2016 David Easton Lecture and Memorial Mini-Conference: Diversity, Marginalization and Inclusion: The Future of Political Science

Letter from UCI Ethics Center director and political science Chancellor’s Professor Kristen Renwick Monroe about the conference:

How does the very nature of a scholarly discipline – what we study -- relate to how we define ourselves and the issues of diversity, marginality, and inclusion in our profession? This question served as the driving force behind this mini-conference – the first of two to be held at the University of California, Irvine – and several APSA panels sponsored jointly by the various status committees of the APSA and the Women’s Caucus for Political Science. Further impetus comes from a variety of influences. At the 2014 APSA panel, Rodney Hero noted that he is the first APSA president to attend a junior college. Matthew Holden quoted a prominent Americanist saying he now realizes race is an important factor in American politics. The shock and outrage was evident as Holden’s strong voice boomed out: "Where the hell has he been the last 50 years?"  A recent symposium in Gender and Politics, organized by Denise Walsh and Carol Mershon, suggested how existing inclusion policies amount to little more than tokenism insofar as these policies bring in women who do what the boys do and ignores the substantive masculinization of American political science. Comments from members of the WCPS – led by Joanna Scott, former APSA Vice-President and member, along with Rodney Hero, of the Nominating  Committee who shattered the glass ceiling in the APSA by choosing two women presidents in a row; Joanna would have participated in this conference had she not been cruelly taken from us in the fall of 2015 by complications of cancer -- bemoaned the fact that APSA’s rewarding offices to members at the elite institutions ignores the needs/input of the many members of the non-Research 1 institutions, especially the non-academics, part-timers, and those at teaching colleges.  

All of these influences were in the back of my mind as I read through interviews with David Easton about his term as president, when the APSA nearly splintered, as did other professional organizations in the late 1960s, over issues of inclusion and what topics were appropriate for studying. It was Easton who established many of the status committees, and in doing so kept the APSA from rupturing. Easton established the first status committees, thus giving legitimacy and voice to marginalized groups, asking to be included.

Knowing further of Dave’s love of political science as a field, and his lesser known mischievous bent toward stirring up the kind of trouble that makes people think, and think outside the box, I thought it appropriate to focus UCI’s intellectual memorial to David Easton in the form of a mini-conference to honor David; instead of merely celebrating David’s life and work, however, we will honor David by doing what he loved best: moving forward to discuss important issues concerning the future of political science as a discipline and, in particular, how the nature of our academic work reflects how we define who is a valued scholar. I intend this mini-conference to serve as a clarion call to political scientists to think about  how we conceptualize the discipline and how that conceptualization relates to the people we include in the discipline as our leaders, representatives, etc. This is an important issue for women, for LGBTs, for ethnic and racial groups but also for those political scientists not doing traditional work, either because they are too creative or oddball or marginalized for whatever reason, such as the 1/3 of the people receiving doctorates in political science who do not work at teaching institutions or research 1 institutions. David Easton would have liked us all to engage. David would have liked to have these marginalized people brought in, and he would have loved the political kerfuffle that the ensuing discussion would bring. He also would have disliked the elitism of the discipline. By structuring our discussion in broader terms, and honoring Easton’s restless mind, always asking what new problems the discipline needs to confront as we nonetheless continue to think about what remains the discipline’s central core, I hope to take this issue away from one of pressure politics – “Give more to MY group!” – and put it where it should be located, in a desire to think deeply about the nature of the discipline we love. I hope the conference will help us ask how we can best enrich our discipline by drawing on all the available talent and keeping our work relevant for all those who care about politics and equality, and about political science, both as a substantive field of intellectual research and as a profession.

We welcome all members of the academic community and invite the public to attend this mini-conference. Please contact Marilu Daum at daumm@uci.edu for directions and to rsvp if you wish to attend the luncheon.

-Kristen Renwick Monroe

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SCHEDULE

9:00 a.m.
Opening remarks and welcome. Kristen Renwick Monroe, UCI

9:30 a.m.
David Lake. UCSD. “White Man’s IR: An Intellectual Confession.” Discussant: Carrie Reiling, UCI  

10:30 a.m.
Laurel Weldon, Purdue. “The Politics of Institutional Transformation: Why and How We Should Transform Political Science to Make it More Diverse and Inclusive.”  Discussant: Sara Wallace Goodman. UCI

11:30 a.m.
Denise Walsh and Carol Mershon, University of Virgina. “Action Plans to Advance Diverse Leadership and Redress Discrimination in Political Science.”  Discussant:  Heidi Hardt, UCI

12:30 p.m.
Lunch

1:30 p.m.
Jane Mansbridge, Harvard, via Skype. “Why Good Political Science Needs Diversity and Why Sometimes We Need to Wait for the Opportune Moment.” Discussant: Simone Chambers, UCI

2:30 p.m.
Matthew Holden, Emeritus, University of Illinois at Springfield, via Skype. Discussant: Louis DeSipio  UCI

3:30 p.m.
Rodney Hero, UC Berkeley. “Diversity in Political Science: Dilemmas and Developments.” Discussant: Kamal Sadiq, UCI

4:30 p.m.
Dianne Pinderhughes, University of Notre Dame. Discussant: Davin Phoenix, UCI

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