Celebrating 100 years of political science at Indiana University Bloomington

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Celebrating 100 years of political science at Indiana University Bloomington


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The Department of Political Science at Indiana University Bloomington will celebrate its centennial March 24 to 29 with lectures, seminars and a conference for graduate students.

Two distinguished political scientists -- Larry Bartels of Vanderbilt University and Terence Ball of Arizona State University -- will present the department's Charles S. Hyneman Lecture, named for a longtime Indiana University political scientist and one-time president of the American Political Science Association. Career and topical sessions for students are also scheduled.

Established in 1914, the department is one of the oldest university political science departments in the U.S. It is also one of the best: Its doctoral program ranks 19th in the most recent ratings from the National Research Council. Its faculty members analyze problems of vital interest to the nation and world and share their expertise with students, citizens and scholars. The department is part of the College of Arts and Sciences.

“We’re a strong department, and with the help of our loyal alumni, we will be even more productive scholars and effective teachers in the years to come,” said professor Russell L. Hanson, who chairs the department.

Bartels will speak on "Democracy for Realists" at 4 p.m. Monday, March 24, in the Social Science Research Commons, Woodburn Hall 200. He is the May Werthan Shayne Chair of Public Policy and Social Science at Vanderbilt, where he directs the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions. He is the author of several books on democracy, elections and voting.

His lecture will address the promise and pitfalls of "retrospective voting," in which voters reward or punish incumbents for past performance. While the approach sounds appealing, Bartels has found that retrospective judgments are too blind, myopic and random to reliably select competent leaders.

Ball will speak on "Lincoln's Deadly Hermeneutics," at 3 p.m. Friday, March 28, also in Woodburn Hall 200. He is a professor in the School of Politics and Global Studies at Arizona State and the author of books on political theory and discourse. He will explore the idea that hermeneutics, or textual interpretation, can indeed be deadly, with people's lives and livelihoods hanging in the balance. Specifically, he will discuss hermeneutics confronting Abraham Lincoln before and during the Civil War.

The program for the celebration also includes a roundtable on women in politics, a session on employment opportunities for political science graduates and a careers conference for graduate students.

The teaching at Indiana University of courses related to politics and government dates from the institution's earliest days, according to a history that Hyneman wrote 50 years ago. There have been lectures and classes on constitutional law since 1830 and international law since the 1840s. In the late 1800s, courses in what would later be called political science were taught in the Department of History.

A separate Department of Political Science was created in 1914 under the leadership of professor Amos Shartle Hershey, a product of European systems of higher education. (The department was later renamed the Department of Government; it subsequently returned to its original name.) The department has been home to distinguished scholars too numerous to list, including the only woman to win the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences, the late Elinor Ostrom.

Today the department has 30 faculty members, 83 active graduate students and 607 undergraduate majors. It offers courses in American politics, comparative politics, international relations, political theory and public policy.

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