Monday, May 22, 2017

Study Tour to Israel

HIST/POLSC 341 Modern Middle East is a multidisciplinary course offered in conjunction with a trip to Israel in 2018. The course features the study of the region as a whole, trying to grasp its historical and political development and current character. Geography, political history, religion, and natural resources all play an important role. The course will emphasize the emergence of the modern state of Israel and its diplomatic, military, and cultural relations with other countries in the region. Students enrolled in HIS/POLSC 341 (offered spring of even years) or REL 375OLB (offered spring of odd years) will be given priority for the limited seats available on the tour.

The tour features the study of biblical geography; biblical history; the story of Christianity, Judaism and Islam in what is now the modern State of Israel. Students will have the opportunity to spend time at significant biblical sites while studying the relevant texts and concepts. The program also features lectures by prominent Israeli and Palestinian scholars, politicians, religious, and business figures followed by times of discussion and Q & A. Students will participate in home visits, dine with an Israeli family, visit a Kibbutz, and engage in conversation with Israeli and Palestinian university students.

Biblical Highlights: Nazareth, Mount of Beatitudes, Sea of Galilee, Jerusalem, City of David, Western Wall, Garden of Gethsemane, The Way of the Cross, Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Dead Sea
Additional Locations: Tel Aviv, Jaffa, Mount Precipice, Aramaic Village, site of the Temple of Pan, Mount Scopus, Israeli Kibbutz, Hezekiah's Tunnel, Site of the Temple Courts, Bethesda Pools, Garden Tomb, Masada, Holocaust Museum, Keenest, Independence Hall, Tel Aviv markets, Caesarea

Approximately $1,057
INCLUDED: Airfare from departure city to Tel Aviv, lodging, all meals (breakfast, lunch and dinner), transportation in-country by charter bus, all exhibit and entrance fees, international health insurance, and tips for tour guide, medic/security guard, and bus driver. Included in the price above, but paid for by participants are round-trip transportation from home to departure city (probably JFK or Newark airport, estimated $300) and Passages fee ($600)
NOT INCLUDED: Expense for passport ($135) and personal expenses (est. $100$200)

The generous financial support and trip coordination are provided by Passages.
February 1
Apply through Abroad Office and complete required AU paperwork

1 $600 Non-refundable deposit due with Passages on-line application
1. Create an account on Abroad Office
2. On the left, choose 2018 AU Programs, then Israel Study Tour page. Click Apply to Program and complete application information.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

New Eagle Emerges with Spring

A new eagle has emerged fully grown from the ground, or rather, from the tree stump at the pedestrian entrance to AU on College Ave.  Thanks to the person who thought of this; what a wonderful idea!

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Two Week Tour of the Eastern Front in WWII

The Battle of Stalingrad

Dr. John Moser is leading a 14 day tour of the Russian Front in WWII next spring, in conjunction with his course HIST 364: World War II (you do not need to take the course in order to go on the trip, or vice versa). This trip will focus on the Eastern Front, so there will be visits to St. Petersburg, Moscow, Minsk, Poland, Germany, and more.

An information meeting is scheduled for next Thursday, April 20, at 4:30 pm in Andrews 102. Dr. Moser says "this is going to be an incredible event, and I hope you will join us."

Thursday, April 6, 2017

History and Political Science Students Participate in URCA Symposium

Each year, the Ashland University College of Arts and Sciences hosts the Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity (URCA) Symposium.  According to Dr. Dawn Weber, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, the Symposium, provides students the opportunity to "present original research, perform theatrical and musical selections, read original creative writing, and exhibit their artwork." 

The following students studying in the History & Political Science Department will be presenting at the 2017 URCA Symposium on Tuesday, April 11:

Joey Barretta: 
Was Martin Luther King Jr. the Frederick Douglass of the Twentieth-Century;
Liberal Education in a STEM World

Kayla Gowdy: 
How Marco Rubio Won in 2010 and Its Relevance to Future Elections

Delaney Jones: 
The Survival and Maintenance of Minority Languages in Spain

Bryanna Austin: 
The Need for Criminal Justice Reform in Ohio

Mykenna Schlorb: 
Civilized Society in Agatha Christie’s Poirot

For a full list of presentations, abstracts, and the Symposium schedule, check out the URCA blog.

All presentations are free and open to the public. 

Monday, March 27, 2017

Ohio Senate President on Ohio's Drug Epidemic

Larry Obhof, President of the Ohio Senate, will discuss Ohio's Drug Epidemic and how the state government is responding to it on Thursday, March 30th at 6:30 PM in the Student Center Auditorium.

This event is free and open to the public. Food and Drinks will be provided.

Sponsored by College Republicans, the History and Political Science Department, Young Americans for Liberty, the Pre-law Society, and the Criminal Justice Club.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

College Republicans Hold Event on State and Local Government

The Ashland University College Republicans are hosting a series of events on the importance of state and local governments at a time when the focus is on the Presidency. The first speaker will be Matt Miller, a former Political Science major and Ashbrook Scholar who has held several offices in county government and is now running for mayor of Ashland. He will speak on the importance of local government on Thursday, March 16th from 7:00-8:00 pm in the Student Center Auditorium. Light refreshments will be provided. The event is free and open to the public.

Friday, February 24, 2017

Joey Barretta to Intern at ACTA

Congratulations to senior Joey Barretta, who will be interning this summer at the American Council of Trustees and Alumni in Washington D.C. His primary job will be to assist with the "What Will They Learn?" project, which evaluates the core curricula at universities throughout the country and provides a grade based on meeting certain requirements for a well-rounded liberal arts education.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Model Arab League Overall Outstanding Delegation

Ashland's Dr. Rene Paddags led a group of students to the Model Arab League competition at Miami University of Ohio this past weekend, and the students, representing the Republic of Tunisia, returned with the award for the Overall Outstanding Delegation!  Congratulations to Jackson Yenor, Rick Platt, Josh Frey, Sophia Leddy, Bri Sargent, Katie Fossaceca, Amanda Lyon, Joey Barretta, Nick Thielman, Naomi Simms, Rene Paddags, and Tyler MacQueen.

Billionaire Predicts Liberal Arts-Driven Future

If making and having a lot of money qualifies you to prognosticate the future, liberal arts graduates have much to look forward to.  Billionaire Mark Cuban predicts that in ten years there will be much greater demand for liberal arts graduates than for programmers and maybe even engineers, because they are the ones "with true analysis skills and creativity."  The story and interview here on Inside Higher Ed.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Debate on Future of Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

Wednesday, February 15
6:00 pm
Ronk Lecture Hall | Schar College of Education

The Alexander Hamilton Society invites you to a debate on the future of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict which hosts Dr. John Quigley, Professor at the Moritz College of Law, Ohio State University and Dr. Michael Singh, Senior Fellow and Managing Director at The Washington Institute.  According to Jackson Yenor, junior history major and president of the Society, "the guests represent each side of the issue and will provide new and interesting insight into the [Israeli-Palestinian Conflict]."

This event is free and open to the public. Pizza and drinks will be provided.

Ashland Ranks 4th in Nation on the AHS LeaderBoard

The Ashland chapter of the Alexander Hamilton Society deserve congratulations for ranking fourth nationally on the AHS Chapter Leaderboard.  The AU chapter ranks behind (just behind) OSU, George Washington University, and Columbia University in the rankings for 2015-2016. Congratulations to The Ashland chapter and its officers: Jackson Yenor, President, Nicholas Slinger, VP of the Treasury, Jessica Frichtel, VP of Public Relations, and Delaney Jones, Secretary. The AHS is "an independent, non-partisan, not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting constructive debate on basic principles and contemporary issues in foreign, economic, and national security policy."

And by the way, the next meeting of the AHS is this Wednesday, February 15 at 6pm in the Ronk Lecture Hall at Ashland University. Dr. John Quigley of Ohio State Law School and Dr. Michael Singh of the Washington Institute will be debating the future of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict. This event is free and open to the public; and if that isn't enough, pizza and drinks will be provided at the event as well.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Dr. Emily Hess and Students at the State House

Dr. Hess spent the morning of February 8 representing the Department and Ashland University at the State House in Columbus for 2017 Independent College Day.  The photo shows her with Joey Barretta, Daivon Barrow, and Logan Alexander (all Ashland University students and two of whom are History and Political Science majors).   The students met with Statehouse Aides, Lobbyists, State Elected Officials, and Legislative Services Commission Fellows.  Of the people they met with two were AU alumni (September Long and Jenna Beadle).

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Dr. David Foster Promoted to Full Professor

Dr. David Foster has been promoted to the rank of full professor here at Ashland University.

Dr. Foster, who joined AU in 1998, chairs the Department of History and Political Science. He teaches undergraduate courses in political philosophy and graduate courses on Alexis de Tocqueville, the political thought of Mark Twain and the Federalist Papers in the Masters of American History and Government program. He has published on John Locke, liberal education, Plato and Mark Twain.

He has a Bachelor of Arts degree from McMaster University and a Master of Arts and a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Toronto.

Congratulations, Dr. Foster!

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

More Good Reasons to Read Real Books

In "Are the Great Books Still Alive," an article that is mainly about how economists don't read Adam Smith, author Josh Rogers makes several good points about why reading such books is valuable.  Here are a couple: 
“It’s like saying I wish more people read the whole Iliad or the whole Odyssey,” he said. “That would be a good thing, but I wouldn’t count on it. It’s not likely. It’s hard — he’s slow going.” 
That’s how a few experts responded when asked about reading original works. N. Gregory Mankiw, chairman of economics at Harvard and chairman of the President’s Council of Economic Advisers from 2003 to 2005, noted that Smith is the subject of one of the first lectures in freshman economics — but his full works aren’t required reading.
“Maybe you can learn geometry from the original Euclid,” he says. “But it would be a lot more challenging and a lot more demanding.”
Well, I read Euclid — along with The Wealth of Nations, the Federalist Papers and many others — in college. Relearning geometry from Euclid’s Elements taught me about logic and creative thinking. Even more importantly, it taught me to start any search for a new idea by looking for the first principles and then working forward from there. 
I learned how to think by reading the great books, boldly. It has led to financial success for me. And I’m not alone.

In a videotaped interview in 2012, billionaire inventor Elon Musk, founder of PayPal, Tesla Motors and SpaceX, said a passion for original ideas was a secret to his success. Musk argued that it is essential to base one’s thoughts not on what he called “analogy” — trying to invent something new by borrowing somebody else’s ideas — but rather on “first principles.” “Boil things down to the most fundamental truths and say, ‘OK, what are we sure is true?’” he explained. Doing so, he said, provides far greater opportunity for true innovation, even if it “takes a lot more mental energy.”
And then there is this nice point: 
Elected officials or corporate leaders taking the time to read Smith, Keynes, etc., might be too much to hope for. But the argument for not requiring more core texts in college seems to imply that there is not enough time for students to read the most creative, imaginative, and disruptive ideas in the history of the world. Meanwhile, the most common and loudest complaints about our educational system are that we are not turning out students who are creative, imaginative, critical-thinking problem solvers.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Undergraduate Political Science Conference

If you are writing a senior thesis or just have an essay that you'd like to get some feedback on, you should think about presenting it at the 14th annual All Politics is Local Conference for undergraduate students.  The conference is scheduled for Saturday, April 22, 2017 at Walsh University in North Canton, Ohio.  The conference runs from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. with registration beginning at 7:30 a.m. 

This is an opportunity for students to present one of their papers or posters in any area of our discipline.  You will also have the opportunity to attend sessions on “What to Expect in Graduate School” and “What to Expect in Law School.”   

Registration for those presenting papers is due by April 7, 2017.  The organizers encourage registration as soon as possible so that they may begin forming panels.  Papers are due by April 13.  

Information and electronic registration is available at:

Some unusual things about this conference: lodging will be provided free the night before, April 22, for students who need it.  Lunch and a continental breakfast will be provided.  There is no fee for this conference.  Students do not have to present a paper or poster to attend.

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Koop Berry at (330) 490-7058 or at

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Professor Sikkenga Shares Expert Insight on Supreme Court Justice Nomination

Dr. Jeff Sikkenga, AU Political Science Professor and Co-Director of the Ashbrook Scholar Program, was featured last night on Cincinnati's News Radio 700WLW Rocky Boiman Radio Show.  During the show, Dr. Sikkenga offered expert insight and comments on the nomination of Neil Gorsuch as the next Supreme Court Justice.
A podcast of the interview can be found here.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Emily Hess Produces Quiz for Martin Luther King Jr. Day

A number of media, including Newsweek, ran an op-ed that featured a Martin Luther King Day quiz by Emily Hess, visiting assistant professor of history and academic adviser for the Ashbrook Center's Master of Arts in American History and Government program. 
The quiz provided an opportunity for people to test their knowledge of Dr. King and the modern Civil Rights Movement as the nation observed Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Jan. 16.
Some of the media that published the quiz were:

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Study Abroad in Chile

Sophia Leddy (a double major in International Political Studies and Spanish) studied in Chile in the fall semester.  Here's what she says about the experience: 

It is strange to blog about something so important in my native tongue after I had been blogging about it in another language entirely. There is something about being in a foreign country and speaking its foreign tongue that makes that tongue, that culture a part of you. It is in the sharing food and a living space with other people that you can appreciate structure in life while at the same time appreciating the spontaneousness of going out for pizza or drinks. It’s a strange dichotomy that makes perfect sense to those who’ve traveled.

 And so I have returned from Chile, that foreign land, with a new perspective and a heart longing for the friends I made and the mountains I used to guide me every day for over 3 months. In an effort to keep things brief, I am happy, much more so than when I left. The old philosopher talks about happiness, and I have to wonder if he had been able to travel. A philosopher, which is what university-educated students should strive to become on some level, has to have time to contemplate and space to learn. I found time sitting in my room alone or having tea with my host family. I found a space when wandering a foreign city alone, then meeting strangers and striking up a conversation over lunch. I thought hard and often about human nature and about this completely different, new people I had encountered. I’ve realized that all humans are the same at a deeper level. They seek to be happy, healthy, and to be a part of something great (with the definition varying between people of those words). 

My adventures have not ended, nor will they anytime soon. But now, after learning a new language and way of thinking about everything, I have taken Chile in my soul. Chau, amor del alma y del corazón.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

What About Money?

Almost everyone involved in liberal education these days is concerned about this big question: will you get a decent job if your college major is in a liberal arts discipline?  A study by Richard A. Detweiler reported on in Inside Higher Ed answers the question about money this way:
He (Detweiler) noted that his research does back the common belief that liberal arts graduates earn less than others, but only for the first few years after graduation.
He said that his study shows a high relationship between a broad undergraduate education and financial success. Those who take more than half of their course work in subjects unrelated to their majors (a characteristics of liberal arts colleges but not professionally oriented colleges) are 31 to 72 percent more likely than others to have higher-level positions and to be earning more than $100,000 than are others
Detweiler said that his study not only suggests that the liberal arts college experience prepares students for a life well lived, but for a life of financial success.
Why this is true may be revealed in some of the other findings of the study, like these:
  • Graduates who reported that in college they talked with faculty members about nonacademic and academic subjects outside class were 25 to 45 percent more likely (depending on other factors) to have become leaders in their localities or professions. Those who reported discussions on issues such as peace, justice and human rights with fellow students outside class were 27 to 52 percent more likely to become leaders.
  • Graduates who reported that students took a large role in class discussions were 27 to 38 percent more likely to report characteristics of lifelong learners than others were. Students who reported most of their classwork was professionally oriented were less likely to become lifelong learners.
  • Graduates who reported that as students they discussed philosophical or ethical issues in many classes, and who took many classes in the humanities, were 25 to 60 percent more likely than others to have characteristics of altruists (volunteer involvement, giving to nonprofit groups, etc.).
  • Graduates who reported that as students most professors knew their first names, and that they talked regularly with faculty members about academic subjects outside class, were 32 to 90 percent more likely to report that they felt personally fulfilled in their lives. Those who reported that professors encouraged them to examine the strengths and weaknesses of one's views, and whose course work emphasized questions on which there is not necessarily a correct answer, were 25 to 40 percent more likely to report that they felt personally fulfilled.
It is probable that students who participate a lot in class or talk with their professors outside of class are the type of people who are likely to be leaders and active in their communities, but one lesson of this study for students is get engaged in discussion, especially about difficult ethical issues, both in and outside of class, and talk with your professors. 

Monday, January 9, 2017

What Elements of College Most Prompt Student Learning?

In a critical review of the current focus on SLOs (Student Learning Outcomes) as a means to measure how much students learn, Robert Shireman makes these nice points about what it is that is most effective in engaging students in university level learning:
The supportive environment (including the social, psychological, and financial elements that will be addressed by other reports in this series), however, is not enough to keep students hanging around. Studying, prompted by quality teaching, is critical. In research involving tens of thousands of students and accounting for dozens of other possible explanatory factors, including pre-college academic preparation and socioeconomic status, professor of education Alexander Astin and his team found that “the most basic form of academic involvement—studying and doing homework—has stronger and more widespread positive effects [on student outcomes] than almost any other involvement measure or environmental measure.”33 Of the fifty-seven student activities that Astin measured, the ones most associated with increased graduation revolved around the in-class experience: homework, going to class, working on an independent research project, giving class presentations, interacting with faculty, and taking essay exams (but not multiple-choice tests).
 The other activities in Astin’s research that correlated with graduation were ones that connect students more to their peers and to the college: participation in internship programs, in volunteer work, or in intramural sports. Working on campus (part time) was a positive, but working off campus (full or part time) acted as a negative. (Astin’s findings regarding alcohol consumption were interesting. More drinking was associated with higher rates of graduation, perhaps because alcohol plays a role in reducing social inhibitions and helping students to feel a part of a community. But alcohol consumption was also associated with lower grades, pointing to the ongoing campus challenge of tolerating some drinking, but not too much.)
See the full report, "The Real Value of What Students Do in College" at the Century Foundation website.