Earlier this month, four MCLA students had the opportunity to learn what it's like to be a political scientist when they attended a conference of the Midwest Political Science Association in Chicago, Ill., with Petra Hejnova, a professor of political science and public policy at MCLA.
Funded through the generosity of a private donor, the trip also allowed Mariann Simon '11 (pictured left) to present her poster, "Why We Fight." Selected through a competitive process, Simon's research examines why America enters wars and conflicts through photographs, information, research questions and an abstract which details why she believes the United States is motivated to go to war.
"We have so many military supplies. There's so much business behind the military that it's cost-effective to go to war now," Simon said. "We need to use the weapons that we're making."
According to Simon, facilities in every state manufacture materials used for war. "If we go into conflict, we're then using all of that," she said.
In addition to her research, Simon drew from advice given by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who warned that America needs to be careful of its growing military industrial complex.
"My findings were that wars are happening because of the economy that is supported by war and because of the resources that we get from war," such as oil, Simon said.
According to Simon, attending and presenting her research at the conference was an "awesome experience."
"People would come up and ask questions. I got a lot of good feedback from the professors and political scientists that were there. One great suggestion was to push the paper further and to find the solution. Where should we be putting this military spending? Maybe a humanitarian effort would be a good place to go now," Simon said.
Because she plans to become a political science professor, the experience was invaluable to Simon.
"I actually got to see a panel where people presented papers. One panel that stuck out was how to teach political science using different media. One paper was on how to teach using film. Another was on how to use music," she said. "The one that I really liked was how to teach political science using graphic novels and comics, which I love."
According to Patricia Deoliveira '12, one of the students who attended the conference with Simon and Hejnova, the experience was insightful.
"It really opened my eyes to an aspect of political science that I never really heard or thought much about. There is so much interesting and important research going on in a variety of topics. It is also an opportunity to exchange ideas or further develop research one is already working on," Deoliveria said.
"There were political scientists bringing together areas of study that independently have been heavily researched, but were being brought together for the first time," she continued. "For instance, I went to a panel where one person is researching eye movements and political affiliation, and another is working on the sense of smell and ideology."
In addition, Hejnova presented her research paper, "Disappearing Dissidents: Women and Politics in Post-Communist Czech Republic." She also served as a chair for the "Gender and Violence" panel and chaired a roundtable bringing together scholars to discuss innovative research in gender and politics.