The Poligon

Our mission: the many-sided study of politics

Newsletter of the Political Science Department, Carleton College, January 1999

In this issue:


Professor Levin introduces President Bush
by Margaret Hyde, '99

Ambassador Burton Levin, Sit Visiting Professor of Asian Affairs in the Carleton College Political Science Department, was recently in China to assist in awarding former President George Bush an honorary degree from the Nanjing University. Ambassador Levin is co-chair of the Board of Directors of the Johns Hopkins-Nanjing program at Nanjing University. The program brings together Chinese and American students who study together and develop a better understanding between the two cultures.

Ambassador Levin first became involved at Carleton while his two children, Clifton and Alicia, were students here. He has been teaching part time at Carleton since 1994. His goal in teaching is to describe events in Asia as he actually saw them happen, not as theory would have us believe they happened.

Ambassador Levin received his MA in International Affairs from Columbia University and then entered the Foreign Service. He served for thirty-six years, most of them in Asia as a Chinese language officer. He was the Consul General in Hong Kong from 1981 to 1986 and was the US Ambassador to Burma from 1987 to 1990. He served as President of the Asia Society after his retirement from the foreign service.

Student delegates propose foreign policy at West Point conference
by Ben Purser, '00

I attended the 50th Student Conference on United States Affairs (SCUSA) at the US Military Academy in West Point Nov. 18-21. Undergraduates in the fields of IR, economics and political science from 180 colleges around the world were invited to discuss future American foreign policy. The conference theme was "Learning from the Past, Leading to the Future."

Student delegates worked on "round tables" on various regions or topics, each producing a two-page policy brief for submission to the National Security Council. Panelists gave evening talks on diverse topics including the media in international relations, the "global economic crisis," and the end of the Cold War. Keynote speaker Prof. John Mearsheimer ("Why We Shall Soon Miss the Cold War") discussed America's role as "owner of the Western hemisphere."

At the "China, Japan, and Korea" table, I worked with students from Columbia, the University of Chicago, and the National Defense Academy of Japan.

Ben Purser, '00 (front center) with other student delegate
members of the China, Japan and Korea round table

Dr. Eliot Kang, former fellow at the Brookings Institute and the Japan Institute of International Affairs, and Dr. Alan Wachman, professor at Tufts' Fletcher School (and previously at Hopkins-Nanjing Center) and former President of the China Institute in America, served as our chairs. I was nominated to present our group's findings to the conference as a whole.

Significant in our policy proposals was the lack of the phrase "human rights." Stability, cooperation, and self-improvement were the key words. To achieve such goals, our group argued, the US must learn to accept the different cultures and histories of our economic and political partners. The practice of measuring other nations by our own standards has long complicated foreign affairs, causing us to overlook important progress.

Only by overlooking different rules and ways of living can we work together. Bringing 180 normal college students to a military academy demonstrated that point. We did not need to salute, shout complex greetings to passing officers, or wear uniforms to work with the cadets-we simply had to accept the fact that they did. We decided that America's policy needs to take the same attitude, so that we may work together toward our mutual goals of economic growth and political stability.

 From Northfield to Tokyo to Washington:
Adventures of a Carleton grad

Ambassador Hideaki Kobayashi ('70)
and President Stephen Lewis

Ambassador Kobayashi in jacket
he wore as a student
at Carleton in 1969-70

Hideaki Kobayashi ('70), Minister and Deputy Chief of Mission of the Embassy of Japan in Washington, DC, visited campus on November 10 at the invitation of Professor Roy Grow. Ambassador Kobayashi spoke to Prof. Grow's "Asia and American Foreign Policy" class and visited over tea with several students interested in diplomatic work. The ambassador, who attended Carleton in 1969-70, was honored at a reception and dinner in the Alumni Guest House. After dinner, he spoke of his diplomatic career and the valuable experiences and education he received at Carleton.

Montero lectures in Mexico

Professor Alfred Montero provided a week-long series of lectures to faculty and students of the Universidad Juárez Autónoma de Tabasco (UJAT) in Villahermosa (Tabasco State), Mexico last July. Prof. Montero gave ten talks on globalization and Latin America, democratization in Mexico, regional integration in Latin America, evolution of the World Trade Organization, and the hot topic of capital flight in developing countries. The trip was sponsored by the US Information Agency.

Prof. Montero found the professors and students well-informed, despite Tabasco's relative isolation from much of the rest of Mexico and its distance from the country's most advanced centers of learning. They participated actively in discussion sessions after each lecture, displaying the intellectual diversity that is encouraged by UJAT and expressing an array of opinions about the Zapatistas and the entire Chiapan situation.

Faculty members briefed Prof. Montero on curriculum developments at UJAT. The use of sectoral studies with practical applications in Tabasco is one of their interesting new programs. Graduate students participate in research on improving and expanding existing small-scale entrepreneurial activities in Tabasco. A multiyear project funded by the Mexican government aims to improve the productivity and quality of artesan production of crafts by the Chontal indians of the state.

Al Montero at Palenque in Chiapas, Mexico

Tabasco state is famous for the richness of its ancient Mayan and Olmec culture. Prof. Montero's hosts took him to see the Mayan ruins at Palenque in Chiapas state. On the way, he saw first-hand the militarization of the area. He also saw Tabasco's PEMEX oil works and the state's largest ranch cooperative. He hopes to return to Tabasco in the next year.

Intern studies climate and policy
by Ben Rasmussen, '99

I was an intern at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado last summer. The Center is known worldwide for its studies of the earth's climatic system. In addition to physical scientists, it is composed of social scientists that investigate links between the climate, populations and policy.

I worked for Dr. Michael Glantz, who was director of NCAR's Environmental and Societal Impacts Group from 1977 to 1997. He holds a BS in metallurgical engineering and an MA and PhD in political science.

Dr. Glantz researches African drought, desertification, food production problems/prospects, the societal impacts of climate anomalies and the use of El Niño-related teleconnections to forecast these impacts. He develops methods of forecasting possible societal responses to the regional impacts of climate change and the use of climate-related information for economic development.

NCAR interns hard at work
(Ben Rasmussen '99, center)

La Niña, the appearance of anomalous cold water in the central tropical Pacific, was the main research area in which I worked. I created a chart showing discrepancies between physical scientists' lists of La Niña and El Niño years, compiled results of a survey of Peruvians on their sentiments relating to La Niña and did a headline search on how the American press portrayed this weather phenomenon.

The United Nations University/NCAR/UNEP activity, "A La Nina Summit: Review of the Causes and Consequences of Cold Events" was held at NCAR in July. Another highlight was speaking with Beijing University's Dr. Wang Shao-wu, China's foremost authority on La Niña and El Niño.

Faculty activities

Barbara Allen has been on leave for the past year with fellowships from the National Endowment for the Humanities and from the Earhart Foundation. She is working on her book Harmonizing Earth with Heaven: Tocqueville on Covenant and the Democratic Revolution. It will be published by Johns Hopkins University Press.

Roy Grow in a flood area of
northern China, September, 1998

Laurence Cooper's article, "Rousseau on Self-Love-What We've Learned, What We Might Have Learned," appeared in the fall issue of The Review of Politics. His book, Rousseau, Nature, and the Problem of the Good Life (Penn State Press) will appear next October.


Roy Grow returned in September from another trip to China. This time he was completing research sponsored by the World Bank on China's auto industry. He was caught in the floods of northern China, but finally returned home safe and sound.

Rich Keiser contributed two chapters to Minority Politics at the Millennium, a forthcoming book that he coedited with Professor Katherine Underwood. The chapters are entitled "Three Decades of Changing Minority Group Opportunities" and "White Backlash, Black Power and Shades of Gray." The book will be published in 1999.

Professor Keiser also was a panelist in a discussion on "Myths and Realities of Grade Inflation" sponsored by the Learning and Teaching Center at Carleton College in Fall 1998.

Alfred Montero's article, "State Interests and the New Industrial Policy in Brazil: The Privatization of Steel, 1990-94" appeared in the Journal of Interamerican Studies and World Affairs (Fall 1998). His review essay, "Assessing the Third Wave Democracies" appeared in the Summer 1998 issue.

Robert Packer presented "Still Bound to Lead? American Security Challenges at Century's End" at the 1998 Annual Conference of the Minnesota Political Science Association on November 7, 1998 at Metropolitan State University.

Steven Schier has been on leave during fall term, completing a book on electoral politics. He was again a major media election analyst, appearing on WCCO-TV, Cable News Network and in the New York Times, Washington Post and Time magazine.

Prof. Schier's article on the Minnesota governor's race, "Jesse's Victory," appeared in the Jan./Feb. issue of The Washington Monthly.

Norman Vig was one of three invited speakers at a European conference on participatory technology assessment held in Copenhagen, Denmark, in September. He has also completed work on two books to be published next year: The Global Environment (co-edited with Regina Axelrod) and Parliaments and Technology (co-edited with Herbert Paschen). Prof. Vig has contributed two chapters to each volume.

Web page update

The Political Science Department web page has a new address and a new look. Please visit us at

Congratulations and best wishes

…to Assistant Professor Larry Cooper and his wife Vicki, who welcomed a new son into their family during fall term. Aaron Nathaniel was born on October 13. He joins brother Benjamin, who is two and a half years old.


If they could see me now…

Alumni news from far and wide

1960s Alumni Responses
1970s Alumni Responses
1980s Alumni Responses
1990s Alumni Responses

The Poligon is a publication of the Political Science Department of Carleton College. Please submit contributions or comments on the Alumni Response Form.

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Tricia Peterson, Department Secretary
Political Science Department
Carleton College
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Northfield, MN 55057-4025
Phone: 507-646-4117
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