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Mershon Center for International Security Studies

Amy Shuman

Mershon affiliate Amy Shuman, professor in the Department of English, was one of five faculty members to recieve a 2015 Distinguished Scholar Award from The Ohio State University.  The official announcement was made May 15.  

Shuman was recognized as one of the preeminent scholars in folklore studies, as well as in the fields of narrative studies, literacy studies and human rights studies.  Among the world’s top scholars in narratology, she is a pioneer in the study of the uses of narrative in everyday life and political asylum process.

Her co-authored book, Rejecting Refugees: Political Asylum in the 21st Century, considers the use of personal stories of suffering and trauma in the political asylum process and proposes a model for the role of narrative in advancing human rights.  Shuman's research for this book was supported with a grant from the Mershon Center.

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Alexander Wendt

In a periodic survey of faculty at more than 1,400 colleges and universities worldwide, Alexander Wendt was once again named as the most influential scholar in international relations over the past 20 years. Wendt is Ralph D. Mershon Professor of International Security at the Mershon Center.

The survey was part of the Teaching, Research, and International Policy (TRIP) Project done by the Theory and Practice of International Relations at the College of William and Mary in collaboration with Foreign Policy magazine. Wendt was also named for most influential scholar in international relations in the 2011 survey.

Wendt is author of Social Theory of International Politics (Cambridge, 1999), widely cited for bringing social constructivist theory to the field of international relations. His book argues that international politics is determined not primarily by material concerns such as wealth and power, but by states' perceptions of each other as rivals, enemies, and friends. Social Theory of International Politics was named Best Book of the Decade by the International Studies Association in 2006 and has been translated into 10 languages.

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Erik Nisbet

Study finds different topics bedevil the left and right

COLUMBUS, Ohio – New research suggests that liberals, as well as conservatives, can be biased against science that doesn’t align with their political views.

The study found that people from both the left and right expressed less trust in science when they were presented with facts that challenged specific politicized issues.

For conservatives, climate change and evolution were the issues that led them to lose some trust in science. For liberals, it was hydraulic fracturing (fracking) and nuclear power.  The results challenge recent books and articles that claim conservatives alone have difficulty dealing with scientific fact.

"Liberals are also capable of processing scientific information in a biased manner," said Erik Nisbet, co-author of the study and associate professor of communication and political science at The Ohio State University.  "They aren't inherently superior to conservatives."

The researchers caution that the results shouldn't be interpreted to create a false balance in which each side could be seen as equally wrong on all issues.

"Our point is there is evidence of bias on both sides, although the bias may appear on different issues,” said co-author R. Kelly Garrett, also an associate professor of communication at Ohio State.

For example, "liberals may be biased about some issues, but that doesn’t mean they are wrong about humans causing climate change," Nisbet said. "You can’t say our study supports the climate denialism movement."

The study, also co-authored by graduate student Kathryn Cooper, appears in the March 2015 issue of The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science.

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Richard GuntherIn 2012, President Barack Obama carried Ohio by 2 percentage points – yet Republicans won 62 of 99 state House seats and 12 of 16 congressional seats.

In 2014, four winners in the Ohio Senate, 14 in the Ohio House, and one U.S. Congressman, Bob Gibbs, faced no opponent in the general election.

How could one party gain such a large majority of seats, with so many of them uncontested, in what many regard as the quintessential swing state?

One word: gerrymandering.

After each census conducted every 10 years, the U.S. Census Bureau decides the number of Congressional representatives each state will get. In 2010, Ohio lost two representatives due to its loss of population. As a result, it had to redraw its congressional and state legislative districts.

In Ohio, districts are drawn by the Apportionment Board, composed of the governor, state auditor, secretary of state, and two members of the legislature from each party.

After Republicans swept state elections in 2010, they did what one might expect a political party to do: They draw the legislative districts to benefit themselves. Rather than a swing state, Ohio became known as one of the worst states for political gerrymanding in the country.

Watching this process was Mershon affiliate Richard Gunther, international coordinator of the 21-country Comparative National Elections Project.

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