By Julianne Zala
Sean Kay, professor of politics and government, is the new director of Ohio Wesleyan’s Arneson Institute for Practical Politics and Public Affairs.
As director, Kay plans to create new avenues to share information with students, faculty, staff, and the general public. He said he feels the position is “a very exciting opportunity.”
The institute has begun work on a new webpage, which Kay said will serve as a “place for non-partisan information, research, and other information for people who are interested in public policy at the local, state, national, and international level.”
Kay also plans to compose brochures that will outline the semester-long Wesleyan in Washington internship program for interested students.
Former director of the institute Dr. Joan McLean said she thinks the institute will grow with Kay’s guidance.
“Under Professor Kay’s directorship, students will be challenged to think more about how to fulfill this pledge internationally as well as domestically,” she said
Kay’s goals as director include “see(ing) the Arneson Institute focus on the opportunities for liberal arts in America and to take a lead role in demonstrating the value of the liberal arts educational experience in the United States and globally.”
Kay said he plans to continue the traditional directors’ practice of combining interests in theory and practice in programming, mentioning a possible travel-learning course that would investigate ways in which Washington D.C. operates.
Kay also wishes to expand interest in the Wesleyan in Washington program.
“While it’s nature for social scientists to gravitate towards this great experience, Washington, D.C., is rich for places like the National Endowment for the Arts, the Smithsonian, the Department of Education, the Department of Energy, the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Science Foundation, and NASA—to just name a few places where people with interests in the arts, humanities, and sciences might wish to expand their ability to shape the agenda of practical politics in America while building their professional resume at the same time,” he said.
The Arneson Institute was founded in 1947 by professor and chair of the politics and government department, Ben Arneson.
During his time at OWU, Arneson handed out pledge cards to students every year that read, “With a view to serving the public interest and regardless of the nature of my future vocations I pledge that, upon leaving college, I will devote a portion of my time to active and definite participation in public affairs.” Since then, the pledge has become a ritual among majors in the department.
“The institute has come to embody the university’s long-standing commitment to theory and practice in local, state, national, and international issues,” Kay said.
This is not the first honor Kay has received in relation to the university. Previously, he has been awarded the Bishop Francis Kearns award for exemplary teaching at OWU, and was the first recipient of OWU’s Libuse L. Reed Endowed Professorship.
In the 1960s, OWU had higher representation in the Peace Corps than any other college in the country. Today it is recognized that at least 68 percent of Ohio Wesleyan alumni have followed the pledge they made before graduation by continued participation in civic affairs.
On campus, the institute hosts guest speakers, facilitates the Mock Convention every four years and organizes the Wesleyan in Washington program.
Sean Kay is currently on sabbatical working on his new book, but he encourages any interested students in the program to attend the information meetings on Thursday, October 3rd at 12 noon and 4:10 in Elliot Hall 205. Kay also serves as the chair of the interdisciplinary international studies program.