Our students are actively involved in a wide variety of activities on campus, in Columbus, and around the globe. Meet a few of our current students, and see how opportunities in the Department of Political Science have shaped their time at Ohio State!
Majors: Economics and Political Science
Graduatation Year: 2019
"The program was phenomenal. I had the unique opportunity to learn about quantitative methods used in social sciences and to apply my knowledge through an independent research project. In additional to crucial skills relating to my major I also had the opportunity to learn more about Polish (and Eastern European) social history and culture through a series of lectures, walking tours, and excursions of important locations within Poland. Furthermore, the trip also helped me forge close bonds with fellow buckeyes. Overall, the experience was one that I would never forget."
Areas of Study: Major: Political science and English, minors in history and international relations
Graduatation Year: 2019
"This summer I am partaking in the Warsaw summer school run by the polish institute of philosophy and sociology in conjunction with Ohio state. This is my second time abroad and in Poland! This trip is more than a chance to experience a new culture, it is also a chance to develop and execute my own research project! I specifically am looking at the difference in opinions on state paternalism between youth raised under the communist system (1993) and those under the capitalist system (2013). By comparing these two groups I can examine how youth perceive the welfare state and how political ideas persist over time. Aside from the academic component, studying abroad also offers the opportunity to truly immerse oneself in an unfamiliar culture. I have learned about Poland and it’s people in a way I know I would not experience at home. Poland is unique in the sense that its 20th century identity was virtually non-existent, as it only was truly independent in the period between the world wars, and starting again in the 1990s when communism fell. Poland is a example of how societies handle rapid political change, and stands as a testament to the resilience of humanity. My favorite part of touring Warsaw on my own has been seeing the legacy from each period in polish history. From the Warsaw uprising symbols plastered all over the city, the red roofs of old town, the Jewish ghetto walls, to the communist apartment blocks, Warsaw is both vibrant and a reminder that the past is never truly behind us. Upon my return, I plan to use my new found statistical training and cultural awareness to pursue a joint masters in social work and public administration, perhaps in a foreign country as traveling abroad never ceases to amaze me. Being abroad has not only given me the chance to grow as a student, but also as a person, and to truly understand what being globally engaged means as I learn about another countries history and the intricacies of a system that had up until now been lost on me."
Areas of study: Political Science and Business, Chinese minor
Hometown: Milford, Ohio
Angel Guo recently completed the Department of Political Science's Canadian Parliament Internship Program, through which she worked in the offices of Hedy Fry, member of Parliament for Vancouver Centre. On campus, Guo is involved with the international affairs scholars group, MUNDO and The Alexander Hamilton Society.
Why did you choose Ohio State for your undergraduate career?
As a senior in high school, I had two requirements during my college search: I wanted to go to a college that would put me out of my comfort zone and where I would be intellectually challenged in my courses. Ohio State provides the perfect blend of what I was looking for. Ohio State provides numerous classes where I can research, debate and discuss with world-renowned professors around topics of my interest. Ohio State also takes me out of comfort zone because of its sheer size. I can't just sit on the sidelines; I have to be an active player if I want to succeed.
Why did you choose political science as your major?
Politics has always been a part of my life. I grew up in a household where we talked about politics during family dinners. Everything stems from politics, and I want to understand how I can use that knowledge to benefit the people and learn more about the complexities of the political world.
What about the Canadian Parliament Internship Program interested you?
I chose the program because I wanted to intern for a government and get first-hand experience learning about how government works. Although many people believe that Canadian politics and culture are synonymous with their American counterparts, Canada in actuality is extremely different from the U.S. I wanted to understand more about the difference, and I wanted to know why two countries that share a similar history and mother country can be so different.
What are some of the activities you completed during the internship?
For five weeks I helped the executive assistant, the legislative assistant and my MP research topics of importance to Vancouver Centre. I emailed constituents regarding their concern on how the MP should vote on certain bills, planned the MP’s schedule, and attended committee meetings. The most important aspect was learning to be on top of what was happening in the house at all time, so we could prepare for the day.
Interning at Parliament Hill exposed me to all types of leadership skills, and I hope to use this experience to develop a personal leadership style that can help make me a better team player for any of my future goals.
What did you like the most about your experience in Ottawa?
I loved the weekend trip to Montreal and Quebec. Ottawa's culture is similar to the culture back home, but going into Quebec is like being in Europe!
How did the experience fit in with your major and your ideas of what would you like to do after graduation?
As a political science major, this experience will definitely shape what specialization I want to pursue for my major. American politics has always interested me, but because of my internship I'm now also interested in Canadian politics. I now understand how one country's fate is tied with every other country. Before this internship, law school was always an option for me. Talking to people across all offices in Canada taught me that in order to understand politics you must know the process. I don’t have a specific plan for my future, but I’m trying to gain all the experiences and skills that I might potentially need for whatever I want to do in the future.
Areas of study: Political science (with a focus on international relations) and economics, French minor
Graduation year: 2017
Hometown: Dayton, Ohio
Ohio State, and the Department of Political Science in particular, offers numerous ways for students to explore their interests and build lasting relationships with faculty and fellow students outside the classroom. Political Science and World Politics students can take advantage of more than 1,000 student organizations, over 100 study abroad programs, a full schedule of lectures and events, and myriad opportunities for research and internships. For Hyeji Kim, a junior political science and economics double major, these opportunities have played a major role in shaping her time at Ohio State.
Hyeji first got involved with the Collegiate Council on World Affairs (CCWA) at the beginning of her freshman year at Ohio State, when she sought out a club related to her major. Nearly three years later, she has built a close network of friends through CCWA and serves as an editor for Alger Magazine, CCWA’s student-run magazine that publishes articles on domestic and world affairs. “CCWA has been so great at promoting friendships within the department,” she says. “Every step that I have taken, from thinking that I should read this magazine or take this class or do this research, it has all been motivated by the people that I have met through CCWA.”
Outside of the Political Science department, Hyeji is involved in the North Korea Future Research Organization, a student group dedicated to researching and enhancing understanding of North Korea and its relevant issues. She also sings with BAAM, an Asian-American a cappella group on campus, and is a member of the Student Advisory Committee for Honors Collegium, an enrichment program within the University Honors Program that connects honors students with faculty and offers co-curricular activities on personal and professional development.
During her sophomore year, Hyeji took advantage of the many opportunities for undergraduate research at Ohio State by working as a research assistant for Political Science assistant professor Inés Valdez Tappatá. This was a valuable opportunity that showed Hyeji how professors conduct their own research and allowed her to form a close relationship with Professor Valdez, who gave her advice and guidance on her future career plans. “Plus, it gave me more insight into my own research process – what sort of research I should be looking into,” she says. “So that was a great experience.”
In Autumn 2015, Hyeji was one of two political science students studying abroad at Sciences Po, a highly competitive French university in Paris, where she took courses in the areas of international relations and political science. Before departing, she said: “What I am most excited about is getting the opportunity to study political science and international studies from perspectives that are different than what I was previously exposed to. Critical thinking is important in all fields, but I think it is particularly relevant in the social science fields. I believe that learning about the French methodology and having the chance to learn about world affairs from a different point of view will be beneficial as I continue my study at Ohio State.”
Looking to the future, Hyeji is considering careers in foreign policy, diplomacy, or possibly international political risk analysis. To further explore these interests, Hyeji participated in the Charles B. Rangel International Affairs Summer Enrichment Program in Washington, D.C. during the summer of 2015. The Rangel Program, which is funded by the Department of State and hosted by Howard University, allows undergraduate students who are interested in international affairs to attend courses on relevant topics, meet professionals in the field, and participate in networking and informational programs at various institutions around Washington, D.C.
When asked about her favorite things about the Political Science department, Hyeji cited the engaged faculty, the opportunity to get involved in numerous student organizations (“students can get together based on shared interests”, which helps give the department and the university a small feeling) and the openness of the department to student opinions and ideas.
Her advice to other students? Go to your professors’ office hours. “It took me over a semester and a half to even gather the courage to knock on the professor’s door during his office hours. Sending an email and setting up an appointment is even scarier. However, once the professors see how engaged you are with the course material or just invested in the field, they are willing to listen to questions and give you advice. It can also develop into something personal as the student and faculty discuss their family lives, vacation plans, and much more. I was so happy when I got my first ‘I’m so glad to see you’ hug from my research professor.”
You can also see a video of Hyeji talking about her experience in the department on the Political Science major page.
Areas of study: Political Science (with a focus on comparative politics) and Economics
Graduation year: 2016
Hometown: Columbus, Ohio
One of the best things about Ohio State is its ability to be as big or as small as a student desires. Political science and world politics students benefit from the resources, connections and faculty excellence stemming from Ohio State’s stature as a world-class institution, but they are also able to forge personal relationships with faculty and fellow students, making a large university feel small. This has certainly been the case for Max Mauerman, a political science and economics double major who has taken advantage of the many opportunities Ohio State provides for research, professional development, and engagement outside the classroom.
In addition to his academic studies, Max has been deeply involved in the Collegiate Council for World Affairs (CCWA) since his freshman year. Through CCWA, he has been able to travel to intercollegiate Model United Nations (UN) conferences around the country and help lead the Global Classroom International High School Model UN Conference (GCIMUN) in New York City in May 2015. He also serves as co-editor of Alger Magazine, CCWA's student-run magazine on foreign and domestic affairs. Thanks to his connections with CCWA, Max was invited to attend the 65th Annual United Nations DPI/NGO (Department of Public Information/Non-Governmental Organizations) conference in August 2014. Along with fellow OSU student and former CCWA president Erik Leiden, Max was part of a select group of students and journalists asked to cover the conference, which brings together nonprofits and social enterprises at the United Nations. In this role, Max had the opportunity to interview Hadiza Usman, the founder of the #BringBackOurGirls campaign, and his article about the interview was published by the Huffington Post in April 2015.
Max has also found ways to apply his interest in political science, particularly civil rights and the politics of urban development, directly to his hometown of Columbus. Guided by professors Sara Watson and Vladimir Kogan, Max wrote his senior thesis about income mobility and the history of urban planning in Columbus. Part statistical survey, part case study, the paper traces back decades of history to show how political decisions have shaped the structure and income mobility of Columbus neighborhoods.
In Summer 2015, Max delved deeper into these local issues while conducting research for Policy Matters Ohio and interning with the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC), where he helped plan public housing projects. He also participated in the new month-long John Lewis Fellowship through Humanity in Action and the Center for Civil and Human Rights, which focuses on civil rights advocacy and political organizing in the United States.
And in Autumn 2015, Max took his studies overseas to complete an internship with Innovations for Poverty Action, a development economics research organization, in Accra, Ghana. He will be designing and evaluating public health and waste disposal projects in the city - specifically, doing statistical analysis and data collection for the organization.
When asked about the impact the Political Science department has had on him, Max said: "The Poli Sci department has influenced just about every aspect of my undergraduate career. From hearing Dr. Herrmann speak at my convocation (which convinced me to add the major), to joining the Collegiate Council on World Affairs (which introduced me to the most engaging group of students I've ever met), to working on both guided and independent research projects (which have shaped my career path), and finally to participating in the international Humanity in Action fellowship this summer, the Poli Sci department has been a valuable resource along every step of the way. The faculty and staff are not only academically excellent but also always willing to be advocates for students."
Max will complete his degrees in Spring 2016, and after graduation he plans to pursue a Master’s degree in public policy or economics.
Areas of study: Political Science (with a focus on international relations) and Communications
Graduation year: 2017
Hometown: Dublin, Ohio
What is your favorite thing about studying political science at Ohio State?
“My favorite thing has been the support of the advisors and professors. I leave my advising appointments feeling completely reassured and pretty much awesome! In addition, the professors have always been very willing to work with me. I’ve never felt like a ‘number’ that you hear about so often within big universities like Ohio State. I’ve always felt the department has time for me and actually cares about whether I succeed or fail.”
What are your favorite courses in the Department of Political Science?
“Two come to mind: Political Science 4218 (Russian Politics), for how it connected me to the world, and Political Science 4781 (Techniques in Political Analysis) for how it challenged me. 4781 used R coding language in order to analyze and present large data sets. Not only did it show me how important it is to read into what you see in graphs and charts, as this class teaches you the art of data manipulation, but it introduced to me a world I had left previously untouched. Learning R was hard, but I loved every minute of the challenge and am happy to have learned the skill. I still use it just for fun today.”
What other activities are you involved in beyond the Department of Political Science?
“Here at Ohio State I am part of the Media, Marketing, and Communications Scholars program, the Tri-P mentoring and Scholars programs in the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, as well as Athletes in Action Student ministry. Each of these organizations has pushed me to new heights in academics, productive thinking and action, Faith, and hard work. In addition, I run Cross Country and Track for Ohio State.”
What is your advice for future Political Science and World Politics students?
“My advice to future students is to do something. Whether that is taking the first step into a research question that has always caught your interest, taking a moment to talk to your professor about something you’ve been pondering, or enrolling in a class that piques your curiosities but seems like a true challenge, do something. Maybe start an organization, or start looking into your dream of studying abroad. If there’s one thing the Political Science Department has shown me it’s the value of connections. These connections can be with people, or connections you make within your own studies, but regardless, they have never failed to surprise me with how much they can teach.”
After graduation, Kaitlyn is considering attending law school to become a criminal prosecutor or combining her degrees in Communications and Political Science to become a political commentator or spokesperson.
Areas of study: Political Science (Bachelor of Science program) and Chinese double major
Graduation year: 2016
Hometown: Huntington, West Virginia
The Ohio State University and the Department of Political Science provide numerous opportunities for undergraduates to gain research experience. For instance, students can assist with faculty research, develop independent thesis projects or even conduct research while studying abroad. What’s more, grants and scholarships available through the College of Arts and Sciences, the Department of Political Science, the Mershon Center and the Undergraduate Research Office help make these research and study abroad opportunities accessible to students from all backgrounds and interest areas. Jayan Nair, a fourth year political science and Chinese double major, has taken advantage of these many resources to get involved in research in Columbus and around the world.
Jayan first became involved in undergraduate research the summer after his freshman year, when he worked as a research assistant for Dr. Janet Box-Steffensmeier and helped code data for a project on interest groups in Congress. Since then, Jayan has worked as a research assistant for three other professors in the Department of Political Science, which has allowed him to diversify his research and gain experience in different areas of the field.
Jayan’s experience assisting professors with their research has prepared him to develop his own independent research projects. Jayan is currently writing a senior honors thesis, in which he plans to map out changes in strategic culture between regimes in the Chinese context. Jayan credits Dr. Jennifer Mitzen’s workshop-style thesis writing class with helping him develop and improve his thesis topic. “It was incredibly helpful,” he said. “I really learned a lot. Not just about my own project, but about how to approach other people’s research in a way that is respectful and engaged with the ideas but still critically helpful.”
As part of his thesis process, Jayan spent 10 weeks over the summer conducting research in China. This trip was funded in large part by generous grants from the Honors Program, the Mershon Center for International Security Studies and the College of Arts and Sciences.
Jayan’s involvement with student groups in the Department of Political Science has also been instrumental in helping him grow as a researcher and scholar. As a member of the Collegiate Council on World Affairs (CCWA), Jayan started writing for Alger Magazine during his freshman year, and he now serves as the magazine’s editor in chief. In addition to making good friends through the organization, he says his work with the magazine has provided “insight into how to make scholarship accessible to a non-academic audience.”
When asked why he chose Ohio State’s political science program, Jayan cited the combination of depth and breadth that is built into the political science curriculum, allowing students to gain a holistic education while also diving into their specific area of interest. In addition, Jayan said that the faculty expertise and accessibility sets the department apart from other programs. “I’ve made some great connections,” he said. “I think a lot of it comes down to the connections that you go out and make. If you put in the effort, the faculty here are more than willing to help you out. We have a stellar faculty. It’s a great environment.”
Jayan advises future political science students to take advantage of the department’s resources to create an educational plan that fully prepares them for their future careers. He said: “Talk to the advisors about your interests. They’re not just there to talk to you about courses and registration issues. They can help you figure out what faculty members would be good mentors for you, or your research interests or professional interests. And really work with them to develop a cohesive degree that trains you in the ideas that are going to be relevant to what your interests are. Put that extra work in to create a degree that really prepares you for something.”
After graduation, Jayan plans to pursue a PhD in political science (with a focus in international relations) and hopes to one day become a tenure-track professor.
Areas of study: World Politics, French minor
Graduation year: Autumn 2015
Hometown: Voronezh, Russia
Students in the Department of Political Science can take courses on a wide range of issues, from global governance to American elections to gun rights, from strategies for war and peace to Supreme Court decision-making. With three degree programs and eight minor areas, the diversity of offerings within the department allows students to graduate with a degree that is targeted to their own personal interests and best prepares them for their future career path. In 2014, the Department of Political Science introduced two new degree options - a Bachelor of Science in Political Science and a Bachelor of Arts in World Politics – in order to better respond to the unique needs and interests of Ohio State students.
For Tatyana Sinetskaya, a returning student who transferred to Ohio State in January 2014, the creation of the World Politics major helped her better explore her interest in global affairs. “My passion to know about world issues goes back to when I was about 16,” Tatyana said. “Living in Russia, I was always interested in what’s behind the ‘Iron Curtain'. When I decided to go back to school, the choice was simple: international relations.” She found Ohio State’s political science department while researching schools and was impressed by its national ranking and the caliber of students, but initially thought that the courses exclusively focused on domestic politics. However, when a friend told her about the creation of the new world politics major, she immediately contacted Jill Klimpel, an advisor in the department, to talk about switching her major. “From the moment I stepped foot in Poli Sci, the main source of information and support has been my academic advisor,” Tatyana said. “Jill has been very supportive – she is like a harbor where any student can anchor if he or she feels lost for a moment.”
As a world politics student, Tatyana has also benefitted from the department’s faculty expertise and support. “I feel that the faculty members really want their students to succeed,” she said. “I feel like they are there to help, empower and share their tools.” Her favorite course in the department has been Political Science 4331: The United Nations System, taught by associate professor Alexander Thompson. Dr. Thompson is an expert in international relations as well as an accomplished teacher who was awarded the department’s Outstanding Teaching Award in 2011 and was a finalist for the College of Arts and Sciences Outstanding Teaching Award in 2005. Tatyana agreed: “Professor Thompson is very knowledgeable as a faculty member. However, I think his greatest strength is his clarity and humanity. He can explain the material so that anyone can digest it.”
Through her courses in World Politics, Tatyana has been able to explore her interest in global affairs and hone in on one specific aspect: humanitarian aid delivery. In 2014, she began reading about the humanitarian crisis taking place in Syria. And soon after, war broke out in Ukraine. Both crises deeply moved Tatyana to get involved in relief efforts and connect with local nonprofit groups who were providing monetary and material support to civilians in the region. With encouragement from Dr. Thompson, she decided to channel this interest into her studies. She is now working on a research paper that examines existing models of humanitarian aid delivery and reflects on the shortcomings of aid in Ukraine to improve these processes.
Beyond the classroom, Tatyana enjoys attending meetings of the Collegiate Council on World Affairs (a group that she calls “a hub for brilliant minds”) and lectures hosted by the Alexander Hamilton Society and the Mershon Center for International Security Studies. She also serves as the Outreach Chair for the Peace Studies Society at Ohio State, where she is developing a workshop on non-violent communication and inter-religious dialogue.
Tatyana will graduate in Autumn 2015 with a major in world politics and a minor in French. She plans to pursue a career in the field of humanitarian relief.
Areas of study: Political Science (with a focus on international relations) and Economics
Graduation year: May 2015
Hometown: Columbus, Ohio
As one of the country’s premier research universities, Ohio State offers many resources and opportunities for undergraduates to conduct research, whether by designing their own project or by assisting a faculty member with their ongoing research. Political science and world politics students who are interested in research are able to pursue two different degree options – research distinction and honors research distinction – by writing a thesis or completing an independent research project.
For Ryan Lefler-Moore, a Political Science and Economics double major, the opportunity to conduct undergraduate research was one of the primary reasons why he chose to study political science at Ohio State. “I found the academic rigor and the focus on research to be much greater in this department than in other departments,” Ryan said. “We do a lot of research, and there are a lot of research opportunities here that I didn’t get in other departments. And the professors are genuine, very helpful people. I was blown away, honestly.”
During his senior year, Ryan chose to write an honors thesis and pursue a degree with honors research distinction. When searching for a thesis topic, Ryan drew on his two majors to study international political economy. The resulting thesis, entitled “Chinese Expansion and Global Economic Governance: Implications for the International Economic System,” examines the rise of China as a major economic player in the international system. Ryan’s advisor for his thesis was Dr. Randall Schweller, an expert in international relations who, incidentally, taught the first political science course Ryan took at Ohio State, back in his freshman year.
Another influential faculty member in Ryan’s research process was Dr. Jennifer Mitzen, whose thesis-writing course allows a small group of students to develop and discuss their research, and refine their papers through peer critiques. It was Dr. Mitzen who first told Ryan about the annual “All Politics is Local” conference hosted by Walsh University and encouraged him to apply. The “All Politics is Local” conference, which was held in April 2015, brought together students from seventeen colleges and universities in Ohio, New York and West Virginia, and offered undergraduate students the opportunity to present papers in the domestic, international or philosophical areas of political science and international relations. Ryan presented his research here, and at the end of the conference his thesis was awarded first place in the “Outstanding Paper” category. A few weeks later, his paper was also awarded the 2015 Henry R. Spencer Award for Outstanding Senior Honors Thesis by the Department of Political Science.
In addition to his research and academic interests, Ryan has been active in the Department of Political Science and on campus through several student organizations. A member of the Collegiate Council on World Affairs (CCWA), Ryan has written several articles for Alger Magazine, CCWA’s student-run magazine. He was also a member of The Alexander Hamilton Society, the Undergraduate Economics Society and the Mah Jong Club, and worked as an instructor for the Buckeye Pistol Club.
Ryan graduated in May 2015 with a dual degree in political science and economics. In the future, Ryan plans to apply for graduate school for further studies in international relations, and hopes to work on issues around international political economy.