Political Science Poster Conference 2017


On Wednesday, December 13, 2017, from noon to 3 PM, The First Annual Political Science “Student Poster Conference” took place in the Garden Court of the Wilkinson Center. In a well-attended event open to all BYU students and faculty, sixty-one (61) Political Science students presented extensive research on timely topics condensed into elaborate, well-designed, informative 3’ X 4’ posters related to courses taught by Professors Goodliffe, Beesley, Monson and Preece. Topics ranged from: The State of Small Business in American, to Gendered Federal Finance Aid Use; from Gun Control to China as the solution to North Korea to Parenthood and Poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa. Professor John Holbein judged the poster conference, and he went through all 60+ posters, awarding the following prizes:

1st place ($300): Connor Kreutz, Does Endorser Gender Affect Candidate Electability?

2nd place ($200): Matt Easton, Can Conservatives Find Love?

3rd place ($100): Mandi Eatough, Congress and The Gendered Benefits of Social Media in Elections

Congratulations to all participants and winners. Because of its success and pedagogical usefulness, Professor Jay Goodliffe and the Political Science Department plan to expand the Conference again next Fall, 2018.

Student Spotlight: Alessandra Carbajal

alessandraAlessandra Carbajal is a junior from Honduras studying Political Science with an emphasis in American Politics.

Between November 8th and 11th, 2017, Alessandra attended the “Future Women in Government Conference” in Washington, D.C., a once in a lifetime opportunity, she reported. She had the chance to attend many different panels that addressed the healthcare problems that women are currently facing in this country. Most importantly, she got to attend a series of panels alongside female state legislators from all across the nation, who are key players in creating legislation that best addresses these issues. Alessandra was assigned two mentors, State Senators Bollier from Kansas, and Harris from Nevada. Both of them gave her their personal contact information so she can reach out to them whenever she needs anything. As she prepares to go to Law School and to move on to a professional field, the connections she found by attending this conference will prove to be extremely helpful, she said.  She is grateful that she was able to attend the Women in Government Conference, and is confident that if this opportunity arises for other students, they will find the experience to be equally rewarding. Alessandra received funding to attend from the College of Family, Home and Social Sciences.

Alessandra’s research interests include public opinion and public policy, as well as American campaigns and elections.

After graduation, Alessandra would like to pursue a J.D./Ph.D. in American Politics. She enjoys traveling to new places, hiking and spending time with her family.

BYU Women in Politics Opening Social and Faculty Event


On Thursday, September 21, 2017, BYU’s Women in Politics conducted their opening social in the Tanner Building, with refreshments, a slide presentation, and many enthusiastic participants. Then on October 19 at 6 PM, the BYU Women in Politics club and organization met for a “Ted-Talk” style presentation with five female BYU professors offering fascinating lectures. They met in the beautiful seventh-floor conference room in the Tanner Building, Room 710 TNRB, which was full with over 100 people. Each professor gave summaries of their recent research related to women in the world today: participants included Dr. Celeste Beesley, Political Science; Dr. Stacey Shaw, Social Work; Dr. Diana Duan, History; Professor D. Carolina Nunez, JD, Law; and Professor Carrie Moore, News Media. Conducted by current WIP President Eliza Riley, and past WIP President Rachel Finlayson, Women in Politics is an amazing organization that inspires BYU students to become involved, both here on campus and in their future lives. Congratulations to the leaders and members of BYU Women in Politics.

Dr. Beesley spoke about her research examining Federal Direct Investment and job security of female sweatshop workers in India.

Dr. Duan shared her experience growing up in China during the Cultural Revolution and how her life experiences have taught her to find her political voice because politics affects all aspects of life.

Dr. Nunez from BYU Law dispelled immigration myths that have been propagated from politicians from both sides of the political spectrum. Dr. Shaw shared her research on working with refugees and other vulnerable populations, drawing on her experiences with the IRC at Columbia and in Malaysia.

Finally, last but not least, Dr. Carrie Moore from the Communications Dept. and News Media at BYU shared her insights on and encouragement for more qualified women (and men of course) to enter the news media and political arena and find their voices.

Afterwards, WIP sold/distributed T-shirts and mingled/networked with professors.

These female professors are inherently inspiring to students because they are living proof that we can hope to serve our national and international communities on a broader scale. It helped students discover that “If you can see it, you can be it.”



Featured by The New York Times: Professors Michael Barber and Jeremy Pope

Research conducted by BYU Professors Michael Barber and Jeremy Pope was featured prominently in an article in the New York Times on September 14, 2017.

Professor Michael Barber

Professor Michael Barber

Professor Jeremy Pope

Professor Jeremy Pope










The aforementioned article was written by New York Times Opinion and Contributing Op-Ed writer Thomas B. Edsall entitled: “Trump Says Jump. His Supporters Ask, How High?”

The article stated that three prominent teams of US political scholars, including Barber and Pope, all agree in their recent studies that, “politics is less a competition of ideas and more a struggle between two competing teams.”

According to Barber and Pope in their recent paper “Does Party Trump Ideology? Disentangling Party and Ideology in America,” many Republican voters are, “malleable to the point of innocence, and self-reported expressions of ideological fealty are quickly abandoned for policies that—once endorsed by a well-known party leader—run contrary to that expressed ideology.”

The Barber-Pope study suggests that, for many Republicans, partisan identification is more a tribal affiliation than an ideological commitment.

While elites – elected officials and party activists—are ideologically polarized, the best the general public “can manage is a kind of tribal partisanship that does not really reflect the content of the elite discussion.”

Pope wrote: “Citizens pick a team, but they don’t naturally think like the team leadership does. And when Trump tells Republicans to think in a new way, lots of people happily adopt that new position because they were never that committed to the old ideas anyway. They’re just committed to the label.”

In other words, Trump’s strongest supporters are likely to back him despite his violations of Republican orthodoxy.

For more information regarding how the study was conducted and its subsequent results, read the article following the link below:



Professor Donna Lee Bowen’s Convocation Address


On August 18, 2017, Professor Donna Lee Bowen from the BYU Department of Political Science offered the Convocation Address for Summer Commencement for the College of Family Home and Social Sciences in the Marriot Center.

She spoke about integrity, and how strong leadership can help confront tyranny. She said, “Good leaders radiate their integrity in every action. They admit mistakes, ask forgiveness, and seek to abide as closely as possible to their responsibilities.”

The power of good leaders cannot be calculated, she said, and used George Washington as an example, discussing how he voluntarily relinquished power after two terms, instead of seizing power to become a dictator, thereby creating a precedence that continues to this day for our nation’s governance.  “Humility is the key,” she said.

Congratulations to Donna Lee on an inspiring convocation address.

Attached please find a full copy of her address:

Donna Lee Bowen FHSS Convocation Address 2017

August Valedictorian: Davin Guinn


Congratulations to Davin Guinn, our valedictorian for August convocation from Political Science.

Davin is the son of Brad and Haley Guinn and grew up in Murrieta, California, as the oldest of six children. He served a mission in Pueblo, Mexico and dealt with a rigorous student-athlete lifestyle as a member of the BYU men’s basketball team. From walk-on to scholarship athlete, he earned a spot on the WCC All-Academic Team for the 2016-2017 season. That same year, he was selected as the recipient of the team’s most Inspirational Player Award.

Davin has since redirected his competitive drive toward his aspirations as a prospective JD candidate at the J. Reuben Clark Law School, where he plans to continue his education in the fall.

Davin worked as a law clerk for a civil litigation firm in Temecula, California, and recently completed an internship with the legal department at Vivint Smart Home.

He attributes much of his success to support from his family—specifically his parents and sisters. He also loves playing the piano.

Davin gave a wonderful speech at the August convocation on August 18, 2017, wherein he said: “we are capable of adaptation, but firm in our values,” and, “adversity will not deter our contribution to the world.” Best wishes to Davin from all.

Professor Spotlight: John B. Holbein


Congratulations to Assistant Professor John B. Holbein for his mention in New York Magazine on August 11, 2017, regarding his study entitled “Childhood Skill Development and Adult Political Participation,” published in the American Political Science Review (Volume 111, Issue 3, August 2017, pp. 572-583).

The study found that kids who received help with their social skills, including voting and political participation, were better off than those who hadn’t. The psychosocial or noncognitive skills that children develop in early education—including the ability to self-regulate and integrate in social settings—are important for success in school and beyond.

The study focused on a program called Fast Track, which was designed to improve the future general well-being of children by developing their social skills including voting. The study found that by the time the children reached adulthood, after participating in Fast Track in early education, they were less likely to commit crimes or to be involved with risky sexual behavior. Additionally, the participants in the program were more likely to be better educated, to have better employment prospects, and to have healthier relationships with their spouses and children.

The study included 891 kids— 445 in the control group, 446 to receive special education on their social skills — who were at risk of growing up to drop out of school, engage in criminal behavior, or were more likely to end up in prison. The program was incorporated in schools across four states: North Carolina, Tennessee, Pennsylvania, and Washington and lasted from the first to tenth grade.

Holbein’s article was also mentioned in a Washington Post article entitled “A political scientist has discovered a surprising way to increase voter turnout. It starts in childhood,” on August 17, 2017.

In addition to his work published in the  American Political Science Review Holbein also recently published an article entitled “Making Young Voters: The Impact of Preregistration on Youth Turnout,” co-authored with D. Sunshine Hillygus, both from Duke University, in the American Journal of Political Science.

The article examines the effectiveness of preregistration laws, which allow young citizens to register before being eligible to vote. Holbein and Hillygus found that preregistration increases voter turnout, with equal effectiveness for various subgroups in the electorate.

Minerva Project and WomanStats Investigator Meeting


On July 10-12, 2017, Professor Valerie Hudson from the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M, along with Professor Donna Lee Bowen from BYU Political Science, conducted the annual WomanStats “Investigator” meeting at the Kennedy Center.

For two days, scholars and researchers in women’s issues presented findings from their work. Valerie Hudson, Donna Lee Bowen and Lynne Nielsen presented the theory, analytical framework, and preliminary empirical analysis for their book, “The First Political Order: Sex, Governance, and National Security,” which is a product of a three year grant from the prestigious Minerva Initiative sponsored by the Department of Defense.

Other research presentations  included Co-Principal Investigators, Senem Ertan from the Department of Political Science in Ankara Social Sciences University in Ankara, Turkey; Emily Sellars, Department of Political Science, Texas A&M; Rose McDermott, Department of Political Science at Brown University; Mary Caprioli, Department of Political Science at the University of Minnesota, Duluth; Catalina Monroy, from Sergio Arbloeda University in Bogota, Colombia; and her husband Juan Pablo Vallejo, of the Inter-American Development Bank in Bogota, Columbia; Becca Nielsen from Texas A&M; and Lynne Nielsen from BYU Department of Statistics.

Other scholars participated via virtual connections. Their general findings span the spectrum of women’s political issues around the world, including how the private relationships between men and women help mold society and governance, women’s security issues globally (rape and assault), changes in the South Korean constitution on marriage to counter son preference, patrilineal clannism in India, and a discussion on how change can happen under autocratic rule, and what triggers regression from advances in the equality of women in society. Other scholars from major universities in Germany, Britain, Santa Barbara and Cambridge participated via virtual connections.

Renata Forste, Director of the David M. Kennedy Center for International Studies discussed plans for incorporating the women’s studies program under the auspices of the Kennedy Center. Bonnie Ballif-Spanvill, Professor Emeritus and the former Director of the Women’s Research Institute, also attended.  In 2001 she assisted Valerie Hudson who began WomenStats with nothing but a dream to further research on women. WomanStats has since received  substantial funding and worked at  identifying and documenting women’s issues globally, and  supplying the hard data that helps cause change.

WomanStats is now the largest compilation of data on women in the world.  One of the primary conclusions of much of the research supports WomanStats claim that “The fate of nations is tied to the status of women.” See: www.womanstats.org.




Beyond BYU 2017

“Beyond BYU” is an annual career and networking event in Washington, D.C., for BYU students from Provo, Hawaii, Idaho, that began this year on Thursday, May 11th and ended on Friday, May 12th.

Approximately 112 students participated in this year’s two-day event, the highlight of which was a keynote address by Senator Gordon Smith of Oregon, current director of the National Association of Broadcasters.

Pictured Above: Senator Gordon Smith of Oregon.

Pictured Above: Senator Gordon Smith of Oregon.

Speaking at the NAB headquarters, Senator Smith encouraged students to study deeply the issues that will affect their lives in the long term, to be truly an expert in at least one professional discipline, and to “earn” their opinions on important issues through serious research and study. Senator Smith discussed the importance of the rule of law as nations around the world work towards stability and democracy. After Senator Smith spoke, students and alumni professionals spoke over hors d’oeuvres and refreshments and career mentoring went on until nearly 9 PM.

Students listen during the  keynote address at NAB Headquarters.

Students listen during the keynote address at NAB Headquarters.

On the morning of May 11th, students met at the U.S. Capitol and toured the Halls of Congress. The following morning, students met at the Barlow Center and prepared to go to professional offices all over Washington, D.C. These offices included: the SEC, the World Bank, Deep Roots Analytics, the FBI, the U.S. Congress’ Ways and Means Committee, various lobbying firms, communications firms, and law firms in the D.C. area.

The two-day event concluded with a graduate school information event at the BYU Barlow Center wherein representatives from Georgetown, George Washington, American and George Mason Universities came and spoke informally with students about programs ranging from an MPP in Public Health, to MBA programs, JDs and PhDs. Students have described the event two-day event as “amazing,” and as an event that helped them “see all the possibilities that are available” in the DC area for post-graduate work and study.

Students receive personalized mentoring from professionals in the Washington, D.C. area.

Students receive personalized mentoring from professionals in the Washington, D.C. area.

Student Recognition at BYU Political Science Closing Banquet

Political Science Awards 2017

Congratulations to the new BYU Political Science valedictorian and salutatorians! Pictured above is Soren Schmidt, valedictorian, as well Kim Roy and Sierra Thomander, salutatorians. They were recognized at the BYU Political Science Closing Banquet for their many accomplishments and hard work over the course of their time as undergraduate students in the BYU Political Science Department.

Along with the recognition of the valedictorian and salutatorians of the class pf 2017, the SIGMA Journal authors and recipients of the Jones Writing Awards were also recognized at the banquet and are listed as follows:

  • Mandi Eatough (1st place)
  • Kennan Howlett O’Connell (2nd place)
  • Soren Schmidt and Matthew Young (3rd place)
  • Rehtaeh Beers
  • Caitlyn Bradfield Smith and Paul Johnson
  • Sarah Curry and Cassidy Hansen
  • Brittney Grandy
  • Lexie Prier
  • Sam Williams

Additionally, Eliza Riley and Samantha Woods were recognized at the banquet as the 2017-2018 Stan Taylor Scholars.

Finally, the BYU Political Science Closing Banquet also recognized the new chapter presidency of the BYUPAS student chapter, and is proud to announce Reed Rasband as president, Sam Elmer as vice president, Kate Wheeler as the publicity specialist, and Collyn Mosquito as events coordinator for the upcoming 2017-2018 school year.