Category Archives: News

Teach-In on Refugees, Migration, and Borders

Teach-InAs part of a nationwide teach-in on Refugees, Migration, and Borders, University of Virginia faculty from the Department of Politics, School of Law Department of History, Department of Religious Studies, and others will conduct a one-day program to familiarize students and our community in the state of the world’s borders, recent U.S. immigration policy changes, and international migration.

The event will be held in Ruffner Hall G008 (Curry School of Education building) on Wednesday, February 8th 1:00-3:30. The program will begin with a Panel Discussion from 1:00-2:00, followed by a Question and Answer period with professors from 2:00-3:00. Refreshments will be served.

David Leblang (Politics)
Jennifer Rubenstein (Politics)
Richard Schragger (Law School)
Rachel Potter (Politics)
Gabrielle Kruks-Wisner (Politics)
Lucila Figueroa (Politics)
Sandip Sukhtankar (Economics)
James Loeffler (History)
Sahar Akhtar (Philosophy)
Murad Idris (Politics)

Charles H. Koch Award to Support Internships Related to Foreign Affairs

We are pleased to announce the fourth annual competition for the Charles H. Koch Jr. Award to provide financial support up to $5000 to help cover the expenses of internships related to foreign affairs of students in the College of Arts and Sciences during the summer of 2018. The judges of the competition will give priority to funding internships requiring travel abroad. In order to maximize the assistance provided by the fellowship, they may decide to divide the funds among more than one student.

Applications should include:

1. A cover letter not more than two pages in length describing how the student’s need and the nature of the internship.
2. A budget estimating how the fellowship funds will be used.
3. A resume
4. A transcript
5. The name and email address of UVa faculty member willing to serve as a reference should the need arise.

All application material should be submitted via email to Lynn Sanders, Director of Undergraduate Program, Department of Politics by no later than 5:00 PM Friday March 16, 2018. Winners will be announced during the week beginning Tuesday March 20, 2017.

Who is Charles H. Koch Jr.?

Professor Charles H. Koch Jr. was a professor of law at the College of William & Mary from 1979 until his passing in 2012. Professor Koch's areas of expertise included administrative law, comparative constitutional systems, electricity, the European Union, and federal courts. While he primarily focused on U.S. administrative law, he began learning and teaching about the European Union because he saw its growing importance both to the U.S. in the global legal environment and ultimately to domestic law.

He received his B.A. from the University of Maryland, his J.D. from George Washington University and his LL.M. from the University of Chicago. Prior to joining the William & Mary faculty in 1979, he worked as a staff attorney in the Office of the General Counsel of the Federal Trade Commission and taught at DePaul University College of Law. He served as Assistant Chief Reporter of the ABA's Administrative Law of the European Union Project and was Past President of the Committee on Sections and Annual Meetings of the Administrative Law Section of the Association of American Law Schools. He was a member of the ABA's United Nations Affairs Coordinating Committee. He also served for seven years as Editor-in-Chief of the Administrative Law Review and twice acted as a consultant to the Administrative Conference of the United States.

Professor Koch was a prolific writer, publishing books for both teaching and practice, and numerous articles in law reviews and practitioner-oriented journals. His books included Administrative Law and Practice (2d ed.), Administrative Law of the European Union, Volume 1 (with George Bermann), Federal Practice and Procedure Volumes 32 and 33 (with Charles Alan Wright), Administrative Law: Cases and Materials (5th ed., with William Jordan & Richard Murphy), West's Federal Administrative Practice, Volume 7, The Federal Administrative Judiciary (with Paul Verkuil, Daniel Gifford, Richard Pierce and Jeffrey Lubbers) and Fundamentals of Administrative Practice (with Donald Rothschild).

He is survived by his wife, Denise, and his son, Andrew (COL '12).

Professor Charles H Koch Jr
Professor Charles H. Koch Jr.

Quandt International Grant for Political Science Research Abroad

William QuandtApplication Information

For complete application and submission details go to the Quandt Fund site.

Deadline for this year is March 3, 2017.


Grants of up to $3000 are made to:

  • Politics students, undergraduate and graduate, for international study in any region or country, including structured programs and individual research;
  • Politics faculty, for research abroad.

Grants can be used from May to December of the year of award, and recipients are expected to submit a brief report on their field experience within two months of their return.

Only Nicholas Can Go to China

croppedpeking-university-outside-by-lakeIt's no longer true that only Nixon can go to China—Nicholas Winter toured the country at the request of the U.S. State Department to tell the story of the 2016 Presidential Election as part of their Public Affairs Programming. That phrase refers to Richard Nixon as the first U.S. president to go to the Republic of China in almost 100 years. Nixon's reputation as a staunch anti-Communist meant he could visit without being perceived as soft on Communism by his critics. Professor Winter did not need that armor—he went there to freely answer the many Trump and Clinton questions from Chinese students and faculty, diplomats, and embassy staff. He hit five cities in two weeks.

His first stop, Beijing, included three schools and the U.S. Embassy (see his adventure map to the side). Beijing is viewed as the center of the universe in China, a place where much of the important political and creative work of the country is being done. He spoke at the World Economics and Politics—Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, School of Government—Peking University, Renming University, and the U.S. Embassy in the Beijing America Center.

Peking University was his first time using a translator which added some additional administrative duty (reading his Powerpoint slides for example). Translation was consecutive, after each phrase, as opposed to simultaneous (visualize the earpieces in the delegates at the U.N.).

In Beijing the Embassy media team interviewed him for a short video on What Does Politics Mean to Me?, and for some other short insights on political topics. Sign up for our newsletter for notification when the videos are posted. Winter was interviewed by a mob of journalists after his talk (see sidebar for coverage). 

Following Beijing he went to Chengdu, a small city of 14.3 million people, speaking twice at the U.S. Consulate General, first co-hosting a movie night (By the People) followed with a second night watching the third presidential debate. In Chendu he also conducted a discussion group  at the Jiansu Tea House, and spoke at Yanjiyou Bookstore in the Raffles Center. He was reminded that despite the prevalence of capitalism, which we equate with democracy, the country is still governed by an authoritarian regime—an armed soldier followed him into a convenience store and requested he delete photos he had taken of a white building with a red star on top.

On to Nanjing (pop. 8.2 million) he spoke at the School of Foreign Languages—Southeast University, twice at the School of Government—Nanjing University, and at the Johns-Hopkins Center. The Johns Hopskins Center is a co-venture with Nanjing University Center for Chinese and American Studies to support internationalization in higher education.

In Shenyang (pop. 6.3 million), provincial capital and largest city of Liaoning Province he spoke at the Lazy Bee Café, an English-Corner gathering and informal discussion, a dinner talk with American Consulate Staff, to students and faculty at Liaoning Academy of Social Science (LASS) and Northeast University, and the U.S. Consulate General.

He concluded with Changchun (pop. 7.6 million), the capital and largest city of Jilin Province, located in the northeast of China, with a lunch discussion with Chinese Fulbright Alumni, and at the School of Humanities and Arts—Northeast Normal University.

Twitterverse Debate Visualizations

David Leblang (Department of Politics Chair) and Paul Freedman (Associate Chair) working with Hope McIntyre and Yifeng Song, of the Data Science Institute at the University of Virginia developed the following three visualization tools to analyze Twitter activity. Initially the tools will be used to analyze tweets during presidential debates on Monday, September 26, 2016, Sunday, October 9, 2016, Wednesday, October 19, 2016, and the vice presidential debate on Tuesday, October 4, 2016. Coverage will continue following the election on Tuesday, November 8.

We recommend using the most current browser available. Older browsers and operating systems may not have complete emoji font sets and older browsers don't support emojis at all.

The Emoji Analysis tracks tweets which have emojis attached to the message and are directed to particular candidates using the @ sign (e.g. @HillaryClinton and  @realDonaldTrump for the presidential debates, and @timkaine and @mike_pense for the vice-presidential debate). Tweets tagged with the @ symbol are a way for the sender to direct their message to the candidate; these tweets are received by the candidate (though not necessarily read).

There are over 900,000 different emojis, though many of these could just be considered variations by brand (Apple iPhones and computers, Google Android devices, Windows devices, and other, as well as emoji versions customized by the user), with slightly different images.

(Updated 10-24-16, includes final debate data)

The Hashtag Visualization allows the user to click on graph traces to reveal hashtag phrases (e.g. #imwithher, #makeamericagreatagain). These tweets are also directed to the candidate using the @ symbol. Hashtags allow the Twitter user to categorize a tweet, revealing or explaining intent. Hashtags are useful for responses to events (in this case the presidential debates, but also for other events such as earthquakes and celebrity meltdowns). Hashtags frequently are used sarcastically.

(Updated 10-24-16, includes final debate data)

The Directed Tweets by Volume shows the number of Tweets directed to a candidate over the duration of a day. Count is reset at midnight.

(Updated 10-24-16, includes final debate data)

This graph shows the growth in Twitter followers by candidate during the debate, by minute. It shows that Clinton saw significantly greater growth in followership than Trump: During the course of the debate she gained almost 58,000 new Twitter followers, while Trump added less than 36,000. Importantly, Clinton's advantage continued even after the debate, while pundits and commentators discussed the relative performance of the two candidates, and the picture of a Clinton "win" began to solidify. By 11PM (10:51), Clinton had added almost 71,000 followers in total, while Trump gained only 42,000 new followers.
It is important to note, however, that as the candidates headed into the debates, Trump enjoyed a huge advantage in Twitter followers, with 11.7 million, versus fewer than 8.9 million for Clinton. By the end of the evening, although Trump was still ahead by more than 2.7 million followers, Clinton's s had narrowed the gap every so slightly.

13 Politics Alums Pressing the Levers of Power

The 2016 Life After Politics event was held on Friday the 28th—thirteen department alums revealed their secrets to successful careers and the rocky roads they took to get there. The annual event includes a panel of five alums drawn from the myriad paths a degree in politics can take you—law (Stuart Pape – Head of FDA Practice, Polsinelli PC), the House (Kyle Matous – Chief of Staff, U.S. Representative Pete Sessions), the Senate (Ethan Thrasher – Legislative Correspondent, Senator Mark Warner), strategic communications (Vicki Ballagh – Director, The Incite Agency), NGOs and non-profits (Langdon Greenhalgh – Director & Co-Founder, Global Emergency Group).

The panel session was followed by Flash Mentoring, a rapid-fire Q&A about jobs, protocol, procedure, and networking  between alums and students. In addition to the panelists, other active alum mentors included Haley Anderson – Speech-Language Pathologist, Margaret Brennan – CBS News Foreign Affairs Correspondent, Mary Kate Cary – Speechwriter, Columnist, and Documentarian, Jennifer Clarke – Trial Attorney, U.S. Department of Justice, Cameron Kilberg – Partner, Rubin & Rudman, David Mrazik – Managing Partner at Hamburger Law Firm & Managing Director at MarketCounsel, Gabriel Noronha – Staff Assistant, US Senate, Peter Page – Founder and President, SageWater, Inc.

The job titles and names of employers only partially indicate what happens post-graduation. Rich careers are forged over time and the mentor participants tell stories, both touching and hilarious, illustrating the different paths.

Langdon GreenhalghDuring his third year Langdon Greenhalgh had an internship at the Horizon Institute in Charlottesville, after graduation it turned into a job. A year later the Executive Director decided to move on and at (only!) 22 years old, Greenhalgh took his place. Shortly he moved to Washington to work at the international policy arm of the Red Cross. He enjoyed policy, but wanted to be on the front lines in providing humanitarian assistance. The organization was starting an International Response Team which he joined. He found himself flying in helicopters over mudslides in Venezuala, earthquakes in El Salvador and India, and conducting tsunami response in Indonesia. After several years he felt he had hit the ceiling at the Red Cross. He became a serial entrepreneur in the humanitarian aid world. He started his current business in 2008, the Global Emergency Group, and he is in the process of starting a related non-profit organization.

Department chair, David Leblang, has been known to sigh when mentioning law school as an option after graduation. But for many grads, the path naturally leads to this, and has so for years. Stuart Pape chose it (Govt 73, UVA Law 74) and went to work for the Chief Counsel's Office in the FDA for five years. He says government work is a very rewarding path—work/life balance, opportunity for rapid advancement, and salary equity for women and men.

Stuart PapeAlso, you don't have to be a lawyer to have a great career working for an Executive Branch agency. Great jobs in policy, as policy analysts, and in legislative affairs, with greater responsibility and intellectual stimulation much earlier in your career. He became the Senior Food Lawyer within three years of getting his law degree. Pape's professional career has been at the interception of FDA law and policy, and he attributes the policy work to his undergraduate degree from the department.

Kyle Matous and Ethan Thrasher are in what might be the closest thing to politics. Matous works in Representative Pete Sessions office (R-TX) and Thrasher works in Senator Warner's office (D-VA).

Kyle MatousLike Pape, Matous also took the law school approach. He is now Chief of Staff for Representative Pete Sessions. As a Republican this year, he has more than his fair share of questions about the election. He gingerly answered some and gingerly avoided others. His caution in answering is, no doubt, a result of working with a high visibility politician in the public eye.

When he arrived at UVA he knew he wanted to go into politics. But due to circumstances beyond his control (9/11) he only had three years to complete his studies at UVA. In his third year he had an internship with Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison. "They put us in the back room of some office building and just dumped mail on the table and we sorted it. We just put it in piles for eight weeks."

He worked at a Charlottesville start-up for a couple of years then entered law school at Pepperdine. He spent time as an attorney in human rights law in Uganda, working multi-billion dollar arbitration cases at WilmerHale and at the Institute for Justice in Arlington, but none of these areas were what he wanted to devote himself to.

So he returned to the place he said he'd never go again, the Hill. He started as a Staff Assistant for the House Rules Committee. He knew his boss would be leaving shortly, but he had to do something, so he took the risk of staying. Pete Sessions became the head of the Rules Committee in 2013 and in an unusual move kept Matous around. He quickly became a Policy Assistant, then a Special Assistant for a few months, somehow skipped ahead a few steps and became the Policy Director of the Rules Committee. After two years on the committee Representative Sessions brought him on as Chief of Staff. Age 31.

Ethan ThrasherUnlike Matous, Ethan Thrasher loved his internship. During his second year at UVA he got an internship at the Center for Politics where he fell in love with politics. Among other rewards, the internship provided him with the opportunity to work on the Kennedy Half Century book, and to adopt the Center's bi-partisan spin which let's him look at both sides.

His colleagues at the Center encouraged him to go for an internship on the Hill. He joined Senator Warner's office during his third year and happily found they allowed him to prepare briefings and memos—and to make him feel like he's part of the team. After graduation his thoughts were, "Consulting, all other types of jobs? Forget that, I'm going back to the Hill." For his first job out of school he returned to Warner's office and worked in scheduling and working the phones (a highlight he says, "You hear a lot of political conversations, you normally wouldn't hear...the stories!"). He was fortunate to have a job open up on the legislative side and now works on banking, housing, and transportation policy for the Senator.

He's back to writing memos and briefings, preparing the Senator for meetings, daily events, and travel. 

Vicki BallaghVicki Ballagh got her dream internship between her 3rd and 4th years at Meet The Press. "Fantastic, interesting people." But she realized, "I want to be the person with the answers, the people on the other side."

After graduating she started at Bully Pulpit Interactive doing media ad buying. She says, "I was a human Excel spreadsheet, targeting voters for political campaigns and corporate campaigns." While incredibly interesting and impactful, she knew she still wanted to be the person answering the questions.

Right time, right place. Two former Obama staffers were just coming off duties for the administration—Robert Gibbs (Director of Communications and later Press Secretary) and Ben LaBolt (National Press Secretary for President Obama’s re-election campaign) opened the Incite Agency which answers the strategic demands of campaigns needing a digital edge. Ballagh's experience in media, production, and politics led her to the agency; a colleague passed her resume to the agency who hired her.

Please join us next year for Life After Politics (sign up here to receive announcements and other Department of Politics news). We will have a new set of panelists and mentors covering the realm of politics and sharing what next.


Ezekiel Tan wins Singapore-China Premier Scholarship

Ezekiel Tan (UVA 2008 – Foreign Affairs and International Economics) has been awarded the 2016 Singapore-China Premier Scholarship (SCPS) to pursue a Master degree in International Relations at Peking University this Fall.

The SCPS is awarded by the Singapore-China Foundation. The SCPS is intended for Singapore government officials who would benefit from the exposure to the socio-political and economic developments of China, and obtain deeper insights into the current and future challenges of the country.

Ezekiel previously worked for the international relations divisions of the Ministry of Transport and Ministry of Finance in Singapore.

Gabrielle Kruks-Wisner’s Global Reach

Gabi Kruks-WisnerGabrielle Kruks-Wisner joins the Woodrow Wilson Department of Political Science beginning in the Fall 2016 semester. She comes to the University from Boston College as an Assistant Professor, and from the Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies as an Academy Scholar. Her research focuses on citizen-state relations, local governance, and social welfare in developing countries, with a regional focus on India. She has also conducted research in Latin America and sub-Saharan Africa.

Starting in Spring 2017 Kruks-Wisner will teach undergraduate classes about local politics, governance, and the study of political participation at the grass roots level. Being new to the University, Charlottesville, and Virginia, she will update her lessons based on our own communities and organizations, making her classes contemporary and applicable to current events.

“Gabi's expertise in the politics of India adds to existing strengths across the College; her ability to teach a variety of classes means that students in Politics and in Global Studies will have an opportunity to learn from someone who has spent substantial time in the field.”

—David Leblang

Kruks-Wisner’s field research in Rajasthan, India draws from a massive survey of 2210 households and as 500 interviews in 105 villages. Her book manuscript based on this research, Active Citizenship: Claim-Making & the Pursuit of Social Welfare in Rural India is currently under review. The research is a toolbox for citizen-scholars helping at a pragmatic level, useful to policy makers, grass roots orgs, and other political scientists in an international setting. Kruks-Wisner asks: How can governments better serve and be more accountable to citizensHow can citizens actively and effectively engage the stateWho participates in politics, how, and to what ends?

Kruks-Wisner also will be teaching Global Studies, an interdisciplinary major at UVA.

Kruks-Wisner has a Ph.D. in Political Science and Masters in International Development & Regional Planning from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and a B.A. in Sociology/Anthropology from Swarthmore College.