APSA’s Graduate Student Status Committee Discusses Past Work and Current Projects

Graduate Student Status Committee Discusses Past Work and Current Projects

by Chinbo Chong, Anna Meier, Austin Nelson, Corey Robin, Jasmine Smith, and Rachel Torres — (2019–2020 APSA Committee on the Status of Graduate Students in the Profession)

Although graduate students make up a large portion of the political science community, their voices are not always represented in decision-making bodies, meaning that discipline-wide policies and priorities may not reflect graduate students’ concerns. APSA’s Committee on the Status of Graduate Students in the Profession aims to change this.

Formed in 2016, the committee consists of four graduate students, one postdoctoral member, and one faculty member, reversing the structure of many political science department-level committees. We seek to learn more about the varied experiences of political science graduate students, communicate with APSA leadership about graduate student issues, and develop resources to help graduate students navigate the discipline.

During its short existence, the committee has completed several projects with a focus on the difficulties of the academic job market. Last year, we fielded a survey of job market candidates, analyzed the results, and shared our findings with the APSA Council, emphasizing candidates’ frustration with burdensome application requirements and a lack of communication from departments.

At both the 2018 and 2019 APSA annual meetings, we sponsored panel discussions about the job market, and at the 2019 annual meeting, we co-sponsored the Career Fair, featuring representatives from a variety of academic and non-academic organizations. And we created a guide for graduate students with tips on networking and getting the most out of the annual meeting.

We are also committed to making political science a more equitable discipline for scholars from underrepresented groups. In 2018, we sponsored a panel at the annual meeting on navigating work-life balance for minority and marginalized students. Finally, we have worked to encourage organized sections to lower or eliminate section fees for graduate students, which disproportionately burden first-generation students and students of color. Since committee members attended section business meetings in 2017, many sections have indeed stopped requiring graduate students to pay section fees.

Current committee members include:

  • Austin Nelson, University of Texas at Austin (co-chair)
  • Rachel Torres, University of Iowa (co-chair)
  • Chinbo Chong, Princeton University (postdoctoral representative)
  • Anna Meier, University of Wisconsin–Madison
  • Corey Robin, Brooklyn College and the City University of New York (faculty representative)
  • Jasmine Smith, Duke University

Current Goals and Projects

First and foremost, our sincere thanks to members rotating off of the committee this year for their service: Rodrigo Barrenechea, Lauren Muscott, and Delphia Shanks-Booth. Going forward, we have two main projects:

  • Design and implement a climate survey of political science graduate students, with a focus on students’ experience in the first few years of their graduate programs
  • Create a web presence for the committee with a new website and social media profiles (in progress), providing a place for graduate students to express concerns and engage more directly with APSA

We have also begun compiling a list of resources for job market candidates, and we welcome input on further initiatives of interest to graduate students at all stages. To get in touch with us, please contact Tanya Schwarz, APSA Director of Teaching and Learning, at tschwarz@apsanet.org.