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Founders Student Symposium

Below is the call for applications for the student symposium.  Please consider applying or encourage others to apply.  The deadline is December 8.  Please contact Princess H. Williams (, if you have further questions.


The NCOBPS Graduate Student Symposium

Friday, March 16, 2018

Chicago, Illinois


The 49th Annual Meeting of the National Conference of Black Political Scientists (NCOBPS)

“Race and the Environment: Agency, Survival, and the Continuing Challenges of Black Inequalities”


APPLY by Friday, December 8, 2017


Mission Statement

In honor and recognition of distinguished NCOBPS scholars who have greatly contributed to political science and whose mentorship and legacy demonstrate our mission to "promote the political aspirations of people of African descent in the United States and throughout the world," this lecture series will provide a forum for scholarly exchange among junior scholars, researchers, community activists, and esteemed scholars in Black politics.

This student symposium is intended to encourage a scholarly showcase of graduate students in NCOBPS in recognition of established senior and emeriti scholars relating to the legacy of NCOBPS. It provides students with a unique opportunity to get useful feedback from established and emergent scholars and the general audience in a supportive environment, as they share their research interests and perspectives on Black politics and the future of the discipline.  Select students will be given the opportunity to reflect and present on various topics and themes relevant to ongoing scholarly work or community engagement during the annual NCOBPS meeting.

The 2018 NCOBPS Graduate Student Symposium is in memory of Dr. Mark Q. Sawyer. The 2018 symposium theme, “Transforming Institutions & Solidifying the Study of Black Politics,” invites discussions on the transformative contributions that our honoree (along with other dearly departed trailblazers, this past year, who contributed to the field of Black politics, such as Dr. Samuel Dubois Cook and Mr. Eddie N. Williams) have made to the study and accessibility of Black politics to the academy and beyond.


Dr. Mark Q. Sawyer was a fierce and consistent advocate for civil rights, justice and equality, Sawyer began teaching at UCLA in 1999 after receiving a doctorate in political science from the University of Chicago. He was instrumental in the creation of UCLA’s Department of African American Studies in 2014, the culmination of a process that took nearly a decade. He also co-founded the Race, Ethnicity, and Politics Program in the UCLA Department of Political Science. The program has since attracted large numbers of graduate students, especially African-Americans and Latinos.  


Dr. Samuel DuBois Cook was a former Dillard University president and, with his appointment to the Duke University faculty in 1966, was the first African American professor of political science to hold a regular faculty appointment at any predominantly white college or university in the South. Cook also served as a member of the Duke University Board of Trustees from 1981 to 1993. In 1993, Dillard University honored Cook by naming the school's new fine arts and communication center after him. That same year, Cook was elected by Duke University's Board of Trustee as a Trustee Emeritus. Duke University also founded the Samuel DuBois Cook Society, in 1997, to honor Dr. Cook’s service to Duke University and the cause of advancing African Americans, by also discussing issues affecting and affirming the presence of African American students, faculty, and staff at the University.


Mr. Eddie N. Williams built the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies into the epicenter of black political thought and research. He hosted black elected officials every four years to assemble policy priorities to share with presidential candidates and transition teams. Under the leadership of Williams, the Joint Center helped establish several organizations of black elected officials, built a Roster of over 10,000 Black Elected Officials, and helped establish the National Coalition on Black Civic Participation. The Joint Center became a full-fledged think tank with Eddie Williams at the helm. It commissioned and published regular surveys of black Americans and produced various studies, reports, books, and events on black political and economic life.


The 2018 NCOBPS Graduate Student Symposium addresses the following questions:


1) What effect did the contributions that our honorees make in their respective careers have on the study of Black Politics and its continuity? What impact did these contributions have in terms of increasing Black representation in the academy?


2) How do we conceptualize institution building & activism within the academy? At different stages of one’s academic career, what types of obligations do Black scholars have regarding advocacy within our academic institutions?


3)  How can we translate academic & institutional success for scholars of color into effective political outcomes for the larger communities of color in which we represent?


4) How do we measure tangible successes related to efforts to build more diverse, inclusive, and equitable institutions? What are individual strategies that scholars can employ to achieve substantive outcomes for scholars of color within the academy? What effect does advancement for marginalized communities within the academy have for underrepresented communities, more broadly?

Additionally, panelists can share their personal and scholarly insights with NCOBPS, at large.  Recipients will receive a special certificate, monetary award, and their names will be added to the NCOBPS archival record. 

Interested applicants should forward their CV/resume and a one- to two-page application letter explaining how their academic background and research interests qualify them for the 2018 NCOBPS Graduate Student Founders Symposium to Princess Williams at, by Friday, December 8, 2017.  No late applications will be accepted.


2014 Symposium

Selected Graduate Panelists:


2013 Symposium

Selected Graduate Panelists:

Andrea Slater - University of California, Los Angeles

David B. Green, University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

John Thomas III - University of Chicago 

2012 Symposium

Selected Graduate Panelists:

Brittany Lewis, University of Minnesota

Alexandra Moffett-Bateau, University of Chicago

Brennen Robinson, University of Delaware

2011 Symposium in honor of Dr. Melanie Njeri Jackson, Dr. Ronald Walters, Dr. Jeffrey M. Elliot

Selected Graduate Panelists:


Jaira Harrington, University of Chicago

Cherly Harris, University of Maryland Baltimore County

Oumar Ba, Ohio Universty

2010 Symposium in honor of Dr. Twiley Barker & Dr. Linda Faye Williams:

Selected Graduate Panelists:


Savannah Carroll, University of Massachusetts

Bryce Dixon, Brooklyn College, CUNY                                                                

Ashley Reid, University of Michigan 

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