Political Science in Washington, 2013

As part of the University Honors Program political science course “Law, Politics and the Supreme Court,” students and Political Science Associate Professor Joe Kobylka are spending spring break 2013 in Washington, D.C. The students are conducting research on Supreme Court cases at the Library of Congress.

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Our ‘scholarly conversation’

An update from Brandon B., a third-year political science, history and English major who is conducting research on “swing Justices” on the Court:

After an abbreviated day of research on Saturday and a long stay at the airport, we made it back to D/FW airport about 9 that evening. The week really flew by, and I was digging through files at the library basically until we had to start packing up.

Considering the breadth of my research project, I knew that I likely would not get through everything I needed, but I was amazed at how much I did manage to see. All things considered, I probably ended up with significant qualitative data on over 50 Supreme Court cases (some of which I hadn’t even heard of before I came on the trip). Now begins the arduous task of assembling and analyzing all the copies and scans I made while at the LOC. I am heartened by the fact that Professor Kobylka so graciously gave us the week off class, but I also know I’ll be no less busy going through all my notes.

Though I can’t say that I was nervous about how awesome this trip would be or how great the group of people was accompanying me, my expectations were still surpassed. I was amazed not only by the sheer volume of data I uncovered, but also at how well everyone else in the class did with their research. I still remember the first time I went on this trip 2 years ago. This class was my first experience with the political science department at SMU, and since I was one of very few freshmen I didn’t know most of the upperclassmen in the seminar. I was so nervous about my research, and I was hardly the most outgoing person. However, on this trip I can’t say that anyone was as fearful as I was last time. Everyone got along so well, no one ever had a problem discussing their research with one another, and it truly felt like we were part of a scholarly conversation.

I know that both I and Professor Kobylka have been truly impressed by the passion of everyone in the class, and I know that everyone is going to write a stellar paper when the semester ends. I’m looking forward to meeting with everyone in class again next week so we can all finish out the semester strong.

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