Political Science and Public Administration

Faculty in Action



Hurricane Matthew Panel


Hurricane Matthew

November 1, 2017

Panel: Dr. Dan Barbee (Political Science & Public Administration), Dr. Robert Schneider (Political Science & Public Administration), Morgan Jones (Office of Advancement), Dr. Dennis Swanson (Livermore Library).  

Listen to the podcast.  Read to the transcript

-UNC Pembroke Chancellor Robin Gary Cummings announced Monday evening that Dr. Kevin Freeman, an associate professor in the Department of Political Science and Public Administration, has been named Faculty Athletics Representative (FAR).


 Faculty Spotlight


Dr. Daniel G. Barbee has worked in emergency management and disaster planning for over 3 decades. His work and accomplishments in the field include authoring procedures for FEMA as well as working with state and municipal governments around the country to implement plans that will prevent tragedy in the wake of a natural disaster.

Maria recently struck Puerto Rico as a Category 4 hurricane. Two weeks later, more than half of the 3.4 million residents still have no access to fresh water and more than 90% have no electricity. Governor Rosselló has stated that it will likely be months before the island is fully operational again, and rebuilding & recovery estimates are in the tens of billions.

I discussed with Dr. Barbee some of the factors contributing to the severity of this disaster – why recovery efforts are expected to take so long, why the official death toll underestimates the impact of the storm, what challenges Puerto Rico will face in trying to prevent future disasters of this scale, and more. What follows is a summary of our conversation.

The first point of discussion was why the island territory was so badly affected and why relief was taking so long to arrive. Dr. Barbee touched on a few main points. “First of all, the infrastructure was and is badly outdated in many areas,” he said. Puerto Rico has been in mounting levels of debt for “decades”, and infrastructure spending often gets pushed off. That’s one reason why structural damage was so significant even though the immediate loss of life was comparatively low. Additionally, the professor noted, Puerto Rico has a high coastline-to-landmass ratio. “Maria was much worse than [Harvey and Irma were for the mainland] in part because… there was a lot of building along the coast.” Many of the island’s residents lived within the area affected by the storm surge, which led to widespread flooding and structural collapse.

As for why relief is taking so long, Dr. Barbee noted that he didn’t think it was “political” or from a lack of empathy. “FEMA is still cleaning up after the last two disasters,” and volunteers are “tired and spread thin.” Another topic discussed was the Jones Act, a nearly-100-year-old piece of legislation that prevents shipment between U.S. ports by foreign vessels. It took more than two days of deliberation after Hurricane Maria had subsided for the act to be temporarily waived to allow for shipments of oil and other crucial supplies to the territory. Aside from that, Puerto Rico is “obviously an island… that can only be accessed by boat or by air, and the airports really aren’t in good shape right now. So it’s harder to get supplies [than it would be on the mainland].” In addition, prior to hurricanes Harvey and Irma, many residents were evacuated and disaster relief was already waiting immediately outside the projected path of the storm; these types of measures weren’t able to be taken prior to Maria.

Another item discussed was the comparatively low death toll for Maria when viewed in the context of other disasters. Dr. Barbee cautions that these numbers are likely to climb in the coming weeks as more deaths are reported and lack of power, water, and medicine takes its toll. “The first priority after a disaster should be getting everyone out [of unsafe situations] and getting them what they need,” but the collapse of all communication systems across the island has made it difficult for rescue workers to identify the communities most heavily impacted and the residents most in need of help. The professor noted that it’ll be a long time before everything gets back to normal, but once the immediate danger has passed, Puerto Rico needs serious help “to rebuild infrastructure in a way that will prevent a disaster on this scale again.”

Regardless of what ends up being the priority, it’s undeniable that – like Texas and Florida – Puerto Rico will need help getting back on its feet. If you’d like to help, consider donating to a disaster-relief charity such as “Save the Children.”

-by Jacob Newton


-Congrats to Dr. Robert Schneider on his forthcoming book (to be published in early 2018).

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Motti Inbari portraitKirill Bumin portrait

-September 2017:  Motti Inbari (Philosophy & Religion) and Kirill Bumin (Political Science & Public Administration), have received a $4000 Micro-Grant for the study of Christian Zionism from the Academic Engagement Network. The grant will support a student research assistant, supplies, travel to and board at conservative evangelical conferences in the United States. The conferences include an annual meeting of Christians United for Israel (CUFI), a visit to Liberty University, and possibly travel to the Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meeting in June-July 2018.

Evangelical Christianity is the largest of all religious movements in the United States. It is also known as a movement that is highly engaged in American politics, mostly identified with the Republican Party. Exit polls have shown that in the 2016 election, about 80% of all Evangelicals voted for Trump. 

Conservative Evangelists are also known for their strong support for Israel. In this research the goal is to gain a better understanding of this support by conducting surveys and focus groups. This research is intended to build knowledge about evangelical Christians/Christian Zionists and their views on a range of matters such as on Israel, the Arab-Israeli conflict, the Temple Mount, settlements, and Jews in general.  We believe that the results of the research can provide very helpful data in thinking about anti-Semitism in America, and especially in the South.

Congratulations Dr. Bumin!


-We are excited to announce that we have two professors currently under contract for writing books!  Dr. Robert Schneider is currently working on his third book, due out early next year, which is on climate change politics. Dr. Joe West has just signed a contract for his first book, which is on communication across state legislators. Congratulations to both Dr. West and Dr. Schneider.



College of Arts and Sciences Academic Awards Day, April 5, 2017


College of Arts and Sciences Academic Awards Day, April 5, 2017- Outstanding Political Science Senior Award.....Nicholas Debo pictured with Political Science Department Chair, Dr. Emily Neff-Sharum



College of Arts and Sciences Academic Awards Day, April 5, 2017- Walter L. Weisberg Memorial Scholarship in Political Science.......Dajer Fernandez pictured with Poltical Science Department Chair, Dr. Emily Neff-Sharum


Dr. Freeman and Dr. Bumin preparing for Model United Nations confrence. 


Dr. Freeman with Political Science students in Tokyo



NEW BOOK: UNCP professor, Dr. Robert Schneider, would redefine emergency management  (http://www2.uncp.edu/news/2013/robert_schneider.htm)