Category Archives: Uncategorized

Huskey Awards 2017 Presentations

The Huskey Awards are a place for A&S graduate students to share their research to an audience of many fields—presentations may be oral (10-12 minutes) or presented in a postering session (4-5 minutes). The graduate student presenters span Arts and Humanities, Biological & Biomedical Sciences, Physical Sciences & Mathematics, and Social & Behavorial Sciences. Three participants from the Department of Politics presented this year, Yaping Wang (International Relations) and Robert Kubinec (Foreign Affairs) in the Social Sciences competiton and Ross Mittiga (Government) in Arts and Humanities. All three presented orally. Ms. Wang and Mr. Mittiga both were both won second place for their categories.
The Graduate Student Council puts on the annual showcase as their most important event of the year with sponsorship from University of Virginia Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.

Ross MittigaRoss Mittiga’s presentation, What’s the Problem with Geo-Engineering?, was both eye-opening and heartbreaking. Unlike many of the Huskey Award speakers, this presentation was not based on his dissertation—rather he followed a crooked path from the literature on Climate Change to the dark corner of emergency response, solutions of last resort. Geo-Engineering is a topic which should be a challenge to the rational thinker as well as any ethical thinker.

Rarely does a presentation automatically grab your attention like this one. Geo-engineering is a dramatic and extreme approach to global warming; it involves deliberate, large-scale intervention in the Earth’s natural systems to counteract climate change. There are two primary categories: Solar Radiation Management (SRM), and Carbon Dioxide Removal (CDR). Within these categories are many proposed methods; among these Mr. Mittiga spoke on one of the most common proposals, stratospheric sulfate injections (SSI), which involves releasing sulfate aerosols into the atmosphere to reduce how much sunlight reaches the earth—like an enormous smog parasol. It sounds so simple, and the (known) side effect?—the sky will turn from blue to white. There are many variants on geo-engineering, all scary and many are ethically questionable.

At the start of graduate school, he was determined do something useful with political theory. After a conversation with Danielle Allen, a political theorist at Princeton University he decided on the issue of climate change, the most important problem of our generation, a problem he had followed since high school. She revealed her methodological approach—identify a problem and then work backward to whatever literature is most relevant, finding and using primary texts. Allen’s problem-first approach inspired him to place it at the center of his research.

Mr. Mittiga is currently running for State Delegate, Virginia District 57.

Robert KuninecRobert Kubinec’s When Elites Fail to Undermine Democracy: Tunisia’s Regime Transition Comparative Perspective Huskey Awards presentation draws from a chapter in his dissertation. He sees the Awards audience as interdisciplinary, and an opportunity to present with clarity and focus to non-political scientists. He says “If I can make the topic clear to a general audience, I should have no trouble with political scientists.” but also indicates just because someone IS a political scientist, doesn’t mean they will be familiar with his topic or his methods, and the Huskey presentation helps him hone his work.

Mr. Kubinec works hard for his clarity. For his Ph.D. he spent eight months in Tunisia and Egypt conducting research. In his  work he asks why and how do the behaviors of businessmen affect the governing bodies of these Middle East countries, why would they become a democracy and how would they remain that way? Tunisia’s democracy is now ancient among all the world’s democracies – 6 years old. Egypt which loudly became a democracy during Arab Spring, slipped back into military rule after only a few years. These two countries provide great material for his work in comparative politics and he picked them strategically—they’ve gone through recent and dramatic change, are relatively safe for field work (especially compared to Lybia which the Egyptian military uses as an example of what chaos could happen without their strong guidance)— and he indicates there is lots to learn from juxtaposing the two countries.

Before attending UVA for his Ph.D., Mr. Kubinec was in the Foreign Service for two years in Saudia Arabia. He got a Master’s in Middle East Studies at George Washington University and went to Jordan as part of a research component while attending; he also speaks Arabic and French and received his BA in International Relations at Wheaton College. He is patently obsessed with the Middle East.

His research continues and he is currently working with Professor John Owen on investigating Twitter use during uprisings in the Middle East. The app presents at least as much of a risk as an opportunity—activists and rebels sharing information about their activities, and that data being harvested and acted upon by regimes to identify and attack them.

Yaping WangAs a political scientist, Yaping Wang has always had an interest in territorial disputes and is now looking at how governments propagandize these disputes. Border conflicts are the most dangerous kind of international event and the kind most likely to turn into a militarized conflict. Propaganda could make these disputes even more dangerous and long-lasting as well.

Her dissertation reaches into the topic using four conflicts/crises between China and Vietnam as case studies — the naval clash in the Paracels in 1974, the border war in 1979, the skirmish in the Spratlys in 1988, and finally the oil rig standoff in 2014. She uses her work-in-progress dissertation as a basis for her presentation The Dog that Barks: State-led Propaganda Campaigns on Territorial Disputes.

Ms. Wang collects evidence in original sources through extensive fieldwork in China and Vietnam, including archival work in numerous locations and interviews with retired government officials and journalists. She recognizes the difficulty in conducting field work in authoritarian countries, but acknowledges that it is still possible to overcome some of these challenges through creative means and hard work. She also carries out computer-assisted content analysis of People’s Daily to provide quantitative data on these cases. She’s devised a simple and effective matrix to determine causal inference in the government’s media behavior.

A native of People’s Republic of China (PRC), she is now a permanent resident of the U.S. and lives in Washington, D.C. She is starting in the fall a predoctoral fellowship at George Washington University to continue to work on her dissertation.

Info Session: New Interdisciplinary M.A. Program in European Studies

Is Europe in Your Future? Make it Happen!

Find out more! Come to an Information Session:

  • Tuesday, Feb. 28th : 5-6 pm, New Cabell Hall 291
  • Monday, April 10th: 5-6 pm, New Cabell Hall 349

The University of Virginia’s new M.A. program in European Studies — with a 4+1 B.A./M.A. option — trains students to think across disciplines and cultures and apply a diverse array of methodologies to the study of Europe in a global framework.

This program offers an intense, scholarly environment, includng one semester of study in Europe, that will challenge students and position them to be more successful in finding their place in the global workforce.

Now accepting applications for fall 2017 enrollment. The deadline is May 1st.

 Attention 3rd year UVA students: To qualify for the 4+1 BA/MA program,

you should apply now during the spring semester of your 3rd year.

Visit our program website:

For more information contact:
Professor Janet Horne, Director of European Studies at

Graduate and Post Doctoral Funding Opportunities

Internal and External funding opportunities are exploding. Recent internal ooportunities include:

Dumas Malone Graduate Research Fellowship:
Deadline: Applications are due by 5:00 p.m., March 10, 2017

Albert Gallatin Graduate Research Fellowship:
Deadline: Applications are due by 5:00 p.m., March 10, 2017

The Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (AHSS) Summer Research Awards:
Deadline: The summer 2017 award cycle will open in late Winter 2017

For additional external opportunities click here.

And don’t forget the Quandt Fund and


New Class: Political and Civic Engagement, PLAP 3500

Carah Ong Whaley Political and Civic EngagementInstructor: Carah Ong Whaley

This course analyzes and applies scholarship to understand the role of civil society in American political processes. We will study the role and impact of American political and civic organizations and institutions in the local and national context. To connect theory and practice, coursework entails research, engagement in political and civic organizations and working with others from a range of perspectives to better understand public issues.

New Class—Topics in Political Science: Quantitative Methods Frequentist and Bayesian Multilevel Models (PLAD 8500)

Connie Figueroa Schibber Quantitative Methods: Frequentist & Bayesian Multilevel ModelsInstructor: Connie Figueroa Schibber

This course covers statistical modeling with explicitly defined hierarchies. Social scientists encounter multilevel data all the time: voters clustered in electoral districts, students nested within classrooms, legislators clustered in congressional periods, countries nested within regions, and so forth. Classic time-series cross-sectional (TSCS) data can also be thought as multilevel data, with observations clustered by unit and time period. In survey research, multilevel regression and poststratification (MRP) is a method to estimate public opinion across geographic units from individual-level survey data.

The course will focus on multilevel nested models and multilevel non-nested models for linear and generalized linear models. It will feature frequentist and Bayesian perspectives on inference and computation of hierarchical models.

A working syllabus is available here.

New Class: Political Economy of the Information Economy, PLCP 4500

Political Economy of the Information EconomyEver wonder how Apple, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and the even more popular MySpace;) make money? Take this course and you will find out how, along with how that affects the way the US and world economy works.

How do global and national politics change as the main source of corporate profitability changes from control over production processes to control over intellectual property rights (IPRs) and the political process of regulation? This course explores the consequences of this shift in firms’ strategy and structure (industrial organization) for global regulation, globalization of production and the global and national distribution of income. Students will be expected to cross a 50 foot pit of flaming oil on a slack wire and battle two lions at the other end in lieu of a paper.

At the end of the course you will understand why your iPhone is so costly and how it actually works, along with the business model for social media companies.

Scholars Abroad: 2016 Quandt Fund Winners

 The Quandt Fund for International Research announced grant winners for 2016.
Yaping Wang, for search in China and Vietnam on territorial disputes in southeast Asia.
Robert Kubinec, for continuation of his research in Tunisia, Egypt and Algeria on the role of businessmen in political change during the “Arab Spring” events.
Samuel Plapinger, for continuation of his research on the dynamics of internal conflicts, with case studies of the Jordan crisis of 1970, as well as cases in Oman and Eritrea.
Sonal Pandya, Associate Professor of Politics at U Va, for research in Bombay on how Foreign Direct Investment affects the status of women.
Nicholas Favaloro, for research in South Africa on the role of jazz in the anti-Apartheid struggle.