Political Science News and Achievements

PSPS students had fun attending the Pi Sigma Alpha National Conference during February of this year.


(Pictured: Simone Edwards and Samantha Adams)

Last fall, we enjoyed presentations from Dr. Wintersieck's Public Opinion class.


Every year, the National Conference on Undergraduate Research (NCUR) creates a gathering of undergraduates from every corner of the country and across every discipline who present their own scholarly work. Attending NCUR is a rich opportunity for students to learn, share and grow in their academic pursuits, and the environment is invigorating and fun. In recent years, UTC has taken a large group of students to NCUR in various locations all across the country.

UTC undergraduates who are involved in mentored research or creative work can now submit an abstract to present at NCUR 2018. Submissions are being accepted through 12/5/17 at the NCUR 2018 Website: https://www.cur.org/what/events/students/ncur/ Students create an account and then are able to submit an abstract. This site also has more information about NCUR, including location and dates for the conference.

Also, students who would like to receive feedback on their abstract before submitting to the NCUR system can send an abstract and the name of their faculty mentor tourace@utc.edu anytime before 11/27/17 at 8am. This rolling pre-submission option can be especially helpful for anyone who has not submitted an abstract before, or who may have questions about the type of information and language needed in an abstract for NCUR. We would also encourage you to take a look at the guidelines on the NCUR website at https://www.cur.org/what/events/students/ncur/past/abstracts/.

NOTE: There is an advantage of submitting an abstract earlier than 11/27, as feedback may be given on a rolling basis. Students pre-submitting an abstract will have to submit at the NCUR site by 12/5.

Dr. Wintersieck's POLS 4010: Public Opinion class will be presenting research they have been working on this semester. The presentation will be Monday, December 4th, from 3:25-4:40 on the third floor of Pfeiffer Hall.

This event will feature presentations by:

Samantha Adams: "Framing Effects in a Competitive Environment: Black Lives Matter versus President Trump"

Tori Bradley: "Are college students consistent with their ideologies on ethical issues?"

Al'Manuel Douglas: "Forgive and Forget? The effect of education on the perception of Ex-convicts"

Alexander Forgey: "Student Opinion and Effect of Tennessee Faculty Gun Law"

Brandon Layne: "Political Involvement as it Pertains to College Students"

Tucker McClendon: "Political Interest, Involvement and Knowledge through a college career"

Cara Reid: "The Effects of Education Inequality on Public Opinion"

Logan Rich: "Regional Attitudes and Framing Effects: Attitudes on Moonshining in the South"

Kayley Russell: "Influences on Ethnocentrism: Education vs. Political Knowledge"

David Sasseen: "Political Polarization Among College Students"

Ben Vega: "Barrier to Moderation: Ethnocentrism as a Predictor of Gun Control Opinion"

October 9, 2017

Students in the PSPS Department MPA program and undergraduate Managing Volunteers course participated in the 2017 Tennessee Valley Institute for Nonprofit Excellence conference. The MPA and PANM students volunteered at the event, assisting with conference sessions and registration, and interacted with executives from leading nonprofits in Chattanooga and through the state of Tennessee. They also had the opportunity to attend the luncheon and meet keynote speaker Dan Pallotta, well known author and philanthropic activist who spoke about innovation in the nonprofit sector.

students at TVI workshop

(Front left: Jennifer Galler, Peen DeGuzmen. Back Left: Jessica Pedersen, Alyssa Benecke, Rachel King, Dan Pollotta, Patrick Moore, Sarah Kathryn Haley. Not Pictured: Dr. Michelle Evans, Mackenzie Kelly, Anabel Sastre)

The Model UN Team under the direction of PSPS Student, Tessa Ross, went to Charlotte, North Carolina on April 2, 2017 to compete in the SRMUN conference. The group took home two Outstanding Delegation awards for delegate Alexander Smith who represented Lybia and Manuel Cruz and Matthew Conant who teamed up to represent Slovakia. The Model UN Team also received two Honorable Delegation awards.

On Tuesday, April 18 Dr. Jessica Auchter presented her talk "Corpse Politics: The Dead Body in Security Studies" to the Political Science Department at the University of Delhi. The lecture was a part of the "Peace and Security Talk Series" of the Peace and Scurity Research Group at the University of Delhi.

Dr. Auchter's Trip in New Delhi

Dr. Auchter in front of the Faculty of Social Sciences building at the University of New Delhi

March 31, 2017

Two UTC Mock Trial teams returned this week from competing in the Hamilton, Ohio Championship Series Tournament. Under the leadership of local attorney and Political Science and Public Service adjunct professor Mike Giglio, one of the Moc teams is heading to Los Angeles to compete in the 33rdAnnual National Championship Tournament.

Our teams competed against Notre Dame, Penn State, Ohio State, University of Mississippi, Vanderbilt, Case Western, Indiana University, Bloomington, and the University of Alabama, Birmingham, among other schools. After several rounds the 24 teams were narrowed to six that will go to the national competition. One of our students, Zeke Starr (PSPS) won an outstanding attorney award. Our Moc team heads out April 20th for the competition.

Along with coaches Mike Giglio and Stephanie Fast, our team that heads to the nationals consists of: Erika Hyde, Alanna Rice, Madison Bennett, Ethan Greene, Elliott Geary, Peter Zeglen, Zeke Starr, Yonishka Voorhees, and Michael Boehm.

Mock Trial Pic

Dr. Merita Xhumari, a Professor on the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Tirana, Albania presented "From University to Employment: Higher Education Provision and Labour Market Needs in the Western Balkans" on Friday, February 24, 2017 at 12:00 in the Racoon Mountain Room of the University Center.

Dr. Xhumari was part of the academic team that produced the report for the Eurpean Commission addressing the challenges faced by the higher education systems in the Western Balkans. This region has experienced increased enrollment in their public institutions, a growing private education sector, and limited resources for their universities. In addition, many recent college graduates are unemployed, indicating employers may not perceive university degrees as valuable. This study examined the link between the provision of higher education and labor market opportunities, as well as the obstacles facing graduates seeking employment.


This fall, UTC sent their first team to compete in a Mode United Nations simulation in recent history. Representing the country of Kenya, the eleven team members passed resolutions, joined coalitions, and resisted policies destrimental to their own interests. Club president Tessa Ross worked with faculty advisor Dr. Jessica Auchter to prepare the team and to ensure the team collaborated while they are at the competition in Atlanta. We hope this intiial start can create a potential institutionalization of the program and lead to future success.

Dr. Steven Smith

Dr. Steven Smith presented his lecture on Abraham Lincoln on the Problem of "Towering Genius" on October 20, 2016 as a successful first installment of the Carrithers' lecture series.


The Machiavelli in Italy class (which studied at UTC in the spring term and was in Florence, Rome, and Sienna, Italy from May 16-June 2) included: front row, left to right: Carmen Palmour, Danielle Murrell, Natalie Hurst, Idi Melendez, Derek Kukura; second row: Zach Cambron, Zeke Starr, Rachel King, Rachael Horne, Zachariah Hall, and Dr. Michelle D. Deardorff.

Pi SIgma

Pi Sigma Alpha Inductees and Dr. Wintersieck, Pi Sigma Alpha Honor Society Faculty Sponsor.


Mock Trial Seniors honored by Coach, Dr. Mike Giglio.


Hannah Thomas, SGA Outstanding American Studies Senior

Shyloah Bisi, SGA Outstanding Legal Studies Senior

Eric Robertson, SGA Outstanding Public Administration & Nonprofit Management Senior

Ella Sanders, Robert H. Swansbrough Outstanding Senior

Congrats Kylea and Garrett! The Department is very proud of your success!

NCUR Conference
Kylea Project

In one hashtag, Hannah Thomas sums up her college career: #Ihaven’tsleptinfouryears. Thomas, president of UTC’s Mock Trial, describes why she is proud to be graduating from the Political Science program. She also talks about her experience with Mock Trial after they won regionals and went on to compete in Nationals against teams from Harvard and Georgetown, “That was a really big deal for our program.”

Hear more from Thomas in her interview with UTC TV Studio.

For more, click here.

Robert Fisher

Robert A. Fisher, a senior and Brock Scholar at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, is among the thirty-two American men and women chosen as Rhodes Scholars representing the United States. The announcement was made by Elliot F. Gerson, American Secretary of the Rhodes Trust.

Rhodes Scholarships provide all expenses for two or three years of study at the University of Oxford in England, and may allow funding in some instances for four years. Gerson called the Rhodes Scholarships, “the oldest and best known award for international study, and arguably the most famous academic award available to American college graduates.”

They were created in 1902 by the Will of Cecil Rhodes, British philanthropist and African colonial pioneer, and are provided in partnership with the Second Century Founder, John McCall MacBain and other generous benefactors. The first class of American Rhodes Scholars entered Oxford in 1904; Fisher, who was among those elected on November 22, 2014, will enter Oxford in October 2015.

Fisher, who majors in Political Science and minors in History and Africana Studies, graduated from Rossview High School in Clarksville, Tennessee, in 2011. He has been named a Truman Scholar. He is serving his second term as president of the Student Government Association. He becomes the third student from the Chattanooga campus to be named a Rhodes Scholar.

“I can’t quite put into words how I feel; I am still processing what all of this means,” Fisher said. “To be among 32 of the most talented students in the country is an honor that I never would have imagined for myself. This is the type of opportunity I merely dreamed of as a child. To be the grandson of a set of grandparents who graduated from segregated high schools, to have lived a life contextualized in large part by racial inequality, I recognize that I now have a unique responsibility to leverage this honor to affect positive change in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and beyond.”

He was appointed as student representative to the Tennessee Higher Education Commission and is a Presidential Fellow at the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress.

He has also served as a member of the UT Advocacy Council (UTAC) Oversight Committee, and as co-chair of Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke’s Chattanooga Forward Initiative for the Downtown Revitalization Taskforce. He was named Student Representative of Academic Affairs and Student Success for the University of Tennessee Board of Trustees.

Fisher plans to pursue the Master of Philosophy in Comparative Social Policy at Oxford.

“To say that Robert winning the Rhodes Scholarship is a historic event for The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga is no exaggeration; before the announcement on Sunday, November 22nd, both the University of Chattanooga and The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga together have only had two students be named Rhodes Scholars. So it’s an amazing thing for our institution,” said Dr. Linda Frost, Dean of the Honors College at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. “But as Robert himself told me, it’s a win for his family—for all the people who have supported him so powerfully over the years. Part of what is so satisfying about this is not just that Robert deserves it so heartily because of all the things he’s already achieved, but because we know that Robert will take whatever he learns at Oxford and give it back to his community, tenfold. In the end, it’s just a great thing for anyone who is part of Robert’s community—and that community just gets bigger and better by the day.”

Rhodes Scholars are chosen in a two-stage process. First, applicants must be endorsed by their college or university. This year approximately 1600 students sought their institution’s endorsement; 877 were endorsed by 305 different colleges and universities. Committees of Selection in each of 16 U.S. districts then invite the strongest applicants to appear before them for interview.

“I could not have reached this incredible feat without the support of my amazing family, my dear friends, the UTC and Chattanooga communities, and many, many more people and entities that I regret I cannot list here,” Fisher continued. “For now, all I can say is thank you to everyone who has played a role in my journey, and that I will continue to live my life in service to others–this opportunity merely impacts the scalability of that service.”

Applicants are chosen on the basis of the criteria set down in the Will of Cecil Rhodes.

These criteria are first, academic excellence. This is a critical but only threshold condition. A Rhodes Scholar should also have great personal energy, ambition for impact, and an ability to work with others and to achieve one’s goals. In addition, a Rhodes Scholar should be committed to make a strong difference for good in the world, be concerned for the welfare of others, and be conscious of inequities. And finally, a Rhodes Scholar should show great promise of leadership. Outstanding young men and women of intellect, character, leadership and commitment to service are sought. Gerson said “these basic characteristics are directed at fulfilling Mr. Rhodes’s hopes that the Rhodes Scholars would make an important and positive contribution throughout the world. In Rhodes’ words, his Scholars should ‘esteem the performance of public duties as their highest aim.'”

Applicants in the United States may apply either through the state where they are a legal resident or where they have attended college for at least two years. The district committees met separately, on Friday and Saturday, November 21 and 22 in cities across the country. Each district committee made a final selection of two Rhodes Scholars from the candidates of the state or states within the district. Two-hundred seven applicants from 86 different colleges and universities reached the final stage of the competition, including 10 that had never before had a student win a Rhodes Scholarship.

The thirty-two Rhodes Scholars chosen from the United States will join an international group of Scholars chosen from fourteen other jurisdictions around the world. In addition to the thirty-two Americans, Scholars are also selected from Australia, Bermuda, Canada, the nations of the Commonwealth Caribbean, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Jamaica, Kenya, New Zealand, Pakistan, Southern Africa (South Africa, plus Botswana, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia and Swaziland), Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Approximately 80 Scholars are selected worldwide each year, usually including several who have attended American colleges and universities but who are not U.S. citizens and who have applied through their home country.

With the elections announcement on Sunday, November 23rd, 3,356 Americans have won Rhodes Scholarships, representing 316 colleges and universities. Since 1976, women have been eligible to apply and 498 American women have now won the coveted scholarship. This year, men constituted 53 percent of the applicant pool and also 53 percent of those who reached the final stage of the competition. Over 1900 American Rhodes Scholars are living in all parts of the U.S. and abroad.

The value of the Rhodes Scholarship varies depending on the academic field and the degree (B.A., master’s, doctoral) chosen. The Rhodes Trust pays all college and university fees, provides a stipend to cover necessary expenses while in residence in Oxford as well as during vacations, and transportation to and from England. Gerson estimates that the total value of the Scholarship averages approximately $50,000 per year, and up to as much as $200,000 for Scholars who remain at Oxford for four years in certain departments.

The full list of the newly elected United States Rhodes Scholars, with the states from which they were chosen, their American colleges or universities, and their brief profiles can be found at http://www.rhodesscholar.org/winners/

For more click here.

Deardorff, Michelle

Dr. Michelle Deardorff has been elected to the Council of the American Political Science Association (APSA). It is the leading professional organization for the study of political science; more than 15,000 APSA members reside in excess of 80 countries. Deardorff, professor and head of the Department of Political Science, Public Administration, and Nonprofit Management at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, will serve her council term from 2014-2016.

APSA is responsible for developing the vision and plans for the future of the member-based association. During the next two years it could consider ways the association can transform and be more competitive in the future.

“It is a great honor for Michelle to be elected to the Council of the American Political Science Association,” said Dr. Jeff Elwell, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “Most of the members of the council are from the elite private and major public flagships universities in our country. Her election expresses the respect she has earned from her peers in the discipline and I know she will do a wonderful job and be a great representative for our university.”

In her teaching and research, Deardorff has focused on the constitutional and statutory protections surrounding gender, race, and religion. She is completing work on Pregnancy and the American Worker—an examination of the lower federal courts’ interpretation of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 and the Americans with Disability Act of 1990.

Since 1989, Deardorff has been a member of APSA and accepted leadership roles in the late 1990s. She has served as chair of the Political Science Education section and the Teaching and Learning Standing Committee. Additionally, she was a member of the APSA search committee for an executive director from 2012 to 2013.

“We’re starting to realize this was a traditional, research based organization that really met the needs of graduate faculty at R-1[extensive research] institutions. The majority of faculty do not teach at institutions like that anymore,” Deardorff explains. “So the question is, how can APSA evolve to meet the needs of a contemporary organization?”

Many political scientists are no longer academics, they are practitioners, Deardorff notes. She says during her term she wants the council to consider how it can reach out to many constituencies, including faculty at community colleges, liberal arts four-year institutions, Ph.D. and graduate students, and adjunct faculty. The organization could ponder how the governing structure needs to change and how the organization can become more visible to external audiences.

“When people see a political issue, it is generally not a political scientist commenting on it—there are journalists, politicians, law professors—but the voice of the political scientist is often silent. How can we translate our research into information that is readily available to the public and to the political realm?” Deardorff asks.

She also wants APSA to focus on helping the public understand the political process.

“We’re the people that can translate our research into meaningful applications, we’re the people to help explain the system and help engage civic education,” she said.

Deardorff earned her undergraduate degree from Taylor University. She received her graduate degree and the Ph.D. from Miami University, Ohio.

For more click here.

September 19, 2014

A delegation from Chattanooga’s Sister City of Nizhny, Russia, came to campus to learn about the transformation of Chattanooga.

Chancellor Steve Angle welcomed the group and described Chattanooga’s metamorphosis from a dirty, industrial city to a beautiful outdoor destination with a reputation for entrepreneurial success and innovative use of technology. Angle explained the role of the University in the city’s history and future.

“The University partners with our revitalized community to provide support and expertise,” Angle said. “Faculty and students at the undergraduate and graduate level apply knowledge and work in partnership with community leaders to help make Chattanooga a better place to live.”

Members of the Russian delegation were interested in finding ways to improve their own city, according to Dr. Irina Khmelko, UC Foundation Associate Professor in the Department of Political Science, Public Administration and Nonprofit Management and Vice President of Chattanooga Sister Cities. She facilitated the delegation’s visit to campus.

“They came here because they want to be our friends and they want to learn about our beautiful Chattanooga. They think it’s a beautiful city,” Khmelko. “We made huge progress and they would like to know more about what we did to get where we are. They want to be a city of high quality of life where people enjoy coming and living.”

Nizhny is home to one of the largest integrated steel product plants in Russia. Anna Andreyevna Yarkova, Senior Internal Communications Manager for EVRAZ Nizhny Tagil integrated iron-and-steel works, was among the delegates. She described being actively involved in leading environmental projects in her city, including educational events and tree planting.

Another delegate, Svetlana Vladimirovna Naumova, head of the interregional perinatal center and an obstetrician-gynecologist, explained that she sees an elevated level of babies born with Down Syndrome, which she attributed to “unfavorable ecological conditions.”

Gennadiy Yuryevich Fedorov, inspector, State Budget Institution, works in the field of environmental protection and wilderness conservation. He explained that a national park was created to help solve pollution problems.

“The mission of the park is to preserve nature and develop eco-tourism, so that citizens can become more conscious of the environment. Locals come to swim and boat at the park,” he said with the assistance of an interpreter. “Scientific work is also conducted to protect endangered species—the falcon is one example.”

UTC students had the opportunity to ask numerous questions of the Russian delegation. When the auto industry came up in the discussion, Sergey Igorevich, facilitator for the Open World Leadership Center, took a playful approach. He asked the students if they had ever seen an automobile produced by Russia? When they agreed they had not, he told them the reason.

“Whatever they try to create in the automobile industry, it ends up looking like a tank,” he joked.

July 31, 2013

Deardorff, Michelle

Dr. Michelle D. Deardorff was selected as the Head of the Department of Political Science, Public Administration and Nonprofit Management. Her research and teaching interests focus on constitutional rights as they intersect with the cleavages of race, gender, and religion, as well as in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning. She is currently completing a book entitled Equating Pregnancy: Pregnancy Discrimination and Employment that examines the lower federal courts’ interpretation of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 in relationship to pregnancy protections in employment. Dr. Deardorff’s interests are also reflected in her participation as a core faculty member of the Fannie Lou Hamer National Institute on Citizenship and Democracy.

Before coming to UTC, Dr. Deardorff served as Professor and Chair of the Department of Political Science at Jackson State University, an Historic Black University in Mississippi, where she taught for ten years. She was the Griswold Distinguished Professor of Political Science, the chair of the Department of Political Science and Acting Dean of Arts and Sciences at Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois. She is a founding member of the Fannie Lou Hamer Institute on Citizenship and Democracy, a coalition of academics who promote civic engagement and popular sovereignty through the study of civil rights in America. She currently serves as the chair of the American Political Science Association's standing Committee on Teaching and Learning.

July 30, 2013

Robert Fisher

Robert Fisher recently completed an internship with Center for American Progress, as part of his acceptance into The Institute for Responsible Citizenship’s prestigious summer leadership program. During this internship, he had the opportunity to engage key lawmakers on issues such as student loan interest rates. He also met President Barack Obama.

In addition to being a Political Science student, Robert is also a Brock Scholar and SGA President. We extend our congratulations to Robert on his achievements thus far.

For more, click here