Georgetown’s First Political Science Predoctoral Summer Institute Aims to Improve Diversity in the Discipline
In June, Georgetown hosted its first ever Political Science Predoctoral Summer Institute, a program that offers training, support and resources for undergraduates from historically underrepresented populations who are considering applying to Ph.D. programs in political science or a related field.
Nineteen juniors and seniors from area colleges and universities attended the weeklong training program, which seeks to increase the diversity of applicants to political science Ph.D. programs, boost the acceptance rate of underrepresented students and improve inclusion and equity in the study of politics.
The program’s curriculum included sessions with faculty and graduate students who addressed the opportunities and challenges of pursuing a Ph.D., seminars on the study and methodology of political science, and opportunities to hone participants’ research skills and workshop their applications.
The program was led by Diana Kapiszewski, associate professor in the Department of Government; Lahra Smith, associate professor in the Walsh School of Foreign Service (SFS) and Department of Government; and five doctoral students and candidates in the Department of Government who served as “Ph.D. Ambassadors” and who will continue to mentor students through the next academic year. The Institute also featured a range of faculty and staff from Georgetown, including Provost Robert M. Groves, and from other area universities.
“Faculty in Georgetown’s Department of Government developed the program as part of our efforts to diversify the department’s student and faculty community and rethink the types of questions the discipline asks and the methodologies it uses,” says Anthony Clark Arend, chair of the Department of Government.
“We hope the Institute will play a small role in addressing the deep pipeline issues that lead to the lack of diversity among Ph.D. students, and thus faculty, in political science,” says Kapiszewski.
Many speakers during the week discussed the opportunities political scientists have to address urgent topics such as climate change, inequality and political divisions.
“We were pleased to see the students work together as a cohort and also deeply engage with the various faculty and staff colleagues who gave presentations throughout the week,” says Smith.
“We hope the Institute will play a small role in addressing the deep pipeline issues that lead to the lack of diversity among Ph.D. students, and thus faculty, in political science.”Diana Kapiszewski, associate professor in the Department of Government
Leo Hojnowski, a junior from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, said he was not sure what to expect from the Institute prior to attending, but found the experience valuable for his professional and academic development and for building networks with fellow scholars.
“What I found was a week without a single hour that wasn’t useful for me academically or professionally. Everyone in the program wanted us to succeed,” he said. “Outside the sessions, conversations with other participants exposed me to new concepts and created what I hope to be long-lasting connections.”
Thijs Kleinpaste (G’22), one of the Institute’s Ph.D. Ambassadors, said he particularly enjoyed working directly with students to help craft their research proposals.
“These moments really combined all the content of the Institute into a single project, which is to begin thinking about being a graduate student,” he said. “I genuinely hope all our participants get to pursue their topics, because they have so many interesting and important things to contribute.”
Georgetown will host its second Political Science Predoctoral Summer Institute in June 2023. Applications will open in early spring 2023.
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