It’s that time of year again, where we get to dress up as our favorite characters, monsters, or people. There are so many options that it can be hard to pick your costume. To remedy that, here are costume ideas based on your FHSS major or minor.
Last year, History professor Ed Stratford hosted two “dead debates,” which were fun events in which various professors acted as “resuscitated” dead U.S. presidents and queens and debated modern political and gender issues. Watch this “Between Two Ferns” parody trailers for the Dead Queens Debate for costume ideas:
Abraham Lincoln or any current or past American president are just a few of the options available for political science students. Here are instructions for creating President Lincoln’s famous stovepipe hat.
For updates on the political science department, check out their blog.
Halloween doesn’t have to be hard; there are a plethora of people you can dress up as. So why not show some academic pride and dress up as someone from your major or minor?
As millennials, we hate hearing over and over again that we are not civically involved because we actually are, according to education researcher Catherine Broom: we volunteer in our community, we generally know who our political representatives are, and we petition for positive change on social media. But there’s one thing that our generation has continually forgotten or neglected to do: vote.
When public office candidacies are determined by a handful of votes, it’s an understatement to say that every vote matters. This is the trend that’s being seen in recent past elections, yet research shows that nationally only 42% of 18-24 year-olds were registered to vote, a 40-year low, and only 17% of registered voters cast a ballot in the 2014 elections.
On November 7, Municipal General Elections as well as a Special General Election will be held and your votes are needed. The elections consist of the following:
Municipal General Elections
Municipal general elections are how you vote for your local mayor and city council members. In Provo, candidates for mayor include Michelle Kaufusi, Sherrie Hall Everett, and write-in Odell Miner. Acting as the executive branch in local government, the mayor’s responsibilities include, among other things, enforcement of all laws applicable to those residing or conducting business in Provo.
Municipal elections also allow individuals to vote for the city council member who will represent their local district. As the legislative branch and policy makers of Provo, the City Council
Oversees the city’s budget.
Provides opinion on the administrative branch’s execution of the law
Approves long-term contracts and commitments of city resources.
Political science professor Chis Karpowitz notes that there are two major reasons why BYU students should care about these local, and specifically mayoral, elections in a recent The Daily Universe article: “One reason is that decisions made in Provo directly affect a student’s life — things like where they can live, where they can park, what community resources are available to them. The second reason they should care is because students could turn the election…they turned out to vote.”
Special General Election
Utah’s 3rd Congressional District representative Congressman Jason Chaffetz resigned from the U.S. House of Representatives this past June, leaving a vacancy. The House of Representatives is responsible for making and passing laws, formed by the bills and resolutions introduced by our own district representatives. Candidates for the position include current Provo Mayor Republican John Curtis, Democrat Kathie Allen, Libertarian Joe Buchman, United Party Jim Bennett, Independent American Party Jason Christensen, and unaffiliated candidate Sean Whalen.
John Curtis and Kathie Allen have taken a particular interest in college students and the millennial generation.
In the past month both candidates have in fact made special efforts to spend time with and reach out to millennials. Curtis has held several “meet and greets” with students at Slab Pizza and Sodalicious, later posting on his Twitter account that “these people will change the world.” Kathie Allen has likewise held special town hall events where she told millennials that “if they would own their voting power, they could change the outcome of this special election and elections nationwide”.
In a town where one third (32.6%) of the population is college or graduate school students, Provo millennials need to accept the challenge and responsibility to vote. “We don’t have a right to complain about [politics] if we have this right to vote and we don’t exercise it because that’s how things change. It’s a really cool power we have, so why not use it?” shared Samantha Frazier, a Political Science major and President of BYU’s Republican group on campus in a recent article.
Make change with your votes, Cougars.
How To Vote
The first step to vote is to register. The last day to register in person at the Utah County Election Office (see the state website for necessary documentation, hint: you don’t have to have a Utah license if you still intend to be a Utah resident) is October 31st, but you can also register online (just remember to have your Utah drivers license with you) by that date. Since all ballots will be conducted entirely by mail, make sure you register as soon as possible and that your registered address is your current residence. Your completed ballot must be postmarked no later than November 6th to be counted in the election.
In the past, BYU students have led several projects to help millennials lift their political voice, but this year’s special and municipal elections are the time to put these initiatives into action. Vote November 7th and join one of the many BYU campus clubs geared towards politics and civic engagement to stay involved until the next election.
“When you study great teachers… you will learn much more from their caring and hard work than from their style,”saidauthor William Glasser. Dr. John Holbein experienced this firsthand while attending BYU as a political science undergraduate, and it was what brought him back to his alma mater to teach. Dr. Holbein is BYU’s newest Political Science professor.
“For me, there’s just something really exciting about helping people learn,” he said. “I’ve always thought that you never really understand a topic until you teach it. I learn a lot from my students. That might sound crazy to say–after all, professors are supposed to know everything. But, I find it really refreshing and invigorating to interact with students.”
So he offers this advice to students: “Don’t be afraid of your professors; we’re normal (OK, mostly normal) people just like you. We realize that BYU is a special place and are all here because we want you to be successful. Come to our office hours. Don’t shy away from contributing in class for fear of saying something stupid. You have a voice, you have something to contribute. Don’t hide that.”
Dr. Holbein’s area of expertise is voting, particularly motivations for voting. Currently, he is working to formulate inventive ways to stimulate voting. “Voter turnout is depressingly low and unequal–with disadvantaged people voting at much lower rates than advantaged people. That should be deeply troubling to us,” said the professor. As being connected with society is paramount to a person’s well-being, this is a critical problem that needs to be addressed.
Dr. Holbein graduated from Duke University in 2016 with a Ph.D in Public Policy and is currently working on a book about youth voting participation. He and his wife Brittany have one son.
“Culture does not make people. People make culture. If it is true that the full humanity of women is not our culture, then we can and must make it our culture,”wroteChimamanda Ngozi Adichie in her bookWe Should All Be Feminists. BYU Political Science professor Dr. Chris Karpowitz has researched what that “full humanity” looks like currently, in the context of public meetings and politics. In the 2014 book The Silent Sex: Gender, Deliberation, & Institutions, authored by him and Princeton University professor Dr. Tali Mendelberg, they discuss the reasoning behind, methods, results, and implications of a study they conducted on the subject of gender equality in politics. They found, among other things, that only in certain situations are women’s voices truly heard.
Gender Equality – The Study
That study, The Deliberative Justice Experiment, included both male and female participants who were divided into groups and tasked with discussing and making decisions regarding the redistribution of money. They were told that they would be paid based on their group’s decision; the decision had to be by majority or unanimous, depending on which group they were placed in.
This experiment allowed Doctors Mendelberg and Karpowitz to ask important questions, such as:
How much do women and men speak?
Do men use interruptions to establish their status in the group?
Do women use them to create a warmer tone of interaction in the group?
Do women express their preferences during discussion?
How does what happens in the discussion affect the decision the groups ultimately makes?
The researchers found that those in unanimous decision groups were more inclusive and more vocal in expressing their preferences, and discussed the issue longer. If men were in the numerical minority in such a group, though, they tended to increase their participation and interrupt more. According to Karpowitz, this meant that “unanimous rule is good for women when [they] are in the [numerical] minority…but it is bad for women when they are the majority, …as men—the numerical minority—increase their participation.”
Majority rule groups also demonstrated behaviors that had both benefits and drawbacks for women. “Majority rule signals that the more numerous groups…are entitled to exercise power,” said the authors. When women are in the majority, they participate more and “can benefit from this signal to exercise power.” So, in order to achieve their goals, women must have a large majority. The opposite is true for men: they can get away with having a small majority. Furthermore, when women are in the majority, the men in the group are more resistant to their stances. “Unanimous rule helps women when they are few, while majority rule helps women when they are many.”
Implications for Change
The authors posited that simply holding meetings and increasing the proportion of female municipal leaders were ineffective ways to boost female involvement. Indeed, the question of whether or not more females should get involved in politics because of their gender has tended to be a topic about which people have strong opinions. Margaret Dayton, a BYU alumni who is the longest-serving woman in the Utah state legislature, said in last year’s issue of Connections: “Your gender does not qualify you to serve. Your principles, your willingness to work, your experience that brings you there, those are the kinds of things that qualify people, not gender.” And Karpowitz conducted a study with fellow political science professor Jessica Preece that found that “quotas, which face practical and ideological barriers in the United States, are not the…way to increase women’s representation.”
Rather, Karpowitz and Mendelberg suggest that increasing the number of women in meetings and municipalities where they might be underrepresented or in the minority, and implementing unanimous rule—or measures that lead to total inclusion—might rectify the problem of “the silent sex.” Although unanimity is not without its problems, the process aids women when they are in the minority.
The authors cite political theorist Alexis de Tocqueville‘s views on class differences: “The humblest individual who is called upon to co-operate in the government of society acquires a certain degree of self-respect; and as he possesses authority, he can command the services of minds much more enlightened than his own.” The same can be said for gender equality. Only by making a concerted effort can we be more inclusive of women in politics and other public forums.
Anne Frank once said: “No one has ever become poor by giving.” Americans today seem to believe the opposite, viewing foreign aid programs with distrust and resentment. A 2016 Pew poll showed that just 37% of Americans think the U.S. should help other countries. Political Science professor Darren Hawkins sought to examine these attitudes in a recent Washington Post article detailing an experiment in which he and colleagues tested the elasticity of Americans’ opinions regarding foreign aid.
What is Foreign Aid and why is it Important?
According to the U.S. government’s foreign assistance website, there are nine categories of foreign aid:
Peace & Security
Democracy, human rights, & governance
Education & social services
Combination of categories
The Borgen Project, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that fights extreme poverty by conducting a national campaign among politicians to make poverty a focus of U.S. foreign policy, said that foreign aid is essential because it can assist in educating people, build infrastructure so that the inhabitants of the recipient nation can “be mobile and have access to basic necessities such as electricity and running water,” cultivate a diplomatic relationship between the two countries, and help nations combat terrorism, among other things.
Americans and Foreign Aid
“Americans are notoriously uninformed on how much their government actually spends on aid,” according to Hawkins. A 2015 Kaiser Family Foundation poll found that the majority of Americans think the U.S. spends around 26% of the federal budget on foreign aid; in actuality, according to the KFF, the budget is 1% or less.
Why does this misperception exist among Americans? Hawkins lists the reasons people distrust foreign aid as generally falling within these categories:
Does not work
Breeds dependency and conflict
Interferes with the free market
Loses money to corruption
In an experiment conducted by Hawkins and the co-authors of the Washington Post article, they tested the effects of certain arguments on Americans’ perceptions of foreign aid, and found that those arguments had an effect on those American’s views on foreign aid. These possible counterarguments, along with five facts in support of each counterargument, were provided to the people interviewed in the experiment:
Chance for a potential positive impact
Service to U.S. interests
The chart below illustrates the extent to which those interviewees who felt that the U.S. spent too much on foreign aid were influenced by various counterarguments, as opposed to a control group to which no argument was given.
The results show that the right argument for or against foreign aid can either increase or decrease support for the program. More importantly, it shows that most Americans can change their attitudes about foreign aid when given the correct information.
It’s important to consider the possible ramifications of Hawkin’s study and Americans’ perceptions of foreign aid as President Trump has recently made significant funding cuts to U.S. foreign aid to other countries in his recently released budget. This cut was instituted to pave the way for “a new foundation that places America first by returning more American dollars home and ensuring foreign aid supports American interests and values.” According to Hawkins, et. al. the president’s proposed budget cuts the funding to the State Department, in charge of USAID, by almost 30%.
For instance, Newsweek reports that African Development Bank president, Akinwumi Adesina, said that if U.S. aid to Africa is cut, the continent could become “a recruiting field for terrorists.” In Central Asia, cuts to foreign aid could also have a potentially large impact. The elimination of two programs—Assistance for Europe, Eurasia, and Central Asia (AEECA), and the Development Assistance—could make the region to be susceptible to Communist China’s influence, according to Alyssa Ayres, a Forbes contributor. After analyzing the FY18 Control Levels and Foreign Policy, she concluded that “…these proposed changes could paradoxically undermine the U.S. ability to shape objectives in the region. Moreover, at a time of massive Chinese assistance flooding the region, savings achieved through scrounging comparatively small levels of assistance will leave Washington with a shrunken profile and a shallower footprint.”
Former President George W. Bush’s USAID Administrator, Andrew Natsios spoke to Trump’s cuts: “[Cutting the budget] will end the technical expertise of USAID, and in my view, it will be an unmitigated disaster for the longer term…I predict we will pay the price. We will pay the price for the poorly thought out and ill-considered organization changes that we’re making, and cuts in spending as well.”
“Americans are refreshingly rational about adjusting their opinions,” said Hawkins. “….On this particular issue…there seems [to be]a clear prescription: If you want to get Americans to support government spending on foreign aid, tell them how little the government currently spends.” After examining the facts, understanding the arguments for and against aid, and studying the issue, Americans can become more informed about aid and the potential damage that can come from a budget reduction.
In the United States in 2015, 427,910 children were infoster care, an institution meant to care for children whose parents are temporarily or permanently unable to do so. A 2013 Child Welfare Outcomes Report found that more than 98% of those children were, in fact, well-treated. However, some sources suggest that the number is much higher. In 2015, a judge in Texas oversaw acase regarding abuse in foster care. In his conclusion he wrote: ” Texas’s [foster care] children have been shuttled throughout a system where rape, abuse, psychotropic medication, and instability are the norm.” As a method of reform, many have turned to privatization of foster care–having private companies find foster homes for children. However, is this truly a solution? Some are claiming that privatization only increases children’s risk of abuse.
Through her studies, Fulton ConferencePolitical Science winner Mandi Eatough found by privatizing foster care, these children do have an increased risk of neglect or abuse. She said: “It’s much easier to think about policy and government work in terms of whether it’s “good government” or “good for the economy.” However, I believe it’s far more important to consider these policies based on the impact they have on our lives. I hope that legislators and foster care workers alike will consider the implications of the foster care system on the children in it. ”
According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway: “As a reform strategy, many state and local public child welfare agencies have contracted with private agencies [for] some of their services. Some child welfare systems have implemented performance contracting, in which contracted agencies are paid based on their achievements of agreed-to outcomes.”
“There are two main theories about foster care privatization policies,” explains Mandi. “The first is that privatization is preferable because of an increase in efficiency and a decrease in cost of foster care placements. The second claims that this increase in time and economic efficiency creates pressure on social workers to place children faster, leading to a decrease in the quality of the placement.”
What she found through her study corroborated this. She discovered that:
Changes in foster care policy often have an immediate effect on the children in the foster care system.
Children placed by privatized agencies are more likely to have case goals that are more efficient and less costly.
Children in privatized foster care systems are at a greater risk of experiencing abuse or neglect than their non-privatized counterparts.
Mandi has plans to publish the paper and reexamine her data and in order to better understand foster care. Of her experience with the Fulton Conference, she said: “The Fulton Conference was an amazing opportunity to both share my own work and see the work of other students in the college. The part of the Fulton Conference that stood out to me the most was the fact that every student at the conference had been given the opportunity to work on mentored research with a faculty member. Being able to work so closely with faculty in my department on research I care about has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my undergraduate education.”
“Is it good for kids?” That question drives all decision-making at Voices for Utah Children, whose goal is to help children reach their full potential. While Utah is ranked among the top 10 states in the nation for the well-being of children, according to a recent report from the Annie E. Casey Foundation child-advocacy group, the number of children living in poverty in Utah has increased, and the state’s ranking in education is still a poor 29th. Says Lincoln Nehring, president of Voices for Utah Children: “Children can’t vote, hold press conferences, or donate to political campaigns in order to protect their interests. Together, our voices can ensure that thousands of Utah children get the health care they need, are safe from neglect and abuse, and are ready for school. Help us speak up for kids in our state.” He’ll speak on that subject at an upcoming BYU event.
Thursday, October 20 11 a.m to 12 p.m. 3380 WSC
Lincoln Nehring will talk about “Big Ideas for Kids: How Good Public Policy Ideas Can Improve the Lives of Kids and Families in Utah.” Students, faculty, and community members alike are invited to room 3380 in the Wilkinson Student Center (WSC) from 11 a.m to 12 p.m. on Thursday, October 20. “Students and faculty who are interested in families and children particularly and are interested in how public policy effects families [are invited],” says political science professor Richard Davis. Whether you have children, want to be aware of the issues facing children, or want to learn how to advocate for a cause you believe in, attending Nehring’s lecture will benefit you.
Lincoln Nehring: the Advocate
Since April 2015, Nehring has been president of Voices for Utah Children. In this role, he lobbies members of the Utah legislature on behalf of children and families for a wide range of policy issues, though he started his career lobbying for health care. Nehring also directs the Public Policy Clinic at the University of Utah, where he is also an Adjunct Professor at the S.J. Quinney College of Law. He serves on the Utah State Bar. Nehring has also contributed as a board member of the National Association of Insurance Commissioners and the Utah Board of Juvenile Justice. Voices for Utah Children contribute to the healthy development of kids by focusing on health, school readiness, safety, economic stability, and diversity.
Dr. Chad Nelson, a new Political Science faculty member, is an expert on international affairs, particularly political revolutions and the interaction between domestic instability and international politics. “I suppose what got me hooked was a curiosity about different people and places,” he said. This curiosity prompted him to travel, which, as he puts it, “led me to read more and more about the history of different places, and somehow, I got particularly interested in war and revolution.”
Dr. Nelson enjoyed his four years studying philosophy here at BYU as an undergraduate, and he eventually received his PhD from the University of California at Los Angeles. “I’m thrilled to be back among a great set of colleagues,” he said, “and I love the view from my window. We are lucky to live in such a beautiful area!”
Much of Dr. Nelson’s work is focused on the international effects of revolutions. For instance, leaders of nations often see a revolution elsewhere and fear that it could spread to their own state—this can have a major impact on a nation’s foreign policy. Dr. Nelson also studies the question of how states respond to the rise of potential rivals.
Of his teaching, he says: “It is a pleasure to teach such smart and dedicated students. They don’t seem to complain about their grades as much as the students at UCLA!” When he’s not teaching, he is an outdoorsman who enjoys running. His wife currently works as a physicians’ assistant in an emergency room in Long Beach, California, and they have four children—three boys and a girl.
It has been said that “the quality of a university is measured more by the kind of student it turns out than the kind it takes in.” If this is true, then BYU is a very fine university, based at least on political science major Sarah Curry . The senior has traveled both the world and the U.S. and is involved in many things on-campus.
Recently, we had the opportunity to talk with her about her school experience:
Getting to Know Sarah Curry
Q: What’s your major? Why did you choose it? Was there a particular experience that lead you to it?
A: I am studying political science with an emphasis in political strategy, and minoring in global studies and nonprofit management. I grew up in the Washington DC area, which exposed me to politics at a young age. When I came to BYU, I knew I wanted to learn how to serve my community. Political science has taught me valuable quantitative and writing skills, as well as a practical understanding of institutions that I will need to serve effectively. Additionally, the faculty and students in political science are fascinating! Their perspectives and experiences are far-reaching. Everyone is supportive and wants to pull you into their network. I really have found my tribe.
Q: What are you involved in (i.e. extracurricular activities)?
A: Be bold! Go to activities hosted by clubs and student associations. Every major has at least one. Talk to people in class. Turn group projects into a way to make friends. Meet and work with your professors and TAs. I have been connected to opportunities that I would not have found otherwise through classmates and faculty. Show commitment to learning as much as you can while you’re at BYU. Our college can be improved by your ideas and insights — you just have to share them!
Q: What do you like to do outside of school?
A: Tap dance, SCUBA dive, cook international food, go to book club and Bombay House with my ladies, watch Parks and Rec and The Office with my husband. I also love to road trip and explore new places.
Q: Random fact or story about yourself?
A: My order at Sodalicious is a 24oz. I Love Lucy extra dirty.
Dee Allsop is a powerhouse of a man, having been a strategist who worked at the highest level of American politics during the Ronald Reagan administration, and as a former president of the BYU Alumni Association. He graduated in political science, obtained both a masters and a doctorate from The Ohio State University, and achieved many great things in that arena, but then turned his professional attention to the science of helping companies understand people, clients, and the decisions they make, at Heart+Mind Strategies. Through all of his endeavors is woven the power of connection, the desire to help politicians, companies, and people connect with each other.
As president of the Alumni Association, he said: “[The spirit of the Y] needs to be cultivated in the communities where people live—not just in their cities, but in their professional, global, and social communities as well.” As CEO of Wirthlin Worldwide from 2002 to 2004, and then as president of Harris Interactions Groups, a company dedicated to administering surveys that measure public opinion in the U.S. about the knowledge, opinions, behaviors and motivations of the general public on subjects such as politics, the economy, healthcare, foreign affairs, science and technology, sports and entertainment, and lifestyles. While employed at these companies, (2004-10) he also worked as the president of the BYU Board of Alumni. In addition, he was the BYU Alumni Association president from 2009-14. Currently, he serves on the Family, Home, and Social Sciences National Advisory Council. His passion for and ability to help businesses identify and leverage their connections has won him multiple awards, including the Advertising Research Foundation David Ogilvy Award for Beltway Campaign in 2008, the Advertising Research Foundation’s David Ogilvy Award for “The New Steel” in 2000, and the American Association of Political Consultants “Pollster of the Year” in 2000.
He’s an example to all of the power of initiative and education. Of BYU, Allsop says, “BYU did many wonderful things in my life, and I have much gratitude to the university and the people there.” This is made evident through his far-reaching service to the university.
If you are an alumni of BYU’s School of Family Life, or any of the nine other departments in the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences, we’d like to hear your story! Please share with us your accomplishments, your stories of service and inspiration. Share them at Rise.byu.edu. And don’t forget to join us on October 13th at 11 am in SWKT 250 to listen to Alumni Achievement Award Honoree Bridgitte Madrian speak on household financial decision making.