Jackson State University: Challenging Minds and Cultivating the Political Science Pipeline
By Kesicia A. Dickinson, Michigan State University, Jasmine C. Jackson, Purdue University, Princess H. Williams, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Numerous studies have shown that the lack of racial diversity within academic spaces impacts the sense of belonging and inclusion by members who are racial minorities. This glaring fact impacts not only how undergraduate students calculate their ability to obtain a doctoral degree in political science but also their perceptions of the feasibility of a future career as a political science professor. Our experiences at Jackson State University (JSU) highlight a model that presents a stark difference to the traditional trajectory. The political science department at JSU provided us with the privilege to engage with many political science faculty members of color who served as mentors and trained us to conduct independent research. Working with these faculty members as undergraduates shifted our perspectives on the discipline, our ability to navigate a doctoral program, and our decisions to pursue a career in academia. We contend that the political science department at JSU can serve as a model to assist in building the pipeline to increase racial diversity in the discipline. This article discusses three important elements of JSU’s undergraduate political science program that have been key in its efforts to build and sustain the political science pipeline: early exposure to research, mentorship, and resources.