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


Political Science celebrates Pi Sigma Alpha new members and student awards!


New members of the Pi Sigma Alpha Political Science National Honor Society were inducted into the UIC Mu Alpha Chapter on Thursday afternoon, April 28, 2016.

Department Head Evan McKenzie, Director of Undergraduate Studies Professor Kevin Lyles, Director of Graduate Studies Professor Alexandra Filindra, and Faculty Advisor of the Chapter Professor Robert Bruhl, were all on hand for the induction ceremony to hand out awards and honor cords.  The new inductees into the Class of 2016 Mu Alpha Chapter include. 

Alberto Alejandro Barraza*
Brian Geiger*
Michael P. Halpin*
Maria Hartas*
Eden Nissani (not shown)
Justyna Pietryk*
Humaa Siddiqi*
Shameka Thompson

graduating seniors

In addition, our undergraduate and graduate end-of-the-school-year contest and prize winners were announced.   Students submitted papers, research proposals, and nominations were made by several faculty members for the selection of the department’s Best Graduating Senior award.  This year there were four faculty committees formed to decide the most deserving winners.  The recipients of the 2016 prizes are, 


Milton Rakove Memorial Award Prize  - Best paper on a topic of International Relations

Winner(s) Shameka Thompson and Justyna Pietrzyk.  “Globalization and the Diminishing Working Class.” 

Milton Rakove Memorial Award Prize  - Best paper on a topic of Urban Politics

Winner:  Tierra Bradford. “Urban Politics and Natural Disasters: A Case Study on New Orleans and Hurricane Katrina.”

Ron Brown Memorial Award:  2016 Best Overall Graduating Senior Award

Brian Geiger – Overall outstanding academic achievement, civic engagement, and student service.


Milton Rakove Memorial Award Prize - Best research projects

Aviral Pathak:  “The Art of Governing Well:  Freedon and the Practice of Modern Government in India”

Mine Tafolar:  “Electoral Rules or Undecided Voters:  Challengers and Guardians of Democracies”

Beyza Buyuker:  “U.S. response to the Religion of Refugees”

Congratulations to our new Pi Sigma Alpha inductees, our contests winners, and ALL of our graduating seniors!



Graduate Student Receives Prestigious Invitation

Aviral PathakThe Department of Political Science is proud to congratulate our own Aviral Pathak on his acceptance to the 2016 Advanced Graduate Workshop on Poverty, Development and Globalization to be held at Azim Premji University in Bangalore! 

This prestigious workshop was extremely competitive, and Aviral's acceptance is a testament to the caliber of his work. 
This program brings together PhD students from around the globe to discuss issues on international development and globalization from an interdisciplinary perspective. It is hosted by Joeseph E. Stiglitz of Columbia University. Once again, congratulations to Aviral!



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" 



Sophomore Political Science student Christopher Kooy with former President Jimmy Carter in Plains, Georgia, during the former President's Sundayschool class at Maranatha Baptist Church on March 27th, 2016

Carter Photo

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: Christopher Kooy

    by Stephanie Whitaker | Apr 04, 2016

    Christopher Kooy
    – Expected Graduation: May 2018

    A sophomore majoring in both Spanish and Political Science, Christopher Kooy hails from the small town of Dixon, Illinois—hometown of President Ronald Reagan.

    As a high school student, Chris became more passionate about history, law, linguistics, diplomacy and politics whenever he sat down with his mother and grandfather, who would enchant him with stories of their time coming from the impoverished highlands of Perú to work as government lawyers in the capitol of Lima, or of how they had to flee the country when Sendero Luminoso began threatening government workers and waging war with the Peruvian government.

    This led Chris to apply to the University of Illinois at Chicago. “It wasn’t really that I immediately chose UIC, so much as UIC took the time and effort and sought out minority students from underrepresented counties in Illinois and had enough courage to believe in me.  They also offered me a financial award that allowed me to receive a college education in the first place,” says Chris. “This, to me, is what UIC’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is all about.”

    Studying politics and Spanish in such a culturally rich, vibrant, and intellectual city as Chicago was a dream come true for Chris. He was intent on immediately making an impact on his new community and giving back for all that he counted himself thankful for.

    At the start of his undergraduate career, Chris immediately joined UIC University Ambassadors and began volunteering with Illinois JusticeCorps (a branch of AmeriCorps) at the Daley Center courthouse downtown. Through University Ambassadors, Chris was able to develop professionally while increasing campus pride at UIC and working to recruit students to go to Springfield for the annual Lobby Day, where students speak to their state legislators about the importance of funding for higher education. With JusticeCorps, Chris was able to use his native Spanish language skills to assist hundreds of pro-se litigants properly file legal documents and maneuver through the courthouse with less fear and intimidation.

    As the president of the UIC Pre-Law Society, this year Chris and his team have been working hard to reach out to more pre-law students with opportunities for learning about the LSAT and the law school application process through things like an LSAT strategy session with Blueprint LSAT Prep and a UIC Alumni in Law School Q&A Panel. Chris was also a volunteer tax return preparer this year with the Center for Economic Progress, helping to file federal and state tax returns for low-income families in Chicago.

    In his free time, Chris likes reading books about political history, theology, and economic theory, and asking Senator Bernie Sanders for a good book recommendation (pictured above).

    In the future, Chris plans on applying to the Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship program, with aspirations of entering into the Foreign Service and one day becoming the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the United States to Perú.

    Click here to view previous student highlights.