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College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Department of Political Science

Dr. Masket speaks to foreign press about the Debate

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Aurora Mayor Steve Hogan visited campus with AHSS Distinguished Alumni Speaker Series October 18

Steve Hogan

Alumnus Steve Hogan (political science '70) spent Thursday, Oct. 18, 2012, on campus speaking with students about his varied political experiences.

Hogan talked to two political science classes and met with political science faculty as well as with AHSS Dean, Anne McCall. We are honored that Hogan spent the day with us!

Recent Grad, Andrew Struttmann, Selected for Henry Clay Statesmanship Conference

Andrew Struttmann

Political science faculty selected Andrew Struttmann to attend this year's Henry Clay Statesmanship Conference in Lexington, Ky.

The program gives 51 graduating seniors a chance to learn more about diplomacy and political negotiation. Read more on DU Today .

Professor Sun Writes on Japan's Shrinking Regional Influence

Charm Rivals

Take a look at Professor Sun's recent article in The Diplomat on the shifting power dynamics among ASEAN countries.

Read his new book, Japan and China as Charm Rivals: Soft Power in Regional Diplomacy , for his analysis of China and Japan's contest for regional allegiance.

Intersection of Faith and Race Discussed in New Book

Faith and Race in American Political Life

Professor Wadsworth's new edited volume, Faith and Race in American Political Life , co-edited with Robin Dale Jacobson, is now available from University of Virginia Press.

The book sheds light on the interwoven impact of religion and race on various dimensions of politics through explorations of political figures, diverse religious and racial groups, organizations, and individuals' life experiences.

Susan Sterett at NSF

Susan Sterett

Congratulations to Professor Susan Sterett on accepting a two-year assignment as a program officer for the National Science Foundation (NSF) in Arlington, Va.!

Hanson on Health care Hearing

Peter Hanson

Peter Hanson discussed the health care hearing on CBS 4 Denver in March 2012.

Undergraduate Honors Thesis Published

Political science graduate Jonathan Kim (BA '10) published his honors thesis, "The Political Price of Economic Security: Breaking the Financial Oligarchy," in The Orator, the student journal of the University of Washington.

Read Kim's honors thesis (PDF).


Professor Looks Forward to Being a Student in Summer 2012
Nancy Wadsworth

Political science Assistant Professor Nancy Wadsworth has studied the intersections of religion, culture and race, and recently has become familiar with the work of Hent de Vries, an expert on the topic of political theologies. In summer 2012, Wadsworth will have the opportunity to study directly from de Vries as a participant in the Cornell University School of Criticism and Theory Program, held June 17-July 27, 2012.

AHSS faculty members are among the best trained artists and scholars in the nation, often looked to as experts in their fields of study. The summer months offer many the opportunities to step away from the front of the classroom and continue their lifelong passion for learning as students. Wadsworth is being sponsored by the AHSS dean’s office to attend the School of Criticism and Theory program based on her application, which cited her interest in attending a de Vries seminar. She will receive an AHSS grant to cover full tuition as well as partial housing and transportation costs.

"Nancy wrote a very complete and compelling application to attend this program, and her timing vis a vis her research was perfect. I am thrilled that AHSS can support Nancy with her research goals through this experience and wish her the very best," said Eleanor McNees, AHSS associate dean.

Wadsworth, whose primary areas of concentration are race, religion, political thought, American political culture, and reconciliation politics, is looking forward to "studying with a scholar whose work intersects with a number of my own interests," she said.

"Hent de Vries is a master scholar on the way religious frameworks think about politics, and vice versa," she added. “He also does work on the topic of forgiveness in political and social life, which has been a recent area of interest for me. His seminar should bring these interests together and should be very stimulating!"

According to its website, the School of Criticism and Theory (SCT) is devoted to intensive intellectual inquiry and the vigorous exchange of ideas. Every summer, SCT assembles a faculty consisting of some of the most influential and original thinkers in the humanities and social sciences, resulting in multi-layered dialogue among both faculty and participants.

"I hope to come away feeling intellectually re-stimulated and armed with some ideas for new directions in my scholarship, particularly in the area of religion and social change, or perhaps forgiveness in political contexts," said Wadsworth. "I think I’m most looking forward to the chance to being a student for six weeks, just reading, learning and participating in discussion without having to be 'in charge'."

Wadsworth has a PhD from the New School for Social Research in New York, N.Y., and has taught at DU since 2004. Her undergraduate courses include American Political Thought, which this year was set in the context of the questions recently raised by the Occupy Wall Street and Tea Party movements, and Forgiveness, Politics, and Film, "a personally transformative course in which students really get to think about conflict, in and beyond their own lives, in new ways," she said.

Outside of the classroom, Wadsworth is finishing a solo-authored book, Ambivalent Miracles: Evangelicals and the Politics of Racial Healing (University of Virginia Press, Forthcoming), and is co-editor of Faith and Race in American Political Life (University of Virginia Press 2012) with political scientist Robin Jacobson of Bucknell University.

Wadsworth has been interviewed by the Associated Press and CNN for stories related to the 2012 presidential election.

AHSS Alumna Traces her Path to the White House

Melanie Harmon, (BA, political science and public policy, '06) has accomplished more in her career thus far than most people accomplish in a lifetime. Harmon worked as a senior speechwriter under President George W. Bush and most recently as a speechwriter for the director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Washington, D.C.

Harmon’s professional successes are even more impressive because she got a late start in the political world. She worked as a professional figure skater in Denver until she was 22 years old. Harmon knew she didn’t want to spend her entire life at an ice rink but wasn’t sure what other professional direction to take. But, she felt that politics had been in her blood since her days as a young entrepreneur.

Sept. 11, 2001, had a profound effect on Harmon, as it did on most Americans. It was a life-changing event to witness, and she decided then and there to pursue a career in politics. Family and friends told her to attend community college, but as a naturally competitive person, Harmon wanted to attend the best school she could. To her, DU was the best.

"t was the only college I applied to," said Harmon. "The day I received my acceptance letter, I knew my life was only going to get better."

Harmon worked hard to get through her years at DU, including working full time as a skating coach while taking classes and completing many internships. She believes that DU helped her to become a strong and confident professional with a hard work ethic and a sense of responsibility.

Harmon's favorite memory of DU was graduation, which represented the culmination of all her hard work not only at DU, but also everything leading up to her acceptance. She remembers walking down the tunnel and looking up to see DU's 50th reunion class clapping for the graduates. One man had tears streaming down his face. Harmon believed he was rooting for her, even though he didn’t know her personally. Especially in light of her family not being supportive of her decision to attend DU originally, graduation symbolized the pay off of the personal investment she had made in herself.

Harmon's most shining career moment was getting the call from the White House, offering her a position. She had originally interviewed to be an entry-level junior speechwriter, but they were so impressed during her interview that they hired her as a senior speechwriter.

"After that call, I was jumping up and down like a kid!" she said.

She recently moved back to Denver after living in D.C. for six years. Though she's enjoying the break from the intensity of D.C. and loves spending time with her family, she knows she’ll head back to the nation's capital one day.

Like many in the DU community, Harmon is very excited that the first presidential debate will be held on campus this year. She tells as many people as she can about her wonderful experiences at DU.

"My DU education has been a major force in my life," she said. "The debate will be more than just good publicity for the University. It's a chance for us to show that we have a serious, top-notch school and that we care about the community."

Visit to learn more about Harmon's services and expertise.

1945 Alumna Shows the Lifelong Benefits of Being an AHSS Alum
Dorothy Banks Lagger

Dorothy Banks Lagger (political science '45) is a familiar face around DU’s campus. She is one of AHSS' most active alums, even at the age of 88.

"I graduated well before any of you were born!" Lagger teases.

After graduating from DU at the conclusion of World War II, Lagger taught for 30 years at the Emily Griffith Opportunity School, where she was awarded Teacher of the Year in 1976. She credits her background in social sciences—plus an elementary teaching certificate—for making her eligible to teach nearly all secondary subjects.

The school is the academic and vocational arm of Denver Public Schools for adults of all ages, and Lagger says the goal for most of her students was to earn a GED. As she helped do so, Lagger, too, was pursuing more education; she earned her master’s of education in 1964 and a doctor of education seven years later from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

Lagger transferred to DU from CU Boulder to be close to her mother and sister after her father died in 1942. Her grades at CU were very high, so she had no trouble transferring her existing credits to DU. She remembers admiring her older brother’s scholastic abilities, and became a political science major, just like him.

Lagger studied with Professor Joseph Pollard, her primary professor at DU, who encouraged critical thinking skills and discussion. She was tapped by Mortar Board, Phi Beta Kappa and the social science honorary. Plus, she arranged her busy schedule such that she attended class in the morning and worked at The Denver Post in the afternoon.

"I was paid $17 a week for my job at the time," she says. "It seemed like a fortune, and I saved enough to pay my DU tuition."

Today, Lagger proudly attends every DU event that she can, including the annual AHSS Graduation Breakfast and the Emeritus Tea. She speaks fondly of the tea, saying it is great fun to swap memories with fellow alums. She also enjoys the ability to speak with current students.

"As I socialize with DU students, I suggest they should be active in DU alumni programs," says Lagger. "I hope they cherish the opportunity to attend these events."

Lagger is a mother of three, a grandmother of three and a great-grandmother of three. Her eldest daughter also graduated from DU. Lagger still lives near campus and is able to walk to many events on campus, which she says keep her young. She also sings in the nearby University Park United Methodist Church Chancel Choir.

"It's an honor to count Dorothy as an alumna of AHSS," said Anne McCall, AHSS dean. "She is smart, curious, open to the fullness of the world and eager to serve. Every time I run into Dorothy, I come away joyful and filled with a strengthened sense of purpose as dean."