Category Archives: In the News

Thomas F. Schaller, Political Science, in the New Republic and Baltimore Sun

In a new article featured in the New Republic, Thomas F. Schaller, associate professor of political science, argues “there is demonstrable evidence of a gradual ‘House-ification’ of the national Republican Party since the mid-1980s, a trend with important implications for contemporary politics and policy in Washington, as well as the 2012 Republican presidential primary.” Schaller delves into the data behind this assertion and discusses why he believes strategies underpinning the GOP’s “House-ification” have helped the party succeed electorally on some fronts, but have hindered Republican candidates for the Senate and presidency.

Schaller’s latest Baltimore Sun column tackles a different issue: same-sex marriage in Maryland. Shortly after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed his state’s same-sex marriage bill into law, Gov. Martin O’Malley announced his support for a similar bill here in Maryland, and he has received a range of responses from the state’s political leaders. Schaller focuses on comments from black legislators in particular, some of whom identify same-sex marriage as an important civil rights issue and some of whom oppose the right of gay couples to marry through religious arguments.

Roy T. Meyers, Political Science, on

As the nation’s debt limit crisis come to a head, reported on reactions in Maryland, including concerns about how a default could negatively impact the state’s economy. “State and local borrowing is highly related to federal government borrowing,” said Roy Meyers, UMBC professor of political science. “A spike in federal interest rates would have very serious implications for some state and local governments. Those are legitimate concerns for all local county executives and county counselors.”

Meyers also reflected on the possible state-level impacts of massive federal budget cuts to public programs. “Maryland is reliant on government employment and federal contracting. In the long-term, the strengths of the local economy will be threatened,” he said. “The eventual magnitude of cuts will be larger than what can be put in place this year. Over the next three or four years, local government will have to plan for that eventuality.”

“For All the World to See” in the Network Journal

Clarence V. Reynolds writes about the Center for Art, Design and Visual Culture’s “For All the World to See” exhibition in the Network Journal.

Missing Journalist Matthew VanDyke ’02, Political Science, Spotted in Tripoli Prison

The mother of Baltimore journalist Matthew VanDyke ’02, political science, reports that he has been seen in a Tripoli prison, four months after disappearing in Libya. “The most important part of this information is that he is in good health,” Sharon VanDyke told the Baltimore Sun. “This is a real sense of relief.” She has been working with the US State Department and Red Cross, as well as other organizations, to locate her son and secure his release.

Matthew VanDyke speaks some Arabic and is an experienced MIddle East traveler. In addition to his UMBC degree, he has a degree in security studies from Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service. In a June AP article, UMBC political science professor Thomas Schaller called VanDyke one of his smartest students, saying, “I just know he’s going to come out on the other end with quite a yarn.” Readers seeking more information about efforts to locate Matthew VanDyke can see coverage through MSNBC, FOX, WBAL-TV and WBAL radio.

Sunil Dasgupta, Political Science, Interview with the National Bureau of Asian Research

The National Bureau of Asian Research has posted an extensive new interview (PDF version) with Sunil Dasgupta, director of UMBC’s political science program at Shady Grove, and the Brookings Institution’s Stephen Cohen, co-authors of “Arming without Aiming: India’s Military Modernization.” Dasgupta and Cohen describe the nature of U.S.-India relations broadly and focus on the limited success of their military collaborations, highlighted by India’s recent rejection of offers from U.S. firms to compete for a combat aircraft worth over $10 billion.

Dasgupta and Cohen argue that Congress and U.S. policymakers must look at South Asia as an integrated region, where India, Pakistan and Afghanistan are connected in complex ways. “The U.S.-India relationship has been transformed,” they write, “but the U.S. government… is not organized to deal appropriately with a rising India. [...] What the United States needs to do next is to identify, fund, and staff projects on one or two key technologies where actual cooperation can proceed at pace rather than engage in a wide array of mostly token and ineffective dialogues.”

Robert Provine, Psychology, on “Big Picture Science”

Robert Provine, professor of psychology, was featured on an episode of the syndicated radio program “Big Picture Science” to discuss his expertise on laughter.

The episode “Know Laughing Matter,” aired July 18, featured information about the evolutionary purpose of laughter, other species that laugh and other news and discoveries about laughter. Provine’s interview begins about 10 minutes into the show.

Warren Belasco, American Studies, in the Sacramento Bee

Traditional fair food includes hot dogs and funnel cakes, but at fairs around the country, more exotic choices abound, the Sacramento Bee reported in a July 17 story entitled “Corn Dogs Get Some Very Curious Company.” For example, at the California state fair, attendees can sample maggot sandwiches and grilled raccoon, fried scorpions and dried crickets.

Warren Belasco, professor of American studies, thinks the exotic food trend has something to do with TV programs such as “Fear Factor” and “Survivor.”

“It sounds like a byproduct of the extreme eating stunts on various reality shows,” he said.

AARP Highlights Research by UMBC Center for Aging Studies

In the latest issue of Maryland’s AARP Bulletin, UMBC research Kathryn de Medeiros describes how a new Center for Aging Studies research project was prompted by the growing number of childless older women. Generativity in the Lives of Older Women (GLOW) is a four-year project led by de Medeiros and Robert Rubinstein aimed at better understanding how older women without children invest themselves in future generations.

People often wrongly assume older women are mothers and/or grandmothers. In reality, approximately 20% of people 65 and over in the U.S. were “childless” in 2011—a figure that is expected to grow to 30% in 2030. GLOW researchers will interview 200 women to explore their views on the meaning that not having children has had in their lives; talk about ways they have influenced future generations through volunteerism, teaching, passing along personal objects and other creative activities; and discuss their plans for managing future health care needs, which might include family caregiving. This study will allow the researchers to learn more about an important yet often overlooked population with an eye to helping service organizations and policymakers rethink assumptions about family structure in older age.

Robert Provine, Psychology, in the News

The world’s first “tickle spa” has opened in Spain, and professor of psychology Robert Provine doesn’t understand the appeal.

“Usually, people seeking a massage are seeking relaxation. Tickle is getting your blood pressure and heart rate up,” he tells in a story entitled “Laugh it up: ‘Tickle spa’ opens in Spain.” The story appeared on the website on July 12.

Provine’s work was also recently covered in the Juneau Empire in a June 22 story entitled “Laughter: A Cure for What Ails You,” and in a July 6 Minneapolis City Pages story entitled “Laugh Yoga Practitioners Guffaw Their Way to Good Health.”

Ellen Handler Spitz, Honors College, on Australian National Radio

Ellen Handler Spitz, Honors College professor of visual arts, will be featured on Australian National Radio’s “ABC National Radio Book Show” at 10 a.m. on Friday, July 15.

The topic of the show will be L. Frank Baum’s “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” which Spitz recently reviewed in a column entitled “Yellow Brick Philosophy” in The New Republic.