Congressman Derek Kilmer Visits With Students

kilmer 1On Tuesday May 31st, US Rep. Derek Kilmer visited UWT to spend 90 minutes with students in Prof. Katie Baird’s Economics of Public Policy class. Conversation between students and the CoKilmer 3ngressman covered a range of policy issues, including the cost of higher education, the need for campaign finance reform, the shortage of beds for those with mental health problems, and
whether the nation’s degrading stock of nuclear weapons should be rekilmer 2placed.  Rep. Kilmer also commented on the divided and divisive nature of politics today, but urged students to remain engaged.  Ending on a hopeful note, he remarked that “This isn’t the first time in our country’s history that our nation has been so divided.  And in all times but one–the Civil War–we have always managed to work together to find a solution.”

2016 PPPA Paper Prize Goes to Brianna Trafton

Brianna Trafton won this year’s Politics, Philosophy and Public Affairs’ (PPPA) annual award for the best Capstone paper, a paper written for Prof. Charles Williams’ Capstone on The Great Depression.  The paper (“The New Deal  Watershed—for Watersheds:
Franklin D. Roosevelt, New Conservation, and the Legacy of an Environmental President”) argues that FDR’s growing awareness of environmental challenges shaped both his New Deal policies and our nation’s subsequent environmental policies. “Brianna did a great job connecting the personal and ideational roots of FDR’s New Deal policies, and uncovering his lesser-known legacy on environmental issues,” said Prof. Etga Ugur, one of three PPPA faculty members who judged papers nominated for this award.  In total, faculty nominated six students for PPPA’s annual award.

All three faculty judges remarked on the outstanding quality of the students’ work.  “These were among the best student papers I’ve seen in my 16 years at UWT,” commented Prof Katie Baird. “We thought a number of them should be published almost as is.”

The other five nominated papers included three from Prof. Ugur’s Capstone class on Democratization and Political Development in the Middle East:  Brian Juneman wrote “Iran’s Green Thumb:  Why the Growing Reform Movement isPPPA internship event Slow to Bear Fruit”;  Brittany Hale (the winner of the PPPA paper prize two years ago) wrote “International Creations: The Case of Iraq, Syria, and Jordan”; and Joshua Va
was the author of “The Syrian Identity Crisis: Explaining the Resilience of Assad’s Ruling Bargain”.  Prof. Eric Bugyis nominated two papers from his Capstone on Christianity and Radical Politics.  Ian Clogston wrote a paper entitled “Virtue, Terror, and Republicanism during the French Revolution,” and Austin Reddy wrote “Sacramental Theology as Immanent Science: The Subversive Heart of Catholicism.” “All of these papers were excellent,” remarked Prof. Ben Meiches, “Picking a top paper was particularly difficult because a strong case could be made for each of them.”

PPPA paper prize 2A brief award ceremony, followed by Brianna’s presentation of her paper, will take place Monday May 23rd from 12:30 to 1:30 in the Dawn Lucien Boardroom (GWP 320).  All are welcome, and pizza will be served.  All past PPPA paper prize-winning papers can be found in UWT’s Digital Commons.

Spring Quarter Medical Ethics Conversation Coming Up!

Tuesday, May 17th – 6pm-8pm – Dougan 160

This quarter’s topic:  “Do No Harm: Navigating Cultural Differences”

Free and open to the public but please register at:


Join an interactive panel discussion with members of the West Pierce/Mary Bridge Ethics in a fascinating exploration how ethics and law enter into discussions regarding the proper medical treatment for a patient while navigating cultural divides.

Primum non nocere – first do no harm. Medical professionals are obligated to do no harm to patient, but as medical technologies advance and different cultures interact, the understanding of harm can change. What may be seen as a standard of Western medicine may be an unacceptable harm to the patient because of his/her culture and values. Join us as we discuss how we decide and define: What is harm? This forum will engage the audience in exploring challenging medical ethics situations with members of the MultiCare West Pierce/Mary Bridge Medical Ethics Committee and a UW Tacoma faculty ethicist.

Campus map and parking info:

For more information please contact Jane Compson:

Guest Scholar Kjell Vaage Discusses the Welfare State in Norway


On April 7th, Prof. Kjell Vaage of the University of Bergen gave a campus-wide lecture addressing challenges facing Norway’s social insurance policies.   Compared with America, Norway provides exceptionally generous support to disabled workers.  But a very high percentage of Norwegians make use of these benefits.  Prof. Vaage discussed his and colleagues’ recent research on non-health related reasons for this high enrollment.  Sustaining Norway’s successful model of social policy requires knowing not just about its successes, but also how it can be improved.  


Law & Religion Speaker Series, Dr. Steven Green – Report Out

On December 4th students and faculty in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences had the honor of hosting Professor Steven K. Green as the inaugural speaker for the University of Washington Tacoma’s Law & Religion Speaker Series. Professor Green is the Fred H. Paulus Professor of Law and the Director of the Center for Religion, Law & Democracy at Willamette University. In addition, he has co-authored and written a number of books, including The Bible, the School, and the Constitution: The Clash that Shaped Modern Church-State Doctrine (Oxford, 2012) and, more recently, Inventing a Christian America: The Myth of the Religious Founding (Oxford, 2015). Professor Green also helped draft the Religious Freedom Restoration Act and has participated in several cases before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Our learning and engagement with Professor Green started with a lunch seminar hosted by Professor Eric Bugyis and a group of students and faculty who meet regularly to discuss recent research related to religion, culture, and society. In anticipation of this seminar, our group, which we have dubbed the “Religious Studies Collective,” met in October and November to read and discuss Professor Green’s most recent book. The luncheon was an opportunity to discuss some of the important issues taken up by the book that are impacting our society today. Having the opportunity to read Professor Green’s book, have a discussion with him, and hear his thoughts on topics that we had questions about was a great way to bring our reading full circle. It also served as an opportunity to provide some context for the lecture that we attended that evening.

Professor Green’s lecture, which was hosted by the UW Tacoma Division of Politics, Philosophy & Public Affairs, UW School of Law, and the Tacoma City Club, was titled “The Tension between Marriage Equality and Religious Liberty.” Professor Green discussed the set of interrelated issues surrounding the Affordable Care Act (also known as Obamacare), the Defense of Marriage Act, the Supreme Court’s decision concerning the Hobby Lobby case, Kim Davis, and the impact that these laws, cases, and decisions have on religious liberty, marriage equality, and other tensions that arise when the state intervenes in questions concerning the common good that intersect with the religious convictions of individuals and groups. While most of us have heard about and have a basic understanding of the Hobby Lobby case, and perhaps caught some of the Kim Davis case that was covered extensively by the media over this past summer, Professor Green’s lecture shed some light on the important details involved in cases like these. Cases that deal with clashes that occur between a person’s religious liberty and the legal rights of another, we learned, are very delicate and complicated situations. Not only do the rights of those involved need to be upheld, but the actual laws, legal technicalities, and application of the laws involved must be interpreted and are continuously debated.

When Professor Green concluded his presentation, the audience asked questions, which led to an interesting discussion. One of the questions concerned the legal technicalities in the Hobby Lobby case. Professor Green cited the relevance of the Citizen’s United decision, which controversially defined corporations as “people” in the eyes of the law, allowing the beliefs (religious beliefs in this case) of the owners of the corporation to be protected by the rights of the corporation as such. This in turn has an effect on the actual people that work for a corporation, such as Hobby Lobby, insofar as their right to religious freedom as individual employees is placed in direct competition with the perceived right to religious freedom of the corporation. While we only scratched the surface of understanding the complexity and depth of legal proceedings such as these, learning experiences like this give us important tools and information to approach other issues and conflicts that will certainly continue to arise in societies all around the world.

As students, we read so many books by amazing and interesting authors, and we often wish that we had the opportunity to ask them questions about their work and the important issues they write about. This was a chance to do just that! As a Religious Studies, PPE, and Global Studies student, this was an experience that allowed me look at religion and law in society through a different lens and to delve a little deeper into the legal aspects of situations where religious liberty and individual rights are sometimes at odds. Events like this take the concepts and ideas I’ve been studying at UWT and connect them to issues going on in our society today. It’s these connections that expand my thinking about the ways in which I can take my education and experience into many different arenas and make a difference when I graduate.

In the pursuit of my degree here at UWT, it has been my goal to gain a deeper understanding of different cultures, religions, and politics, and the turbulence that can occur at the intersections of these. Groups like our Religious Studies Collective and events like the speaker series give me an opportunity to think about issues in society outside of the classroom. I believe it is in this way that I can use this extra curricular education to facilitate a more dynamic approach to the way I think about issues in my own life, family, and community. In our family we’ve always said that education and life experience go hand in hand and are truly invaluable to living a meaningful life and having a positive impact on the world. A deeper understanding of the complexity of the issues we face as members of a University, state, and national community can only help to improve the way we handle differences and conflicts in our lives and the world at large.

I’m looking forward to the next lecture in this series by Professor Ludger Viefhues-Bailey, which is taking place this Thursday, March 10, at 5:30 in Joy 117, entitled “Religious Liberties for Illiberal Purposes: Theorizing Religious Liberty Claims” and for other events like this at UWT that will also bring greater depth to my education.


-LeeAnn Huezo

PPPA Student

Annual PPPA Colloquium held in May

pppa colloquiumThe first weekend of May, PPPA faculty and their families assembled for the 2nd annual PPPA Colloquium. Held at the Red Lion in Port Angeles, the colloquium offered an opportunity for ten PPPA faculty to present their current research and discuss it with their colleagues. Turan Kayaoglu, organizer of last year’s event, stated  “We do not do collaborative work as much as we could. One reason for this is that we don’t know each other’s research. The Research Colloquium helps us identify common research areas.”

Saturday evening, at the conclusion of the event, a colloquium dinner was held, allowing all present to continue the discussion of the day. As you can see by the photo, a good time was had by all!

Faculty presenters and their topics included: Continue reading