WelcomeEvan Head

From the Office of the Department Head…

Hello, Happy New Year, and welcome back to our Political Science students, faculty, and staff. I hope everybody enjoyed the break and that you are as enthusiastic about 2016 as we are.

Congratulations to all the students who graduated in the Fall 2015 semester. You have a lot to be proud of, and so do your families.  

Congratulations as well to some of our faculty members, who recently received awards.

  • Professor Yue Zhang received a prestigious Woodrow Wilson Fellowship and is spending the year in Washington, DC, at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C.  Professor Zhang is using the fellowship to complete her book project about informal housing and urban governance in China, India, and Brazil.
  • Professors Alexandra Filindra and Noah Kaplan received the Lucius Barker Award for the best paper presented at the Midwest Political Science Association Annual Meeting in 2015. Their paper is titled, “Racial Resentment and Whites’ Gun Policy Preferences in Contemporary America.”
  • Professors Filindra and Kaplan also received the 2015 Best Paper Award from the Public Policy Section of the American Political Science Association for their paper, “A Call to Arms: White Identity and Gun Control Policy Preferences in Post-Civil Rights America”
  • One of our Ph.D. students and teaching assistants, Scott Braam, presented “A Portrait of Politics: The Wholesale Marketing of the Chicago Neighborhood of Pilsen,” which was selected as the recipient of the MPSA 2015 Best Poster Award. Scott will receive his award at the 2016 MPSA meeting in April.

Our Fall speaker series, coordinated by Prof. Alba Alexander, was a huge success.  It culminated with a presentation by renowned author and public intellectual Garry Wills that packed Jane Addams Hull House with a standing-room-only audience. The Spring series promises to be at least as exciting.  The series will include: John Mearsheimer of the University of Chicago, who will present a talk about the US and Russia; attorney and author Thomas Geoghegan, speaking about labor and politics; former NPR correspondent John Matisonn, with a talk on South Africa; Larry Bennett of DePaul University on “The New Chicago”; and Cathy Cohen of the University of Chicago, speaking on new media and new political movements.  We will also co-sponsor two events on the Greek crisis.

And a word on the budget situation:  as of this writing (January, 2016) the State of Illinois has been without a budget for seven months.  However, please know that UIC is operating at full capacity regardless. Our enrollments are increasing and we are moving forward.

The study of Political Science is never more exciting and relevant than during a presidential election year.  We have many courses that will help our students make sense of the events going on around us.  And some are especially interesting, such as Prof. Katherine Floros’ new course on “The Politics of Harry Potter” (POLS 300, Symposium on Politics). This course is being taught for the first time and immediately filled up with sixty eager Harry Potter fans. 

In addition to course work, our students make time for student organizations, internships, study abroad, student employment and much more.  Our alumni choose careers that include employment with government agencies; working for interest groups and research organizations; joining the corporate world in marketing, public relations, government relations, journalism, and other specialties; and taking positions on the staffs of elected and appointed political officials.  Many of our students go on to law school and have successful careers practicing law.

As faculty, it is our goal to enhance the student experience inside and outside the classroom.  All of us are active scholars who publish books and articles in our specialties, and we also love to teach and spend time with our students.  We make opportunities for our graduate and undergraduate students to engage side-by-side in faculty research, using a variety of methods and new technologies.

Wishing you a successful semester,

Professor Evan C. McKenzie



Fortress Europe or E Pluribus Unum? :
Multilevel Governance and the Governance
of Migration and Asylum in the EU

Conference to be held on September 22-24, 2016 in Chicago, IL
Submission deadline: March 5th, 2016


The European Union (EU) is facing an unprecedented crisis as hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants are risking their lives attempting to reach destinations across Europe. The crisis has demonstrated that the EU’s existing system of governance for asylum and migration is inadequate and fundamentally flawed. As member states - from Greece to Finland to Hungary to Germany – adopt divergent responses, European policy frameworks from the Dublin Regulations to the Schengen system are unraveling. The crisis is straining all levels of European governance, from local authorities to the EU. Ill-equipped and underfunded municipalities have transformed into tent cities, while regional and national governments are struggling to document and process thousands of applicants.

At the EU level, intense normative and economic conflicts have arisen concerning the appropriate response to the inflow of refugees. Coming on the back of a long period of economic crisis and austerity, the refugee crisis is sparking a battle over resources and a struggle over competing visions of Europe: one that is accepting and tolerant and the other xenophobic and ethnocentric. These clashes are testing the political foundations of the European Union as they reveal powerful centrifugal trends that favor closed borders and narrowly defined ethnic and national identities.

This academic symposium, a joint effort between the University of Illinois and Rutgers University, will bring together scholars working of questions of EU governance as well as migration policy to present their most recent research. The symposium is supported by a generous grant from the European Union Studies Association (EUSA).  We are currently soliciting proposals, further information can be found Here.


Faculty Focus: Alexandra Filindra and Noah Kaplan – Published Jan 20, 2016

FilindraCongratulations to Professors Alexandra Filindra and Noah Kaplan for receiving the Lucius Barker Award, to be presented at the MPSA--Great work, Alexandra and Noah!

 On behalf of the Midwest Political Science Association’s Lucius Barker Award committee, including Andra Gillespie, Emory University (chair), Andrew Aoki, Augsburg College, and Karen Kaufmann, UCLA, I am happy to inform you that your paper, “Racial Resentment and Whites’ Gun Policy Preferences in Contemporary America” presented at the MPSA conference in April2015, has been chosen to receive the  Lucius Barker Award for the best paper presented at the annual meeting on a topic investigating race or ethnicity and politics honoring the spirit and work of Professor Barker.

NKaplan_Photon HeadshotThe committee has the following to say about the paper:

The committee thought all of the nominated papers were good.  However, this paperwas especially notable.  In their paper, Drs. Filindra and Kaplan test the relationship between priming, racial resentment and support for gun control.  Using an experimental protocol and implicit attitude testing, they find that racially resentful whites who are exposed to implicit primes of black faces are more likely to oppose gun control.  This in and of itself is notable and timely.  However, Drs. Filindra and Kaplan supplement the experimental data with an excellent historical analysis about the origins of resistance to gun control measures and the connection between opposition to civil rights and opposition to gun control.  It was this methodological pluralism that made the paper stand out from its peers.  As one of the committee members described it, “this paper is running on all cylinders.” 



Speaker Series - Gary Wills 

"Learn about Islam before you criticize its followers, historian says" 



Special Reports

Rahm Emanuel's Rubber Stamp City Council: Chicago City Council Report #7, June 8, 2011-November 15, 2014 - Release Date: December 8, 2014

The Cook County Board in the Preckwinkle Era: Cook County Board of Commissioners Report, December 16, 2012 - April 16, 2014


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  • Student Highlight: Amy Schoenecker

    by Stephanie Whitaker | Feb 12, 2016
    Amy Schoenecker - 
    Status:  ABD 

    Amy is a graduate student in UIC’s Department of Political Science.  Her dissertation entitled
    Governing the ungovernable? Street vending in Chicago and Mumbai, recently won her, the American Political Science Association’s Norton Long Young Scholar Award.  While she is still in the revision stages of her writing, I asked her to share a few thoughts about her Graduate School journey.

    1. Why you chose UIC?

    I was set to attend the University of Chicago’s Master of Public Policy program before I received UIC’s acceptance letter. UIC’s graduate advisors introduced me to the strengths of the program and made me realize that UIC has a strong tradition of taking the city seriously and would offer an ideal environment to delve into urban issues. I decided upon UIC and it was the best choice I could have made. I benefitted from my mentors’ commitment to students, individual attention, and encouragement of unique and interesting research topics. They allowed me the space and freedom to cultivate my own research agendas, but also have given me the support and tools I need to achieve my research goals.

    2. Why you chose your research topic?

    I have always been interested in studying economic development, the role of marginalized groups, and their political practices. My course work which spanned different departments, and Chicago’s urban environment helped me select my dissertation topic-a comparative study of informal economies, specifically street vending. Many people are surprised to hear that I research street vendors. Yet street vendors are critical economic and politics agents-- not only do they constitute an important segment of their cities’ respective economies but also their treatments and responses offer an excellent platform to understand how politics works. My exposure to the courses beyond my department made me realize that the informal economy and street vendors are under researched topics in political science. My research in Chicago’s neighborhoods made me notice the lack of cross-cultural understandings of both urban politics and informal economies. With the excitement of my advisors I was encouraged to research the topic by incorporating the tenets of various research fields from economic development, local governance to citizen activism, political contestations, and democracy. Given that informal economies and street vending are often seen a third world, developing country problem, in my dissertation I use cases from the global north and the global south, namely Chicago and Mumbai to show that informality and citizen involvement have more in common than people realize. 

    What you've learned that you may/may not have expected to learn about your research?

    My field research in India has been a very rewarding and challenging experience, which substantiated the importance of my project.  I was amazed by the well- regulated chaos in India which is captured in my dissertation title, Governing the ungovernable? Street vending in Chicago and Mumbai. At the beginning of an interview with one of Mumbai’s top officials on street vending, he read the title of my project aloud. “Governing the ungovernable?” I wrote this title to question the supposed unregulated and ungoverned nature of informal economies. As a recent policy change in India, now the Mumbai municipal corporation was tasked with creating vending zones and licensing vendors. Given these changes, the official quipped, after reading my title, “Only now we are governing them!” This perception substantiated my drive to dispel the myth that informality is only regulated when it is officially and legally allowed. Another set of experiences further cemented the importance of this project. In conversation with interview subjects in Mumbai, the topic of street vending in Chicago often came up. A common reaction by Mumbai officials and vendors was amazement that Chicago had street vendors, and that most vendors were working unauthorized—just like in Mumbai. This created unique bonding moments when the ‘subject’ realized that, despite living in cities thousands of miles apart, we shared some common urban experiences.

    Can you talk about some of the influences on your research?  Teaching, waivers, support?

    My research, but more importantly, my development as a graduate student and emerging scholar, would not have been possible without the support from my advisors, UIC’s support and the research support of several national institutions. I was able to benefit from many departmental awards including Milton Rakove Memorial research and paper awards, and the Lynn Ragsdale Fellowship, which helped support my study of Hindi in Jaipur, India. I was able to learn Hindi and complete my initial research in India with the support of awards, like UIC’s Dean’s Scholar Award, and National-level awards, such as the Critical Language Scholarship, and a Fulbright-Nehru Fellowship. Not only did my advisors encourage and support me to pursue many research opportunities, but also we celebrated together as I found success in these awards. Probably the defining moment was at this past American Political Science Association conference (2015) where I received the Norton Long Young Scholar award in front of my main three advisors-Dr. Sultan Tepe, Dr. Dennis Judd, and Dr. Yue Zhang as well as friend, former student, and now assistant professor, Dr. Annika Hinze. I’ve benefitted immensely from the intellectually stimulating supportive environment that Chicago and UIC has provided.

    Click here to view previous student highlights.