Student Research

The department both encourages and participates in a variety of student-based research activities.

Many students have worked with Dr. Hoffman and Dr. High-Pippert on their research on citizen participation and community energy initiatives over the years. Students assisted in this research by coding qualitative data, ranging from meeting agendas and minutes to focus group transcripts, and a few students presented research at the student poster session of the Minnesota Political Science Association (MNPSA) Annual Conference. In 2010, political science major Daniel Carr presented a conference paper, "`If you Can't Do It Here': Institutional versus Community-based initiative in Energy Planning" with Dr. High-Pippert and Dr. Hoffman at the Midwest Political Science Association Conference in Chicago.

Other political science majors have presented their research at the student poster session of the Minnesota Political Science Association (MNPSA) Annual Conference each November.

If you are interested in either working with someone as a research assistant or developing a project of your own you should talk to individual professors or contact Dr. High-Pippert, the department chair.

Four Political Science and International Studies majors presented their research papers from Dr. Buhr’s POLS 424:  Seminar in International Relations at the Pi Sigma Alpha National Student Research Conference, held at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. in February.

Valeria Brukhis:  “Identity Algorithms: The Interrelatedness Between Shifting Russian National Identity and Disinformation Tactics”
Erin Engstran:  “Gender and Leadership in International Relations: Priorities of Former Secretaries of State”
Annie Rydland: “The Mistake of Minimizing the Importance of Humanitarian Relief and Nation Building in Afghanistan: An Evaluation of Counterinsurgency Campaigns”
Jessica Peery:  “Art of the (Im)Possible: Alliance Collapse in the International System”

POLS senior Ryan Garrett will be presenting his paper, “Do Justices Want to Have Their Cake and Eat It Too? Influences on Justice Behavior and Joining Concurrences,” at the undergraduate poster session at the Midwest Political Science Association Conference in Chicago in April.  Ryan first wrote this paper for POLS 414:  Seminar in Judicial Politics, and was then awarded a Collaborative Inquiry Grant from St. Thomas to further develop his research.  His faculty mentor on this project is Dr. Steven Maloney.

POLS senior Carly Steinauer will be presenting her paper, “The Diverse ‘We’: Social Capital at the University of St. Thomas,” at the Midwest Political Science Undergraduate Research Conference at Gustavus Adolphus College in April.  Carly first wrote this paper for Dr. High-Pippert’s POLS 301:  Political Identity and Participation in the fall of 2016. 


I have been working with Dr. Hoffman on a project that examines the dynamics of oppositional activity associated with the rapid increase in Canadian-sourced tar sands crude oil. One outcome of this research is a series of network “visualizations” that demonstrate the variety of interactions amongst 256 organizations participating in 18 collaborative activities. The visualizations have been created using Gephi network analysis software. 

Joe Janochoski-polysci

My poster presentation was based on a paper written for Dr. High-Pippert's American Political Behavior class. We conducted focus groups made up of UST students and our research questions asked how social media, friends, and the University impacted the political socialization of UST students during the 2012 election. We found that friends can widen the perspectives of students but don't usually change their views. With social media, students overall had negative experiences and said mixing politics and social media was 'dehumanizing'. 

Lizzy Schmitt polysci

I presented research from POLS 301: American Political Behavior with Dr. High-Pippert. Our class conducted focus groups with UST students on how their friends, social media, and the university act as agents of political socialization. Our biggest finding? Even the generation that posts virtually everything on social media thinks politics and Facebook don't mix.

Alex Kopel Polysci

India is the world’s largest democracy and one of the most successful in the developing world, but historically, democracy promotion has not been a prominent feature of its foreign policy. My study examined India’s colonial history and government structure, the writings and speeches of influential leaders, other scholars’ arguments concerning India’s democracy promotion, and recent multilateral treaties signed by India.

Erin Statz PolySci

I presented the results of research conducted by Dr. Renee Buhr and myself on gender stereotyping in the field of International Relations. We found that the “male” dominated subfields have plenty of women while the “female” dominated subfield have quite a few men.  The research also considered the responses of nearly 200 students to a recently administered survey.