Political Science Department develops CATI Center

In the fall of 2010, a fourth concentration known as Applied Politics will be added to the three other already existing ones. The Mercyhurst Political Science department currently offers three main concentrations: Environmental Studies and Politics, International Relations, and Pre-Law.

The Applied Politics concentration will focus on doing politics including activities such as working on campaigns, involvement with the media and lobbying. Some new classes will be offered including campaign management, politics in the media, public opinion, and “hot topics” in politics. These courses will provide technical skills of politics which are valuable to Political Science majors.

In addition to the new concentration, the Political Science department also plans to open a center for applied politics, known as the CATI Center. This center, which will be located on the fourth floor of the Hammermill Library, will include 16 machines that facilitate the purpose of campaign assisted telephone interviewing and one supervisor station.

While many research-based colleges have facilities such as this, there is no active regional centers. These machines will collect information regarding public opinion and benefit the college in two ways. First, the machines will better the way in which mass consumption information is collected. Public opinion polls provide a valuable link between the people and elected officials and will be able to serve the community by allowing the City of Erie to better govern though a larger availability of information.

For example, one “hot topic” for the region regards the Erie Tire Plant. While decisions regarding the plant are up to elected officials, public opinion must also be taken into consideration and the CATI Center will be able to facilitate a means to acquire this public opinion.

Second, the machines will provide a means of academic research. The CATI Center will have the ability to conduct local, state, regional, and national public opinion polls and will thus be able to provide both staff and students with tools of analysis to assess opinion in a non-partisan way.

“Student will get to learn not just in the classroom, but by doing and having a hands-on experience” Associate Professor of Political Science, Joseph Morris, said.

The creation of the Applied Politics concentration and the CATI Center has been an ongoing effort of the Political Science department for over a year. Their efforts have been widely supported by the President Gamble and the administration of Mercyhurst College.

Students such as Mark Fuhry, sophomore Political Science major, are excited for these changes in the Political Science Department. “_____________________” says Fuhry.