Students can participate in political science summer research program


    A select few university political science students will have the opportunity to conduct graduate-level research for free and to present their findings at a national conference in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, next spring, James Scott, a political science professor, said.

    The program called the Democracy, Interdependence and World Politics Summer Research Program is a National Science Foundation-supported Research Experience for Undergraduates.

    Scott, the program creator and director, said the program is funded partially by a NSF grant and by a university investment.

    Scott said the program grants seven to 10 students to conduct their own research for eight weeks in the summer.

    He said he started the program eight years ago at Indiana State University, and the program is now in its second year at TCU.

    “TCU is a really good home for this program not just because you have great students who are interested in this sort of thing, but because institutionally, there’s a great deal of support for these kinds of special learning experiences that put students in the driver’s seat,” Scott said.

    He said this program is beneficial because it allows students to move from consuming knowledge to generating knowledge. He said students get to be in control of their own education and learning experiences.

    Scott also said the added benefits of this program are that it allows students to work closely with faculty members. It gives students the opportunity to experience graduate school and to receive a credential for graduate school applications.

    Some past projects have focused on the processes of democratization, the relationship between democratic governance and conflict behavior, interdependence between countries and the effects of democratic structures on foreign policy, Scott said.

    According to Scott, students have the possibility of presenting their research at the International Studies Association’s annual conference. He said students in this program are the only undergraduate students able to present their research at this conference.

    Amy Sentementes, a senior political science major, participated in the program last summer. She said her research focused on determining “how nationalist party rhetoric influences the issue salience of immigration” in countries with third party systems.

    Sentementes said the program was a unique experience because it is structured like a graduate school course. She said the program allows students to do independent research and exposes them to “political science methodology and how to conduct formal research projects.”

    She continued, “I would say being able to systematically approach an issue and conduct professional research has been the biggest takeaway for me.”

    Applicants should have their personal statement read and critiqued by a mentor, Sentementes said. The applicants should also have a clear and focused plan for what they want to research and explain intentions and goals for the program.

    Pearce Edwards, a senior political science and history double major, also participated in the program last summer. Edwards said he studied “the effects of civil society activity on compliance with international agreements.”

    He said, “Dr. Scott has really perfected his model. He’s even had it [the program] replicated at other universities. He has great relationships with the other professors who he brings in, so I think it’s seamless in how it works and really effective in what it asks of the students.”

    Edwards said this program is one of only three social science research programs of this kind in the country. He said the fact that the NSF sponsors the program is a testament to its prestige and quality.

    He said students applying should have confidence in their ability to perform a research project and possibly have experience writing a comprehensive research paper. Edwards also said having good relationships with professors is a positive factor in the application process.

    The application deadline for the program is Feb. 15. For more information, visit