Pi Sigma Alpha Holds 11th Annual National Student Research Conference in DC

Dr. Diana Owen and Dr. Meena Demessie converse about career opportunities in political science.

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Pi Sigma Alpha (PSA), the National Political Science Honor Society, held its 11th annual National Student Research Conference on February 16-18 at The George Washington University. Dr. Diana Owen, CERL director and current President of PSA, welcomed over 500 students and faculty from colleges and universities across the country to the event.

The conference enables participants to develop as political science scholars and professionals.
Students explored career options by speaking with PSA alumni working in a wide variety of
fields including academia, government, campaigns, law, media, publishing, interest groups, trade
associations, and more. More than 20 schools participated in a graduate school fair where students
could learn about programs in political science, public policy, communications, and other fields.
Participants had opportunities throughout the conference to network and establish connections.
For example, students from Baltimore and Houston working on community gardens as a form of
political activism have made plans to meet and collaborate on their research.

Graduate students showcased their research in the first-ever poster session, where they presented
their studies, shared ideas, and received feedback. Students engaged in 56 in-person and virtual
panels where they presented papers, responded to comments from doctoral candidates and
faculty, and took questions from their peers. A wide range of pressing issues and topics were
addressed in sessions such as A Global Focus on Gender Equality; China’s Global Reach;
Political Polarization in U.S. Politics; Politics of the Middle East and North Africa; Race,
Ethnicity, Immigration, and Politics; Countering Racial Inequalities; Criminal Justice Reform
and Refocus; Emerging Issues in New Media; Local Environmental Impact; Religion and
Politics; War and Security Politics; Corruption, Engagement, and Trust in Government; Poverty
and Public Policy; Global Backsliding on LGBTQ+ Rights; and Education and Politics.

The conference featured a keynote dialogue with Dr. Menna Demessie and Dr. Owen entitled,
“Building a Purpose-Driven Career in Political Science and Public Policy.” Dr. Demessie
discussed her journey from receiving her degrees in political science/public policy and law from
the University of Michigan to a stint on Capitol Hill followed by a position with the
Congressional Black Caucus Foundation where she led research and policy initiatives affecting
African Americans and the global Black community. She currently is the Senior Vice President
of Universal Music Group’s Task Force for Meaningful Change. The conversation emphasized
how a degree in political science can lead to many rewarding and challenging career paths in
academia and beyond.

“The quality of the research presented at the conference and the innovations
in theory and method were impressive. It was inspiring to learn so much from the students as
they addressed the most pressing issues of our time. The future is in good hands.”

Dr. Diana Owen