Department of Government and Sociology


In the Department of Government and Sociology, we will lead you on a path of exploration into the public sector— but we also lead you to a path of self-discovery as an active citizen in an ever-evolving world.  

From in depth courses on constitutionalism and public service systems to graduate degrees in public administration and criminal justice— you have endless opportunities to learn from some of the most dedicated and talented faculty at Georgia College & State University. And your time in the programs won’t stop in the classroom. We cultivate a sense of independence and curiosity in our students, which leads to undergraduate research, public service projects and internships.

After graduating from Georgia College and the Department of Government and Sociology, you’ll be equipped with everything you need to not only enter into careers at the international to local levels— but to be a leader in the process. 

Message from the Chair

The Department of Government and Sociology at Georgia College is committed to providing all of its students with an education that offers in-depth study and a breath of experience through our programs.  Our faculty and curriculum focuses on engaging and challenging students to grow both academically and personally as they prepare for careers in their chosen fields or by continuing their studies at the graduate level.   The undergraduate programs include the BA major and minor in Criminal Justice, Political Science and Sociology, and a minor in Anthropology.  At the graduate level we offer two degrees, the Master of Public Administration and the Master of Science in Criminal Justice.  

With 26 dedicated full-time faculty, the department prides itself on promoting a student-centered learning environment in pursuit of intellectual excellence.  As active scholars in their field, our faculty have been recognized with outstanding teaching, research and service awards.  Our programs share a commitment to the highest standards of academic quality and faculty work closely with students as teacher-scholars to advance their goals.  By embracing our liberal arts mission, we strive to create an academic environment that aims to assist the development of life-long and independent learners. 

Our students have opportunities to become involved in undergraduate research, public service projects, and internships.  They learn in and beyond the classroom through civic engagement, study abroad, work on archaeology sites, etc.  Several courses offer students opportunities to work with local citizens and public school students in citizenship and community-based programming.

Once again, welcome to the Department of Government and Sociology and on behalf of the faculty I invite you to contact us with any questions and encourage you to learn more about our work!

Scott E. Buchanan, Ph.D.
Department Chair

Where Will You Go?

Colin Hall with President Cathy Cox.

Our own Colin Hall, a political science major from Jones County, is Georgia College & State University’s first-ever Truman Scholar! Created as a living memorial to United States President Harry S. Truman, the Truman Scholarship is a highly competitive national award given to exceptional college juniors who demonstrate outstanding leadership potential, a commitment to public service and academic excellence. 

“The Truman Scholarship wants someone who's dedicated to a life in public service,” Hall said, “and I can say that one of my big missions in life is to serve people.”

Hall joins a class of 62 new Truman Scholars selected from 705 applicants representing 275 colleges and universities nationwide. This year, Hall is the only student in Georgia to earn this prestigious honor recognizing his commitment to public service.  Hall applied for the Truman Scholarship upon the recommendation of National Scholarships Office Coordinator Anna Whiteside, who first learned about Hall through his participation in GCSU’s Election Administration Certificate program.

Georgia College administrators joined Hall’s professors and Career Center colleagues in surprising him with the Truman Scholarship announcement during a reception 

“While we've had several students make it to the finalist level over the past few years, Colin is our first Truman recipient,” Whiteside said. “I am thrilled that the rest of the country is going to get an opportunity to learn through Colin how much GCSU students care about improving the world around them.”

Hall credits his parents, Geoffrey and Valerie Hall, and his Christian faith for instilling his strong sense of duty to others. “One of the best ways you can serve others is being able to listen and have productive conversations. Something that really motivated me is being able to witness my mother as a teacher,” Hall said. “She's been a teacher for 28 years and seeing how much time she invests into students year after year in her classroom has made me gain an appreciation for educators and administrators in education across the state.”

Hall has volunteered as a Sunday school teacher since age 12 and regularly seeks opportunities to share his academic experiences with students at Mattie Wells Elementary School, where his mother teaches fourth grade. At Georgia College, Hall assists peers in résumé writing and mock interviewing at the university’s Career Center. 

Hall aspires to a life of public service as an elected official with the ultimate goal of being elected governor of Georgia. He looks forward to participating in the Truman Foundation's Summer Institute, during which Hall hopes to meet and work with elected officials and career civil servants to better understand constituent services and policymaking at the federal level.

“One of the best ways you can serve others is being able to listen and have productive conversations with people from different lifestyles who have different views on issues,” Hall said, “and being able to then take things they say and make sure we're not forgetting about anybody and that everybody's getting equal representation.”

"We are incredibly proud of Colin and this tremendous achievement," said President Cathy Cox. "He embodies the service-oriented values of the Truman Scholarship and proudly represents the mission of Georgia College & State University to produce graduates who are committed to ethical leadership and public service."

Professor Claire Sanders, political science senior lecturer, Colin Hall, Dr. Scott Buchanan

The Truman Scholarship provides funding for graduate studies, leadership training, career counseling and special internship and fellowship opportunities within the federal government. The experience of applying for the Truman Scholarship has helped Hall prepare for his next steps, which include pursuing a master’s degree in public administration and a law degree. 

You can learn more about the Truman Scholarship and read Colin Hall’s scholar bio on the Harry S. Truman Scholarship Foundation website. Learn more about applying for the Truman Scholarship and other national academic honors on the GCSU National Scholarships Office website.

Department Student News
Mock Trial2

On November 10-11, the Mock Trial team competed at the Second Annual Wildcat Invitational Tournament in Davidson, North Carolina. The team performed admirably, defeating the University of Kentucky and Davidson College. Additionally, Stelios Spirou, the Mock Trial team captain, won an Outstanding Attorney Award, which was given to the top four of approximately thirty-five competing attorneys. The team, which is coached by Assistant Professor Adam Lamparello, will compete next at the Queen City Classic on January 20-21 in Charlotte, North Carolina, and in February at the American Mock Trial Association's regional tournament. 

Sociology seniors Erin Smith and Cameron Cheely recently hosted the American Democracy Project’s weekly “Times Talk,” where facilitators lead participants in a discussion of a New York Times article. Cameron and Erin shared their ongoing research on how college marketing impacts college choice

Under the direction and guidance of Dr. Min Kim, Vivian Cassaniti presented her research paper, “Gender Gap in Social Welfare Policy Attitudes,” at the 2023 Georgia Academy of Science conference and won the award for Best Student Paper. Ms. Cassaniti's study explores the dynamics of gender differences in attitudes to public policy issues and how they shape American politics. This study sheds light on what gendered patterns of public opinion look like in the United States, what the underlying factors drive these patterns, and how gender interacts with other identities to influence political attitudes. To examine how partisanship and other identities influence gender disparities in social welfare policy attitudes, this study analyzes data from the 2021 General Social Survey. Congratulations to Dr. Kim and Ms. Cassaniti!

Hannah Holcomb is interning with the Georgia General Assembly during Spring Semester 2023. Above is a recent photograph of Hannah with Georgia Governor Brian Kemp. 


(L-R): Jay Mock, Aidan Meaker, Dr. Min Kim, Addison Baxter, and Lisa Calvert

Congratulations to Min and four of his students. Under the direction of Min, the following four students presented at the 2022 Georgia Political Science Association meeting in Savannah.

Addison Baxter: "Polarization of Partisanship in America and Its Effects on the Opinion on Climate Change"
Aidan Meaker: "Does Religious Affiliation Influence Political Polarization in the United States?"
Jay Mock: "Americans’ Confidence in Congress"
Lisa Calvert: "Race, Political Party, and Attitudes on Cultural Issues"

Both Lisa and Addison were nominated for the prestigious Roger N. Pajari Award, which recognizes the best undergraduate paper presented at each year's GPSA conference. I'm happy to report that Lisa's paper titled, "Race, Political Party, and Attitudes on Cultural Issues," was selected for the 2022 Pajari Award. 

(L-R): James Watts, Kathryn Cooper, Jacobi Rogers, Lisa Calvert, Stelios Spirou, Connor Hilly, Emily Wyche, and Professor Adam Lamparello

In October 2022, The Georgia College Mock Trial Team, hosted by the Department of Government and Sociology, was invited to compete in the 12th Annual Owl Classic Invitational Tournament in Atlanta. The team had an impressive showing, placing just a few points short of winning the tournament. Two of the team's student attorneys, Stelios Spirou and Lisa Calvert, won Outstanding Attorney Awards (which are given to the top ten attorneys out of approximately fifty-six attorney participants). Also, two of the team's witnesses, Connor Hilly and Emily Wyche, won Outstanding Witness Awards (which are given to the top ten witnesses out of approximately sixty witness participants). Professor Adam Lamparello is the Mock Trial Team Advisor.

Anthropology minor Lauren Stone presented her ethnographic research project titled "Homemaking Through Green Spaces Among Refugees in Clarkston, Georgia" at the fourth annual "Posters at the Georgia State Capitol" event on March 30, 2022. The event was organized by the Georgia Undergraduate Research Collective and highlighted selected research projects from undergraduate students from colleges and universities throughout the state of Georgia. 

Political science major, Mr. Stelious Spirou, presented a research paper titled, "Rational Choice Theory, Social Background, and COVID Pandemic Attitudes," at the 2022 Southwestern Social Science Association meeting in San Antonio, Texas in April.



Alumni News

Political Science Alumnus Earns Ph.D.
Jeffrey Griffin, GCSU Class of 2013, a political science alumnus recently earned his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Nevada, Reno in 2022. Dr. Roger Coate was one of the members of Dr. Griffin's dissertation committee. Congratulations to Dr. Griffin!

Georgia College Graduate joins United States Air Force
Airman First Class Taylor Hyatt, (Political Science major and Georgia College graduate, class of 2020) recently enlisted in the United States Air Force.  In basic training, A1C Hyatt was tasked with the responsibilities of an academic monitor, ensuring his flight retained all the information to take the final exam to graduate.  Based on his exceptional performance on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery test performance, A1C Hyatt began training to be a Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) sensor operator, or a copilot in an unmanned aerial vehicle known as a drone.  A1C Hyatt recently passed his fundamentals air test and will likely be flying aircraft in the next few months.

Before enlisting in the Air Force, A1C Hyatt excelled as a Political Science major, serving as an intern for the Georgia House of Representatives majority caucus.  As part of his internship, he coordinated meetings, wrote speeches, and provided constituent services.  After his Georgia legislative internship, AIC Hyatt interned for the United States Congress in the office of Representative Austin Scott, where he recorded constituent attitudes in Georgia's 8th Congressional District.

Mr. Ralph Staffins (MPA Class of 2008) has been named to Georgia Trend's 2021 "40 Under 40."

Faculty News

Dr. Max Harleman, Assistant Professor of Public Administration, is the lead author on a recent article in Science of the Total Environment, a leading environmental science journal with a focus on environmental policy.

Dr. Alesa Liles, Associate Professor of Criminal Justice, recently won an award from the GCSU Digital Humanities Collaborative (DHC). Each year, the DHC provides support for faculty to pursue research or creative work with a digital component. The goal of the fellowships is to increase productivity in innovative digital scholarship at Georgia College & State University. Dr. Liles won the fellowship for her efforts in producing the podcast, "Voices of the Returned: Life After Incarceration." Congratulations to Dr. Liles!

Dr. Scott Buchanan recently attended a meeting to discuss ways that Fulbright Finland might become more involved in establishing working relationships with U.S. universities and colleges. Science and Education Counselor, Dr. Petri Koikkalainen, and Cultural Counselor & Head of Cultural Affairs Suvi Järvelä-Hagström, both of the Embassy of Finland, hosted participants for an informal conversation over coffee and refreshments at the Embassy of Finland in Washington, DC. Guests were also taken on a tour of the Embassy building, including its famous diplomatic sauna. The event was an opportunity to network and to talk about potential collaboration opportunities. Dr. Buchanan held the Fulbright Finland Bicentennial Chair in American Studies at the University of Helsinki during the 2019-2020 academic year. The Bicentennial Chair is one of the most prestigious chairs in the Fulbright Distinguished Chair program.

Dr. Buchanan pictured with Terhi Mölsä, CEO of Fulbright Finland

Public Management Review recently published an article written by Dr. Min Kim, Associate Professor of Public Administration, and his co-authors  Minyoung Ku and Seong Soo Oh. The article is titled “Core-Periphery Structure and Power Imbalance in Disaster Management Networks: A Bayesian Approach to Interorganizational Response to a Public Health Disaster.” 

Professor Adam Lamparello has recently co-authored a book with former colleague Chuck MacLean, titled Justice For All: Repairing American Criminal Justice, which was just published by Routledge.

The Georgia Historical Records Advisory Council recently awarded to Dr. Sandra Godwin, and her co-author Helen Matthew Lewis, the Award for Excellence in Documenting Georgia's History. The award came as a result of the authors' new book A White Liberal College President in the Jim Crow South: Guy Herbert Wells and the YWCA at Georgia State College for Women, 1934-1953. The volume was published by Mercer University Press in 2021.

In addition, the same book has been nominated for two other awards by the Southern Historical Association and Georgia Historical Society

Faculty Profile

Dr. Max Harleman joined the Department in August 2022. Since his arrival, Dr. Harleman has contributed greatly to the Department. Below is a description of how Dr. Harleman uses technology in the classroom to help our students learn material in deeper and more profound ways.

As a new faculty member specializing in quantitative research techniques, the primary way that I use technology to transform the lives and careers of Georgia College students is to equip them with first-hand experiences developing their quantitative and statistical research skills. I do this by mentoring students to conduct their own research, and by involving them in my research. My comparative edge is that I apply quasi-experimental research designs using advanced statistical and econometric techniques to study the impact of public policies on various outcomes in the fields of environmental, energy, and public health policy. All of the research I conduct with students use the Stata and ArcGIS software.  

In my first semester, I mentored three undergraduate students in POLS 4999 to author individual empirical research studies. Two of the studies evaluated the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the worsening of the opioid epidemic and unemployment in various industries. The third student produced an exceptional study on the impact of legalizing marijuana on DUI and drug possession arrests in neighboring and non-legalizing states. To conduct these studies, each of the students and I worked one-on-one in my office with the Stata and ArcGIS. This semester, I am involving two undergraduate students in POLS 4999 in my research on the impact of abandoned coal mines on nearby water quality and long-term economic outcomes, including local measures of wages and salaries. These students will collaborate and learn from not only myself, but also my colleagues at the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Wisconsin.

My most basic goal is for each student that I work with to use technology to produce a novel empirical research study that they can utilize as part of their professional or academic portfolio. Some of my students may be inspired to further their education and pursue academic research as a career. The research that they conduct with me will represent writing samples and publications that will help them get admitted to excellent masters and PhD programs. For students that do not pursue further education or academic careers, quantitative research skills are still incredibly valuable. Many non-academic careers will require our students to use technology to gather information, present that information in an organized and compelling manner, and use their findings to chart a path forward for their company, government, or non-profit agency.




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Criminal Justice Podcast

Voices of the Returned: Life After Incarceration is a podcast created by Criminal Justice Associate Professor Dr. Alesa Liles and her students. The podcast features formerly incarcerated individuals and others impacted by mass incarceration. To listen and learn more, visit here