By: Avi Strauss  | 

Political Science Soirée

By: Avi Strauss

On December 10, the Political Science Department held its bi-annual Soirée, giving students and professors a chance to meet in a large, casual group setting, reflecting on the past semester and look forward to the next. The department has a long history of holding such events and this particular one garnered a crowd of about thirty political science students and nearly all the professors in the department.

The Chair of the Political Science Department, Dr. Ruth Bevan, said the Soirée is essential for fostering an espirit de corps, or a feeling of pride, fellowship and loyalty amongst a group, within the department. “We take this responsibility seriously. Thus the Soiree, held each semester, is our way of bringing students and faculty together to create a sense of an intellectual family that values each other,” she stated.

The event began in typical college fashion, with mingling over food. Dr. Bevan gave some introductory remarks, then turned over the floor to Professor Jamie Aroosi.  Professor Aroosi referenced the book that inspired him to pursue a career in political science—Kurt Vonnegut’s Cat’s Cradle. He spoke about how Vonnegut’s made-up religion “Bokononism,” the faith of the characters in the book, preached a creed of lies, their premise being “peace of mind.” These ideas, although founded on fabrications and untruths, were meant to be accepted based on how they made the populace feel. Professor Aroosi said these ideas enlightened him as to the interactions of faith and politics (an academic focus of his) and encouraged the students present to judge political ideas by how they practically affect them.

Next up to speak was President of the Yeshiva College Political Science Society, Yaacov Sultan. After introducing the newly elected Board of the Society, he spoke of increased interaction between YU and other universities in New York City, specifically Columbia and NYU. Since those campuses enjoy certain speakers and events YU does not, and similarly YU hosts opportunities and events that the others do not, he felt increased cooperation between the universities would be mutually beneficial. He also encouraged more students to become active members of the Political Science Society.

The Soirée continued with brief presentations from the department’s professors on their upcoming courses for the Spring semester. In addition to the standard departmental offerings in the realms of American and International Politics and Political Theory, the Political Science Department has attracted a “stunning array” as Dr. Bevan put it, of guest faculty, with immense experience in the world of politics.

Most notably, former Senator Joseph Lieberman will be teaching a course on “National Institutions.” This will be an Honors Course, restricted to 25 students. The Senator will give practical political insights based on his experiences to textbook selections that students will be reading.

Also of note, former Ambassador Danny Ayalon of Israel will be returning for a second year on campus.  He will be teaching a course on Political Communications that will emphasize his specialty, hasbara, or advocacy.

Lastly, Professor Joost Kooijmans, a Dutch rabbi, and international lawyer with UNICEF, specializing in human rights and the rights of the child will be teaching a course on International Law. His course will synthesize his experiences and texts related to international laws and the ICC.

Dr. Bevan enthusiastically stated, “We feel very honored indeed to have these distinguished guest faculty with us in the spring and know that they will make an great impression upon students and upon the University generally.”

When asked about the Soirée’s success, Dr. Bevan replied, “This year’s Soiree was a tremendous success. I had students emailing me testifying to this. It was a success not only because of the numbers. It was a success because of the spirit of the crowd – the esprit de corps.  There is a sense of belonging. The faculty gave their all. It was clear that we are committed to each other and to our mutual intellectual objective.”