By Tyree Stovall/Clarion staff reporter
LINCOLN UNIVERSITY- It’s the start of a new school year and there’s more than just new students. Meet Dr. Brian Norris, the newest addition to the political science department. The Clarion recently talked with Norris concerning his new role on the LU campus.
The Clarion: What university were you at prior to Lincoln?
Norris: Denison University, a private liberal arts college in Granville, Ohio. One of the earliest colleges established in the former Northwest territory, founded in 1831.
The Clarion: You were a political science professor there, is that correct?
Norris: When we say political science that doesn’t necessarily tell you a lot of information because political science is an academic discipline. There’s people who study U.S. institutions, international institutions, and some people do it a quantitative way; others really want to make it science and others do it more quantitatively. I focus on international politics, specifically what we call comparative politics, which is the domestic politics of foreign lands.
The Clarion: What degree did you obtain? Why pursue that degree?
Norris: I have a Ph. D. in comparative politics. I was a Peace Corps volunteer, a federal government program created in 1963 by the late John F. Kennedy administration. The Peace Corps takes Americans and sends them abroad for two years, mostly to poor or developing countries. It has three goals: provide technical assistance; help (countries) with English language instruction; and provide basic sanitation in rural areas, such as in South America where people don’t have running water. I didn’t know how to get a passport, I didn’t know how to speak a foreign language and the Peace Corps taught a lot and I became interested in foreign politics (Bolivian and Latin) and that’s what sent me back to grad school. My undergraduate degree is actually in business administration.
The Clarion: How do you plan to improve political science at Lincoln?
Norris: When you are new in an organization you don’t just come in and start making changes. My first goal is to get to know the Lincoln students, get to know my faculty colleagues because they provide very valuable services for the students. Moving forward I want to develop classes that interest students. I want to have a political science curriculum that is responsive to the job market. Students from here want to have an idea of what types of jobs they can get with a political science degree. I want to expose students to government, journalism, and law school – we have an advantage being in the capital city.
The Clarion: What did you learn for your experience and environment at Dennison and now Lincoln?
Norris: I first taught at the Citadel. It’s like a military college and what I’ve learned is that all the schools I’ve taught at probably have more similarities than differences. Great students do the same thing at Dennison as great students do here and the students that struggle are falling into the same crowd at the Citadel or Dennison as they are here. My job as a professor is to get to know you individually and to help you achieve your goals, whether it’s goals in my class or just goals that you have.