Experienced new personnel at the Institute of Public Affairs are expected to give Temple University’s research team international recognition, and are excited to prove it in the 2006 Congressional Election.
“Each of us has different specialties and I think that’s what makes us such an interesting group,” Director Michael G. Hagen said. “We plan on using faculty members from outside of the IPA and other departments, along with political scientists from different regions to add to the knowledge on other areas of elections.”
In fall 2004, Hagen was hired from the University of Pennsylvania to strengthen the IPA. Since Hagen’s arrival, other new and active hires as of fall 2005 include Christopher Wlezien, Megan Mullin and Kevin T. Arceneaux.
Wlezien, from Oxford University, is an expert in American politics and comparative politics. Currently a professor of political science at Temple, Wlezien is also in the works of a cross-national investigation entitled “Degrees of Democracy.”
Mullin received her B.A., and more recently her M.A., in political science at the University of California, Berkeley. Her field of expertise is in Federalism and American politics. The National Science Foundation supported Mullin for her thesis paper, and she has received the Best Paper Award for papers presented at the American Political Science Association’s annual meetings for three consecutive years.
Arceneaux, from Yale University, is an expert in American politics and political psychology. He joined the Temple team as an assistant professor in the Political Science department and an IPA researcher. He is currently researching how the mass media influences political attitudes.
Joseph P. McLaughlin is a senior associate fellow that joined the IPA after a long career as government official and an urban lobbyist working on major public policy issues in Philadelphia. He has used his familiarity with the field to help the IPA’s researchers. He also currently works as an assistant dean for external and governmental affairs for the College of Liberal Arts and as an adjunct professor in the Political Science department.
His most recent project includes conducting work on tracking state policy, which is the first state-level database of its kind.
The IPA is preparing to poll the greater Philadelphia area for the 2006 Congressional Election. They intend to study all aspects of the election, studying advertisements and the media’s take on the election along with polling the public.
Yphtech Lelkes, a graduate political science student, has confidence in what the institute can do for the university.
“What is important, I think, is that it seems that the IPA is conducting research that is important to Philadelphia and the state,” Lelkes said. “Temple and the IPA will hopefully become an important source on and of the city. It will also help the city and the state since the institute’s mission, I imagine, is to better policy.”
Sophomore Philip Conroy, an engineering major, never heard of the IPA before, but said that it sounds like it could be a big benefit for Temple.
“It’s nice to see that a public-funded university can draw in Ivy League caliber professors and administrators,” Conroy said. “This might put Temple on the map, and can make the degree I get look better in the future. Also, if the program can generate government funding, that could mean a lowering of tuition.”
Christina Mazza, a junior journalism major, agrees that the IPA matters too, mainly because of what it might do to Temple’s status.
“My family, along with other people I’m sure, get a bad impression about Temple because of its location, but the institute seems to be promising. This could change the reputation for Temple,” Mazza said.
The IPA also plans on drawing on other professors in the university for the 2006 campaign.
Richard Joslyn, an associate professor of political science at Temple, is one of the faculty members that plan to contribute to the IPA’s research for Election Day 2006.
Joslyn’s expertise and area of interest is in trivial elections, meaning the study of political competition, media coverage of elections, and how much elections matter to the public.
“Temple has made a lot of good moves to build up the expertise of the Institute,” Joslyn said. “Hagen made a good start, and Wlezien is a very active senior professor and researcher that we are lucky to have. Megan and Kevin are fairly new to the field … just out of graduate school, but they show to be amazingly active researchers and are just as worthy to be a part of this group.”
The IPA launched a monthly Campaign and Elections Speaker Series on Nov. 22, conducted by Hagen, on his intense research titled, “Strategy and Advertising in the 2004 Presidential Campaign.” The presentation explained how the Bush and Kerry campaigns were interpreted all over the country.
Much of the information Hagen discussed in the presentation was collected during his time spent researching the learning effects of campaigns for the University of Pennsylvania’s National Annenberg Survey.
Next month’s speaker for the series is James Druckman, an associate professor of political science at Northwestern University. Druckman’s presentation, planned for Dec. 15, is titled, “Competitive Framing.”
The IPA incorporates faculty members, students and citizens who wish to contribute to the research that will make a difference in the public’s knowledge on Philadelphia’s local and state politics.
“We live in one of the most competitive regions in the country and are main targets for campaigns,” Hagen said. “It is crucial to keep the public informed, and the IPA plans to aid the public throughout election time.”
Megan Kelsey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.