Tag Archives: byu political science

BYU Students Conduct Research in Thailand

Carly Madsen and Professor Joel Selway on a group excursion in Thailand. Madsen aided Selway on a research project on Thai nationalism conducted during the summer of 2015.

Carly Madsen and Professor Joel Selway on a group excursion in Thailand. Madsen was an aid for Selway during a research project about Thai nationalism conducted in the summer of 2015.

Several BYU undergraduates spent last summer in Thailand as research assistants studying Thai nationalism with Professor Joel Selway. Carly Madsen, a recent graduate of the Political Science Department, helped facilitate the student and faculty research conducted over the summer.

Under the direction of Selway and Madsen, students created, translated and oversaw administration of a Qualtrics survey to over 1000 people in the Chiang Mai area about nationalism and identity.

Due to the nature of the study, research assistants from BYU were unable to conduct the survey themselves. Students from the English Department of North Chiang Mai University partnered with BYU undergraduates to help translate and administer the survey. The translation process was the most difficult portion of the study, according to Madsen.

“When we got to Thailand a lot of our work was re-translating multiple times with different people. Someone would read it and say oh this is fine and then another person would read it tell us it makes no sense or it was too casual or not casual enough,” she said. “Yeah, the language thing was kind of hard.”

While translating the words used in the survey may have been difficult, speaking Thai every day was not new. Madsen served an LDS mission in Bangkok, Thailand from February 2013 to August 2014, and it was her language proficiency that qualified her for the facilitator position. “Basically, I was a communicator and an organizer,” she said of her role.

A significant part of the group’s preparation effort was developing question for each of the research assistants. Before they left for Thailand, Madsen spent time with each student to help them develop a compelling research question of their own.

“I was making sure everyone had a good research question that they felt excited about and then making sure that they were writing proposals that were impressive enough to receive grant money,” she said. The effort paid off. Each student that went to conduct research received funding from the department or school. She cites the opportunity to conduct personal research as a rewarding part of her experience.

“It was really cool for me to get answers to my own questions about women in Thai politics,” she said. Madsen interviewed many professional women, one of whom was an influential municipal leader. Each of these women had examples of the strides women had made in the public sector and hope for the future, which Madsen appreciated. “Thai politics are something that matter a lot to me, as does gender in politics. Having the chance to merge those together and see how women are doing in Thai politics was really cool.”

Madsen is still analyzing the data from her survey with Professor Selway, but observed that many surveyed citizens feel a stronger tie to their region than the country. She anticipates presenting papers of their findings at conferences within the year. Her next step is graduate school, after publishing a paper on the research she conducted personally in Thailand.

Ultimately, “the summer was a success,” she said. 

Dr. Joel Selway joined the BYU Political Science faculty in 2009 after earning his Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. He has researched the democratic systems of ethnically diverse societies, particularly in Asian countries. Ralph Brown was the previous faculty advisor of the Thailand international development internship program at BYU.

BYUPAS student president reviews past year as “filled with political excitement”

Tyler Simms, political science student and president of the BYUPAS Provo Chapter, reviewed the past fall 2014 and winter 2015 semesters.

“This academic year at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah has been filled with political excitement. As a result, BYUPAS has been able to host a number of successful events that have reached a large number of students from all majors. Students have had opportunities to land internships, meet their faculty, join campaigns, attend debates, meet government officials, and find out the latest in political science research.

In September, we started off the year with a bang by hosting a Political Involvement Fair on campus. We rented a room in the Wilkinson Student Center and filled the outer walls with recruiters from over twenty-five different organizations, such as political campaigns, political parties, study abroad opportunities, local internships, national internships, research fellowships, and many more. Students had the opportunity to visit with each one of these groups and see how they could become involved. In all, over 300 students showed up. Some left with internships, some left with applications, and many left with full bellies as pizza was served. With this one event, we doubled our e-mail list and set the tone for the rest of the year.


At the Involvement Fair, BYU students had the opportunity to visit with political groups and internship booths to see how they could become involved.


BYU students eat pizza and learn about political groups and internship opportunities at the BYU Political Science Involvement Fair

Right after our Involvement Fair, election season was in full swing, and our campus was fortunate enough to host the Attorney General debate. We received permission to invite the student body to not only attend the debate, but also the candidates agreed to have an off-the-record session with students following the debate. We advertised this event in full force, so our students could benefit from such a rare opportunity. Unsurprisingly, a huge number of BYU students showed up and completely filled the studio where the televised debate was held. In the off-the-record session, BYU students showed how intelligent they are as they asked each of the candidates well-thought and thought-provoking questions. They took full advantage of such a rare opportunity.

BYU political science students attend the 2014 Provo  Attorney General Debate.

BYU political science students attend the 2014 Provo Attorney General Debate.

Our annual Oktoberfest was a much-needed break from the stress of election season as many of our students and faculty were involved in the intense Exit Poll project. We held our annual event at the Timp Lodge and saw what many called a record turnout. The walls of the Timp Lodge were filled from end to end with students, faculty, and families. Literally, we would not have been able to accommodate anyone else. A few of our esteemed have faculty mentioned how much their freshmen students enjoyed spending time with the upperclassmen and faculty in such a relaxed setting. Students, families, and faculty were able to eat, laugh, relax, and enjoy our very own faculty band and also take part in the Faculty Feud game. We estimate that between 250-300 people were in attendance.

Faculty and friends perform for BYU students and families at the 2014 BYUPAS Oktoberfest.

Faculty and friends perform for BYU students and families at the 2014 BYUPAS Oktoberfest.

BYU Political Science events

BYU freshman, upperclassmen, families and faculty mix at BYU Political Science’s annual Oktoberfest at Timp Lodge.

Winter semester also started off with a bang! Two weeks ago we hosted our trip to the Utah State Capitol where 45 students had the privilege to hear from a panel of lobbyists and a panel of journalists. The highlight of the day, however, was during our “speed dating” segment when students were able to have one-on-one time with professionals from a wide range of organizations. Attorney General Sean Reyes and Lt. Governor Spencer Cox were in attendance for this event and met with student during the one on sessions. Students have raved about this event, and one student said he left with an internship opportunity in Washington D.C.! We did not plan this event alone, however. The Salt Lake Chapter helped us out a ton and did a lot of the coordinating for the “speed dating” segment. Our Capitol Trip has generated a lot of buzz around campus, and there has been talk of the BYU Alumni Magazine doing a write-up on the event.

BYUPAS SLC Chapter and BYUPAS students mix and mingle at the "speed-networking" event.

BYUPAS SLC Chapter and BYUPAS students mix and mingle at the “speed-networking” event.


BYU political science student have one-on-one time with professionals from a wide range of organizations.

Our list of events does not end with those described above. Students have been able to attend gatherings hosted by Dr. Eric Stiles, Dr. Michael Barber, and Dr. Jessica Preece. In March, we will be hosting two academics, Dr. Thomas Zeitzoff and Dr. Daphna Cantetti, who are experts on the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. They will be in town for three days and will appear at a variety of events, including a large discussion in the main lecture hall of the Kimball Tower and one-on-one interviews with students who are interested in learning more on the conflict. We will cap off the year with our closing banquet, and the brand new BYU President Kevin J. Worthen will be the keynote speaker. All in all, it has been a fantastic year. We are very thankful for the students, faculty, department and BYUPAS in general for help in making this year as fun as it has been.”

– Tyler Simms, President, BYUPAS Provo Student Chapter