Political Science Graduate Student Association

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About PSGSA

The Political Science Graduate Student Association (PSGSA) is an organization geared towards graduate student advocacy, news, and assistance for the Department of Political Science and International Relations.

The Fall 2023-Spring 2024 office holders are:

President: Spencer Whyte
Vice President: Dianne Despi
Secretary/Treasurer: Jiwon Nam​
First Year Mentor Coordinator: Daria Blinova

The director of graduate studies serves as the PSGSA's faculty advisor. PSGSA always welcomes any graduate student in the department who wishes to help out in organizing and undertaking its activities.

Our mission, as stated, is first and foremost graduate student advocacy in the department: giving a voice to student concerns, prerogatives, and achievements. In service of this mission, the PSGSA will hold a number of town hall-style meeting open to student discussion throughout the fall and spring semesters.

PSGSA places at the top of its agenda the construction of a mentorship program for first-year students and assistance in designing a graduate student professionalization seminar for first and second-year students.

The PSGSA mentorship program aims to better integrate first-year graduate students within their new environment, concentrating on the team of graduate students, the department, the University of Delaware and the city of Newark. The program intends to match each first-year student with a senior graduate student (in their 2nd, 3rd or 4th year) according to similar academic interests. The main role of the mentor is to answer the new students' questions and guide them throughout the first months of the program. Mentorship activities, once students have been admitted, will also serve as a further recruitment tool; new students are given an orientation in acclimating them to the department, the University and Newark. Incoming students are able to come on campus, visit the department and have lunch or contact their mentor if they have any questions regarding their future life in Newark.

By extension, the mentorship committee also ensures that former graduate students of the department continue to mentor current students, encouraging alumni to come home and share with us their professional experience and advice for our own career development.

The PSGSA will also provide advice to the department about designing a graduate student professionalization seminar. This course will be required for first year graduate students as a means of informing them of the many nuances to success in graduate school and the career of an academic. Furthermore, PSGSA will provide assistance to the department for any revisions to the graduate student handbook, curriculum, and/or clarifications of the requirements of the graduate program.

With these efforts, the members of the PSGSA hope that this organization will effectively advocate and express the needs and wishes of the department's graduate students. We hope these efforts will spark interest and greater involvement among the department's graduate students in crafting their experience at the University of Delaware.

For more information on PSGSA, please contact: Steven Kipp

For more information on the mentorship program, please contact: Tom Ratfelders

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Meet the Board

President Spencer Whyte

I am a fourth year Ph.D. student with research fields in international relations and American politics. More specifically, I am interested in historical IR and how state leaders' perceptions influence the foreign policy decision-making process. Som​​e of my recent work has applied IR role theory to the politics of the post-Brexit UK.​

Vice President Dianne Despi

I am a third year PhD student specializing in international relations and comparative politics. I am currently on academic leave from the Armed Forces of the Philippines as a Fulbright Foreign Student Program grantee. Prior to joining the department in 2021, I was a military instructor assigned at the National Defense College of the Philippines. My research interests include maritime security and security cooperation in Southeast Asia.​

Secretary/Treasurer ​Jiwon Nam

Jiwon is a fifth-year Ph.D. candidate specializing in international relations and comparative politics. Her particular interests are connected to climate change and the effects of populism in international climate change negotiations. Prior to joining the Ph.D. program at the University of Delaware, Jiwon earned a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, Master of Arts in Global Policy, and a Master of Business Administration. She also worked as an intern at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) in New York City, and at the Korea Economic Institute (KEI) in Washington D.C.​

First Year Mentor Coordinator​ Daria Blinova

I am a second-year Ph.D. student in the department with research interests in the fields of international relations and comparative politics. My works relate to international development, international security, political economy, and the post-Soviet region. I am happy to serve as a first-year mentor coordinator and help incoming students with the smooth transition to our department.​

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