Gator Group Studies

Endeavor Foundation Grant

Grant from Endeavor Foundation Funds Unique Bicentennial Project

“Year of” Events

Upcoming Event List and Calendar

Annual Themes for 2013-15

Academic Themes


Allegheny College Bicentennial Celebration

Democracy Realized? The Legacies of the Civil Rights Movement Conference

March 28-29, 2014 — Allegheny College, Meadville, PA

Allegheny College will host a two-day undergraduate conference on March 28-29, 2014 on the legacies of the Civil Rights Movement. This event will bring five nationally recognized scholars and activists together with students to investigate the pasts, presents, and futures of civil rights.  Fifty years after the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, forty-nine after the Voting Rights Act of 1965, this conference will consider the victories, failures, limits, and possibilities we envision across a broad spectrum of social concerns. The five keynote speakers will reflect upon the rights of the disabled, of LGBTI, of women, and of Native Americans and African Americans, in the light of these landmark Acts,  current events, and recent decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court. Our five keynote addresses will anchor the undergraduate conference of papers and panel sessions in which these keynote speakers will also be intimately engaged.

Select link here for more information

Summer Internships at the Robert H. Jackson Center

The Robert H. Jackson Center offers internships for college students as a major part of its educational mission. Internships are not limited to students with pre-law ambitions, although it is expected that most applicants will come from that field. All students currently enrolled at Allegheny College may apply. An interest in research and writing is the most important qualification for the internship.

Interns will work directly with the staff of the Robert H. Jackson Center as they determine their project. Each project will allow the intern to experience the legal profession through the life and career of a major figure in the history of the United States, Robert H. Jackson. Areas of work are subject to discussion and will reflect the skills and interests of the intern and the needs of the Jackson Center. Some possibilities include the following:

  • Working with the Jackson Center webmaster to expand the information offered on the web site related to the life and accomplishments of Robert H. Jackson.
  • Researching local newspaper files and Chautauqua County Court records.
  • Developing time lines and or scripts based on the Jackson Center’s archived cablecasts and videotapes of interviews and speeches. This will be directly related to the long-term goal of producing educational materials and programs related to:
    • Jackson’s 20 years as a country lawyer in Chautauqua County
    • Jackson’s years with the Roosevelt administration, first as Solicitor General, then as Attorney General of the United States
    • Cases in which Jackson wrote opinions during his years as Associate Justice on the US Supreme Court
    • Prosecution of the Nuremberg War Trials, which Jackson served as Chief Prosecutor
  • Working with the Jackson Center archivist to review and document the Center’s extensive documents and video collection.

Summer interns work between Memorial Day and Labor Day for a period of up to 12 weeks on a flexible schedule that will be determined between the intern and the intern coordinator. The intern coordinator serves as a “coach” and there are regular opportunities to meet with administrative and staff members on a range of issues and topics pertaining to the intern’s assignments and interests.

Allegheny College has an agreement with Jamestown Community College to provide housing for the duration of the internship experience at the Jackson Center.  For roughly $100/week, interns have access to a small apartment with kitchen and bath on the JCC campus, complete with full access to the amenities of the community college.  The residence halls are approximately a 5 minute drive from the Jackson Center. Once you have been notified of your acceptance as an intern, you will need to reserve a space in the JCC residence halls.  To do so, please contact Jim Fitch in Allegheny College’s ACCEL office (

Application can be made by e-mailing a personal statement and resume by March 16, 2013 to:

Mary Solberg

Program Coordinator

Center for Political Participation


In your personal statement, please reflect on 1) how this internship opportunity will serve your academic or career goals, 2) how this experience builds upon your previous experiences and academic program of study, 3) in what ways you think you might be useful to the Jackson Center (including what kinds of projects you would like to pursue), and 4) whether you will require housing at Jamestown Community College (this will not have an effect on your candidacy).  Please keep the personal statement to one to two double-spaced pages and include email and phone contact information as well as the names, titles, and e-mail addresses of two on-campus references whom we may contact.

Allegheny, CPP honor two journalists with national civility award


CPP fellows Emma Victorelli and Alex Sproveri, CPP Director Daniel M. Shea, New York Times columnist David Brooks, Allegheny College President James H. Mullen Jr., syndicated columnist Mark Shields, CPP fellows Katie McHugh and Chris Plano, and Allegheny junior Annamarie Morino

“Public service is at risk of losing a generation and our democracy will suffer. As a liberal arts college nearly as old as America itself, Allegheny cannot abide that outcome.” –Allegheny College President James H. Mullen Jr.

 “As someone who works with young Americans…I am so pleased that our honorees, David Brooks and Mark Shields, share an abiding belief in democratic deliberations. They are passionate about their positions, but they recognize that we all have to work together.  They are both proud partisans, but their convictions do not stop them from critiquing their own positions or the positions of their fellow partisans.” –Daniel M. Shea, Director of the Center for Political Participation

 “I don’t know in a nation as big and brawling and as wonderfully diverse as ours how we resolve our differences except through the political process and the care, the commitment, the passion, the creativity of those who can craft compromise and forge consensus.” –Syndicated columnist Mark Shields, recipient of first Allegheny College Prize for Civility in Public Life

 “Many great colleges teach subjects; they don’t always teach character.”New York Times columnist David Brooks, recipient of first Allegheny College Prize for Civility in Public Life

Allegheny President James H. Mullen Jr., New York Times columnist David Brooks, syndicated columnist Mark Shields, and CPP Director Daniel M. Shea

By Mary Solberg

      The inaugural Allegheny College Prize for Civility in Public Life was awarded Feb. 21 to two nationally recognized journalists who “represent the best instincts of American public life.”

     In presenting the award to syndicated columnist Mark Shields and New York Times columnist David Brooks, Allegheny President James H. Mullen called on youth across the country to follow their example.

     “That is the hope of today, that through this award and our college’s focus on civility we might empower young people across the nation, that we might help them—help all of us—find the faith and the courage to engage in the public arena with civility and respect and to honor those who by their example show us the way,” President Mullen told those gathered at the National Press Club in downtown Washington, D.C.

         The civility prize will be given each year to two winners, one from each side of the ideological spectrum, who show noteworthy civility while continuing to fight passionately for their beliefs. An awards panel—made up of such luminaries as former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne, and American Council on Education President Molly Corbett Broad—reviewed many nominees in politics and journalism before selecting Shields and Brooks.

     Corbett Broad attended the morning ceremony in the Holeman Lounge of the National Press Club along with student fellows and staff of the Center for Political Participation, Allegheny alumni, and members of the college’s board of trustees. Said Corbett Broad: “The values undergirding this award—the free, vigorous, and respectful pursuit of ideas—align perfectly with those of American higher education. I extend sincere congratulations to David Brooks and Mark Shields on this honor, and applaud Allegheny College for shining a spotlight on the need for civility in our public discourse.”

     In accepting the civility honor, both Brooks and Shields, who debate the issues of the day once a week on PBS NewsHour, recognized the influence of PBS NewsHour executive editor Jim Lehrer and Robert MacNeil, anchors of the former MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour, later known as PBS NewsHour. MacNeil and Lehrer, they said, taught them the fine art of civility in public discourse despite the difficulties of disparate viewpoints.

     “I stand here today, and I think David would agree, as proxies and surrogates for Robert MacNeil and Jim Lehrer, who started the NewsHour, who started with a very simple premise and that is that in every discussion that one’s involved, the person on the other side probably loves the country as much as you love our country, that they care about their children’s and grandchildren’s future as much as you do, they treasure the truth as much as you do. You don’t demonize somebody on the other side,” Shields said.

     Brooks, a conservative, said he and Shields had “serious disagreements” over the years on the Iraq War. Several years ago, during the Florida presidential election recount, Brooks jousted with his liberal friend, E.J. Dionne, on a weekly NPR broadcast.

     “I think that while we went at each other sometimes, it never damaged or diminished our friendships during that whole period,” Brooks explained. “To go through that with someone strengthens you, as it should political rivals.”

     Center for Political Participation Director Daniel Shea joined President Mullen in honoring Brooks and Shields, saying the journalists “share an abiding belief in democratic deliberations.” Added Shea, “They are passionate about their positions, but they recognize that we all have to work together. They are both proud partisans but their convictions do not stop them from critiquing their own positions and the positions of their fellow partisans.”

     Shea also told the National Press Club gathering that the CPP is working diligently on its upcoming conference on civility, which is expected to draw in about 200 college students from throughout the country. Pathway to Civility: National Conference of College Leaders will be held at Allegheny May 15-17, focusing on young people’s commitment to causes and candidates, as well as “the necessity for respectful dialogue.”

     To see the full coverage of the National Press Club award presentation, go to this link:  Civility Prize


CPP hosts panel on Occupy Wall Street

Silas Russell, a 2007 graduate of Allegheny, discussed his experiences with Occupy Wall Street in Pittsburgh.

By Mary Solberg

  For Silas Russell, a 2007 graduate of Allegheny College, the Occupy Wall Street movement is personal. It is, he says, “a movement of ordinary people” like him and the 20,000 Pennsylvanians for whom he works as a political organizer for SEIU PA, Pennsylvania’s largest union for health care workers.

     “People need to take back power,” Russell told a luncheon gathering Nov. 10 at Quigley Hall on the Allegheny College campus. “We cannot have an economy that is controlled from the top.”

     In his work, Russell sees firsthand the effects of an unstable economy and how the average worker struggles to maintain financial security.  Little wonder that the Occupy Wall Street movement appealed to him; he was intrigued with its call to equalize the financial playing field in America. In the early fall of 2011, he started working as an organizer for Occupy Pittsburgh, camping out the first week in a park on Grant Street in the Steel City.

     “At this point,” he added, “the movement is too big to fail.”

     By the looks of the packed audience at Quigley’s Henderson Auditorium, the movement is too big to be ignored, too. Fittingly titled “Occupy Quigley,” the panel discussion included Russell, who came from Pittsburgh for the day, and Political Science Professor Bruce Smith, and Economics Professor Russell Ormiston. While attentive to the two professors, students were clearly intrigued by Silas Russell and his activism. Several stayed afterward to talk to Russell about Occupy activities in Pittsburgh.

     During a question-and-answer segment, Kimberly Langin ’13 asked Russell if he thought the Occupy movement was anti-capitalist.

     “Occupy is a movement that wants to have capitalism work for everybody,” Russell said.

     For Professor Smith, Occupy Wall Street makes him sentimental for his own days of activism. “It’s in the American gene,” he explained. “It’s radical, it’s democratic. It’s Jeffersonian.”

     For any movement to be successful, Smith added, it needs three things: skilled organizers, meetings that continue on a regular basis after the initial weeks, and promotion of public policies that address the majority of people, in Occupy’s case, the 99 percent of Americans for whom it claims to speak for.

     “Absence of leadership is not good, and actions like stomping on the flag can sully the movement,” Smith said.

     Professor Ormiston views the Occupy movement “through the lens of the American worker.” From 1979 to 1990, union membership in the United States fell by one-third, creating the issue of income inequality that Occupy is protesting.

     “From 1945 to 1979, the social contract was that if workers worked hard they’d be rewarded,” Ormiston explained. “From 1979 to 1981, a new mode of thinking came to the fore [with more imports from Asia and with the firing of striking air traffic controllers].”

     The gradual decay of unions has affected the power of the American worker, but no one—even the Democrats—haven’t addressed the tough questions on how to help. In the past couple decades, there haven’t even been any significant protests of this decline. As Ormiston said, “We don’t protest erosion.”

     That erosion, combined with the recent economic recession, has created the perfect environment for a movement such as Occupy to appear. The Occupy movement, Ormiston explained, “has changed the conversation.”


The Tea Party: A Lasting Impact?


Vanessa Williamson discusses her forthcoming book on the Tea Party and her many interviews with Tea Party activists across the country.

By Mary Solberg

Does the Tea Party matter? If you ask Vanessa Williamson, she’d say yes and no. OK, so maybe that’s not as definitive an answer as political pundits would hope for, but it pretty much sums up the complexity of the movement.

Williamson, co-author of the forthcoming book The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism (Oxford University Press), told a packed audience at Quigley Hall, Allegheny College, that while the Tea Party’s popularity is declining now, it has had a lasting impact on American politics.

“The Tea Party motivated older conservatives to vote, it helped move the Republican Party to the right, and it reinvigorated the Republican Party at a time of crisis,” Williamson said at the Sept. 22 lecture.

Conversely, though, the Tea Party’s popularity has declined from September 2009 when 70,000 activists converged on Washington, D.C., Williamson added, saying, “That was really the peak of Tea Party activism. But as more people have become aware of what the Tea Party is, its popularity began to decline.”

In 2010, the Tea Party did not elect conservatives in moderate areas, and may not even have increased the Republican landslide in the midterms, Williamson said. Nevertheless, the movement has had an impact, particularly in light of the emergence of Tea Party candidates, ongoing news coverage and its prevalence in major polls and surveys. Perhaps the most significant acknowledgement of its impact was this fall when CNN joined the Tea Party in hosting a Republican primary debate in California.

Williamson, a doctoral candidate in government and social policy at Harvard University, captivated her audience—ironically—with her straightforward discussion of the Tea Party. Instead of presenting a pro or con presentation on the controversial organization, Williamson’s viewpoint as an academic came off as refreshing. She discussed what it was like to interview Tea Party members throughout the country.

Audience members asked Williamson about the makeup of Tea Party activists and what she thought of them. The people she interviewed reminded her of kindly grandparents.

“The Tea Party is made up of mostly older white people who own their own homes and have pensions. They weren’t hit hardest by the Great Recession, but there’s a real element that the American dream was betrayed for some of them,” Williamson said.

Unfortunately, she maintains that many Tea Party members, while educated, are misinformed on issues. Williamson blamed an intense polarization of values in America today, where people seek like-minded people and groups that espouse only what they believe in. No one has to prove a point, in other words.

“They believe in things that are just not facts,” Williamson said, adding, “There is no accountability.”

Herb Klions, a retired psychology professor from Allegheny, was in the audience and asked Williamson if she thought the Tea Party would have taken a different direction had Hillary Clinton, now secretary of state, beat Obama in the 2008 presidential election.

“I think the Tea Party would have been a little different. The symbolism would not have been as potent, but conservatives still would have been upset,” Williamson said.

Williamson, whose primary research interest is the politics of taxation, co-wrote her Tea Party book with Theda Skocpol of Harvard. Before studying at Harvard, she served as the policy director for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. She received her bachelor’s degree in French language and literature from New York University, and her master’s from NYU’s Institute of French Studies.

To pre-order The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism, go online to Oxford University Press or


Local Political Parties Healthy, But Differences Emerge over Compromise

Meadville, Pa. – Sept. 13, 2011 – As part of research on the viability of local political parties in the United States, the Center for Political Participation at Allegheny College released the results of a new poll of nearly 500 local party officials from across the nation. 

Overall, the picture seems bright for local party organizations.  A vast majority of the party leaders surveyed (78 percent) believe their party committee is doing better than in the past.  “Given the vital role that local parties play in our democracy, it’s good to hear they are doing well,” said Daniel M. Shea, director of the CPP and lead author of the study.

Democratic and Republican party leaders generally agreed on a range of issues, from the use of particular technologies to the types of activities party committees should sponsor.  “In many respects, there was a great deal of consensus,” Shea said.  

There was, however, one glaring exception:  whether they believed elected officials should stand firm on their principles or try to find areas of compromise when grappling with difficult issues.  Seventy-eight percent of Republican leaders contend that elected officials should stick to their principles and not seek compromise solutions, while 12 percent of Democratic chairs said the same.   Conversely, 88 percent of Democratic chairs thought politicians should find compromises.  Just 22 percent of GOP leaders held a similar view.  “There are always modest partisan differences when you talk to local party leaders,” Shea said. “Yet this disparity is stunning.  I’ve never seen anything like it.”

Shea expressed concern about what these results might suggest for future budget negotiations in Congress. “It is hard to imagine middle-of-the-road solutions springing from Congress when 8 out of 10 local GOP party leaders expect their elected officials to stand firm,” he said.  “And you can bet all members of Congress pay close attention to these party chairs, given the next primary election is always just around the corner.”

A related finding was that 78 percent of the chairs believe Americans are more polarized than in the past, and 65 percent believe their own communities are more polarized than in previous years.

In 2010 the CPP conducted three polls on political civility in an attempt to gauge what the average American voter was thinking. The new poll, conducted this summer, went directly to the leaders of local party committees.   They were asked numerous questions about their organizations and their personal views regarding the tone of politics in general.  

Other key findings of the summer survey include: 73 percent of the chairs say that politics has become less civil in the past few years and 68 percent believe nasty politics is harmful to our democracy.   On a more encouraging note, the CPP study found that 90 percent of party leaders polled believe that aggressive but respectful politics is still possible.  

This summer’s Survey on Local Party Vitality was conducted via e-mail through Survey Monkey, Palo Alto, Calif., between July 15 and Aug. 1.  Questionnaires were sent to approximately 1,500 Democratic and 1,500 Republican local party leaders.  In all, 475 party leaders returned the survey, yielding a margin of error of plus or minus 4.5 percent.  Fifty-eight percent of the respondents were Democrats; 42 percent were Republicans.

Read/download survey data:

Survey on Local Party Vitality: Survey Frequency | Party Crosstab