Social Sciences on Tap

On the second Thursday of every month, faculty from the School of Social Sciences discuss topics of local, national, and global importance and engage in a lively conversation with the community. Come join us!

Next Event

Date: Thursday, November 8, 2018
Time: 6:00 p.m.
Topic: "Journalism Ethics in the Trump Era."
Presenter: Mr. Ron Allman, Professor of Journalism & Media

New Albanian Brewing Company Brewhouse
415 Bank Street
New Albany, IN 47150

Topic Summary

"Journalism Ethics in the Trump Era."

Presenter: Mr. Ron Allman, Professor of Journalism & Media

Professor Ron Allman will discuss the changes to the issues of journalism ethics due to the Trump presidency, including truth, privacy, conflict of interest, libel and hate.

Biography: Professor Allman is an eight-time nominee for Distinguished Teacher Award. He has been teaching at IU Southeast since 1999 and advised the student newspaper for 13.5 years. He has offered 17 different journalism courses at IU Southeast, including Journalism Ethics and Communications Law. His Journalism Ethics course is a General Education course.

Previous Talks

Thursday, October 11, 2018 - "Riding the Pink Wave: Gender in the 2018 Midterm Elections"

"Riding the Pink Wave: Gender in the 2018 Midterm Elections"

Presenter: Dr. Rhonda Wrezenski, Associate Professor of Political Science

Following the 2016 election, political scientists began to examine how the results of the presidential election might shape political interest and involvement by Democratic and Republican men and women. In this talk, Dr. Wrzenski will overview the trends and patterns uncovered in this research and explore how these findings have corresponded with subsequent candidate entry and victory rates (so far) in the midterm elections. Dr. Wrzenski will also discuss whether women have been successful and how we define success. This discussion will touch on candidate image, candidate messaging, campaign finance, and voter perceptions in 2018.

Biography: Dr. Wrzenski is an Associate Professor of Political Science at IU Southeast, where she teaches courses in introductory American politics, as well as advanced courses in state politics, gender and politics, elections and voting, public policymaking, and senior seminar. She received a PhD (2010) and MA (2005) in political science from Louisiana State University, and a BA in political science and media production (2003) from Hastings College.

Dr. Wrzenski’s research focuses on legislative behavior, the under-representation of women in politics, and campaign finance. In 2016, her chapter on state and local government was published in an American Government textbook along with an article in the journal Social Science Quarterly on the electoral benefits of bill sponsorship and passage. She also published two pieces on teaching in the 2015 edition of the IU Press book, Quick Hits – Teaching Tips for Adjunct Faculty and Lecturers. This summer, Dr. Wrzenski collaborated on a forthcoming textbook project focusing on our nation’s foundational documents and their role in state policymaking and voting and participation, among other areas. Dr. Wrzenski was on sabbatical in the spring of 2018 and is currently working on a project focused on comparing the qualifications, interest group scorecard ratings, and committee assignments of every male and female state legislator in 2016.

Thursday, September 13, 2018 - "Neoliberalism: Poison or Panacea?"

"Neoliberalism: Poison or Panacea?"

Presenter: Dr. Veronica Medina, Associate Professor of Sociology

Economic transformations and their consequences for societies and individuals have long been an important topic of inquiry for sociologists. The current trend toward “neoliberalism” is no exception.

In this talk, Dr. Medina will define the concept of neoliberalism from a sociological perspective and address its origins, applications, and implications. This presentation will discuss the ways in which neoliberal economic and social policies and practices bear on the lives of individuals in both advanced capitalist and developing economies by examining findings from Dr. Medina’s ongoing research on reality television and microfinance, respectively. In her analysis, Dr. Medina seeks to determine whether neoliberalism is a poison or panacea to some of the most pressing social problems of our time.

Biography: Dr. Medina is an Associate Professor of Sociology at IU Southeast, where she teaches courses in introductory sociology, as well as advanced courses in the sociology of education, work and occupations, childhood, and family. She received a PhD (2012) and MA (2007) in sociology-- with a graduate minor in Women’s and Gender Studies-- from the University of Missouri, and a BA in sociology and English (2004) from the University of Kansas. She holds membership and committee chair positions in both the Midwest Sociological Society and the North Central Sociological Association.

Dr. Medina’s current research focuses on issues of representation in popular culture. She has published collaborative research examining immigrants’ work experiences in the Midwest (Journal of Counseling Psychology, 2011) and the intersections of race, immigration, and “new urbanism” in New Orleans, LA, post-Hurricane Katrina (Sociation Today, 2006 and 2007).

Dr. Medina’s most recent publication “The Promises and Pitfalls of Microfinance in Pakistani Women’s Lives” is co-authored with Dr. Priya Dua (USDA, National Agricultural Statistics Service) and appears in the anthology Women of Asia: Globalization, Development, and Gender Equity (Routledge, 2018).

May 10, 2018 - "Working Well: Managing Stress in the Workplace" and "Prescribing Persuasion: Which Persuasive Messages Influence Elderly Patients' Medication Compliance"

"Working Well: Managing Stress in the Workplace"

Presenter: Darlene Young, Director of Staff Equity & Diversity/Title IX Deputy Coordinator at IU Southeast

Effective management of stress is important to the welfare of all workers. Financial costs from lost productivity, absenteeism, associated healthcare, and turnover are on the rise because of chronic workplace stress.

My analysis will discuss findings obtained from social science and business research focused on identifying what workplace stress is; how it affects the mind and body; the main causes of workplace stress; and how healthy outcomes can be achieved through the utilization of coping strategies, and organizational resources.

Biography: Darlene Young currently serves as Director of Staff Equity & Diversity, and Title IX Deputy Coordinator for Indiana University Southeast (IU Southeast) in New Albany, Indiana. She works collaboratively with internal campus and external community members to develop and implement initiatives that create spaces where respect and diversity can thrive on and off campus.

Young received her bachelor’s degree from the IU Southeast School of Business; is a Six Sigma Green Belt; holds certification as a Senior Certified Affirmative Action Professional (CAAP); and is an ATIXA Level Three Title IX Investigator. Before joining administration at IU Southeast in 2008, Young served as Vice President of Business Support and Operations for Bank of America Merchant Services, and performed in various Information Technology and Human Resource roles for Brown-Forman Corporation in Louisville, Kentucky.

"Prescribing Persuasion: Which Persuasive Messages Influence Elderly Patients’ Medication Compliance"

Presenter: Michelle Churchman, IU Southeast Master of Interdisciplinary Studies student

Patients who fail to comply with medical recommendations for treatment or to take prescribed medications affect the cost and effectiveness of our nation’s health care system. Patients with chronic conditions who fail to follow medical orders get sicker, need more expensive interventions and die earlier than patients who regulate and maintain their health with consistent care. A careful examination of existing literature reveals health care practitioners struggle to address the problem of noncompliance.

Abundant research shows how effective marketing and sales professionals use persuasion and compliance-gaining techniques to influence the public’s behavior. It would seem, then, that creating persuasive messages that effectively use these empirically-tested psychological techniques and strategies could create an effective way for health care practitioners to obtain higher compliance rates from patients. In other words, using psychological principles to influence the way most humans make decisions about what toothpaste to buy could be used to influence the way they make decisions about their health, particularly their decisions to follow medical advice with regard to medications.

Biography: Michelle Churchman is a student in the IU Southeast Masters of Interdisciplinary Studies program. She has 14 years of health care experience at John-Kenyon Eye Center, where she is currently a refractive surgery counselor and scheduler. She hopes to use her degree to pursue a career in training and education in a health care setting or a post-secondary position. She is married and has lived in New Albany for over 30 years.

April 12, 2018 - "Civility in Public Discourse: Can We Get It Back?"

"Civility in Public Discourse: Can We Get It Back?"

Presenter: Dr. Joe Wert, Professor of Political Science

It seems you can’t look at social media, read a newspaper or watch television anymore without hearing people scream at each other. The state of our public discourse (public conversations and debates about political issues) is abysmal. Public airwaves are filled with vitriol, name calling, and sometimes even violence. We seem to be in a place we have never experienced before. Are we doomed to an ever-spiraling decay of our public rhetoric? Or can we do something about it?

In the next Social Sciences On Tap, we’ll explore the state of Rhetoric in Public Discourse. We’ll put it into historical perspective, look at some causes, and talk about some potential solutions. We promise the conversation will be both interesting and civil, and maybe even fun!

Biography: Dr. Joe Wert is professor of political science. He teaches courses in public administration, the presidency, constitutional law, research methods, and ethics and public policy. He is currently working on researching (with Dr. Cliff Staten) how politically-constrained presidents can work with Congress to achieve their agendas.

March 8, 2018 - "Innovations in Higher Education: Roleplaying, Games, and Simulations"

"Innovations in Higher Education: Roleplaying, Games, and Simulations"

Presenter: Dr. Margot Morgan, Assistant Professor of Political Science

Most students' experience of college used to involve sitting and listening to seemingly endless lectures. But higher education is changing. While the lecture still has its place, other more innovative means of teaching have entered the scene. Researching in teaching and learning indicates that students learn more - and learn differently - when more engaging, interactive activities are brought into the classroom such as games, simulations, and collaborative exercises.

Reacting to the past is at the forefront of the active-learning movement. The Reacting curriculum is composed of role-playing games based on key movements in world history, such as the French Revolution or the American Constitutional Convention. Within the context of the game, each student is assigned the role ofa historical figure and given a set of goals that s/he needs to accomplish in order to "win" the game. Students must work together to achieve their goals and solve conflicts along the way. Reacting games empower students by helping them develop the tools they need to succeed in the world after graduation: public speaking skills, interpersonal communication skills, persuasive writing skills, and the ability to collaborate with others to address problems and create solutions.

Biography: Dr. Morgan teaches Introduction to American Politics as well as courses in political theory on themes such as power, political freedom, and ideology. She used the French Revolution Reacting game in her Ideologies course last semester and will be offering a course on Political Freedom incorporating three Reacting games next fall for the Honors Program.

Her current research is on the value of active learning in the classroom. Her first book,Politics and Theatre is Twentieth-Century Europe: Shaw, Brecht, Sartre, and Ionesco Comparedexplores the power of theatre to expand the imagination and to incite social and political change.

Feb. 8, 2018 - "How to be an informed citizen in the era of fake news"

"How to be an informed citizen in the era of fake news"

Presenter: Dr. Adam Maksl, Assistant Professor of Journalism & Media

In the era of information abundance, anyone with a cell phone can share content widely and that content is often displayed on equal footing with more traditional sources of information. How do we know what to believe? How do we determine what is real and what is, well, fake? Dr. Maksl will discuss what citizens need to know to be better informed consumers of information. Through an examination of how modern media organizations are structured, he will explore the questions we should ask to be skeptical (but no cynical) consumers of information.

Biography: Dr. Adam Maksl is an assistant professor of Journalism & Media at Indiana University Southeast, where he teaches digital journalism and social media classes, advises the multiplatform student news laboratory and radio station, and researches news and media literacy. Maksl's research has been published in top-rated journals in his field, including Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly: Journalism & Mass Communication Educator: the Journal of Media Literacy Education; Electronic News; and Cyberpsychology, Behavior & Social Networking. His teaching focuses on multimedia storytelling, reporting, and communications law. He has won several awards, including the Teacher of the Year honor from the Small Programs Interest Group of the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication and the Honor Roll Newspaper Adviser Award from the College Media Association. Maksl has a Ph.D. from the University of Missouri, an M.A. in journalism from Ball State University, and a B.S. in secondary journalism education from Indiana University - Bloomington.

Dec. 14, 2017 - "Workplace Motivation: Lessons from the Wells Fargo Scandal"

"Workplace Motivation: Lessons from the Wells Fargo Scandal"

Presenter: Dr. Todd Manson, Associate Professor of Psychology

From January 2009 to September 2016, Wells Fargo employees created an estimated 3.5 million unauthorized customer accounts, such as checking accounts, credit cards, and online bill-pay enrollments. Affected customers received fees for the new accounts such as overdraft fees, late charges, and insufficient funds fees, and many experienced a negative impact on their credit scores. This has resulted in ongoing political, legal, and financial fallout for the company.

Unauthorized accounts were apparently created by employees in an attempt to meet aggressive sales goals incentivized both by financial bonuses for meeting goals and negative consequences for not meeting goals. Financial bonuses are used by many organizations to motivate performance and attract and retain top performing employees. While research has found that financial bonuses can be effective, there are also risks involved in their use. The Wells Fargo case highlights one major risk – motivating unwanted, unethical, and/or illegal behavior aimed at attaining bonuses.

This talk will review the Wells Fargo case, discuss the use of financial incentives, and describe other ways to motivate employee performance that are less likely to result in such negative behaviors.

Biography: Todd M. Manson, Associate Professor of Psychology, received a Ph.D. in Industrial/ Organizational Psychology from the University of South Florida in Tampa, Florida. Dr. Manson has published peer-reviewed articles in the areas of job analysis, personnel selection, and the teaching of Psychology. Dr. Manson’s research in personnel selection has examined the role of impression management by job applicants when completing personality tests. Dr. Manson teaches classes in Industrial and Organizational Psychology, Statistics and Research Methods, Social Psychology, Introductory Psychology, Careers in Psychology, and Senior Seminar.

Nov. 9, 2017 - "Should Punishment Last Forever? The Collateral Consequences of a Criminal Record"

"Should Punishment Last Forever? The Collateral Consequences of a Criminal Record"

Presenter: Dr. Jennifer Ortiz, Assistant Professor of Criminology & Criminal Justice

The United States has the highest incarceration rate in the world. Currently, there are 2.2 million individuals residing in correctional facilities nationwide. Ninety-five percent of all incarcerated individuals will re-enter society at some point in their lives. Annually, an estimated 700,000 incarcerated individuals are released from correctional facilities in the United States. High recidivism rates result in a 'revolving door' whereby individuals cycle into and out of our prison system.

Formerly incarcerated individuals face substantial obstacles upon their release including barriers to employment, education, housing, and access to medical care. This presentation will discuss the impact of these issues on both formerly incarcerated individuals and society. Dr. Ortiz will draw data from national and local sources in addition to her ongoing research with formerly incarcerated individuals in the Kentuckiana area.

Bio: Dr. Ortiz is an Assistant Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice at IU Southeast. She teaches introductory courses on criminological theory and research methods as well as advanced courses in corrections, wrongful convictions, and prison gangs. Dr. Ortiz's research focuses on punishment in the criminal justice system. Her current study explores the lived experiences of individuals exiting correctional facilities in Louisville and Southern Indiana. Dr. Ortiz's previous research explored a wide range of punishment topics including the impact of sentencing policies on prison populations, the impact of criminal justice policies on victims of crime, and the impact of police and correctional policies on prison and street gang structures.

Oct. 12, 2017 - "Accounting for Taste: What the Art You Consume Says About You"

"Accounting for Taste: What the Art You Consume Says About You"

Presenter: Dr. Greg Kordsmeier, Assistant Professor of Sociology.

They say there is no accounting for taste, but sociologists of culture have shown that social characteristics like class, gender, and race and ethnicity influence our seemingly idiosyncratic taste in art and music. This event explores how sociologists define taste and the implications of this school of research.

The French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu coined the term cultural capital to describe the nonmaterial assets that individuals hold that mark their social position. These can include educational credentials, skills, knowledge, and aesthetic sensibilities. Understanding cultural capital offers us insight not only into our own taste in art and music, but also helps us perceive the subtle ways that class, gender, and racial distinctions are maintained. Cultural capital can help us understand everything from the future of arts organizations to how we should be educating first-generation college students.

Bio: Dr. Kordsmeier teaches introductory courses in social problems as well as advanced courses on Social Psychology, Social Theory, the Sociology of Medicine, and Research Methods. He serves as an area editor for the American Sociological Association's Teaching Resources and Innovations Library (TRAILS), a peer reviewed digital library of high quality teaching resources for sociology, in the areas of Emotions and Socialization.

Dr. Kordsmeier’s research focuses on social interaction in culture industries. He utilizes qualitative methods, focusing on in-depth interviewing, participant observation, and qualitative content analysis of documents. He is interested in understanding the social-psychological and micro-sociological forces that affect work processes in arts organizations, and the effects this has on artists and the art that they make. His work is forthcoming in Music and Arts in Action and The Journal of the Indiana Academy of Social Sciences.

Please contact Dr. Kelly A. Ryan at if you would like more information on the series.