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April 14, 2013

And Much Conferring Was Had

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Yesterday’s post, which I’m quite pleased with, took a look at my experiences visiting Clark this week.  What it didn’t take up, and what this post will, is the actual reason for my visit to the States this month; that is, it didn’t say anything about my attendance and presentation at the Midwest Political Science Association (MPSA)’s 71st annual conference.

As long-time readers of this blog will remember, I (along with three other Clarkies) presented last April at the National Association of Ethnic Studies (NAES)’s 40th annual conference in New Orleans.  Now, New Orleans in the springtime is great.  There just isn’t any getting around that.  But I’m sitting in the lobby of the Palmer House Hilton in Chicago at the moment – it’s pictured below – and I’ve gotta tell you that it’s pretty darn nice.  Granted, it’s snowing in Chicago, and it’s April, but as a loyal Illinoisan I’ll say that’s just the city calibrating expectations right so you really enjoy the summer.

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So what am I doing here?  Well, I’m presenting a paper I wrote last year entitled “Measuring Intensity in U.S. Senate Races: A Case Study of Massachusetts and Illinois, 2010.” (NB: Link is a .pdf file.)  It’s a paper I wrote about a year ago for Clark’s Research Methods in Political Science class, and which took a pretty close look at a very specific question: Did Martha Coakley’s poor campaigning affect her electoral outcome more than Alexi Giannoulias’s poor campaigning did his?  I won’t go into the hoary details here, because you can just read the paper if you’d like, but it was an interesting subject to take a quick look at.

More interesting, of course, is the conference itself.  Like the NAES conference in New Orleans (my only other experience in this field), this one is filled with academics scrambling to meet their old students, colleagues, and professors, hear the latest research in their field, and land a book deal with a prestigious publisher.  It’s a fascinating experience in that it gives you a good sense of both the granularity of much academic work and the truly broad scope that some work approaches.  Also I met Nate Silver and Ezra Klein.

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Pictured: Nate Silver and Ezra Klein.

I’m very grateful to the Political Science department at Clark for funding my travel to the conference through both a Harrington Public Affairs Fellowship and the Irving ’32 and Edith Wilner Prize, which I won last fall for the paper I presented.  My trip here really wouldn’t have happened without that support, and it means a lot.

That’s about all for this week, but stay tuned in coming weeks for lots of information about my travels to Florence, Rome and Edinburgh!  Try not to feel too sorry for me along the way :)

 

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