Department News

Department alumnus awarded scholarship for the Georgetown University Cyberfellows Program

Kenny Vo, who graduated from the University of Central Arkansas in May 2022 with a B.A. degree in International Studies and a B.S. degree in Cybersecurity, was recently awarded a prestigious graduate scholarship from the Georgetown University Cyberfellows Program.  Starting in Fall 2023, Kenny will be pursuing a Master of Arts (M.A.) degree in the Security Studies Program (SSP) at Georgetown University in Washington DC.  The SSP is one of eight master’s degree programs in the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University.  The mission of the SSP is to “teach a new generation of analysts, policymakers, and scholars to think critically and act responsibly in the face of the 21st century’s most pressing national and international security problems.”  The Cyberfellows Scholarship covers all of the costs of the graduate program, including tuition, fees, and health insurance.  In addition, the scholarship provides an annual stipend of $34,000 for graduate students and an allowance of $6,000 annually for textbooks, travel, and professional development.  Upon completion of the graduate degree, individuals who are awarded the Cyberfellows Scholarship are obligated to work for the federal government in a cybersecurity position for at least two years.  Kenny is interested in working for the U.S. Department of Energy to help secure the country’s critical energy infrastructure, but he also want to “continue cultivating interdisciplinary knowledge within the fields of cybersecurity and international relations.”

Department hosts 2023 International Affairs Summer Camp at UCA

The Department of Government, Public Service, and International Studies hosted the fourth Arkansas and the World: International Affairs Summer Camp at the University of Central Arkansas on July 9-14, 2023.  Previous summer camps were hosted by the department in 2017, 2018, and 2019.  Forty-four Arkansas high school students participated in a unique, interactive learning experience designed to enhance their understanding of international relations, diplomacy, and international organizations.  The students participated in educational workshops on international relations, the United Nations, and fundamentals of Model United Nations.  The students also represented assigned countries in interactive simulations of the UN General Assembly, including several committee and plenary sessions held throughout the week.  The students competed in two rounds of a Global Trivia Competition on Tuesday and Thursday evenings.  The students participated in the Syrian Emergency Task Force (SETF) Letters of Hope project on Wednesday evening.

The summer camp was funded by an Academic Enrichment for Gifted/Talented in Summer (AEGIS) grant awarded to the department by the Arkansas Department of Education (ADE).  Dr. Mark Mullenbach, Associate Professor of Political Science and International Studies, served as Summer Camp Director.  Abby Mattingly, an International Studies and Political Science graduate of UCA, served as Assistant Summer Camp Director.  Eight individuals, including Coumba Soumare, Gabriel Mince, Lia Wilson, Julien Mrad, Cooper Horton, Allison Swindell, Hayden Rogers, and Aminatou Adeniji, served on the summer camp staff as resident assistants/counselors.  Guest speakers during the week-long summer camp included Jennifer Smith, Communication & Fundraising Coordinator, Heifer International; Willis Arnold, Volunteer Coordinator, Clinton Foundation; Christian Olson, former Deputy Commissioner and Chief Examiner, Arkansas Securities Department; Natalie Larrison, Director of Humanitarian Projects, Syrian Emergency Task Force (SETF); and Mouaz Moustafa, Executive Director, Syrian Emergency Task Force (SETF).

Department alumnus honored with a James W. Foley Freedom Award

Mouaz Moustafa, who graduated from UCA with a Bachelor of Arts (BA) degree in International Studies in May 2008, was honored with a James W. Foley Freedom Award (humanitarian award) presented during a ceremony held at the National Press Club in Washington DC on May 3, 2023.  Since 2011, Mouaz has served as Executive Director of the Syrian Emergency Task Force (SETF), which is a non-governmental organization dedicated to advocating for and providing humanitarian assistance to innocent civilians impacted by the civil war in Syria.  The SETF also seeks accountability for war crimes committed by the Syrian government.  The James W. Foley Freedom Awards are sponsored by the James W. Foley Legacy Foundation.  In August 2024, James W. Foley, a freelance video journalist, was killed in the Raqqa region of Syria by terrorists affiliated with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).  Following his death, the foundation was established by James Foley’s parents in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

Department holds the 2023 Pi Sigma Alpha induction ceremony

The Department of Political Science held its annual induction ceremony for the Alpha Beta Theta Chapter of Pi Sigma Alpha, the National Political Science Honor Society, on Thursday, April 20, 2023.  Dr. Clay Arnold, Chair of the Department of Political Science, announced the 2022-2023 inductees, including Makenna Goss, Allison Hellard, Donavon Millington, Phoenix Vu, Noah Walker, and Richard Ware.  Jaycie Sturdivant served as president of the chapter in 2022-2023, along with Madeline Kittler (Vice President), Madalyn Dowell (Secretary), and Aaron Conrad (Treasurer).  Speakers during the induction ceremony included Dr. Kim Hoffman, Director of the Public Administration Program, Dr. Gizachew Tiruneh, Director of the International Studies Program, and Dr. Mary Beth Sullivan, Associate Professor of Political Science.  The department also honored the 2022-2023 Outstanding Students: Political Science – Madalyn Dowell, Emma Davis, and Nicole Vincent; Public Administration – Aaron Conrad and Madeline Kittler; and International Studies – Allison Hellard and Coumba Soumare.  Dr. Heather Yates served as Faculty Advisor for UCA’s Pi Sigma Alpha chapter in 2022-2023.

Department hosts the Arkansas High School Model Arab League (AHSMAL) conference at UCA

The Department of Political Science and the UCA Model United Nations (MUN) student organization hosted the Arkansas High School Model Arab League (AHSMAL) Conference in the UCA Student Center on March 10-11, 2023.  The conference was sponsored by the National Council on U.S.-Arab Relations (NCUSAR) in Washington DC.  The AHSMAL conference, originally known as the South Central States Model Arab League (SCSMAL) conference, was previously held at the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville from 1996 to 2010 and the University of Arkansas-Little Rock from 2011 to 2020.

More than 150 students from ten high schools, representing the 22 member-states and several observer states of the League of Arab States, participated in the conference.  UCA graduate, Sarah Fulmer, served as Secretary-General for the Conference.  UCA student, Gabriel Mince, served as Assistant Secretary-General, and UCA student, Julien Mrad, served as chair of the Council on Social Affairs.  Dr. Mark Mullenbach and Dr. Mark Elrod of the Department of Political Science served as faculty advisors for the UCA MUN student organization.

During the closing session, outstanding delegation awards were presented to the following delegations: Algeria (Pulaski Academy), Eritrea (Pulaski Academy), Sudan (Pulaski Academy), and the Syrian National Coalition (Conway High School).  In addition, distinguished delegation awards were presented to the following delegations: Egypt (Haas Hall Academy-Bentonville), Morocco (Bryant High School), Oman (ASMSA), and Yemen (Haas Hall Academy-Fayetteville).

Department hosts the 50th Arkansas Political Science Association (ArkPSA) annual meeting at UCA

The Department of Political Science hosted the 50th Arkansas Political Science Association (ArkPSA) annual meeting at UCA on March 3-4, 2023.  Dr. Heather Yates and Dr. Mary Beth Sullivan served as co-program chairs for the annual meeting.  Faculty, graduate student, and undergraduate student paper panels and roundtable discussions were held in the College of Business building on Friday afternoon and Saturday morning.  The annual meeting dinner was held at the Hilton Garden Inn in Conway on Friday evening.  Dr. John Passe-Smith, a faculty member in the UCA Department of Political Science, and Dr. Andrew Dowdle, a faculty member in the Department of Political Science at the University of Arkansas-Fayetteville), were presented the Association’s Distinguished Scholar awards.  Dr. Sara Wallace Goodman, Chancellor’s Fellow and Dean’s Professor of Political Science at the University of California, Irvine, will gave the keynote speech during the dinner.  The annual meeting luncheon was held in McCastlain Hall Ballroom at noon on Saturday.  The featured speaker during the luncheon was Mr. Ben Hovland, a UCA alumni and a member of the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) in Washington DC.


UCA students participate in the 63rd Midwest Model United Nations (MMUN) conference in St. Louis

Eight UCA students participated as delegates to the 63rd annual Midwest Model United Nations (MMUN) conference in St. Louis, Missouri on February 22-25, 2023.  Students from 26 colleges and universities throughout the U.S. participated in the conference, including delegations from the University of Central Arkansas, Arkansas State University-Jonesboro, John Brown University, Northwest Arkansas Community College, and Ouachita Baptist University.  The UCA delegation, which represented the United States of America and the Czech Republic (Czechia), consisted of Allison Hellard, Kyle Urban, Gabriel Mince, Julien Mrad, Lauren Clark, Emily Temple, Aminatou Adeniji, and Kayla-Anne Rocher.  Dr. Mark Elrod, a lecturer in the UCA Department of Political Science, was the faculty advisor for the UCA delegation to the MMUN conference.  Dr. Elrod also serves as a faculty representative on the Board of Directors of the MMUN.  The UCA delegation representing the United States and Czechia were recognized as Outstanding Delegation-Honorable Mentions for their overall performances during the conference.  Lauren Clark (Czechia) won the Outstanding Delegate and Delegate’s Choice awards in the First Committee (General Assembly).  Julien Mrad (USA) won the Outstanding Delegate-Honorable Mention and Crisis awards in the Security Council.

UCA students participate in The Washington Center (TWC) Inside Washington Seminar in DC

Dr. Bailey Fairbanks, Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science, led a group of ten UCA students to Washington DC on January 3-11, 2023 to participate in the Inside Washington Seminar, sponsored by The Washington Center (TWC) for Internships & Academic Seminars.  This week-long experiential learning activity included three components: (1) plenary sessions attended by all participants to hear from distinguished speakers and other public figures in Washington DC; (2) educational briefings held at several locations throughout Washington DC, including U.S. government agencies, think tanks, foreign embassies, and media organizations; and (3) small group discussion sessions facilitated by college and university faculty.

The ten UCA students that participated in the seminar are studying in several different academic programs at UCA — Makenna Goss (History, Political Science, and Honors); Kaya-Ann Mason (Sociology and Legal Studies); Brayden Bailey (Political Science); Allison Hellard (Public Administration and International Studies); Jaycie Sturdivant (Political Science, Public Administration, and Creative Writing); Madalyn Dowell (Political Science, Public Administration, and English); Phoenix Vu (Political Science, Public Administration, and Honors); Ryan Webb (Political Science); Mackenzie Rowley (French and Spanish); and Richard Ware (Political Science, Philosophy, and Honors).

Department hosts the 57th Arkansas Model United Nations (AMUN) conference at UCA

The Department of Political Science hosted the 57th annual Arkansas Model United Nations (AMUN) conference at the University of Central Arkansas on November 18-19, 2022.  Some 420 delegates from 27 high schools in Arkansas, Alabama, Louisiana, Missouri, and Texas participated in the conference.  Sarah Fulmer served as Secretary-General, and Abby Mattingly served as Deputy Secretary-General of the conference.  Dr. Mark Elrod served as AMUN Conference Coordinator, and Dr. Mark Mullenbach served as AMUN Faculty Advisor Liaison.

During the opening session held in Ida Waldran Auditorium in Main Hall on Friday, November 18th, Dr. Mark Elrod gave the welcoming address to the participating delegates.  In addition, six students nominated by their faculty advisors gave delegate speeches during the opening session, including Jake Bodishbaugh (Haas Hall Academy-Fayetteville), Rohan Collins (Bentonville West High School), Ahilan Eraniyan (Haas Hall Academy-Bentonville), Sydney Evans (Conway High School), Mariam Parray (Pulaski Academy), and Cassidy Waide (Haas Hall Academy-Springdale).

During the closing session, the nine students who were elected Rapporteurs in their respective committees were recognized for speeches, including Kai Hu (Venezuela), Claire Brandon (Norway), Veronica Rhoten (India), Alexandra Kruse (Denmark), Ava Sophia Palacios (Honduras), Avery Ferguson (Indonesia), Alejandra Avila (Norway), Mimi Smith (Czechoslovakia), and Maylee Rollins (India).  In addition, position paper awards were presented to the head delegates of the following delegations during the closing session — Austria (St. Michael Catholic High School), Belgium (St. Michael Catholic High School), Brazil (ASMSA), Czech Republic (St. Michael Catholic High School), Denmark (St. Michael Catholic High School), Ethiopia (Pulaski Academy), Greece (St. Michael Catholic High School), Iceland (Brookland High School), India (Pulaski Academy), Italy (ASMSA), Lithuania (St. Michael Catholic High School), New Zealand (Bentonville High School), Pakistan (Pulaski Academy), Philippines (Rockhurst High School), Portugal (St. Michael Catholic High School), Russian Federation (Haas Hall Academy-Fayetteville), Spain (Bentonville High School), Tunisia (Pulaski Academy), Venezuela (Pulaski Academy), and Zimbabwe (Benton High School).

Following the conference, the delegation representing India (Pulaski Academy) was presented the Outstanding Delegation award.  The delegations representing the Czech Republic (St. Michael Catholic High School) and the Russian Federation (Haas Hall Academy-Fayetteville) were presented the Outstanding Delegation Runner-Up awards following the conference.  Ten additional delegations were presented the Outstanding Delegation-Honorable Mention awards, including Albania (Haas Hall Academy-Bentonville), Denmark (St. Michael Catholic High School), Iran (Pulaski Academy), Italy (ASMSA), New Zealand (Bentonville High School), Pakistan (Pulaski Academy), Philippines (Rockhurst High School), Tunisia (Pulaski Academy), Ukraine (ASMSA), and Venezuela (Pulaski Academy).


UCA students participate in the 12th Arkansas Model United Nations (ACMUN) conference at NWACC

Fifteen UCA students representing the UCA Model United Nations (MUN) student organization participated in the 12th annual Arkansas Collegiate Model United Nations (ACMUN) Conference at Northwest Arkansas Community College (NWACC) on Friday, November 4, 2022.  The group, which included Julien Mrad, Allison Hellard, Gabriel Mince, Cooper Horton, Skyler Austen, Makenna Goss, Ryan Webb, Claire Okoma, Joshua Waack, Jaycie Sturdivant, Aminatou Adeniji, Emily Temple, Erin Smith, Jackson Rogers, and Brooke DeSalvo, represented the countries of Gabon, People’s Republic of China, Cote d’Ivoire, Benin, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Qatar, and the United Kingdom.  The conference included simulations of the UN Economic & Social Council (ECOSOC), UN Human Rights Council (HRC), UN Security Council, and the Council of the Arab League.  Dr. Mark Elrod, a lecturer in the UCA Department of Political Science, was the faculty advisor for the UCA students.

The following UCA students were recognized for their performances at the 12th ACMUN Conference: Joshua Waack – Outstanding Delegate-Honorable Mention (ECOSOC, Cote d’Ivoire); Makenna Goss – Outstanding Delegate-Honorable Mention (ECOSOC, PRC); Julien Mrad – Outstanding Delegate-Honorable Mention (Security Council, UK); and Ryan Webb – Outstanding Delegate-Honorable Mention (Security Council, Gabon).  In addition, the PRC Delegation (Cooper Horton, Skyler Austen, and Makenna Goss) was selected as Best Delegation in the Plenary Session of the General Assembly and Overall Best Delegation-Honorable Mention.