Hiram College

Research studies on environmental injustice and Russia’s gay propaganda law can pique inquiry and fuel rich discussion at their mere mention. Imagine their influence on a captive audience of scholars. Hiram College students realized this experience at a recent All Politics is Local Conference at Walsh University. Tailored for undergraduate students interested in political science and international studies, the conference provided the students opportunities to gain experience in presenting their scholarly research to peers. They also benefited from critical feedback on their studies from other institutions, according to Jugdep Chima, Ph.D., assistant professor of political science, who led the group.

“This dynamic exchange of ideas and scholarship is important for our students’ intellectual development and their enhanced socialization into the world of academic research and scholarly discourse,” says Dr. Chima, who also serves as the coordinator of Hiram’s international studies minor.

Julian Gilbert, who presented “The Prison Industrial Complex: The Perversion of Criminal Justice in the United States through the Privatization of Corrections,” says the conference and its array of presenters, including those from Hiram, represented a vast diversity in backgrounds and research topics. “The … conference was a truly eclectic experience that allowed me to hear about the research that my undergraduate political science colleagues were conducting. My participation benefited me more than what I could imagine. It not only exposed my idea to criticism and questions I had never thought of, it also refined my topic …,” Gilbert says.

Hassibullah Aghbar, who presented “Pakistan’s Foreign Policy vis-à-vis Afghanistan: a Neo-Realist Perspective,” adds that the conference helped him narrow his research focus and prepare successfully for the final presentation of his study at Hiram. Likewise, Devon Jones who presented “The Scale and Politics of Environmental Injustice” says that hearing peers’ presentations and providing them feedback on their research showed him the feasibility and vulnerabilities of his own research.

“This conference, in particular, allowed me to make great connections with fellow scholars looking to understand how political phenomena occur,” Jones says.

For third-year political science major Lindsey Harris, presenting “Russia’s Gay Propaganda Law: Why was it Passed so Close to the Sochi Olympics in 2014?” at the conference offered ideas for advancing her research. “The professor who led my panel, as well as the audience, gave me valuable comments and critiques that gave me a different view of how to further take my research. [This] was very valuable with regards to how I would tackle my paper and improve it further if I were to make it into a capstone or publish it,” she says.

Students from more than 40 colleges participated in the All Politics is Local Conference where they presented papers in domestic, international or philosophical areas of political science. In addition, the conference offered informational sessions on what to expect in graduate and law schools.

“I am proud of those Hiram students who participated in this conference,” Dr. Chima says.