Millikin University - Decatur, IL
Political Science

Welcome to the Department of Political Science at Millikin University!

Millikin's Department of Political Science is dedicated to developing its students' understanding of the political world at both the domestic and international levels.  With an emphasis on theory and practice, students explore their role as active citizens in their community, country, and the world.  Through a rigorous curriculum that cultivates competency in both quantitative and qualitative methodologies, we seek to develop the critical thinking and analytical skills essential to our students' long-term professional success.  We also seek to instill in our students the responsibilities that civil society demands and are committed to their development as active citizens and leaders of their local, national, and world communities.  We are dedicated to the development of the whole student, one who is better able to understand and engage in the development of a more ethical and just society. 

Our students become life-long learners, active citizens, and leaders, with skills applicable to many career paths.  Consequently, our alumni are successful in a wide variety of fields including law, criminal justice, business, advocacy, academia, diplomacy, and electoral politics.  “Careers and the Study of Political Science: A Guide for Undergraduates” is available from the Department.

Majors are encouraged to participate in the Washington Semester Program at American University in Washington, D.C.; the programs of the Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars, the United Nations Semester in New York; Study Abroad; and in extracurricular activities such as Model Illinois Government, Model United Nations, Moot Court, and student government. 

News Release

Millikin University student-attorneys and delegates were recognized for their efforts at the 37th annual Model Illinois Government (MIG) simulation held Feb. 26 – March 1 at the State Capital Complex in Springfield, Ill.

Each spring semester, students from around the state of Illinois participate in the Model Illinois Government simulation. Nearly 300 students from over 20 colleges and universities participated in this year's simulation. 

The MIG Moot Court competition included teams of two attorneys arguing cases before a panel of student-justices and legal professionals. Teams were scored on the basis of presentation and knowledge of the case facts. Millikin University brought five teams to this year's competition with teams advancing to the quarter-final round, semi-final round, and a newly configured four-team final round. 

In addition to the students who participated as attorneys, three Millikin students participated as student-justices: Kara Anderson, a senior philosophy major from Danville, Ill., Kiana Holmes, a junior sociology major from Elgin, Ill., and Rob Spurling, a senior philosophy major from Taylorville, Ill. The student-justices demonstrated mastery of the case files by firing a continuous volley of questions at the attorneys.

"Our students worked extremely hard in advance of and during the competition to produce and then deliver sophisticated legal arguments," said Dr. Robert Money, Millikin professor of philosophy. "The results speak for themselves. It is an honor to work with such bright and motivated students." 

Millikin student-attorney Courtney Burress, a junior philosophy major from Marseilles, Ill., was elected to serve as Chief Justice of the Model Illinois Government Moot Court competition for 2015-2016. Burress will be on the Model Illinois Government Executive Board for the upcoming year.

"This was my first year participating in the competition and the experience was absolutely incredible," said Burress. "Listening to other schools compete and talking to actual lawyers, professors of law, and students from other schools who have the same aspirations as me thoroughly showcased to me that this is what I want to do for the rest of my life."

Millikin students who participated in the competition included: Taylor Lindemann, a first-year theatre major from Oak Lawn, Ill., John Tasch, a sophomore philosophy major from Roselle, Ill., Joshua Rose, a senior philosophy major from Saint Jacob, Ill., Taylor Godwin, a junior political science major from Hillsboro, Ill., Nick Roberson, a senior political science major from East Troy, Wis., Alex Brase, a junior mathematics major from Decatur, Ill., Hannah Serbe, a sophomore philosophy major from Decatur, Ill., Victoria Jackson, a senior psychology major from Chicago, and McKensie Meadows, a junior philosophy major from Decatur, Ill.

Burress added, "I learned a lot about myself as a person and a scholar during Moot Court. I learned a lot about the skills I possess and the skills I need to work on that will help me in my educational pursuits at Millikin and in law school."


In addition to the Moot Court competition, the MIG simulation featured a Legislature Simulation where students are assigned political parties and districts and placed in committees of their particular interests. The legislators simulated the legislative processes in the actual committee rooms and chambers of the Capitol building.

Millikin University brought 10 delegates to this year's MIG Legislature Simulation. Aaron Thomas, a junior political science major from Orland Park, Ill., was re-elected to the executive board, this time as the Attorney General of Model Illinois Government. As Attorney General, Thomas will be in charge of original legislation for the simulation, as well as running the MIG Journal.

"Working at the Capital has always been a great learning experience," said Thomas. "I think Model Illinois Government is a perfect example of what students need in terms of getting involved with politics, and understanding what it means to get bills passed that affect our everyday lives." 

Students Courtney Woelfel, a sophomore political science major from Jerseyville, Ill., and Abby Beaty, a junior political science major from Nokomis, Ill., submitted original legislation to the simulation and their original legislation was debated in committee.

"I was incredibly impressed with the poise and confidence of our students, both in committee action and in floor debate," said Amber Lusvardi, Millikin lecturer of political science. "Their ability to speak passionately and in-depth on a range of government issues was inspiring to me as their faculty advisor."

Millikin students who participated in the Legislature Simulation included: Paige Ehrat, a junior communication major from Shobonier, Ill., Jessica Bird, a senior political science major from Chicago, Karen Padilla, a first-year political science major from Chicago, Colten Watrous, a first-year political science major from Decatur, Ill., Jenny Zima, a junior political science major from Greenfield, Wis., Taylor Morthland, a senior political science major from Decatur, Ill., and Kate Wrigley, a junior political science major from Decatur, Ill.

For more information on Model Illinois Government, visit

Millikin student wins Afghan sports honor

February 24, 2015 5:00 am  •  

DECATUR – Millikin University sophomore Hasida Wali remembers a time in Afghanistan when females could barely leave the house, much less play sports.

But since the overthrow of the country's Taliban government in 2001, the 21-year-old has been one of the women making strides on the soccer field and elsewhere.

Wali was recognized for her efforts in December at the 2014 Rumi Awards in Las Vegas, an annual ceremony founded by Abe Nasser to recognize outstanding contributions by Afghans around the world.

She said she initially thought the email notifying her was about her sister, whom she knew was up for a Rumi media award, but to her surprise, it was about her own win.

Wali grew up playing volleyball and basketball before giving herself over to the game she loved most: soccer, or as it's known in her country, football.

She played on a youth team for girls under 14, was selected for the national team two years later and before leaving Afghanistan to go to an English high school in India, she ran the Women's Football Committee of the Afghanistan Football Federation in 2010.

Wali also helped other young women as a youth group leader for the Afghan Women's Network.

She initially studied pre-medicine at Millikin but switched her major to political science after finding she didn't care for biology. She has also played soccer at Millikin but had to serve as a manager this past season after fracturing a toe during preseason practice.

Wali hopes to return to Afghanistan after graduation and “work with the government on (improving) women's rights.”

She said despite progress, women tend to be punished for wanting to work, get an education or speak out.

“It's something I can see with my eyes,” Wali said. “I feel disappointed for people who don't have rights.”


Scholar notes Lincoln's support of black vote led to assassination

February 06, 2015 12:01 am  •  

DECATUR – The setting may not have been the U.S. Capitol, but by the time Michael Burlingame spoke some of the words Abraham Lincoln chose for his second inaugural address, you could have heard the proverbial pin drop.

Before a standing-room-only audience at Millikin University's Perkinson Music Center on Thursday evening, the internationally renowned scholar was sharing some insights about our nation's 16th president that he found in the papers of Frederick Douglass.

He said Douglass did not initially grasp the importance of Lincoln's last speech on April 11, 1865, when he said for the first time publicly that he believed some blacks should be given the right to vote, namely those who had served in the Union army and those who were literate.

“I was disappointed by the limited scope of the proposal but should have known (better) … because Abraham Lincoln learned his statesmanship in the school of rail-splitting,” Burlingame quoted Douglass as saying. “And to split a rail, you take a wedge, and you first insert the thin edge of the wedge into the log.”

By contrast, actor John Wilkes Booth understood the significance of Lincoln's statement all too well and murdered the president for it three days later.

Burlingame's appearance Thursday was the 2015 T.W. Samuels Lecture, created in 1977 in honor of the late senior partner in the law firm of Samuels, Miller, Schroeder, Jackson and Sly.

Holder of the Chancellor Naomi B. Lynn Distinguished Chair in Lincoln Studies at the University of Illinois at Springfield, Burlingame has written 12 books on the life of Abraham Lincoln, including “Abraham Lincoln: A Life,” a two-volume biography published in 2009.

“Abraham Lincoln was not murdered because he issued the Emancipation Proclamation (nor was he murdered) because he supported the 13th Amendment, which abolished slavery throughout the United States,” Burlingame said. “Abraham Lincoln was murdered because he called for black voting rights.

“I think it is therefore appropriate for us to regard Lincoln as a martyr for black civil rights as much as Martin Luther King, or Medgar Evers or Viola Liuzzo or James Reeb or Mickey Schwerner or James Chaney or Andrew Goodman or any of those people who were murdered in the 1960s as they championed the civil rights revolution of our modern time.”

Thursday afternoon, Burlingame met informally with about 20 students and faculty in Shilling Hall and shared his theory on why Lincoln hated slavery from an early age.

“I suggest that Lincoln loathed, despised and hated slavery because he hated, loathed and despised the way his father treated him,” he said. “I think Lincoln, unconsciously, he identified himself with the slaves and his father with the slaveholders.”

Burlingame also said Lincoln possessed an “unusually sensitive conscience” and was famous for chastising his playmates growing up in southwest Indiana for their cruelty to animals.

“Boys on the frontier thought it was great sport to take turtles and throw them against trees, throw snakes into the fire and that sort of thing,” he said. “I think anybody who was that sensitive to that issue in that time period would have been outraged about cruelty to slaves.”

"Panel talks legacy of integration "

Norman says city, schools better off

-Theresa Churchill (H&R Senior Writer)

DECATUR- Jeanelle Norman, president of the Decatur branch of the NAACP, believes the community is better off than it would have been without the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling 60 years ago on Brown v. Board of Education, which called for the desegregation of public schools.

She said a local desegregation plan implemented in 1969 when she was a teacher in Durfee School brought white students from the Meadowlark Subdivision to join a predominantly black enrollment in a relatively smooth transition.

"Many of those black students were in the hallway at first, maybe for discipline, maybe for something else," she said. "The (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) came in and intervened, and after that, we did not see much of that going on anymore."

Norman was one of three panelists who spoke Wednesday as a part of a Constitution Day discussion attended by more than 30 people in Millikin University's Shilling Hall.

Brian Mullgardt, assistant professor of history, presented a history on the NAACP activities leading up to the landmark Supreme Court decision in 1954, and Amber Lusvardi, visiting lecturer of political science, spoke in detail about the case itself.

Norman identified Robertson Charter School, whose enrollment is 86.2 percent black, and Hope Academy, which is 71.2 percent black, as the only public schools in Decatur that lack adequate diversity.

"Decatur has come a long way," she said. "What's disturbing about these two schools is that Robertson has high academic achievement, but Hope Academy has just 22 percent of their students meeting learning standard."

Elsewhere, Norman said re-segregation is occurring at an alarming rate with Illinois reported to be No. 2 in the nation for most segregated schools for blacks and No. 5 for Hispanics.

Asked by freshman political science major Meg Coleman of  Denver how she would desegregate schools today, Norman said one way is to have more charter and magnet schools, where the racial balance can be better controlled.

"It's better when people in a community come together to decide hoe they can best implement desegregation in their schools," she said.



Millikin University - Decatur, IL
Millikin University - Decatur, IL