Tag Archives: political science
Ill-effects of House Republican’s “hostage taking” and the subsequent government shutdown of Oct. 1 are surfacing at Linfield, affecting students and staff alike.
“A faction of Republicans in the House of Representatives is refusing to hold a vote on a continuing resolution that would open the government,” Assistant Professor of Political Science Patrick Cottrell said.
“[The Republican faction] went into this process trying to delay the implementation of the Affordable Care Act [Obamacare}. They don’t want to see it remain a law,” Cottrell said.
“They are using this tactic that some have referred to as ‘hostage taking’ or extortion,” Cottrell said.
Hostage taking refers to the thousands of government workers furloughed, or rather, laid off temporarily, with reduced or no pay.
The furloughed workers, or “hostages,” are putting pressure upon Democrats to resolve the issue. The Republicans hope to leverage this pressure to force key concessions out of the Democrats on Obamacare.
The government shutdown is not confined to Washington D.C.
The widespread government furloughs have deprived many Linfield students and staff alike of much needed governmental resources.
“I have research collaborators at the Pacific Northwest Research Station, and they have been furloughed,” Associate Professor of Biology John Syring said in an email.
“This has greatly impacted my research, as the work that they [were] contributing to our study has been put on hold indefinitely. Some of this work is time sensitive,” Syring wrote.
“In the [Economics} department, most of our upper division classes have projects that rely on government data,” Associate Professor of Economics Eric Schuck said.
“In a number of our classes, the students simply can’t access the resources that they need to do their research,” Schuck said. “Since we can’t access those basic data websites, we are kind of flying blind.”
Linfield is a private institution. It does not depend on substantial amounts of federal fundings.
This is fortunate in that there have been few fiscal discrepancies that have arisen in the Linfield budget according to Syring, who is also a part of Linfield’s budget committee.
Ill-effects of the shut down are not limited to his academic life for one faculty member.
Schuck, also a lieutenant in the Navy Reserve, has faced difficulties with funding the reserve unit that he commands.
A law passed several years ago called the Pay Our Military Act continues to fund American military members on active duty.
Schuck’s unit is a part of America’s reserve forces and is not considered by the government to be “active.”
Schuck’s unit is, therefore, not receiving funds to carry out their monthly drills and responsibilities.
“Because we don’t have the funds to do our monthly duties, our readiness is starting to degrade rather noticeably. It’s very frustrating,” Shuck said.
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With a maximum capacity crowd present, three professionals delivered their varying points of view on gun violence and what should be done about it. Students from the Law, Rights and Justice class taught by Nicholas Buccola, assistant professor of political science, among many others, gathered for the luncheon panel on March 19.
Penny Okamoto, executive director of Ceasefire Oregon, Chris Bouneff, executive director of The National Alliance on Mental Illness of Oregon, and James Huffman, a constitutional law professor from Lewis and Clark Law School, all presented their positions on gun rights and legislation.
In the context of the tragic shootings last fall and the recent legislation in January, gun violence has been a hot topic in classes like Buccola’s. In this class, students argue about various legal controversies and participate in a moral court, with two contrasting sides and judges, to learn how to form objective and constructive arguments.
The students applied what they learned in class to the discussion with the panel of professionals.
“My sense from the students was that the panel was helpful in terms of thinking of the issues, but they also had a chance to see other people forming arguments on behalf of the issue,” Buccola said. “Using the way we argue about these things and what kinds of appeals to reason and emotions are used, we figure out ways to be critical listeners. Students applied logical fallacies to the speakers’ arguments, from what they learned in class. They’ll be writing their papers on it next week.”
Buccola sent out a survey to his class to see what students wanted to argue about. He incorporated the issue of gun rights into his class and then created events linked to what was talked about. These events are part of Linfield’s Douglass Forum, which is dedicated to promoting discussion and debate about law, individual rights and different, competing ideas of justice.
The gun violence panel was in a traditional debate format. The question posed to the panel was what Oregon should do about gun violence, similar to congressional hearings.
“[Okamoto]’s big thing is that Ceasefire Oregon’s agenda is not to abolish gun rights or take guns away from responsible people, but to figure out how to regulate guns in a way that makes sense,” Buccola said. “I suspected Huffman would be on the more conservative side of the issue.”
Buccola thought that Bouneff would provide an interesting voice to the argument. Bouneff was partially reluctant at first, Buccola said. The mental illness advocacy community is put in an uncomfortable position with the gun rights controversy.
“On one hand, it’s good for the lack of funding for mental illness because it’s getting more attention,” he said. “But on the other hand, the mental health advocacy community doesn’t want mental illness to be associated with violence. [Bouneff] really emphasized not marginalizing mentally ill people and not making assumptions about proclivities toward violence.”
Huffman framed constitutional questions associated with gun control and tried to give the crowd a sense of other constitutional issues. Buccola said that during the Q-and-A session, he adopted more of an advocacy role for gun rights.
Most of the students were in the middle with their opinions of what to do about gun violence. Instead of coming to a conclusion about what to do, students were left with plenty to think about and discuss.
“I don’t know that a resolution was reached. One thing that wasn’t clear by the end was how somebody like Huffman felt about various regulations that Okamoto was defending,” Buccola said. “Huffman staked out a robust and philosophical position of individual rights to own a gun. But it wasn’t clear how that would apply to regulations Okamoto discussed.”
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Linfield College hosted Pete Hatemi, professor of political science, microbiology and bio-chemistry at Pennsylvania State University, to lead a series of lectures attempting to connect the political science discipline to that of the natural sciences. The first of these lectures was about the neurobiology of political violence, held Feb. 25 in T.J. Day Hall.
When talking about the variety of research results that were available for public viewing, there were several themes that took shape. The general topics looked at were why many Middle Eastern countries have people who turn to extreme violence as the only solution. The team relied heavily on biology to solve these issues. Some of the main biological reasons that are believed to cause these extreme emotions are centered in hormones, the limbic system and genetics.
Hatemi mentioned that much of the world shares more in common at a genetic level than one would suspect. This caused some people in the audience to speculate about violence in other parts of the world.
Most of his recent work has been with the Defense Department. Hatemi is part of a group of researchers who look at how political violence takes root. Much of the research has been connected to how emotions play into acts of terrorism in the Middle East, especially Bengazi as of the last months.
The research Hatemi is taking part in with violence is just beginning. He commented that the team has many more years to go before it is near completion. This field of study is new and underfunded. While there is still much work to be done, one conclusion that can be drawn from the lecture is that violence is in some way encoded into who we are as people, and if someone is drawn to extreme violence, there is little that can be done to change them.
Hatemi’s lecture displayed that there is much opportunity for interdisciplinary study in research. By combining the fields of science, psychology and politics, scholars are able to gain a bigger picture of topics such as violence.
“What brought me on this path had a lot to do with my time in the service. It [the army] is a huge social experiment,” Hatemi said when asked why he became interested in such an obscure topic.
Not only is Hatemi a professor at Penn. State, he also works with universities around the world. He has worked at the Virginia Commonwealth University in the U.S., the Institut for Statskundskab at Syddansk Universitet in Denmark, the University of Sidney and Queensland Institute of Medial Research in Australia.
Recently, Hatemi was awarded the Erik Erikson Early Career Award. This award honors people in the academic community who have received their Ph.D in the last decade and is a leader in the political psychology field. Much of Hatemi’s work focuses on social psychology and its interactions with politics.
The nature of his work has left much of it to be classified and a great deal of it will never be published. He commented that this has made it hard because of academic requirement that his college has in publishing work, but his is still proud of what he does.
“Your work is very interesting and interdisciplinary with a big I,” said Patrick Cottrell, assistant professor of political science, highlighting its importance as the lecture’s closing statement.
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