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Political science to host pre-inauguration events

Following a divisive presidential campaign and tumultuous election of president-elect Donald Trump, the Department of Political Science at West Virginia University is set to host two pre-inauguration events to contemplate the future of the American presidency.

The first event will consider how much latitude a new president can have in setting a different course for the country. The panel brings together WVU faculty and a state lobbyist to discuss the presidency’s power, constraints and potential policy impacts. 

Scott Crichlow 
Scott Crichlow

Political Science Department Chair Scott Crichlow will focus on foreign policy as well  as checks and balances on the presidency, while Associate Professor of Political Science John Kilwein will discuss the judicial system and the courts’ roles in political matters. Julie Warden, communications director and lobbyist for WVFREE, will bring a policy perspective on reproductive health, women’s rights and equality.  The panel will be moderated by Bill Franko, assistant professor of political science. 

“The basic question we are all often asked as political scientists is does this really matter? Does it matter if there is a new president, or are all the same systems in place no matter who is in office?” Crichlow said. “We’ve designed this panel so that it covers a few different areas of policymaking to answer those basic questions.”

The panel, “The Trump Presidency: Powers, Constraints, Policy Effects,” will take place Wednesday, Jan. 18 at 5 p.m. in B51 White Hall.

Relations with Russia are also spurring curiosity and controversy in the wake of the new presidential administration.

While the incoming Trump administration promises to pursue friendlier relations with Russia, many members of the Republican Party remain skeptical of Russia President Vladimir Putin and his intentions. This event will explore what a friendlier relationship between the United States and Russia might look like, including how American and Russian goals intersect and diverge. 

Erik Herron
Erik Herron

“Public debates about politics have become highly partisan in the United States. We hope to have an open discussion that thoughtfully addresses alternative paths for U.S. foreign relations,” said Erik Herron, Eberly Family Professor of Political Science. “All foreign policy decisions have consequences for the U.S. and its allies. Our roundtable will emphasize the potential benefits and costs of different choices.”

The roundtable will feature faculty from both WVU and the National War College.

Herron studies political institutions and electoral systems and has conducted research in Eastern Europe and Eurasia. Boris Barkanov is a teaching assistant professor in political science with a focus on comparative politics and international relations. Colonel John Mowchan is a political science Ph.D. student and the faculty instructor and course director for regional issues and interests at the National War College.

The roundtable will be moderated by Lisa DiBartolomeo, Armand E. and Mary W. Singer Professor in the Humanities, teaching associate professor in the Department of World Languages, Literatures and Linguistics and coordinator of the Russian studies program.  

“(The department) has several specialists on Russia and U.S.-Russia relations. With this administration and the highly controversial subject, we thought we should start the semester with a discussion exclusively devoted to that since we have the expertise to share,” Crichlow said. “The idea is to get a mix of perspectives that fit together Russia, Russia’s immediate neighbors and the United States and learn how the bureaucracies will play out in both state-to-state and intrastate relations.”  

The roundtable, “The Future of U.S.-Russian Relations in the Trump Administration,” will take place on Thursday, Jan. 19 at 5 p.m. in 126 Ming Hsieh Hall.

“We want to provide information to the parts of the campus community who have an interest in these kinds of question about politics and society. We want to put our expertise out there and to hear from the people in the audience about what questions they have,” Crichlow said. “I’m looking forward to the opportunity to share our expertise with more people than those who have the opportunity to register for our classes. If these events have a local interest and we have the opportunity to interact with the audience, have a discussion and hopefully inform, that’s a success to us.”  

The events are hosted by the Rockefeller School of Policy and Politics, and are free and open to the public. For more information, visit

Photo credit: Adrian Gray