Education Update - May

Dearest Members, 

We’ve only got one month to go! As usual, if you have any structural issues with the courses you’re taking, please do reach out!

Since our last update, a lot has happened. I’ve had meetings with the IPRES coordinators to organize for the inclusion of Mac capabilities for Excel, and a discussion on the late publication of the Assignment 1 grades, and a proposal that they change their internal timelines to allow for any delays, without breaching the TER deadlines.  Upon further deliberation, the IPRES team responded that should the students have downloaded the right version of Excel, the differences between the operating systems should be minimal. However, the FYC has informed me that this is not the case, so I will be following up with the team shortly. 

Within this month’s PC/OC meeting, we primarily discussed the ongoing student protests, the affiliated police violence, and how they impact the quality of education within the program. Within the last two weeks, I have been working tirelessly in collaboration with the Department to either coordinate a response to the protests & violence, to provide some leniency with deadlines, or both. I have been in near-constant communication with the Chair of the Department, Dr. Mügge, the Master Director, Dr. Berkhout, the Bachelor Director, Dr. Huigens, the First Year Coordinator, Dr. Schulten, and the study advisers. They have allowed for blanket extensions for the Master Thesis deadlines, extensions with the AcSki 2 paper, and some leniency for students should they have been impacted by the protests, violence, or campus shutdowns. The leniency will also materialize in conversations with the study advisers. Unfortunately, the exams this week cannot be adjusted or rescheduled as they have been organized over a year in advance, and hence, they will go ahead as planned. 

In terms of events, the Education Committee was meant to have our Education Dialogue before this MMM came out, titled ‘State of our Education’, and covering the topics of the level of teacher training, how the UVA’s stance on political conflicts affects the quality of our education, and the option for a new elective. Unfortunately, due to the shutdowns of campus, this event was not able to go forward as planned, and we will be rescheduling it to the earliest available date. The Career Committee, however, welcomed Esmé Bosma for a Career Talk, and visited Publistat for an in-house event. Although both the events were very low-key, they were deeply insightful, and marked the end of the Career Year. 

To wrap up the year, the Education Committee is working on the Symposium at the end of the year, on the topic of Conflict Resolution around the world, and we’ll be inviting speakers who focus on different regions to talk about the different ways of conflict resolution to speak to us on the 11th of June. 

The Education Committee is also collaborating with the Department to set up the first of 3 Political Science Fora - the first one functions as a jumping-off point for future conversations, and action. It is important to note that student voices have been present at every step of the way in planning and executing these Fora. Students from the Education Committee and First Year Council will be speaking with the Staff chairs, and are involved in setting the agenda, and guiding questions. 

Hope to see you there!

Lesa Fernandes