Four political science students at the University of Arkansas at Monticello recently participated in the second World Congress on Undergraduate Research (WCUR) in Germany.


Dylan McClain of Monticello, in conjunction with Leah Sparkman of Bay Town, Texas, and Daniela Delgado of Miami, Fla., and Johnmark Perry of Dermott, made up the four-person UAM delegation.


The National Council for Undergraduate Research (CUR) at the University of Oldenburg at Oldenburg, Germany, hosted the event May 23-25.


“This highly competitive, international congress selected the top 400 undergraduate researchers from all applicants, who were accompanied by faculty mentors and other supporters. All disciplines were represented and students converged from around the world, representing students from every continent in the world and coming from countries ranging from Germany to Australia – students from the United States made up approximately 35% of those present,” according to a news release.


“This Congress was designed to foster interdisciplinary debates prompted by and grounded in the project development of undergraduate students from around the world in the areas of environment, health, economy, communication and politics. The aim was for these select students to build cultural bridges in the international community to overcome stereotypes and increase inter-continental dialogue among the future leaders of the world,” according to the release.


Of the UAM delegation, McClain, Sparkman and Delgado each gave a 15 minute conference presentation of their individual (original) political science research papers followed by a question and answer session.


UAM Political Science Associate Professor and CUR Councilor, Carol Strong, moderated student panels during the Congress and presented a pedagogical poster about mentoring undergraduate research in the classroom, entitled: “Challenges and Opportunities for Mentoring Undergraduate Research: A Faculty Perspective.”


McClain (a senior political science/history double major) presented a hybrid quantitative-qualitative schematic plan to target political strategies whereby Middle Eastern North African (MENA) states can foster (U.N. defined) sustainable economic, social, and political infrastructure.


His project, “A Plan to Develop Sustainable Economic, Political and Social Institutions within MENA,” was completed in partial fulfilment of a 2018 Student Undergraduate Research Grant Fund he earned from the Arkansas Department of Higher Education.


“In this presentation, McClain shared the findings of his project, which contained a typology comparing stable MENA states (the U.A.E., Qatar) against problematic states (Egypt, Sudan, Yemen) and their recent development strategies (as sourced in the Fragile State Index and international statistical rankings). The purpose was to highlight the ‘best practices’ found in these case studies to give suggestions about policies most likely to promote sustainability in developing countries,” according to the release.


Sparkman, a junior political science major and member of the UAM Debate Team, presented a paper exploring the possibility of successfully implementing a hybrid adversarial-restorative approach to adjudicating sexual assault cases in the United States.


“Sparkman’s paper (entitled: The United States Adversarial Court System: Addressing Sexual Assault with Restorative Justice) comparatively examined the policies of restorative justice used in sexual assault cases in Norway, Belgium, Ireland and the United Kingdom. The intention was to find ways to bring elements of restorative justice into U.S. criminal code to balance out the adversarial nature of the current system, while confronting other significant harms to the victim-survivor such as re-victimization,” according to the release.


Delgado is a junior political science major, who presented a paper including research on the evolving nature of the U.S. Presidency and its impact on the international community.


“Delgado’s paper (entitled: The Evolution of the U.S. Presidency and its Approach to Foreign and Domestic Affairs) compared the traditional vision of the role of the U.S. President regarding foreign affairs against more modern (often interventionalist) approaches. The purpose was to evaluate the most advantageous role for the United States to assume in the international community to ensure that American intervention both helps other countries, but also serves the best interests of the United States,” according to the release.


Details: Carol Strong, UAM political science associate professor and CUR councilor, strong@uamont.edu or 870-460-1687.