Power.” After a distinguished group of panelists opened the conference, the students were split into more than twenty round tables and assigned distinct topics. They included US-China Relations, the role of the US in the Middle East, energy security policy and climate change, and stability and human security in the developing world. Each round table had to devise a policy plan, draft a policy paper addressed to Capitol Hill, and present a policy brief at the conclusion of the conference. Overall, it was a wonderful experience. I enjoyed engaging with students and experts in international relations, a field which I hope to pursue in my graduate studies.