September 20th, 2016

Math, It’s Coming…

I’m starting out my program with some general required courses.  Since I haven’t been in school in awhile, my advisor and I decided we wanted to start successfully. So, I’m putting off the math, mostly statistics, til next year.  So, Math, it’s coming.

Am I a descriptive or causal inference political scientist? Do I believe that political science, one of the social sciences, is a “real science?” I’ve had lots of discussions with the science heads in my family. I have an M. D., Cell Biologist, Virtualationist (made that word up), an Engineer and for good measure, and Actress in the family. I work for a U. S. Senator as a staffer in policy and field work–with a little communications sprinkled in.  I’m a utility player. My scientist family members say what I do is not science, but the discipline is changing.

In the 1970s, most of the field was descriptive.  You go out to a location and interview people, do case studies and then draw a descriptive inference about the broader purpose from your findings. In recent years, political science has gotten more causal, meaning there are experiments, independent and dependent variables, random assignment and more with numerical factors you are solving for and lots of formulas.

I was asked in class which one I was..a descriptive or causal.  Honestly, I don’t know enough to know what I am yet. (One of my biggest strengths/flaws depending on how you look at it is I can argue several sides of an issue pretty convincingly.) I think I’m more descriptive, but the discipline is going in a more scientific direction.

So how do I fit in? I don’t think I’ll be on a tenure track at a major university.  I’d like to teach.  I think I have a great deal to offer undergraduates who might want to know more about this field, major in this field or go to graduate school in this field.

My dream? There’s an American Politics program at St. Andrews University in Scotland.  My husband and I are thinking about spending part of the of the year there when we retire.  I’m thinking a former politico, media maven, candidate who was a staffer for a U. S. Senator and add in the academic achievement of a PhD and I might get hired part time.  If not there, somewhere equally as interesting.

Note: I’m an open door person.  I work harder and smarter than most anyone I know and love what I do.  And I have a healthy (or maybe unhealthy) cynicism about my own abilities. The number one question I get is about whether I’ll run for office again.  I can’t answer that right now.  If the right opportunity presents itself, I might.  But for now, I’m happy to be learning, supporting and serving Georgians in my current position.