Joe Kobylka, Political Science, participated as a distinguished scholar in a history conference for public school teachers in Houston

Your Houston News

Originally Posted: August 3, 2016

Two Spring ISD teachers were selected to attend “America from Jefferson to Jackson,” a professional development institute sponsored by Humanities Texas and the University of Houston.

Robert Mallory, who teaches U.S. History at Dekaney High School, and Crystal Parliament, who teachers U.S. History at Bailey Middle School, were among of 54 Texas public school teachers invited to attend the Houston institute, which took place from June 6-9.

The program consisted of three days of dynamic presentations and small-group seminars, studying central topics in early American history, including the development of political parties; Thomas Jefferson’s, James Madison’s, and Andrew Jackson’s presidencies; the Marshall court; slavery; the American economy in the 1820s and 1830s; the Monroe Doctrine; the displacement of Native Americans and the rise of sectionalism.

Daniel Walker Howe, the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian emeritus of the University of California, Los Angeles, delivered the institute’s keynote presentation on economic issues of the 1820s.

Other faculty included Denver Brunsman of George Washington University; Jesus de la Teja of Texas State University; Daniel Feller of the University of Tennessee; Todd Kerstetter of Texas Christian University; Angela Pully Hudson of Texas A&M University; Joseph F. Kobylka of Southern Methodist University; Nikki Taylor of Texas Southern University; Jennifer Weber of the University of Kansas and Jeremy Bailey, Matthew Clavin, and Eric Walther of the University of Houston.

“I wanted to gain a deeper understanding of life in the early nineteenth century through the office of the President. The valuable information I gained will be passed to my students and colleagues,” said Parliament.

Mallory stated that he will “use the information learned at the institute to go past just the TEKS” with his students, which will “help them have a true understanding of history.”

“Humanities Texas was pleased to cosponsor ‘America from Jefferson to Jackson,’” said Executive Director Michael L. Gillette. “Giving talented teachers the opportunity to interact with their peers and leading scholars will enable them to engage students with exciting new perspectives on our nation’s history.”

“America from Jefferson to Jackson” was made possible with support from the State of Texas and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Howe’s lecture was supported by a generous grant from the Pulitzer Centennial Campfire Initiatives.

Humanities Texas is the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Its mission is to advance education through programs that improve the quality of classroom teaching, support libraries and museums and create opportunities for lifelong learning for all Texans.

For more information about Humanities Texas, visit For information about the University of Houston, visit

State officials work to shut down casino-style gaming in East Texas

Star Telegram

Originally Posted: July 26, 2016

For the Alabama-Coushatta tribe, this could become a case of deja vu.

In 2002, a casino the Indian tribe operated in East Texas was closed by state officials who successfully argued that state law trumps national Indian law — and casino gambling isn’t allowed in Texas.

The tribe reopened a casino-like facility two months ago, after national Indian and federal officials ruled that the tribe can oversee gaming at its 10,000-acre reservation south of Livingston, about 240 miles southeast of Fort Worth.

Now, court documents filed in Lufkin’s federal court show state officials have made the first move to again shut the gaming down.

“This certainly was expected,” said Cal Jillson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas. “The Indian tribal leadership has attempted to fine tune, or tweak, the types of games they offer in order to satisfy the political officials in the state of Texas this time.

“I don’t think they’ll be successful,” he said. “State officials have always been reluctant to allow gaming in the state because they are so deeply concerned about our morals.” READ MORE

Killer Robots?

SMU News

Military drones and autonomous weapons focus of experts’ talk at SMU March 3

DALLAS (SMU) – Lethal autonomous weapons systems, a.k.a. “killer robots,” were once the stuff of sci-fi thrillers. But technological advancements in unmanned weaponry (like drones) have created some very real strategic, legal and ethical dilemmas for policymakers and military/government leaders.

To sort out those issues, three internationally respected armed conflict experts will assemble for “Killer Robots,” a free public discussion sponsored by the John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies on Thursday, March 3, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at McCord Auditorium, third floor of Dallas Hall, 3225 University Blvd. Advance reservations are requested by emailing

“Some say it’s unethical to put lethal force in the hands of autonomous systems, because no computer algorithm should be able to make decisions about killing,” says event moderator Joshua Rovner, SMU Tower Center Distinguished Chair of International Politics and National Security and author of the award-winning book, Fixing the Facts: National Security and the Politics of Intelligence (Cornell University Press, 2011).

“On the other hand, robots can be programmed to be very careful about where and when to fire, resulting in fewer innocent civilians caught in the crossfire,” he adds. “Robots also are free of the nastier human emotions ­– rage, hatred, the desire for revenge – that lead to atrocities.” READ MORE

High-level’ national security postdoctoral fellows join SMU Tower Center

SMU News

Originally Posted: December 16, 2015

DALLAS (SMU) – Thomas Cavanna and David Benson have been selected to serve yearlong national security postdoctoral fellowships at SMU. Cavanna is in the John Goodwin Tower Center for Political Studies, and Benson joins SMU as part of a National Science Foundation-funded project on cyber-security.

“Both are pursuing important interdisciplinary scholarship at a very high level,” says Joshua Rovner, Tower Center acting director. “They’ve sought out discussions and collaborative research on critically important policy issues, and they are pushing the boundaries of what we know about international relations and national security policy.”

Cavanna’s work focuses on U.S. foreign policy, strategy and nuclear studies, particularly in Asia and the Middle East. He is the author of Hubris, Self-Interest and America’s Failed War in Afghanistan: the Self-Sustaining Overreach (Lexington Books, 2015). His next book, expected in spring 2016 to focus on U.S. foreign policy toward India and Pakistan in the 1970s, is based on his dissertation, which won the 2013 Prix Jean-Baptiste Duroselle for best dissertation in history of international relations. Another forthcoming book will address U.S. grand strategy and the rise of China from the Cold War to the Obama administration. READ MORE

Cal Jillson, Political Science, Hilary Clinton wants to quell doubts in prime-time debate

The Hill

Originally Posted: October 11, 2015

Hillary Clinton is getting off her back foot after a clumsy start to her presidential campaign.

After being buffeted for months by the controversy over her emails and seeing her dominance in the polls decline, Clinton has made aggressive moves to shore up her support on the left and take the fight to the Republican field.

A strong performance on the debate stage during the first Democratic clash, set for Las Vegas on Tuesday night, could help the former secretary of State maintain her altitude, quiet talk of a White House bid by Vice President Biden and slow the rise of her main rival, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.).

“We’ve seen all email, all the time,” said David Birdsell, a debate expert at Baruch College in New York. “This is the first sustained encounter with her in which voters will have the opportunity to hear about something else.”

Clinton has been trying to change the subject recently, with some success.

Her announcement last week that she opposed the trade agreement known as the Trans Pacific Partnership, or TPP, came as a welcome development to liberals who have been skeptical of her candidacy.

She also seized the initiative on gun control, perhaps the one issue in which she can convincingly run to Sanders’s left, after a mass shooting in Oregon.

On Friday, Clinton met with activists from the #BlackLivesMatter movement — a constituency that has given Sanders considerable trouble — later tweeting, “Racism is America’s original sin.”

And Clinton has even sought to turn the Benghazi probe to her advantage.

Her campaign pounced last week after House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) appeared to suggest that the House panel investigating the 2012 attacks deserved credit for lowering Clinton’s poll numbers. READ MORE

Dedman College Alumni Celebrated at Homecoming

Congratulations to Dedman College alumni Bess Enloe ’60, finance educator and the Rev. Dr. Michael W. Waters ’02, ’06, ’12. Mrs. Enloe will receive a Distinguished Alumni award while Rev. Waters will receive the University’s Emerging Leader Award, which recognizes the outstanding achievements of an alumnus or alumna who has graduated in the past 15 years. READ MORE

Matthew Wilson, Political Science, does Ted Cruz’s evangelical father help or hurt his campaign?

Star Telegram
Originally Posted: April 18, 2015
By: Bud Kennedy

Cruz’s father brings down the heavens, but does he help or hurt Ted?

If you thought Sen. Ted Cruz’s father might tone down his comments for the campaign, think again.

At 76, Carrollton evangelist and professional translator Rafael Cruz made headlines last week.

And not only as the father of a presidential candidate with a stunning $35 million raised, including PAC money, just one week into the campaign.

Rafael Cruz is an old-school fire-and-brimstone preacher, barnstorming to win souls for Christ and votes for Ted.

At a Tea Party event in a Georgia church, the elder Cruz said: “If someone like Hillary Clinton is elected in 2016, you might as well kiss this country goodbye. … We are fighting for the survival of America.” READ MORE

Cal Jillson, Political Science, to speak at Austin College this week on his book Lone Star Tarnished

North Texas e-News

Sherman, Texas — Austin College’s annual Public Administration Symposium will feature the presentation “Lone Star Tarnished” by political expert Cal Jillson, sharing ideas from his book Lone Star Tarnished: A Critical Look at Texas Politics and Public Policy. The lecture Friday, April 10 at 11:00 a.m. in Hoxie Thompson Auditorium of Sherman Hall is free and open to the public.

Following the lecture, The Texas Tribune will host a panel in Mabee Hall on “Texas Transportation: The Next Five Years.” Panelists will include Deirdre Delisi, former chair of the Texas Transportation Commission; Clay Jenkins, Dallas County judge; Ambassador Ron Kirk, Former U.S. trade representative and Dallas mayor; and State Representative Larry Phillips, R-Sherman. Evan Smith, CEO and editor-in-chief of The Texas Tribune will moderate. READ MORE

Harold Stanley named 2015-16 Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar

Harold Stanley, Geurin-Pettus Distinguished Chair in American Politics and Political Economy and SMU associate provost, has been named a Phi Beta Kappa Visiting Scholar for the 2015-16 academic year.

Stanley, who was named SMU’s interim provost and vice president for academic affairs in late March, joins 12 other outstanding scholars in the liberal arts and sciences from institutions including Columbia, Princeton, Stanford, Yale, NYU, UCLA, Penn State, Georgia Institute of Technology, the University of Pennsylvania, Boston University and the Institute for Signifying Scriptures. READ MORE

Did you miss the Tower Center’s nuclear weapons forum? C-Span was there.

Watch the discussion on nuclear weapons and national security, featuring the Tower Center’s own Joshua Rovner as moderator.