Students leafing through a binder on a bench in the quad

Department News

History, Political Science, and Philosophy

Recent Graduate Updates

  • Bailey Gray (Political Science, 2022) was recently hired as a Special Assistant in the Aiken home office of Rep. Joe Wilson (South Carolina’s 2nd Congressional District).
  • Aaron Padillo (History, 2022) began teaching in the Social Studies Department at Travelers Rest High School in Fall 2022. 
  • Courtney Hicks (History, 2023) began a Master of Public History at the University of Illinois Springfield in Fall 2023.
  • Alexa Duncan (Political Science, 2022) was accepted into the Master of Strategic Leadership program at Immaculata University in Pennsylvania, beginning Fall 2023.
  • Sarah Koerner (History, 2020) started a Master's degree in library science at the University of South Carolina–Columbia in Fall 2023.
  • Ashley Harris (Political Science, 2019) was recently promoted to Workforce Development Manager with the Columbia County Chamber of Commerce.
  • Jacob Nelson (Political Science, 2019) was recently promoted to Park Supervisor with the Aiken County Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Department.\
  • Zachary Tallent (Political Science, 2023) completed an internship/job shadow with 1st Lt. Nia McCray of the South Carolina National Guard in Summer 2023.
  • Ajay Krishnakumar (History, 2016) recently began working as a clerk at the Aiken County Tax Collector's Office.

Fall 2023

  • Dr. Sarah Young was awarded tenure and promoted to Associate Professor of Political Science. Congratulations, Dr. Young!
  • Dr. Parker Haratine joined the History, Political Science & Philosophy Department as Instructor of Philosophy and Religion. Welcome, Dr. Haratine!
  • Dr. Courtney Kayser joined the department for the 2023–24 school year as Visiting Assistant Professor of Political Science. Welcome, Dr. Kayser!
  • Ches Mathis (History, 2024) was hired by the Savannah River Site Museum. Ches previously completed an internship at the SRS Museum in Summer 2022.
  • Dr. Matthew Thornburg and Dr. Bob Botsch published “Using Exit Polls to Teach Students and Sustain a Scholarly Agenda,” in The Palgrave Handbook of Teaching and Research in Political Science, eds. Charity Butcher, Tavishi Bhasin, Elizabeth Gordon, and Maia Hallward.
  • Dr. Heather Peterson began teaching courses with modules inspired by the NEH workshop she attended in Summer 2023 on Cuban Visionary José Martí. The first module, "Erasure and Resilience: The African American Experience in Two Factory Towns" compares Ybor City and West Tampa to Graniteville and the greater Central Savannah River Area. This module is part of the History Capstone for 2023. The Capstone builds on oral histories and archival research (including the Gregg Graniteville Archives), census data, and research at the South Carolina State Archives, with the goal of students producing presentable and publishable material. 
  • Dr. Elizabeth Georgian, Dr. Courtney Kayser, Dr. Sarah King, and Dr. Sarah Young presented talks for Constitution Week 2023, along with keynote speaker Jace Woodrum, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of South Carolina. The League of Women Voters, which joined us for each talk, registered 86 new voters!

Summer 2023

  • Simon Berry (History, 2024) completed a paid internship with the City of Aiken.
  • Dr. Peterson participated in a month-long NEH Summer Workshop on Cuban Visionary José Martí and his connection to Tampa cigar factories and workers. Martí was a writer and activist who lived in New York for fifteen years, agitating for Cuban Independence and his ideal of a raceless Cuba. The workshop featured scholars who work on Martí, Cubans in Tampa, and Cuban Impendence. 
  • Dr. Roger Deal translated an essay from Turkish into English for the Turkish photographer Yusuf Darıyerli. This was the photographer’s introductory essay for his new book of photographs of traditional Aegean weddings, Şölen/The Wedding Feast.
  • Dr. Sarah Young attended the Council of Public Liberal Arts Colleges Summer Training Institute at University of North Carolina–Asheville. She served as a Discussion Facilitator for sessions on “Dealing with State Legislation that Encroaches on Teaching” and “Engaged Learning Practices.”
  • Alexia Jones Helsley gave a lecture titled "South Carolina – Linchpin of the Revolution" for the Aiken County Historical Society in May 2023.
  • Dr. Sarah King conducted research at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture and at the Archives Center of the National Museum of American History (Smithsonian). This research, on figures like Harry Belafonte and the Smothers Brothers, informs her book manuscript on celebrity activism during the Vietnam War.
  • Dr. Pierce was reappointed to the Strom Thurmond Chair in History.
  • In July Alexia Jones Helsley was re-elected chair of the South Carolina Old Exchange Commission.

Spring 2023

  • The department recognized the following outstanding students as 2023 Students of the Year: Courtney Hicks (History), Nathan Garner (Political Science), and Hanna Palladini (Philosophy).
  • Dr. Elizabeth Georgian was awarded the 2023 USCA Service Award. 
  • Dr. Samuel Pierce was awarded a sabbatical for the Spring 2024 semester to work on a book manuscript titled The Cross and the Ballot Box: Catholic Mobilization during Spain’s Second Republic (1931–1939).
  • Parker Haratine successfully defended his PhD thesis in Spring 2023 prior to coming to USC Aiken.
  • Elenora Gazzelli (Political Science, 2025) completed an internship with the Aiken home office of Rep. Joe Wilson.
  • Dr. King was awarded a Research Initiative for Summer Engagement (RISE) Grant from the University of South Carolina Office of the Vice President for Research. She used the grant to conduct research in summer 2023 in New York and Washington, DC.
  • Dr. Matthew Thornburg published “The Dynamics of Hidden Partisanship and Crossover Voting in Semi-Closed Primaries,” in State Politics & Policy Quarterly.
  • In May Alexia Jones Helsley, as University Archivist, completed interviews of past USCA chancellors for the USCA Chancellor Oral History Project.
  • Dr. Sarah Young served as the Invited Moderator for the Aiken County Democratic Party candidate forum for South Carolina State Democratic Party Chair.
  • Alexia Jones Helsley served as president of the South Carolina Historical Association, competing her one-year term in March 2023.
  • Dr. Thornburg presented “Unaffiliated Voters and Crossover Voting in Semi-Closed Primaries: The Case of Rhode Island,” at the 2023 State Politics and Policy Conference.
  • Dr. King presented a paper titled “Jane Fonda, Antiwar Celebrity Activism, and Progressive Politics After the War” at the Organization of American Historians (OAH) Conference on American History in Los Angeles.
  • Dr. Young presented a paper tiled “Transparency of Property Tax Exemptions in South Carolina: How Application Forms Matter” at the American Society for Public Administration Conference.
  • Dr. Pierce presented a paper titled “The Real Patronato de Educación Especial: The Development of Special Education in Spain, 1970–1990” at the annual meeting of the Association for Spanish and Portuguese Historical Studies in Boulder, Colorado.
  • Dr. Roger Deal presented a talk for the Columbia Museum of Art’s  Evening for Educators event about the museum’s new Islamic art exhibition—Reverant Ornament.
  • Alexia Jones Helsley presented a paper, “The brief, eventful life of Mary Eleanor Laurens Pinckney,” at the South Carolina Historical Association meeting at Newberry College.
  • Dr. King was awarded a Short-Term Research Fellowship from the New York Public Library to conduct research at the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. She plans to use this fellowship in summer 2024 to conduct research on singer-actor-activist Harry Belafonte.
  • Alexia Jones Helsley spoke about Rebecca Motte for the Commemoration of the Battle of Ft. Motte at Saint Matthews Parish Church in Saint Matthews, South Carolina. 

Fall 2022

  • Bailey Gray (Political Science, 2022) was named Outstanding Senior Student and honored at the December Graduation Ceremony.
  • Courtney Hicks (History, 2023) presented a poster “How has Palestinian Embroidery Changed Since Israeli Occupation?” at the Middle East Studies Association annual meeting in Denver.
  • Moné Brown (History, 2022) completed an internship at the Aiken County Solicitor’s Office.
  • Courtney Hicks (History, 2023) completed two internships—at the Savannah River Site Museum and the Aiken County Historical Museum.
  • Dr. Sarah Young, Dr. Matthew Thornburg, and David Wilson Steinmeyer (Political Science, 2022) published “Tax Salience, Escrow, and Support for Property Tax: Findings from a Survey of South Carolina Voters,” in Journal of Political Science.
  • Dr. Roger Deal’s article “The Culinary Heritage of Medieval Ottoman Cuisine,” appeared in The Proceedings of the South Carolina Historical Association.
  • Dr. Sarah Young and Dr. Matthew Thornburg published “Act 388’s Impact on School Taxes Largely Unknown Today, Study Shows,” in Statehouse Report
  • Dr. Thornburg published “The Red Wave That Wasn’t,” in Clio and the Contemporary.
  • Dr. Deal presented a paper, “Squares and Triangles: The Coded Sexual Records of a Turkish Bureaucrat,” and chaired a panel, “Fairs and Festivals in Turkey: Transformations from the Early Republic into the 21st Century,” at the Middle East Studies Association annual meeting in Denver.
  • Chancellor (and Professor of History) Daniel Heimmermann. Dr. Roger Deal, Dr. Samuel Pierce, and Dr. Mitchell Krumm presented talks for Constitution Week 2022: The US Constitution in Global Perspective.
  • Dr. King appeared on a historical panel, moderated by USCA sociology professor Dr. Melencia Johnson, to discuss an original play, The Big Debate. Written and rehearsed in Aiken, the play depicted the historical conflict between, on the one hand, Frederick Douglass, and on the other, Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, over whether to support the Fifteenth Amendment or insist on women being included alongside African American men in the expansion of suffrage. The Big Debate was performed at the Etherredge Center as part of Voices and Votes Smithsonian Exhibit: Democracy in America.

Summer 2022

  • Ches Mathis (History, 2024) completed an internship at the Savannah River Site Museum.
  • Katherine “Abby” Hollingsworth (History, 2023) completed an internship at the Aiken County Solicitor’s Office.
  • Dr. Roger Deal saw the publication of his article “Twentieth-Century Turkish Panayır Entertainments” in a special issue on traditional Turkish fairs of The Journal of the Ottoman and Turkish Studies Association (JOTSA).  He was also the co-editor of the special issue, along with Dr. Hale Yılmaz of Southern Illinois University. 
  • Dr. King conducted research at the Woody Guthrie Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, using a Phil Ochs Fellowship she was awarded in 2021. This research informs her book manuscript chapter on folk singers in the 1960s and their role in the Civil Rights and anti-Vietnam War movements.

Spring 2022

  • History major and Mock Trial team member Albert Jackson published a book review of the 2020 book Jesus and John Wayne, which he initially wrote for the Senior Capstone. Check out Albert's book review in the Armstrong Undergraduate Journal of History online or download the PDF.
  • Roger Deal, in collaboration with Hale Yılmaz (Southern Illinois University), transcribed, edited, and oversaw the publication of the memoirs of a Turkish bureaucrat, Kemal Tanyolaç. The book was published in January 2022 as Kıyıköy'den Seka'ya Bir Maliyecinin Hayatı ve Hatıraları (1924-1992).
  • Tenesha Hare, a 2018 USC Aiken graduate and Poli Sci major, after several years of working in legislative offices in Washington D.C. has been accepted to graduate school for a Master’s in Public Administration at the University of Maryland.
  • Dr. Sarah King published a book review on Show Trial: Hollywood, HUAC, and the Birth of the Blacklist (2018) in the Quarterly Review of Film and Video.
  • Hanna Palladini founded the Philosophy and Religion club.
  • Dr. Samuel Pierce published “The New International Brigades? Ukraine’s Call for Foreign Volunteers Echoes Spanish Civil War” in Clio and the Contemporary.
  • Dr. King took on the role of History Internship Coordinator. As of fall 2023, history majors have interned at the Aiken County Historical Museum, the Aiken County Solicitor's Office, the City of Aiken, the Savannah River Site Museum, and the USC Aiken Archives.