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The Growth of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the Impact of That Growth on the Senate as an Institution

Gregory Carter ('10); David Menefee-Libey; Justin Crowe*
*Department of Political Science, Williams College, Williamstown, MA

My project focuses on the dual roles of the increasingly influential Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee—recruiting potential new senators and providing a steppingstone for Democratic senators with aspirations for Senate leadership or higher office. Interviews with former top staffers and political observers confirmed that the organization has grown for two reasons. First, increasingly complex campaign finance laws allow for larger donations to campaign committees, and second, Supreme Court decisions have allowed for larger expenditures beyond the reach of campaign finance regulators. The influx of money has allowed the DSCC to exert greater control in choosing candidates in primary and in financing independent negative attacks against Republican opponents, indicating an increased level of centralization of American politics in Washington. However, the organization and its  leadership have remained externally focused and as a result rarely exert direct influence on legislation. This summer research provides the basis for my further examination of the impact of the DSCC.
Funding provided by: Hart Institute for American History

Congressional Oversight: Explaining the Bush Era's Neglected Function

Scott Levy ('10); Justin Crowe

From 2000 to 2006, congressional oversight once again became Congress’ neglected function despite relatively high levels of oversight during the Clinton administration. Why did Congress fail to oversee the executive branch during this time despite the country’s involvement in two wars? While there is substantial debate regarding the degree to which divided government affects the frequency and intensity of investigative oversight, both qualitative and quantitative evidence suggest that the presence of a unified government helps explain much of the decline of oversight in this specific instance. The remainder of the decline can be explained by the presence of an extremely homogenous majority party that tolerated little internal dissent.
Funding provided by: The Paul K. Richter and Evalyn E. Cook Richter Award

The Meaning of Citizenship in New York City Public Schools

Marlies Talay ('10); John Seery

In a world that has become increasingly globalized and interdependent, civic education curricula and definitions of citizenship have become more contested and also undeniably more important. I aimed to explore the limitations of current social studies and civic education curricula in NYC public high schools, while seeking to understand what changes are needed to better serve students. I have studied the current New York City curriculum as well as curricula designed by other education-based organizations. I also spoke with public school teachers about their experiences with civic education. I have concluded that not only is there a definite lack of civic education in schools, but that the courses that exist do not sufficiently utilize a language of inclusion and integration. We must allow for new concepts of nationalism and identity so that students can form their own meanings of citizenship and better relate to their community, city, and world.
Funding provided by: The Aubrey H. and Eileen J. Seed Award

Research at Pomona