Political Science Graduate Students Travel Abroad to Present Global Research

Four dedicated graduate students in the political science department attended two international conferences this semester to showcase their impressive research. Sarah Hays, Tyler Henderson, Ricardo Garcia and Ashley Cotton traveled with Dr. Robert G. Rodriguez to the 2nd Pan-American Interdisciplinary Conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina and to the Kharkiv National Automobile and Highway University in Kharkiv, Ukraine.

These graduate students presented their research at the 2nd Pan-American Interdisciplinary Conference on February 23-27, 2016. The paper coauthored by Dr. Rodriguez is entitled “U.S.-Ukraine Relations in the Post-Communist Period.” While in Argentina, Dr. Rodriguez took time to also showcase the significant historical, political, and cultural locations in Argentina (his country of heritage) and neighboring Uruguay to the graduate students. This trip was made possible through funding from the Texas A&M University-Commerce Office of International Studies; the Office of the Provost; the College of Humanities, Social Sciences and Arts; and the Department of Political Science.

Along with presenting in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Dr. Rodriguez and his graduate students also presented at the Kharkiv National Automobile and Highway University in Kharkiv, Ukraine at a conference held from April 6-9, 2016.  The funding for this trip was provided by the Quality Enhancement Plan, which prepares students for an interconnected world. Dr. Rodriguez was recognized as a Global Fellow in August 2015 and then applied for and received the Global Travel Development Grant to take his graduate students abroad. The research paper, entitled “Ukraine Between East and West: A Case Study of Realism,” was very well received by the audience of international and Ukrainian University students and professors. The research paper was published in the conference proceedings academic journal produced by KhADI. Dr. Rodriguez made a concerted effort to show the students the culture and diversity of Ukraine.  In addition to presenting their research at the conference, Dr. Rodriguez organized an excursion of prominent historical, political and cultural locations in Kyiv (the capitol of Ukraine) and Kharkiv, Ukraine. In his reflection of the trip, student Ricardo Garcia stated that this was one of the highlights of the experience: “I actually got a chance to experience society, the culture, the country as a whole and experience what I've been writing about to better understand their situation.”

Other students also attested to the value of the trips. Sarah Hays believes the experience of presenting at the 2nd Pan-American Interdisciplinary Conference was a great opportunity. She said, “It was very interesting because we were able to present in front of various international scholars from all around the world.” Tyler Henderson says outside the country was a first time experience for him. “Traveling to Argentina was my first time leaving the United States. It was very interesting because of the collective mix of cultures.”

The students' experience was also interesting because of political tensions in the region. However, Ashley Cotton stated that they never felt they were in a dangerous environment while in Ukraine. “Prior to going on this trip everyone thought that Ukraine was dangerous because of how it is portrayed in the media, but there weren't any situations where we felt unsafe; it was actually very modernized, it felt like we were going to a country that didn't have any political strife.”

Dr. Rodriguez and his graduate students successfully traveled, presented and represented Texas A&M University-Commerce well during their trips. Dr. Rodriguez and his research team have been meeting weekly since September 2015 to work on this project. They have already written approximately 175 pages of text on the subject matter and expect to complete approximately 300 pages by the end of the summer. They plan to submit the manuscript to academic publishers shortly thereafter, with the expectation of publishing their academic work as a book.

Dr. Rodriguez and his graduate students will be presenting about their travel abroad experiences to the QEP committee members and mentors on Wednesday April 27, 2016, from 4-5 p.m. in the One Stop Shop Welcome Center.