Political Science Seniors Present at SPSA National Conference

Feb 1, 2023

by FSC Staff

The Florida Southern College political science department had quite an impact on the 2023 Southern Political Science Association (SPSA) Annual Conference, held in St. Pete Beach towards the beginning of the year.

A pair of students presented their research, and were joined by two professors in leading debates and discussions.

Seniors Robert Anderson Fitzgerald ’23 and Andrew Thompson ’23 led a discussion with a presentation entitled, “War in Ukraine: An Anomaly or Rational Extension?” while Associate Professors of Political Science Drs. Kelly McHugh and Bruce Anderson facilitated “The Blame Game: The Political Debates Over Who Lost the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan” and “Undergraduate Panel in American Politics,” respectively.

Going back a year to when Russia first invaded Ukraine, both Fitzgerald and Thompson had strong feelings on the subject, and wanted to learn more. With Fitzgerald’s support, Thompson approached Dr. Anderson about teaching a class on the topic. Based on strong student support, Anderson agreed.

“We chose our topic since we are both interested in the war in Ukraine,” Thompson said. “(We) wanted to see how it relates to similar situations in other nations.”

The pair partnered on their final paper for that class, a comparative piece regarding Russian aggression towards countries in the region. Impressed, Dr. Anderson suggested that the duo submit the paper for SPSA consideration, which led directly to their appearance at the national conference.

“We pay special attention to the pro-Russian separatist movements in some of these (eastern European) nations which led to the establishment of de facto states which rely on support from the Russian Federation,” Thompson explained. “We take a case study approach in our piece by analyzing the history of each region and the causes and implications of Russian aggression.”

The experience, presenting in front of a national audience of professionals, was driven directly by the two students. Experiential learning is the hallmark of a Florida Southern College education, where professors take a hands-on approach to helping students learn.

The SPSA is one of the oldest and largest political science organizations in the United States. Founded in 1929, its primary purposes are to publish a professional journal (the Journal of Politics), to improve teaching, to promote interest and research in theoretical and practical political problems, to encourage communication and to develop standards of competence and respect between persons engaged in the professional study and practice of government and politics.