According to Will Morgan, executive director of the Midwest Political Science Association
, "This year's meeting was our largest yet. We have 5,300 people on our program and 4,000 research papers making it the largest political science conference in the world."
It was the MPSA's 70th annual meeting and the 29th consecutive year that the event was held at the legendary and grand Palmer House Hilton Hotel
in the Windy City. It was in 1983 that Midwest began
its "long-standing relationship with the historic Palmer House hotel."
The meeting required a hotel of this size. As the MPSA Conference got underway earlier this month, all of the 1,639 guest rooms were booked and the conference utilized dozens and dozens of meetings rooms, multiple ballrooms, the Lobby and Empire Room, and almost 13,000 square feet of exhibit space.
The State and Grand Ballrooms were opened up to more than 30 exhibitors consisting primarily of book publishers like CQ Press, M.E. Sharpe, Oxford University Press, University of Chicago Press, W.W. Norton, and Wiley-Blackwell Publishing.
The program was divided into 74 sections including Politics of the Middle East, Foreign Policy, Legislative Campaigns and Elections, Gender and Politics, Legislative Institutions, State and Intergovernmental Politics, Public Policy, Public Administration, and Politics and Religion. Research was presented in panel and poster formats.
Among the presenters in the Public Policy and Public Administration Posters Section was Prof. James Hedrick of Rice University. Hedrick examined the role that states and localities played in immigration policymaking over the past decade. The research question guiding the preliminary study was: Given almost universal public opposition to immigration, why do some states adopt policies that expand the political rights of immigrants? Hedrick concluded that immigration policy solutions vary across states and cities with respect to amount, tone, and scope. And, importantly for political scientists, Hedrick states that "Few of the extant theories address the relevant variation we see in immigration policy across states and localities, issue areas, and over time." He argues that interest group theories should be expanded in order for the theory to address "unique aspects of the policies, contexts, and institutions."
The European Politics Section included a panel on "Regulating Minorities in a Multi-Ethnic Europe." Papers were presented on topics such as "Religious Minorities, Recognition Regimes, and Institutional Change in Europe" and "EU Efforts to Integrate Roma in Member States: All Rhetoric and No Substance?" The panel was representative of others in that presenters were from a variety of universities in the United States (Rhode Island College, University of Arkansas, Rutgers University) and from countries around the world (Bilkent University, Turkey).
A quick survey of the program revealed that international participants represented universities in Brazil, Great Britain, Sweden, China, Spain, Israel, Russia, Canada, and many other nations. The conference program and papers submitted can be viewed at this website
It wasn't all work and no play at the MPSA conference. A number of receptions were held, and, in fact, the Palmer House Hilton's
Lockwood Restaurant and Bar and Potter's Lounge were serving up "The Dr. Will Morgan Martini" (Stoli Vodka, Cointreau, and POM Pomegranate Juice) in honor of the MPSA's executive director. When asked about this being the 70th year of the conference and what was special about that, Morgan replied, "The big thing about this year is that we are fortunate to have Justice Breyer speak
about his book Making Democracy Work: A Judge's View."