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Political Science & International Relations

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  • Dec
    Colloquium Event: Candis Watt Smith (Pennsylvania State University)
    Dec. 9th, 12:15 PM to 1:30 PM
    Candis Watt Smith, "Who Stands a Chance?: Disparate Worldviews on the Social Constructions of Target Population" 
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  • Sydney Bopp (Schneir)
    Special Advisor

    Sydney Bopp is a Special Advisor at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Loan Programs Office, which currently supports a portfolio of more than $30 billion in loans, loan guarantees, and commitments covering more than 30 innovative energy and advanced vehicle manufacturing projects across the United States.

    After graduating from the University of Delaware with a degree in Political Science and French, Sydney went on to earn a Master’s degree in Comparative Politics from Northeastern University and attended the Emerging Leaders Executive Education program at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.  While finishing her Master’s, she began her career in public service with the House Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change in the Massachusetts State House.  Sydney then went on to receive the prestigious Presidential Management Fellowship, which gave her the opportunity to work at the U.S. Department of Transportation, the U.S. Department of Energy, and for the Federal Environmental Executive at the White House Council on Environmental Quality.   In 2016, Sydney was awarded the U.S. Department of Energy’s Secretary’s Appreciation Award for her work on the Department’s Science and Energy Plan.

    As a student, Sydney took advantage of UD’s study abroad program, traveling to London, Martinique, Greece, and Turkey.  These experiences abroad exposed her to some of the challenges and opportunities citizens were facing in different regions of the world in comparison to the American experience.  Sydney attributes many of her successes to date to her political science education, specifically through lessons and mentorship from Professors Gretchen Bauer and Ralph Begleiter.  Her unwavering work ethic and commitment to public service developed in large part due to her time at UD.

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  • Rashad T. Goldsborough
    Production Assistant CNN

    My favorite quote, from the ancient Greek philosopher, Aristotle, is to first "have a definite, clear practical ideal; a goal, an objective. Second, have the necessary means to achieve those ends; wisdom, money, materials, and methods. Third, adjust all your means to that end."  With my background in political science, filmmaking and television production, I plan to use the mediums of TV and film as platforms, to articulate arguments, which critique institutional dysfunction, and comment on why it affects the everyday lives of people.

    With my University of Delaware bachelor's degrees in Political Science, with a concentration in Global Studies and English, with a concentration in Film Studies, and Wilmington University master's degree in Administration of Justice, with a concentration in Homeland Security, I acquired the skills to research institutional problems, examine the specific flaws, creating those issues, and finally express my speculations, about them, by writing, directing and producing socially conscious movie and television narratives.

    A recurring theme, in my analyses of institutional failure, is the lack of adequate leadership. "A startling 86% of respondents to the Survey on the Global Agenda agree that we have a leadership crisis in the world today". I believe it is important to encourage my audience to question the performance of their government leaders and hold them accountable, as they are the likeliest to hold a majority of politically powerful positions in societies.

    During a 2014 summer internship, with the CNN Newsroom, in Atlanta, Georgia, I was able to start accomplishing these objectives, while working with Mr. Wolf Blitzer and his television news production team.  I wrote segments for Mr. Blitzer's show, Wolf, and rapidly provided the writers and producers with in-depth research, in the control room.  I was also given the opportunity to further understand what it takes to create content for film and TV, with previous internships for Mr. Spike Lee, Drop Squad Pictures, Delaware 28, Nickelodeon Development, Comedy Central Production, Nickelodeon Programming and HLN America.  I most recently worked as a Freelance Production Assistant for CNN.

    Today, I am pursuing my doctorates in Organizational Learning, Leadership and Innovation, at Wilmington University, while working as a CNN Production Assistant, in New York City. I am very thankful to have earned an undergraduate education at UD and a graduate degree from WilmU.  The knowledge gives me a unique perspective in the television and movie business. I can take mediums, historically seen as platforms for entertainment, and use them to provide content that thoroughly critiques political leaders.  This may encourage my audiences to survey the effectiveness of social structures, impacting their worlds.

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  • Jonathan Green
    Special Assistant United States Senate Armed Services Committee

    Jonathan Green is the Special Assistant for the United States Senate Armed Services Committee minority, under the leadership of Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island. He serves as the primary aide to the minority staff director and assists senior staff in policy research and writing. In addition, he acts as a primary point of contact for liaisons with the Services, federal agencies and departments, and industry. Jon is a Master of Public Policy candidate and former graduate assistant at George Mason University. 

    Prior to joining the Senate, Jon spent several years at the Department of Defense as a contracted analyst supporting the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics in the Office of the Secretary of Defense Studies and Federally Funded Research and Development Center Management. He provided programmatic support and management to the Department's more than $2 billion-annual research relationship with prominent private industry think tanks and development centers.

    Upon graduating from UD with a major in International Relations and minor in Islamic Studies with Arabic, Jon held internships in Boston and Washington, D.C. with Senator John Kerry's office and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The majority of his work focused on immigration crises resolution for U.S. citizens, policy development for the Syrian civil war, and research supporting the proposed approval of the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea. At the completion of his internships, Jon served as a Regional Director for a battleground Virginia congressional campaign and led his office to more than 40,000 voter contacts.

    During his undergraduate years at UD, Jon specialized in the Middle East and U.S. foreign policy. He took advantage of UD’s expansive study abroad program to study in seven countries including Ghana, Egypt and Nepal. The combination of in-depth classroom education and experience operating in-country provided Jon with a unique perspective of on-the-ground realities that exist in some of the world's most complicated geopolitical regions. The opportunities afforded to him by UD and the mentorship of faculty like Dr. Muqtedar Khan empowered Jon to continue to pursue his passion for international affairs in public service.

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  • Megan M. O'Neill
    Executive Assistant

    Keeping U.S. Senator Chris Coons of Delaware on schedule puts Megan O'Neill in rooms with presidents, cabinet secretaries, and some of the world's most interesting people. As Senator Coons' executive assistant, Megan maintains and executes his daily schedule in Washington; acts as a liaison between the Senator and other Members, staff, constituents and the public; and prepares detailed itineraries for the Senator. Membership on five key committees — Appropriations, Foreign Relations, Judiciary, Ethics, and Small Business and Entrepreneurship — creates a never-ending supply of competing demands on the Senator's time. With a plethora of priorities for Delaware and a demanding Senate floor schedule, Megan's job is make the chaos of the day feel calm and constructive. Working with the Senator's scheduler, it's Megan's job to figure out how to put all the puzzle pieces together.

    Megan's work with Senator Coons began before her graduation from UD in 2012. With the encouragement of Professor Bauer, Megan interned in Senator Coons' Wilmington office during the spring semester. As a student studying International Relations and concentrating on African Affairs, Megan was initially drawn to the internship by her interest in Senator Coons' role as chairman of the Foreign Relations Subcommittee on African Affairs. Through the internship, Megan earned firsthand experience with the complexity of local and national politics, and the depth and breadth of the issue areas in which Senator Coons works. After graduation, Megan was hired as a staff assistant in Senator Coons' Washington, D.C. office, where she got a crash course on the operations of Capitol Hill. Megan was promoted to the Senator's executive assistant less than a year later. Three years into her public service on Capitol Hill, Megan has certainly learned the ropes, but she credits her ability to jump in head-first and strong base of knowledge to her political science and economics education at the University of Delaware.

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  • Kevin Sun
    Social Studies Teacher

    Kevin Sun is a Social Studies teacher at Ka’u High School located in the rural south of Hawai’i Island. He currently teaches courses in United States History, Modern Hawaiian History, Economics, and Democracy to students 9th through 12th grade. After graduating from UD with a BA with Distinction in International Relations, he joined Teach for America where he received his placement in Hawai’i. The district of Ka’u is the poorest on Hawaii Island with 90% of students coming from low-income families. Working within this exceptionally diverse community comprised of primarily of Hawaiians, Micronesians, and Filipinos has provided Kevin insight to the unseen challenges that have long plagued Hawaii.

    Kevin also serves as assistant coach of the cross-country team at Ka’u High and is working towards starting a Youth in Government and Model United Nations program at the school. Along with teaching full-time, he is pursuing a Master’s degree in Education from the Johns Hopkins University and aims to have a career focused in education policy after he leaves the classroom.

    As a student at UD, Kevin credits Alternative Breaks (UDaB) for providing him the experience of seeing up-close the institutional political and economic marginalization that minority Americans face. His experience on the Mock Trial team helped him develop on-the-spot acting skills which have been exceptionally useful in facilitating student engagement in the classroom. The numerous political science and international relations courses Kevin took, along with researching his senior thesis under the direction of Dr. Gretchen Bauer, provided him with strong political, economic, social, and cultural awareness that he draws upon each day when teaching down in Room 20 at Ka’u High.

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  • Joanna Champney
    Chief of Planning & Research

    I am the Chief of Planning & Research at the Delaware Department of Correction in Dover, Delaware.  My work centers on evaluating the effectiveness of the programs run by the Department of Correction, analyzing prison population data, and assisting with strategic planning and the implementation of special projects.  Currently, much of my work focuses on the implementation of evidence-based assessment tools that determine an inmate’s risk level and needs.  I am also charged with collaborating with other state agencies to identify innovative ways to reduce the number of low-risk pretrial detainees who are held in our prisons because of inability to post secured bail. My position includes a blend of policy work, statistical analysis, and strategic planning.

    The internships I held while a student at UD included placements at the Delaware Department of Correction in a maximum security men’s prison in Wilmington, Delaware and a placement with the (former) nonprofit criminal justice reform organization Stand Up for What’s Right and Just (SURJ).  These internships had a direct impact on my being hired at SURJ to provide office management and to conduct research, and after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania with a Master’s Degree in Criminology, I returned to lead SURJ as Executive Director for several years.  There, I coordinated efforts to reform Delaware’s problematic drug sentencing laws and to formalize data-driven criminal justice decision making.  My subsequent work was as the Executive Director of the Delaware Center for Justice, a non-profit organization that provides direct services to justice-involved youth and adults and engages in legislative advocacy to promote second chances and fresh starts for people with criminal histories. 

    My major at UD was Political Science, with a minor in German.  Several of the relationships that I formed with faculty at UD continue today, including those with Dr. Gretchen Bauer and Dr. Eric Rise, who have served as my mentors and who are now colleagues whom I have the pleasure of collaborating with. 



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  • Dr. Benjamin Banta
    Assistant Professor

    I graduated with a PhD in January 2013 while in my first year as a Visiting Assistant Professor at Ohio University (Athens, OH). After a few years at OU, I joined the Political Science faculty at the Rochester Institute of Technology (Rochester, NY) as an Assistant Professor. RIT is a STEM focused institution of approximately 18,000 students, and is currently growing to a more holistic university model. As such, my place in their College of Liberal Arts affords me the opportunity to offer enlightening general education courses to more technically oriented students, and help a small but growing department serve its incredibly bright majors.

    My research centers on the changing character of war, the ethics of war (especially the just war tradition), international political theory, and qualitative methodology. I teach courses relating to International Relations, American foreign policy, the causes of war, the ethics of war, emerging military technologies, international peace, and the ethics of international politics. I also serve as the faculty advisor to RIT’s Model United Nations club and the College Democrats.

    My time at UD was one in which my personal intellectual interests developed and were fostered to the fullest. The classes and faculty were of course top-notch, but more importantly the program maintained an environment that allowed its graduate students to sample a wide variety of avenues for research and teaching, with supportive faculty that encouraged outside-the-box thinking. More concretely, I was supported in turning two essays written for classwork into peer-reviewed publications. I was also afforded the opportunity to create and teach my own course while still a graduate student. Needless to say, experiences like these gave me a solid foundation from which to launch my own career in academia.

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  • Dr. Juris Pupcenoks
    Assistant Professor

    I graduated in May 2011 and I currently work as Assistant Professor of Political Science at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY. Marist has a relatively small, yet dynamic political science department and I have been able to work closely with both colleagues and students on varied teaching and research initiatives. I teach introductory and advanced undergraduate courses in comparative politics and international relations.

    At UD I benefitted greatly from the ability to work closely with top-notch faculty, and from opportunities to develop teaching skills. My advisor, mentor – and now friend – Mark J. Miller was a constant source of inspiration for me. I also worked closely with a number of other UD professors, especially Stuart Kaufman, Muqtedar Khan and Bob Denemark.  Lessons learned through interactions with these distinguished scholars have had a major influence on my research agenda to this day. Furthermore, an ability to serve as a teaching assistant and then to develop – and teach – my own courses at UD strengthened my portfolio when I applied for academic jobs globally.

    Research skills developed during my graduate studies at UD have enabled me to publish a number of peer-reviewed research publications. Many of my recent research projects continue building on my prior work on conflict spillover, migration and ethnic politics. I have also started several new, collaborative research projects with another UD graduate. These projects focus on empirical testing of theoretical assumptions developed by international relations scholarship, and studies in migration and security. My recent publication is "Western Muslims and Conflicts Abroad".

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  • Amina El Mahdhi
    Human Rights Officer

    I graduated in May 2011 from the University of Delaware and I currently work as a Human Rights Officer in Timbuktu within the UN peacekeeping mission in Mali ( I joined the UN in May 2014 after having worked with human rights NGOs in Tunisia. As a Human Rights Officer working in the field, I tackle various issues pertaining to international human rights and humanitarian law such as detention, conflict-related sexual violence, transitional justice, fight against impunity, and protection of civilians.

    My responsibilities include monitoring of the human rights situation in the region of Timbuktu through investigations, special fact-finding missions and visits to detention centers. Another interesting part of my day-to-day work is the continuous engagement with leaders of different rebel groups operating in the area to recall their obligations under international law. Besides, I am also responsible for drafting briefing notes, reports on pressing human rights issues, organizing and delivering outreach activities including human rights trainings to various audiences and developing advocacy materials for use in engagement with donors, partners and other stakeholders. As a matter of fact, we succeeded to put in place 5 human rights clubs for high school students and we are currently rehabilitating a one-stop center for women victims of sexual and gender-based violence.  

    There is no doubt that I benefited greatly from my Master’s degree within the Political Science and International Relations Department of the University of Delaware. Indeed, the knowledge and experience I have acquired throughout the program has made me familiar with the various issues and challenges faced in field work as well as the political environment in which peacekeeping missions operate. It has also helped me develop my analytical and critical thinking skills which are tremendously important in field work.  

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  • Dr. Sara Chehab
    Assistant Professor

    I graduated in May 2011 from UD and joined Zayed University in Dubai (United Arab Emirates) in August 2011 as Assistant Professor of International Relations and International Political Economy in the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences.  At Zayed University I taught a variety of undergraduate courses within the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, and a seminar on IPE in the Master’s program in Diplomacy and International Affairs. I was also the College’s Coordinator on Learning Outcomes Assessment and Accreditation. From 2011-2013 I served as the Faculty Advisor for the HSS Student Club and the Coordinator for the College’s Research Speaker Series.

    I left Zayed University in May 2015 and started working at the Emirates Diplomatic Academy in June 2015 in Abu Dhabi. The EDA is affiliated with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the UAE and is responsible for training current and future UAE diplomats on various political, economic and diplomatic topics and courses, before they begin their posting and responsibilities either at the ministry or abroad. I deliver courses on political economy and development but I'm also involved in more "practical" trainings.

    The Political Science and International Relations department at UD helped me tremendously in getting the position that I have now. The opportunities I received at UD as a Teaching Assistant helped me build my teaching portfolio and gain hands-on experience both in and outside the classroom. This helped me learn how to manage my classes, design my syllabi and lectures, and also gave me the upper hand over other candidates who did not have the extensive teaching experience. The classes that I took during the PhD program exposed me to so much material, readings, and theories and I am now using all this in my own classes. Finally, the opportunity to participate in various projects and to contribute to the department’s organization prepared me for the administrative and service-related activities that I am now undertaking. 

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  • Dr. Sara Parker
    Associate Professor

    As a tenured faculty member at Chabot Community College in Hayward, I work collaboratively to oversee the Political Science and International Studies programs. This includes designing curricula, organizing speaker series and major events, forming community partnerships, and helping students achieve their transfer, workforce, and personal development goals. I love being able to spark a passion in students, most of whom are the first in their families to attend college, to participate in politics or to pursue political science and international studies majors and careers.

    My graduate education at Delaware prepared me to take on diverse endeavors within the fields of political science and international relations: I co-founded Chabot's  Law and Democracy Program, instituted a Student Research Symposium, and organize a variety of activities to promote civic engagement ( I spent spring 2015 as a Fulbright Scholar in Beijing, China where I taught at the China Foreign Affairs University and worked on a project to evaluate young adults' cross-national perceptions of one another. 

     My current research interests are also broad in nature: civic and global engagement habits and trends, active learning ideas and techniques for the classroom, and advocacy around the value of community colleges in American higher education and the important role they play in teaching democratic participation and global citizenship skills.

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  • Dr. Juliette Tolay
    Assistant Professor

    I am assistant professor of Political Science at Penn State Harrisburg. As a tenure-track professor, I regularly teach introductory and advanced international politics courses such as Comparative Politics, International Relations, US Foreign Policy, International Law, Middle East Politics and European Politics. As the Political Science program here is relatively small, it is a wonderful feeling to get to know closely the students and follow them throughout their career at Penn State. I also get to spend a lot of times with students as the advisor of the student club International Affairs Association and the co-director of Penn State Harrisburg Model United Nations. We organize the Model UN every year for over 300 high school students and learn a lot each time about the workings of international politics!

    My research agenda focuses on Turkey and the issue of immigration, and as part of my research I usually travel to the region at least twice a year, to conduct further fieldwork, network and present at conferences. Among other things, I have recently been working on Syrian refugees. I indeed remain very much connected with the policy world with whom I had a fellowship (the Transatlantic Academy at the German Marshall Fund) while a graduate student at UD.

    Penn State Harrisburg provides me with wonderful research support and I am able to work with several research assistants (graduate and undergraduate) who help me in my different projects. For our latest project, we have been working on a discourse analysis of social media, looking at how the Turkish public refers to Syrian refugees in their social interactions on Twitter.

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