Debate Prep: George Bush, Bill Clinton & Ross Perot (1992)

J.P. Gairhan is a sophomore political science major in the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences from Cabot, Arkansas. He is involved intimately with the Associated Student Government, The Traveler, the Distinguished Lecture Committee, and Phi Delta Theta. Upon graduation he hopes to enroll in Officer Candidate School and serve in the U.S. military.

The 1992 Presidential election featured the most prominent third party candidate since Teddy Roosevelt’s famous Bull Moose bid in 1912. President George H.W. Bush, Governor Bill Clinton, and businessman H. Ross Perot were the three participants in the debate held at the University of Richmond. For the first time ever in election history, the debate was a town-hall-style event completely filled with undecided voters from the central Virginia area. Continue reading

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Debate Prep: John F. Kennedy v. Richard Nixon (1960)

Jake Kyte is a senior at the University of Arkansas, studying journalism and political science with a concentration in advertising and public relations. Born in Washington, D.C., and raised in Ruston, Louisiana, Jake is a reporter for the Arkansas Traveler and also works as the editorial director for the U of A chapter of Spoon University. 

Presidential debates are a standing tradition, and something most voters look forward to every election season. It’s a chance to get to know the candidates, what they stand for, and see how they hold their own against an adversary – as a voter, it’s a chance to see who deserves the trust of the people. Yet it seems that the debates have fallen to the wayside in terms of decorum and value. They seem to be more for show than anything. Continue reading

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Debate Prep: Bill Clinton v. Robert Dole (1996)

Baxter Yarbrough is from Morrilton, Arkansas and a sophomore at the University of Arkansas. He is double majoring in political science and psychology with a minor in marketing. Yarbrough is involved in the University of Arkansas’s chapters of Beta Theta Pi, Young Democrats, Pi Sigma Alpha, Rotaract, United Campus Ministries, CRU and the Student Alumni Association. After graduation, Yarbrough hopes to attend graduate school and concurrently receive a Juris Doctorate from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law and a Master of Public Service from the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service as part of the two schools’ JD/MPS program.

To put it simply, the first presidential debate of the 1996 election year was a thrill.  President Bill Clinton and Senator Robert “Bob” Dole went answer for answer, staying neck and neck through the final question and closing statements. Whether it was the debate on how to handle the drug crisis facing American youth, talks about foreign policy under President Clinton’s first term, each candidate’s view on what the role of the federal government should be, Senator Dole’s tax plan for the next four years, or any other topic of conversation, both men handled each question, answer, rebuttal, and response professionally and intelligently. With a strong and well-followed platform for the debate, the American people were able to clearly hear each candidate propose their plan for the next four years. Continue reading

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Recent NBC/Survey Monkey Poll Shows Clinton holding onto Lead, Third Party Candidates Holding onto Sizable Percentage

Maxwell Carter is a freshman biomedical engineering major and Bodenhamer Fellow at the University of Arkansas. An avid follower of politics, Carter interned with the Democratic Party of Arkansas in the summer of 2015 and founded a Young Democrats chapter at his high school.


A national survey conducted by NBC News and Survey Monkey shows Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton holding a six point lead over Republican candidate Donald Trump, maintaining a constant lead from the previous week. This bodes well for the Clinton campaign, and confirms a national trend showing Clinton with a fairly comfortable lead. The survey, conducted by NBC News, polled 32,226 random users nationwide on the Survey Monkey website. Clinton’s lead grows to over ten points in the Northeast and the West; in the Midwest and the South, Trump and Clinton are within a single point. Continue reading

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Looking Toward the Future: Embracing Uncertainty

Zana N. English is a fourth-year student within the Fulbright College honors program. She is majoring in international relations and political science in Fulbright and economics within the Walton School of Business. Originally from Marianna, AR, Zana is actively involved in a number of activities on campus and holds various leadership roles, most notably in Associated Student Government and Pi Sigma Alpha. After college, Zana hopes to pursue a JD in international law.


As the month of September starts and presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump get ready to square off in their first presidential debate, the question on everyone’s mind is “who’s going to win?” According to a poll taken by RealClear Politics on September 1st, Hillary is leading Trump nationwide by a margin of 2.7 points. Most election polls to date currently put Hillary Clinton in the majority to win the election in November. While this rhetoric may give comfort to those Clinton supporters who anxiously watch the polls, the fact remains that Hillary Clinton has been slowly, but surely, losing her lead over Donald Trump. Continue reading

Posted in Economics, Honors Courses, International Relations, J.William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, Political science, Sam M. Walton College of Business, Tracking Trump & Hillary | Leave a comment

On 16th-century Supermodels, A Shroud & the Male Gaze: 5Qs for Clio Rom

A female student discusses Botticelli's Primavera.

Clio Rom leads a tour at Florence’s Uffizi Gallery for U of A Rome Center students. Here, they discuss Botticelli’s Primavera (c. 1482). All photos courtesy Clio Rom.

Clio Rom, an honors art history junior with minors in Italian and gender studies, is studying the different ways that male and female artists depicted women for her honors thesis, titled “Sitting Pretty: The Depiction of Women and Women’s Fashion in Renaissance and Baroque Portraiture.” Last summer, thanks to the new Honors College International Research Grant, Clio was the first to fill a research residency at the National Museum of Antique Art, housed in Rome’s Palazzo Barberini. There she was able to take an especially close, daily look at the political and class symbolism embedded in the sumptuous fabrics and jewels adorning yesterday’s fashion icons. Trips to Milan and Florence afforded further opportunities, such as viewing the 450-year-old gown that clothed Eleanor of Toledo the first time she was buried.

1. Tell me about your research. Are you focusing on any female artists in particular?

There are a few different components to my research, different facets to my approach.  The first would be, who are the women in these paintings, and what are they wearing, how are they positioned, how do they hold and pose themselves? And who is the one painting it, is the artist male or female? The main female artists I’m looking at, because there weren’t a lot back then, are Artemisia Gentileschi and Lavinia Fontana.

In the 1970s Laura Mulvey came out with the idea of the “male gaze,” that had to do more with cinema, and how men produced art “cinema” for male viewership, and I was wondering if this could be retroactively applied to Renaissance and Baroque portraiture. Turns out yes, a lot of the time, men created portraits of women particularly for men to look at and find pleasure, visual pleasure.

As for the fashion aspect of it, I have found and am still finding that the clothes in the portraits are not only realistic depictions, but also used for symbolic and propagandistic means. I’m still in the midst of discovering the different semiotics in the clothing, as well as tying that back to the political history of Italy, specifically Florence and Rome.

The Palazzo Barberini.

The Palazzo Barberini.

2. You were the first student to fill a research residency at the National Museum of Antique Art, housed in the Palazzo Barberini. What was a typical day like for you there? 

When I arrived, they gave me free rein – what project do you want to do, here are the resources. So for the first two weeks I did spend a lot of time within the galleries, and searched for paintings that had thematic and stylistic connections. After that I selected 18 out of the entire museum and I began to research them one by one, because the Palazzo Barberini doesn’t have a specific, in-depth catalog. They only have a general catalog, just the name, date and provenance, with basic bibliography. So my job was to flesh out the catalog and descriptions for these 18 paintings. I called them le donne del museo – “the women of the museum.” Continue reading

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Middlespeak: Building Bridges to Immigrant Integration


According to The Spectator, over 163,000 asylum-seekers made their way to Sweden last year. (CC Image courtesy of Bundesministerium für Europa on Flickr)

We’ve all seen the photo of Omran Daqneesh, the little boy in an ambulance in Aleppo, covered in dust and blood from an airstrike that destroyed his home. International news has been awash in stories of immigrants crossing borders from Syria and other war-torn nations, and these people and the policies governing them have been demonized or lionized by rival camps.

Nathanael Mickelson’s honors thesis isn’t interested in these binaries: “The truth is always somewhere in the middle.” This history and business economics major is more attentive to the middle spaces, on understanding the historical and cultural reasons for the current migrant crisis. Sure, Mickelson says, if immigrants cannot assimilate into a culture, they can become a burden on an economy, but they can also be integral to countries like Sweden with low birth rates and labor shortages.

As he puts it, there’s a moral and then a feasibility challenge to immigration policies. Mickelson considered the latter, focusing on ways to get immigrants assimilated into an economy. For this he looked at one of the most daunting barriers—the pay gap between workers who speak the native language and those who don’t. Mickelson considered many factors that might affect this—distance from the immigrant’s home country, for example—before striking gold with his research question. Continue reading

Posted in Economics, History, Honors thesis, J.William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences, Sam M. Walton College of Business, SURF grant, Sweden | Leave a comment

Tackling Sprawl: A Tale of Two Downtowns (And a New Kind of Neighborhood)

Cookie cutter spec houses, car-choked highways, big box stores, The Mall: Suburban sprawl is gobbling up the once-vast American landscape, and now, we’re running out of room. This is especially true here in Northwest Arkansas, where the population has more than doubled since 1990 — the region’s population has increased by an average of 24 people a day since the 2010 census. And it’s not just more people that’s the problem –– people are taking up more space.

“The average square footage of the new American home has doubled in the last 40 years,” said Carl Smith, associate professor of landscape architecture and a proponent of sustainable growth. “We’ve got to densify suburbs and revitalize downtowns.”

Smith is teaching the American Landscapes survey course (LARC 1003H), and today, he is leading the second of two Saturday field trips offered to two honors students in his course, Polina Timchenko and Morgan Palmer. (Check out the first road trip here.) Joining them is Rob Sharp, a local architect and developer and member of Partners for Better Housing who is interested in “Incremental Sprawl Repair.”

Join us as we explore two strategies for checking sprawl.

Two female students sketch a gabled barn red house.

1. Our first stop is at Black Apple, a compact, tasteful “pocket neighborhood” in Bentonville, Arkansas, located next to Crystal Bridges’ hike and bike trails. Eleven homes cluster around a small courtyard, with covered parking on the perimeter of the property. These two-story homes have a small footprint and range in size from 850-square-foot 1-bedroom units to 1,750-square-foot 3-bedroom houses. Here, Morgan (left) and Polina sketch the barn red house that terminates the courtyard axis. They will turn in their sketchbooks at the end of the term to earn honors credit in the course.

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Road Trips: Arkansas Landscapes

“What makes a class honors?”

We get that question a lot. And the answer is … it depends. In an engineering course, “honors” may be your entrée to working with the molecular beam epitaxy machine, which allows you to grow nanostructures one atom at a time. In an honors section of a history course, you might do additional readings and conduct primary research in the UA Libraries’ Special Collections.

In the honors section of Carl Smith’s American Landscapes course (LARC 1003H), honors students Morgan Palmer and Polina Timchenko gave up a couple of Saturdays last spring for personal tours of some quintessentially American landscapes located right here in Arkansas. The tours were led by a team of experts, starting with Carl Smith himself. An associate professor of landscape architecture, Smith was born and bred in Yorkshire, England, and brings a fresh perspective and a passion for sustainable development to the 21st-century American landscape.

His course surveys mankind’s changing attitudes toward urban and rural outdoor spaces and the origins of the environmental movement. Northwest Arkansas, he says, provides the perfect setting to focus on issues of national importance: “It is one of the fastest growing regions in the U.S.A., and will be facing some challenging questions concerning the accommodation of population growth and urbanization.” At the same time, the region “benefits from a varied, beautiful natural landscape, and cultural capital of national significance.”

Join us for the first of two road trips offering a fresh take on our own landscape.

Landscape into Art into Landscape: Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

aerial view of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.

1. At Crystal Bridges, you experience landscape both indoors and out. The museum is nestled into a ravine, poised above two spring-fed ponds and surrounded by a luxuriant landscape that rivals the painted landscapes within. Photo by Tim Hursley, courtesy Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.

Docent discusses landscape painting while student sketches.

2. The indoor tour, led by Museum Educator Matt Boyd, begins with a close examination of one of the museum’s signature paintings, a stand out in a strong collection of 19th-century American landscapes: Kindred Spirits, painted in 1849 by Asher Durand. “This work is unusual, in that the people are more prominent than usual,” Boyd points out. Central to the composition is painter Thomas Cole, leader of the Hudson River school of painters and an early advocate for conservation of the American landscape. Polina Timchenko, a second-year honors architecture student from the Ukraine, sketches.

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Saving Cash on Great Lash: Iliana Cuts Costs at L’Oreal

Female student in safety gear, holding clipboard, in a factory setting.

If you forget any of your safety equipment, you’re likely to get a firm nudge before you pass the first production line. The workers tromp around in steel-toed boots, goggles and hairnets while automated machines whir to life about them. This isn’t exactly the glamorous image an outsider would expect from a global cosmetics company, but L’Oreal has the serious business of cranking out 250 million units a year to attend to.

Iliana Hernandez, a senior chemical engineering major from Siloam Springs and PATH student, has been helping keep the ship running smoothly at this L’Oreal plant in North Little Rock. During her summer internship, she looked to improve efficiency in the UP1 production unit, which makes 65% of all mascaras sold in the U.S.—that’s a tube produced every two seconds. When she returns to the University of Arkansas, Iliana will bring back experience in finance and industrial engineering to supplement her major. Eventually, she’ll also know the exact amount she’s saved the company, which will be handy for her next goal (scoring another internship at Texas Instruments or Intel).

Iliana was born in El Salvador, but to keep her safe her parents sacrificed promising careers in telecommunications and law and moved to the United States when she was young. Continue reading

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