Research is an integral part of the experience in Political Science. The Department’s faculty are active scholars and recognized experts in their fields. As such, they possess current knowledge about the ever evolving field of political science and opportunities for training and funding for undergraduate students looking for scholarly development and research opportunities. 

By engaging in mentored or collaborative research with faculty, students not only build strong relationships with a faculty mentor in their area of interest, but they also learn to write clearly and persuasively, to gather and analyze qualitative or quantitative data, and to present their ideas orally and in print. For many students, undergraduate research is the first step toward careers in policy analysis, law, or academia.

The Department offers a range of opportunities for undergraduate research. Students may undertake research for academic credit by enrolling in independent study or, for advanced students, electing to write an honors thesis  during their senior year. Students who choose not to participate in the honors program engage in supervised research as part of their senior seminar. For students interested in conducting research during the summer, the A&S Summer Research Fellowship  provides a stipend for ten weeks of research under the supervision of a faculty mentor.

The University of Richmond provides many sources of support for undergraduate research. Students may apply for A&S funding  to pay for supplies, books, printing, and conference travel to present research. Students conducting research abroad are eligible to apply for a Weinstein Grant  to fund their work. Additionally, the Department of Political Science will support students who wish to attend a disciplinary conference but are not presenting their research. Interested students should email the chair with an explanation of how attending the conference would further their academic and professional development.

There are several summer institutes that offer students the opportunity to deepen their research skills and their knowledge of particular fields. Among these are:

  • The American Political Science Association’s Ralph Bunche Summer Institute
  • The Public Policy and International Affairs Program’s Junior Summer Institute
  • ICPSR’s Summer Institute in Quantitative Methods
  • The University Network for Human Rights, Undergraduate Summer Intensive
  • The Hertog Foundation’s Political Studies Program

Students interested in a summer institute and/or funding to attend should speak with their faculty mentor or the department chair.

Students are encouraged to present their research  as well as publish their work. For students interested in academic publishing, the Department produces its own undergraduate student journal of politics, which features the best student work.

Students who are interested in undergraduate research should speak to faculty members who have expertise in the areas where they would like to work. If students are unsure of who would be an appropriate mentor to work with, they should consult with their academic advisor or the chair of the Department of Political Science.

Recent examples of Student Research 

Senior seminar papers

Hannah Hald, “Media Partisanship in Foreign Affairs Coverage: China’s Military Response to Pelosi’s August 2022 Taiwan Visit.” Winner of the Best Senior Thesis Award in the Department of Political Science. (2023, Professor: Dr. Dan Chen)

Summer research

Luke Arnowitt and Will Iboshi, “Property Confiscation during and after the Zanzibar Revolution” (2023, mentor: Dr. Sandra Joireman)

George Estrada, “Aquinas and Suarez on Law” (2021, mentor: Dr. Kevin Cherry)

Published work

Emily Stubblefield published an article with her mentor Dr. Sandra F. Joireman after completing an independent study, “Law, Violence and Property Expropriation in Syria: Impediments to Restitution and Return, Land (2019)

Meghna Melkote and Bianca Wieck published an article with their mentor Dr. Jennifer Bowie and various other coauthors, “Lower Court Influence on Higher Courts: Evidence from the United Kingdom Supreme Court,” Journal of Law and Courts