Engaging Activities in Political Science

Apr 12, 2017

by Dr. Kelly McHugh
Assistant Professor of Political Science

A key goal of the political science program is engaging students with politics at the local, state, national and international levels, allowing them to think critically about the issues that impact their lives.

Recently, thanks to a generous gift from Dr. Sarah D. McKay, Dr. Bruce Anderson received the Dr. Sarah D. McKay and L. Kirk McKay Jr. Endowed Chair in American History, Government, and Civics, furthering our mission of training students to be informed and engaged members of society. This semester, we were able to expand our efforts in this area, offering students several unique learning experiences outside of the classroom.

First, in mid-March, a group of students enrolled in Bruce Anderson's class on "Legislative Processes" visited Tallahassee to witness the day-to-day activities of legislators, interest groups, and citizens at the epicenter of Florida politics.

Tyler Hillier '18 (left) and Patrick Webb '18 (right) with their Model Senate awards.

During the visit, the students met many current and formal officials, including State Representative Sam Killebrew, State Senator Kelli Stargel, Commissioner of Agriculture Adam Putnam, former State Representative Seth McKeel, and Kim McDougal, the Chief of Staff for Governor Rick Scott. In addition, FSC students received a tour of the House and Senate chambers, and sat in on a committee hearing.

Later in March, a team of FSC students traveled to Stetson University to participate in the annual Model Senate competition. Here, each participating student played the role of a different U.S. Senator, and worked with students from other institutions to debate current issues and craft legislation.

This year, two FSC students, Tyler Hillier ‘18 and Patrick Webb ‘18, won a “Best Senator” award, the highest award given to participants in the event. Tyler also received an award for being a member of the best Senate Committee.

Bradley Denault ‘17, another member of the FSC team said of the experience, “I will say that three days of simulated committee markups and floor sessions, and seeing the process myself, was a better learning experience for me personally, than reading a chapter or writing a paper on it.”

Finally, in early April, students will travel to Orlando to present research projects at the annual meeting of the Florida Political Science Association. This conference, which was held on FSC’s campus last year, allows students to interact with scholars from around Florida to discuss local, national, and global politics.

This year FSC students will participate in two roundtable discussions. Students from my class on “Conflict and War” will present their research on the future direction of the U.S.’ national security policy. A second roundtable will feature students from Bruce Anderson’s “Legislative Processes” class discussing their research papers on partisan polarization in legislatures.