Political Science Department Woos Potential Graduate Students at Visitors Day

March 2, 2006

Much like Baylor's athletic department woos recruits to attend the university, Baylor's department of political science hosted an impressive "Visitors Day" on Feb. 24 for prospective graduate students. The day-long event, which began on Baylor's campus and ended at the home of Professors Mary and David Nichols, was a measure of the success of the political science graduate program since Baylor's Board of Regents approved its Ph.D. proposal last year.

The political science doctoral program, while focusing on the history of political thought, issues of citizenship and democratic theory, will emphasize the traditional political science fields of political theory, American politics and constitutional law, international relations and comparative politics.

The keynote event was a morning panel, on "The Civic Soul" chaired by Dr. Dwight Allman, the department's director of graduate studies. The panelists, all current graduate students in political science, included Andrew Clayton, Julianne Romanello, David Ramsey and Joseph Wysocki.

The scholarly presentations ranged in focus from the political thought of Aristotle and Augustine to the contemporary debate over the place of religion in the public square. In April, all four of the panelists will present their work at the Southwestern Social Science Association meeting in San Antonio.

Dr. David Corey, who served as a discussant on the panel, said that it was "an extremely effective panel, both for introducing prospective graduate students to the high academic standards of our new Ph.D. program and also for giving our current students the chance to present their scholarship."

After the panel discussion, prospective students were treated to lunch and heard a presentation by David Nichols on "Electoral Politics and the Constitution: The Case of Bush v. Gore." Nichols, associate professor in political science and the Baylor Interdisciplinary Core, argued that Bush v. Gore was not simply about the election, but it reflected fundamentally competing interpretations of the American Constitution, democratic participation, the rule of law and executive and judicial discretion.

After lunch, Dr. David Clinton, who currently teaches at Tulane University, spoke to a packed room of students, faculty and visitors on "Diplomacy and the Constitution of International Society." Adamantly rejecting the view that international systems must be characterized by lawlessness and cold necessity, he described the elaborate rules and practices that have long guided international diplomacy in practice. Clinton is joining the political science department in the fall and will teach courses in the areas of American foreign policy, international relations thought, and diplomacy.

In the evening, visitors, current students and faculty gathered at the home of David and Mary Nichols for dinner, a film, and discussion. Mary Nichols introduced "Shakespeare in Love" with reflections on the history of its screenplay, and the philosophic and political issues raised in the film. After the viewing, there was discussion of how Tom Stoppard's screenplay was not simply about the young Shakespeare's writing Romeo and Juliet, but also constituted a rewriting of Shakespeare's play. Discussion ranged from the dangers and benefits of poetry and the relation between art and truth to the role of statesmanship in moderating tragedy.

Seventeen prospective students attended the events of the day, some traveling from as far as Spokane, Wash., and Fredericton, New Brunswick, in Canada.

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