“The Disparity of Knowledge in a Global Context”
From left to right: Babawande Afolabi, Maria Gobbi, Monica Simonin, and Erica Podrazik
are several of the students going to Greece in May to present their research.
April 24, 2008
BLOOMINGTON, Ill. – Seven Illinois Wesleyan students will attend the annual International
Association for Political Science Students (IAPSS) Academic Conference & General Assembly
in Greece from May 5 through May 11.
The IAPSS Conference is hosted by Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and the University
of Macedonia in Serres. During the conference, the group will present their research
entitled, “The Disparity of Knowledge in the Global Context” and attend a series of
workshops with students from around the world.
Students attending the conference are: Babawande Afolabi, a sophomore business and
economics double major with a minor in political science from Nigeria; Arielle Cassiday,
a sophomore international studies major from Spring Grove, Ill.; Andrew Clott, a sophomore
political science and sociology double major from Chicago; Maria Gobbi, a first-year
international studies major with a French minor from Evanston, Ill.; Charlie Sell,
a sophomore political science major from Wauconda, Ill.; and Monica Simonin, a first-year
anthropology major from Belleville, Ill.
Other students involved in the research, though not attending the conference, are
Erica Podrazik, a sophomore political science major from Lombard, Ill.; Monica Shah,
a sophomore international studies major from Downers Grove, Ill.; and Nathan Wheatley,
a sophomore political science major with an economics minor from Glenn Ellyn, Ill.
The students’ conference presentation culminates work that began on the first day
of a course taught by Juan Gabriel Gmez Albarello, visiting assistant professor of
political science. In the syllabus for his class “The Politics of Developing Societies,”
Gmez Albarello asked his students to work on a paper that they could eventually submit
to a conference. Under their professor’s direction, the students began to collect
data to construct a preliminary version of the paper, which investigated the inconsistency
of sources that scholars cite in political science research articles.
Their research revealed that in political science articles, citations of scholars
writing in Western nations vastly outweigh citations of scholars from developing countries.
After compiling their research into a formal report, the students discovered that,
of the 53 articles included in the study, 86 percent of the cited sources were from
the United States and the United Kingdom, rather than citing sources produced in developing
nations. This vast source disparity between Western countries and developing nations
in scholarly articles is “not just a bias,” said student Nathan Wheatley. “It’s a
reflection of a neo-colonial relationship that mirrors the relationship between the
former colonies and their former colonizers on every level— economic, social, political
and now educational.”
Gmez Albarello encouraged the students to submit an application to present their paper
at the annual Midwest Political Science Association (MPSA) Conference held in Chicago
in April. “After their application got accepted, they realized that their initial
work deserved to be expanded. At that moment, they started to fly on their own,” says
Gmez Albarello, who continued to meet with the students and also encouraged them to
interview other IWU political science professors as well as noted scholars in the
field from around the world. The students additionally collected data involving educational
systems, availability of publication resources, language and intellectual infrastructures
in developed and developing nations.
While continuing their research, the students decided to apply to present at the IAPSS
Academic Conference & General Assembly in Greece. The IAPSS “is international, politically
independent, non-profit and student-run, and aims to have global impact in the political
science sphere,” according to the organization’s Web site. The trip to Greece is being
funded principally by Mark L. McConaghy '63, who is a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers
LLP. Other support came from the University administration and Student Senate.
Gmez Albarello is pleased that what began as a course assignment has grown into research
that is garnering international attention. “My students have worked very hard. They
have proven themselves to be up to the rigor of academic work. They have begun to
fly on their own – the best accomplishment any mentor can expect from them.”
For more information on the group’s research, visit their report at http://www.iwu.edu/~nwheatle/mpsa.
Contact: Lauren Pietruszka, ’09 (309) 556-3181