Political science

Political heavyweights Tom Nichols, Sarah Kendzior to speak in October

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Sept. 6, 2017 — Drury University’s Meador Center for Politics & Citizenship kicks off its 2017 speaker series in October with two of the most active voices in America’s online political landscape today, representing views from both the left and the right.

From the left, St. Louis-based writer and journalist Sarah Kendzior will speak at 6 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 3. From the right, political scientist and author Tom Nichols will speak at 6:30 p.m., Monday, Oct. 30. Both events will be held at Lay Hall Auditorium and are open to the public.

The Center’s theme this year is “Politics, Activism, and Voice: A Toolbox for Democracy,” with speakers and events focused on empowering citizens to engage with government and civic life.

“Tom Nichols and Sarah Kendzior both exemplify what it means to be actively engaged in American political life,” says Dr. Daniel Ponder, professor of political science and director of the Meador Center. “They are academic experts in their field, regular commentators on the national stage, and passionate writers who care deeply about the future of our democracy.”

Kendzior is best known for her reporting on St. Louis and coverage of the 2016 presidential election. Her best-selling essay collection, “The View From Flyover Country,” was published in 2015. She is currently an op-ed columnist for the Toronto-based Globe and Mail, and has written for POLITICO, The Guardian, Slate, The Atlantic, The Chicago Tribune, Fast Company, The New York Times, and more. She is a frequent guest on NPR, Al Jazeera, BBC World Service and other outlets, and is a recurring guest on MSNBC’s “AM Joy.” Kendzior holds a Ph.D. in anthropology from Washington University. Her academic research focuses primarily on the authoritarian states of the former Soviet Union and how the Internet affects political mobilization, self-expression, and trust.

Nichols is a professor of national security affairs at the Naval War College in Rhode Island. He is a former Fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., and taught international relations and Russian affairs at Dartmouth College and Georgetown University before joining the War College. He is the author of several works on foreign policy and international security affairs, including “No Use: Nuclear Weapons and U.S. National Security” and “Eve of Destruction: The Coming Age of Preventive War.” His most recent book, “The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why It Matters,” was published this spring. Nichols is also a five-time undefeated “Jeopardy!” champion, and is listed in the show’s Hall of Fame. This week he was named to POLITICO’s annual list of “50 idea blowing up American politics – and the people behind them.”

Both Nichols and Kendzior are extremely actively on Twitter, where they engage issues and their fellow citizens daily. They have nearly 400,000 combined followers. You can follow them at @RadioFreeTom and @sarahkendzior.

More speakers in the 2017 series will be announced throughout the year.


Meador Center invites leading experts to weigh in on “Trump at 100 Days”

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., April 25, 2017 — Drury’s L.E. Meador Center for Politics & Citizenship will bring five leading scholars and observers of American politics to campus Thursday for a panel discussion titled “Trump at 100 Days.” The discussion is the final event of the Meador Center’s “45 Series: Conversations on the 2016 Presidential Election and the New Administration.”

The panel will be held at 5:30 p.m., Thursday, April 27, in the Diversity Center (the former Washington Avenue Church) on Drury Lane. The event is free and open to the public. The panelists will offer some reflections on the progress of the new administration and then engage in conversation.

“This group will bring a variety of viewpoints to the table Thursday,” says Dr. Daniel Ponder, L.E. Meador Chair of Political Science and director of the Meador Center. “Their expertise ranges from party politics to the inner workings of the White House to Congress. We’re living through a somewhat unusual moment with respect to all of those institutions right now, and it’s important for citizens to have a keen grasp of how they’re all interacting with one another as the country moves ahead.”

The five guests have published numerous books, articles, and essays, are considered go-to experts in their field for political analysis. Three of the five have won the American Political Science Association’s (APSA) Neustadt Prize honoring the best book on the presidency, and several write for national blogs.

The panelists include:

azariJulia Azari, associate professor of political science at Marquette University. Azari is the author of the 2014 book “Delivering the People’s Message: The Changing Politics of the Presidential Mandate” and is a regular contributor at the political science blog The Mischiefs of Faction, as well as at Vox.com and FiveThirtyEight.com. Her work has also appeared in the Washington Post’s Monkey Cage blog and in Politico.



hultKaren M. Hult, chair of the department of political science at Virginia Tech University. Recognized as one of the foremost experts on the inner workings of the White House, Hult is co-author (with Charles Walcott, another panelist) of “Governing the White House: From Hoover Through LBJ,” which won the 1996 Neustadt Prize honoring the best book on the presidency.



leeFrances E. Lee, professor of government at the University of Maryland. Lee is widely considered one of the leading experts on congressional politics and has received numerous accolades and honors in the field, including the American Political Science Association’s Richard F. Fenno Award for the best book on legislative politics in 2009. She has been a Fellow at the Brookings Institution and served as a Congressional Fellow.



rudalevigeAndrew Rudalevige, professor of government at Bowdoin College in Maine. Rudalevige has published numerous articles, essays, and book chapters, and has contributed to the Monkey Cage blog. His book “Managing the President’s Program: Presidential Leadership and Legislative Policy Formulation” won the 2003 Neustadt Prize. His most recent book is “The New Imperial Presidency: Renewing Presidential Power after Watergate” and he is currently engaged in a large-scale study of unilateral powers in the presidency.



walcottCharles E. Walcott, professor emeritus at Virginia Tech. Walcott has won several teaching and research awards, including the Neustadt Prize. His research and writings have been published in a variety of outlets including the American Journal of Political Science, Presidential Studies Quarterly, and elsewhere. He has served as President of the Presidency and Executive Politics organized section of APSA, and was co-editor of the journal Congress and the Presidency.



The Meador Center panel event is also part of CHASS Week, celebrating Drury’s College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. For more information about the week, visit the CHASS page at Drury.edu.


Events explore lessons from WWII-era Japanese-American internment camps

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., January 31, 2017 — A multi-disciplinary series of events and performances at Drury University will tell the story of the internment camps set up by the U.S. government to hold Japanese-Americans during World War II. The camps were result of President Franklin Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066 signed in the weeks after the Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor.



“Life Interrupted: Art for Social Change” is a project that brings together the arts, humanities, history and political science departments at Drury, along with the greater Springfield community and the CORE Performance Company, to hear about the camps and ask what we can learn from the experience.

How have these same issues of civil rights violations, racial profiling, discrimination, immigration and xenophobia shifted, changed, or stayed the same? How do we ensure the safety of our country without discriminating against ethnic and religious minorities?

“It’s 75 years past and we’re still grappling with the same issues – fear of people we don’t know, fear of people who look different from us,” says Nancy Chikaraishi, a Drury architecture professor whose parents and grandparents were forced into the camps, and who is the lead organizer for the series of “Life Interrupted” events at Drury.

MORE: Read an interview with Chikaraishi about her personal connection to the internment camps and how she became involved in the “Life Interrupted” project.

The events begin on Thursday with a roundtable discussion with community leaders, followed by a dance workshop and art installation on Friday and a performance on Saturday of “Life Interrupted” by CORE, which is based in Atlanta and Houston. A final panel discussion on the nature of architecture and power will be held next week.

Full list of events:

Thursday, Feb. 2, 6 p.m. – Roundtable discussion with local community leaders led by Drury political science professors Dr. Daniel Ponder and Dr. Jeff Vandenberg, with representatives from the Islamic Society of Joplin, NAACP, Temple Israel, and PROMO. Location: Reed Auditorium, Trustee Science Center on the Drury campus.

Friday Feb. 3, 3-4:30 p.m. – Dance workshop and story circle with the CORE Performance Company. Participants will be guided through the story circle process, sharing personal stories related to the themes investigated in “Life Interrupted.” No previous dance experience is required. Participants are encouraged to wear clothing that will not inhibit moving freely. Location: Drury on C-Street Gallery, 233 E. Commercial Street.

Friday, Feb. 3, 5-8 p.m. – Interactive art installation & exhibition opening led by Nancy Chikaraishi and Drury students (following the dance workshop and story circle). Location: Drury on C-Street Gallery, 233 E. Commercial Street.

Saturday, Feb. 4, 7:30 p.m. – “Life Interrupted” dance theatrical performance by the CORE Performance Company. Reserve tickets for free online. Location: Wilhoit Theater, Breech School of Business, corner of Central Street and Drury Lane.

Tuesday, Feb. 7, 6-7:30 p.m. – Panel Discussion on Architecture & Power, led by Drury architecture professors Dr. Robert Weddle, Dr. Panos Leventis and Nancy Chikaraishi. Location: Drury on C-Street Gallery, 233 E. Commercial Street.

This project is supported in part by awards from the Mid-America Arts Alliance, National Endowment for the Arts, Missouri Arts Council, and foundations, corporations and individuals throughout Arkansas, Missouri, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Texas, Springfield Regional Arts Council and Community Foundation of the Ozarks, DoubleTree by Hilton, Nelson and Kelley Still Nichols, Colorgraphic Printing, Drury University, Drury University’s Hammons School of Architecture and the L.E. Meador Center for Politics and Citizenship.


Media Contact: Nancy Chikaraishi, Professor of Architecture: (417) 873-7459 or nchikaraishi@drury.edu.

Carl Bernstein & P.J. O’Rourke to speak at Drury University in September

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., June 16, 2016 — Drury University’s L.E. Meador Center for Politics & Citizenship will bring two of the most renowned political writers of the past 50 years to campus this fall for an insightful and thought-provoking look at Washington and the state of national politics.

Carl Bernstein and P.J. O’Rourke will appear together at 7 p.m., Monday, Sept. 12 at Clara Thompson Hall. Their program, “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the White House,” is the first event of the Meador Center’s 2016-17 theme “45” – an examination of the 2016 presidential election and the administration of the 45th President of the United States.

The event is free and open to the public.

P.J. O'Rourke (left) and Carl Bernstein

P.J. O’Rourke (left) and Carl Bernstein

O’Rourke, a conservative, is a research fellow at the libertarian-leaning Cato Institute, and is a widely recognized political commentator. He is the author of 20 books, and has written for Rolling Stone, The Atlantic Monthly, and The Weekly Standard. He is currently a weekly columnist for The Daily Beast. Bernstein, a liberal, pursued and broke the Watergate story along with fellow reporter Bob Woodward, and co-wrote the best-selling book “All the President’s Men,” which was later adapted into a classic film of the same name. He has also written books on subjects such as Pope John Paul II and Hillary Clinton. He has worked for a number of outlets including The Washington Post and CNN.

The evening will include remarks and observations from the two writers on relevant political and economic developments, followed by a moderated discussion and audience Q&A.

“American politics is so polarized today that it is often beyond comprehension that people can have a civil discussion from different sides of the political divide,” says Dr. Dan Ponder, L.E. Meador Endowed Chair of Political Science. “Bernstein and O’Rourke will bring their playful, yet powerful and serious message, to Drury and the community to illuminate points of agreement as well as division.”

About the L.E. Meador Center for Politics & Citizenship

Dr. Lewis Elbern (L.E.) Meador taught political science at Drury College for nearly 50 years beginning in 1913 and was a revered civic leader who played key roles in shaping the Missouri Constitution and Springfield City Charter. Inspiration for the center’s mission comes from the words of Meador himself, who felt his students “should take a constructive and active part in trying to bring about a more democratic and more hopeful world in which future generations can live.” The Center carries out that mission through financial support of student scholarship and an annual speaker series addressing a range of pressing political and civic issues.


Media Contact: Dr. Dan Ponder, L.E. Meador Endowed Chair of Political Science: (417) 873-7394 or deponder@drury.edu.

Meador series guest lecture to focus on race, inequality and politics

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Feb. 29, 2016 — Drury University’s L.E. Meador Center for Politics & Citizenship continues its inaugural speaker series with a lecture at 6 p.m. Thursday by Dr. Rodney Hero, immediate past president of the American Political Science Association. The event will be held at Lay Hall Auditorium and is open to the public.

Hero is the first Latino to hold the top position with the APSA, and his research and teaching focus on American democracy as viewed through the lenses of racial and ethnic politics. In his 35-year career, Hero has taught at Notre Dame and the University of Colorado at Boulder and is now the Haas Chair in Diversity and Democracy at the University of California at Berkeley.

Hero’s lecture, titled “Race, Ethnicity and (In)Equality in American Politics” is part of the Meador Center speaker series “Created Equal: Rights, Liberties, and Citizenship.” The Meador Center was established in the fall of 2015 as a nexus for student pursuits, faculty scholarship, and thought-provoking community programming and events.

“The issues of race, ethnicity, and inequality are always of vital importance in politics, and they are magnified in an election year,” said Dr. Dan Ponder, L.E. Meador Chair of Political Science at Drury. “Professor Hero is the leading expert on these issues, and with Super Tuesday just two days before his lecture, his insights are particularly timely.”

In conjunction with Hero’s visit, a roundtable discussion on the topic “Race & Ethnicity on Campus” will be held at 11 a.m. Friday, March 4 at the Drury Diversity Center; it is also open to the public. Besides Hero, other roundtable participants will include: Lawrence Anderson, manager of diversity and inclusion for Springfield Public Schools; Hadeil Ali, Drury political science major; Professor Greg Booker, chair of the Inclusion Council at Drury; Lyle Foster, owner of Big Momma’s Café; Yolanda Lorge, president of Grupo Latinoamericano; Abram McGull, assistant United States attorney; and Wes Pratt, assistant to the president at Missouri State University.

About the L.E. Meador Center for Politics & Citizenship

Dr. Lewis Elbern (L.E.) Meador taught political science at Drury College for nearly 50 years beginning in 1913 and was a revered civic leader who played key roles in shaping the Missouri Constitution and Springfield City Charter. Inspiration for the center’s mission comes from the words of Meador himself, who felt his students “should take a constructive and active part in trying to bring about a more democratic and more hopeful world in which future generations can live.” The Center carries out that mission through financial support of student scholarship and an annual speaker series addressing a range of pressing political and civic issues.


Media Contact: Dr. Dan Ponder, L.E. Meador Chair of Political Science: (417) 873-7394 or deponder@drury.edu.

Drury University establishes Meador Center for Politics & Citizenship

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Aug. 18, 2015 — Drury University is pleased to announce the establishment of the Meador Center for Politics and Citizenship. Dedicated to the academic inquiry of political engagement, the Center will be a nexus for student pursuits, faculty scholarship, and thought-provoking community programming and events.

The Center is named for Dr. Lewis Elbern (L.E.) Meador, a longtime professor of political science at Drury College for nearly 50 years beginning in 1913. Local residents know the name thanks to Meador Park. But they may not know Meador was a revered civic leader who played key roles in shaping the current Missouri Constitution and Springfield City Charter. He was named “Springfieldian of the 20th Century” by the Springfield Chamber of Commerce in 1973.

L.E. Meador

L.E. Meador

The Center’s inspiration for its mission comes from the words of Meador himself, who felt his students “should take a constructive and active part in trying to bring about a more democratic and more hopeful world in which future generations can live.”

The Meador Center will immediately begin carrying out that mission in two ways:

  • Financial support of student scholarship, internships, study away/abroad opportunities and conference attendance.
  • An annual speaker series that will bring notable speakers and academics to Springfield to address a range of pressing political and civic issues.

The inaugural theme for the Center in 2015-16 is “Created Equal: Civil Rights, Liberties & Citizenship” and the first featured speaker will be CNN analyst and New Yorker staff writer Jeffrey Toobin at 7:30 p.m., Oct. 28 at Clara Thompson Hall. The event is FREE and open to the public. Toobin’s topic will be “Inside the World of the Supreme Court.” A Harvard Law graduate, Toobin is the author of two bestsellers about the nation’s top court – “The Nine” and “The Oath.”

Jeffery Toobin

Jeffery Toobin

The Center’s inaugural chair is Dr. Daniel Ponder, professor of political science at Drury since 2006.

“I’m extremely excited about the opportunity for Drury and our Political Science Department to expand our work with students and our community – both locally and globally,” Ponder said. “Drury has a stellar record when it comes to sending successful students on to law schools and similar professional programs, and the Meador Center will allow us to build upon and enhance that work.”

Dan Ponder

Dan Ponder

For more information, visit www.drury.edu/meador-center.


Media Contact: Dr. Daniel Ponder, L.E. Meador Chair in Political Science. Office: (417) 873-7394; email: deponder@drury.edu.

Seeking global insights in Morocco, a cultural crossroads

A recent study abroad trip brought 10 Drury students to a place where two continents, myriad cultures and hundreds of years of history intersect: Morocco.

The group included students majoring in history, political science, business and more, including two minoring in Middle East studies. All sought to gain a better understanding of the Islamic world through their travels and coursework.

It was a “hands-on experience in a country that is the meeting point of Europe and the Islamic world,” said professor of political science Dr. Jeffery VanDenBerg, who led the trip along with Dr. Shelley Wolbrink, professor of history.

Among the cultural sites Drury's group visited in Morocco was the Hassan II mosque in Casablanca, the largest mosque in Africa.

Among the cultural sites the group visited in Morocco was the Hassan II mosque in Casablanca, the largest mosque in Africa.

Located in North Africa, Morocco is just nine miles from Spain across the Strait of Gibraltar. In the Middle Ages, Muslim rule and influence spread from Morocco across the Mediterranean Sea into what is now Spain. European colonization and influence in North Africa would later flow the other direction into Morocco, Tunisia and Algeria.

Senior international political studies major Mai Baldwin[cq] says studying a culture through literature, textbooks or film is worthwhile but no substitute for actually being there.

“I understood not just the macro-level things I read about such as economic structures and how the government worked, but also the day-to-day way of life for many Moroccans,” she says. “I loved experiencing their renowned hospitality, seeing the vibrant food markets, and witnessing the joy with which so many people lived.”

The Drury study abroad group with Berber guides in the Sahara Desert while exploring Morocco.

The Drury study abroad group with Berber guides in the Sahara Desert while exploring Morocco.

More than half of Drury undergraduates study abroad during their college careers. But this trip took on an added impact when the terrorist attacks on the Charlie Hebdo offices in Paris occurred just as the group prepared to return to Springfield.

That act clashed with the way students saw religion in everyday life during the prior two weeks in Morocco, a majority Muslim country that cultivates a strong national identity.

“The trip allowed us to form our own opinion,” said John Cantrell, a sophomore accounting and finance major. “We got to go over there and see for ourselves.”


Story by Mike Brothers, Drury’s director of media relations. A version of this story first appeared in the Springfield News-Leader.

Students, faculty gather for lively political discussion

Engaging, intellectual debate is part of the fabric of a college campus. Lively discussion of ideas need not be confined to the formal classroom setting.

A new group on Drury’s campus proves that point. “Pizza & Politics” meets every two weeks with few dozen people, students and faculty alike, discussing and contributing ideas over free food. Each gathering typically has a theme or topic, such as the recent election or Ebola.

Dr. Justin Leinaweaver, assistant professor of political science, begins the discussion, often by asking a broad question.

Once the conversation starts, the environment of the room quickly transforms into an arena for debate as students share their views and rebut others. While the professors begin conversation and ask questions, students are the main contributors.

“My primary hope is that the students take our conversations to the places they are most interested in,” Leinaweaver says.

Students who attend come from a variety of backgrounds and majors including history, philosophy, political science, English, business, and even pre-med.

“It gives me a chance to hear the opinions and ideas of other students, many of whom aren’t in the political science department,” says Laddie Miller, a junior political science major. “The variety of interests helps to diversify discussion and bring up many sides of a single issue. For example, Ebola was discussed with regard to healthcare, ethics, and finances as well as politics.”

Miller says it’s refreshing to be on “an equal playing field” with a cross-section of students and professors, where everyone is comfortable sharing opinions and questioning others.

Leinaweaver agrees, adding: “I love how involving faculty from departments across campus brings fascinating, often non-traditional, perspectives to our discussions of the political world.”

Some good-natured ribbing keeps things from getting too heavy, partly owing to the fact that most students and professors know one another well. Many of the students have had multiple political science classes together.

“The fact that those who attend Pizza & Politics can kid around with each other is a sign of respect and mutual appreciation for discourse,” Miller says.

It’s important for young people to become engaged in civic life, Leinaweaver says, and groups such as Pizza & Politics fuel their passion for involvement. At one point in the conversation, he urges students to voice their opinions by reminding them, “You are ‘The People’ now; you’re all voting age.”


Story by Trevor Cobb, writing major at Drury. A version of this story first appeared in the Springfield News-Leader.

American Bar Association past president and 1969 Drury alumnus to speak

SPRINGFIELD, Mo., Sept. 11, 2014 —One of the country’s top lawyers will return to his alma mater next week to help celebrate the American government’s foundational document.

James Silkenat, a 1969 Drury graduate and immediate past president of the American Bar Association, will help the campus observe Constitution Day. He will speak at 3:30 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 16, at Lay Hall Auditorium. The event is sponsored by Drury, the Springfield Bar Association and Drury’s pre-law society, Phi Alpha Delta.

Constitution Day is Sept. 17, marking the day the landmark document forming the basis of American government was ratified in 1787. Federal law requires educational institutions receiving federal funds to hold an observation of Constitution Day each year.

“Mr. Silkenat’s impressive and diverse background exemplifies the best of a liberal arts education such as that offered by Drury,” says Dr. Dan Ponder, professor of political science at Drury.


Silkenat is a member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the American Law Institute, has served as a Fellow in the U.S. State Department Scholar/Diplomat Program and was a Fellow of the National Endowment for the Humanities. His career has focused primarily on rule of law, civil rights and international law. During his tenure as president of the ABA, Silkenat focused on access to justice, immigration, jobs for lawyers, court funding, voting rights and gun violence issues.

The following day, Ponder will give a talk comparing the two main ways the U.S. Supreme Court interprets the Constitution: original intent versus the concept of a living, evolving document. The talk will be held at noon on Sept. 17 at Findlay Student Center.


Students find valuable internship experience in Washington, D.C.

Drury University’s partnership with a Washington, D.C., organization has been giving students the chance to complete high-profile internships for decades.

The Washington Center allows undergrads to live in the nation’s capital, gain professional work experience and receive class credit to stay on track for graduation. Drury has been working with The Washington Center for about 30 years and typically sends three or four students a year.

Dr. Dan Ponder, professor of political science and Drury liaison for The Washington Center, encourages all majors to consider this program.

“Students coming from a liberal arts school like Drury have great critical thinking skills, the ability to adapt, and are sensitive to the world outside their major,” Ponder says. “That serves them well for their internship. Whether you’re in theater, business, communications, political science, etc., you will be matched at an internship site that works for you and you’ll get an invaluable experience from working in a city like D.C.”

In the past, students have interned with lobbying firms, finance companies, the Department of Justice, the Federal Trade Commission, nonprofits in the area, and more. Others have worked directly with members of Congress.

Students interested in The Washington Center submit an application, transcripts, letters of recommendation, and receive approval from the university’s program liaison. Students also submit an interest form to the Center, which is used to match them with potential internship sites in D.C. During the fall and spring semesters, students pay Drury tuition, housing costs, and an administrative fee, but all scholarships and loans still apply. Students room with other undergrads at the Center who come from colleges across the country.

Mai Baldwin, a senior international political studies and French major, spent Spring 2014 at the Washington Center and interned with the Wilson Center. She extended her D.C. stay and interned at the Aspen Institute over the summer.

Mai Baldwin

Mai Baldwin

During the spring, Baldwin was enrolled in 12 upper division hours through Drury. She also attended academic and leadership seminars during her stay.

Baldwin, who hopes to attend law school after graduation, focused on students’ access to higher education during her time at the Center. She even brought back a workshop to Drury that helps students study for the LSAT free of charge, a concept modeled off a nonprofit in D.C.

“After the spring, I ended up with a summer job offer because of my work during the semester,” Baldwin says. “It really shows that if you’re diligent, put yourself out there and meet new people, opportunities will come. I had a lot of personal development from being outside of my comfort zone and it gave me a different perspective of the world.”


Story by Kaleigh Jurgensmeyer, English and Writing major at Drury.