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Political Science Spotlight

Grant Buckles: Taking Transylvania with You

Grant Buckles at Parliament“The political science program has such great teachers who care about student learning. The course offerings are all extremely interesting, and the program is highly supportive of study abroad experiences and internships.”

You can take the boy away from Transylvania, but you can't take Transylvania away from the boy.

In 2011, Grant Buckles graduated from Transylvania, poised to pursue his Ph.D. in political science at Emory University. He now realizes how important his mentors and opportunities in his Transylvania past are to his present.

"The professors are by far the best aspect of political science at Transylvania," Buckles says. "While they both have distinctive teaching styles, professor Don Dugi and professor Jeff Freyman are extremely thought-provoking professors who lead you to think about political phenomena in an in-depth, analytical way."

The professors' methods have helped Buckles broaden his mind and succeed at the next level. "While the norm in academia is to focus on a particular subfield and only develop expertise on a limited topic, both professors are knowledgeable on a huge scope of topics," he says. "The coursework at Transylvania is rigorous, but rewarding, and has prepared me extremely well for graduate studies at a top-tier political science program."

Buckles also is reaping the rewards of lessons learned beyond Transylvania. A recipient of the university's Kenan-Jones grant, Buckles conducted research in Canada's Parliament, where he got to put his political knowledge into practice by focusing on property rights of Canada's First Nations and the inner workings of their multi-party political system.

"I especially enjoyed interviewing leaders of First Nations groups and having conversations with many Members of Parliament," Buckles remembers. "It was extremely valuable to observe how Canada's political parties functioned internally, as well as how the competing parties interacted. Ultimately, the insights I gained from my field research as an undergrad have continued to inform and improve my research projects in graduate school."

At Emory, Buckles studies comparative political institutions and political behavior and works as a research assistant. He also plans, once again, to observe the political phenomenon first-hand by conducting field research abroad on the internal dynamics of political parties.

"The transition to graduate school has been very enjoyable," he says. "While Emory is certainly larger than Transylvania, the university has a similar academic culture. The political science department at Emory produces a nice faculty-graduate student working environment, similar to what I enjoyed at Transylvania."

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