Study of the Presidency and Congress


William McClure

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.

US Naval Academy 2012

Brittany Sykes

DSCN1057In 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.

West Point Academy 2012

Meenu Krishnan

SCUSA-2In 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.

Conference Participation

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.”

Caitlin Garrigan-Nass: Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress’s Presidential Fellowship 2010

U.S. Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff attends the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress Fellows Meeting and Awards Dinner at the Willard Intercontinental Hotel in Washington, D.C. on March 24, 2011. (Department of Defense photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Chad J. McNeeley)

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.

Donald Davidson, Naval Academy Foreign Affairs Conference 2011.

DonaldDavidsonIn 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.

Student Conference on US Affairs at the United States Military Academy 2010

Kendall_HackKendall Hack

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.

Nick DeuschleCenter for the Study of the Presidency and Congress’s Presidential Fellowship 2009

NickDeuschleNick Deuschle

This past year, I was offered the opportunity to represent the Political Science Department as Wake Forest University’s Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress Presidential Fellow. Along with over eighty other Fellows from across the country, I attended the Center’s Fellows Fall Conference this November in Washington D.C. Among others, the event hosted speakers from the U.S. Department of State, Senator Richard Burr’s congressional staff, the CATO Institute, American University, and former Nixon staffer Egil “Bud” Krogh (my personal favorite as Krogh, a participant in the Watergate scandal, spoke on the imperatives of honesty in public governance). In addition to participating in these speaker panels, we also paid visits to the Supreme Court, the Capital building, and several other D.C. attractions.
The highlight of the conference (if I had to name just one) was the peer presentation group meetings. As part of our fellowship, we were asked to write an original research article relating to the policies and organization of the American Presidency, and the peer presentations allowed Fellows to share and discuss their research on this topic with other Fellows. For me, this experience was invaluable as it provided me with much needed assistance in the construction of my research paper. Overall, my time at the Fellows Conference in Washington, D.C. was both academically fulfilling and insightful, and I am already looking for forward to returning to D.C. for the Center’s upcoming conference this spring.
Please note: Nick’s research paper was included in an anthology of the most outstanding papers produced by the 2009-2010 Presidential Fellows: Nicholas A. Deuschle, “The Double-Edged Sword of Justice: The Department of Justice as a Political Instrument and Administrator of Federal Law,” in Alex J. Douville, and Parry K. VanLandingham, eds., A Dialogue on Presidential Challenges and Leadership (Center for the Study of Presidency and Congress, 2010), 221-239.

Annual Student Conference at the US Military Academy at West Point

ZahirRahmanZahir Rahman

In early November, I had the opportunity to travel to US Military Academy at West Point in northern New York to attend the 61st Annual Student Conference on United States Affairs.  SCUSA’s theme this year was “Advancing as a Global Community,” and it attracted students from across the country.  My table discussed “The Challenges of India, Afghanistan, and Pakistan,” and my policy group included students from all three countries!  This added great depth and complexity to our discussion; for instance, when debating possible infrastructure building in Afghanistan, we were able to ask for an “expert” opinion as to how certain policies could be implemented and whether they would be successful.   In addition, during the conference I lived with a pair of cadets in the barracks.  This was the most rewarding of experience of the conference, as I was able to put faces on the thousands of soldiers from the US Army.  During my time at West Point, I learned about the commitment that the cadets have to our nation.  Upon returning to Wake Forest, I realized that my dedication to public compliments the cadets chosen decision to dedicate their lives to a life of military service.  Clearly, both are necessary in promoting a safe and secure union.