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Gratzia Villarroel

Gratzia Villarroel (Political Science) initiated the new Facebook page.

December 2010

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Political science takes to Facebook

Last month’s midterm elections spurred plenty of media attention for the political science faculty and for the survey center at St. Norbert College.

The center unearthed political data that helped gauge likely election outcomes, and St. Norbert political scientists were called on regularly to interpret data and provide political commentary as the election approached and unfolded.

Fortunately, the discipline’s new presence on Facebook meant media exposure could easily be shared with political science alumni and other friends. The discipline was among the first on campus to create its own Facebook fan page.

Wisconsin Survey attracts media coverage
A month ahead of the election, the survey center conducted the Wisconsin Survey, a poll of several hundred Wisconsinites on state and national issues.

The survey, a collaboration with Wisconsin Public Radio, drew strong interest statewide and also prompted mention on The New York Times’ website, on CNN and in newspapers across the country.

Within hours of releasing survey results, Wendy Scattergood (Political Science) was at work analyzing the data and fielding questions about the survey from many media outlets.

The increased attention the Wisconsin Survey generated pleased but did not surprise David Wegge, professor of political science and director of the survey center.

“In this election year, there were a lot of races in Wisconsin that there was national interest in. The fact that Feingold was being challenged brought a lot of attention to the state,” says Wegge.

Coverage continued through the election, during which several political scientists lent their expertise locally. Wegge facilitated a Green Bay Press-Gazette online chat to share perspective on election results as they came in and to answer questions put forth by others in the chat room.

In addition, Scattergood and Charley Jacobs (Political Science) both made separate election-night television appearances. Scattergood provided analysis for WGBA NBC 26, and Jacobs did the same for WLUK Fox 11.

National ranking adds momentum
Another factor contributing to the discipline’s considerable involvement in election coverage was the national reputation of the survey center. The New York Times’ FiveThirtyEight political website recently ranked the institute the top survey organization in Wisconsin and among the top 15 of 56 polling outlets associated with U.S. academic institutions.

“People want information. We’ve become a very trusted source of that information,” Wegge says. In fact, building on that reputation, the center is currently considering a name change that will reflect the breadth of its capabilities in the field of strategic research.

Facebook page spreads the news
Bojan Francuz '13 and Gratzia Villarroel (Political Science) introduced the new political science Facebook page just in time to share the expertise of the discipline, its election coverage and faculty interviews with a wide audience of followers.  

Villarroel is excited about this new opportunity to connect. “Our goal is to enhance communication between faculty, current students, alumni, prospective students and friends of political science.”

Disciplines on Facebook
If you’d like to stay abreast of all things political science, visit the political science Facebook fan page.

Political science isn’t the only discipline at St. Norbert to take to Facebook. Get the latest news from the mathematics program at its Facebook fan page.

For a full listing of Facebook fan pages, Twitter feeds and YouTube accounts associated with the college, visit St. Norbert’s social media directory.

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