Visiting Professor of Political Science Katie Stewart may be new to Knox College, but she is no stranger to a liberal arts setting. During her undergraduate studies, Stewart attended Dickinson College, a liberal arts college in Carlisle, Penn. There she persued her interest in studying Russia and nationalism.
For her graduate work, Stewart attended Indiana University-Bloomington where she obtained a Master’s in Political Science with a focus on Russian politics. She will defend her dissertation at IU-Bloomington this November and expects to obtain her doctorate by the end of Fall Term.
While at Dickinson College, Stewart fell in love with the environment present at liberal arts colleges. She cites this as one of the reasons why she decided to teach at Knox.
Stewart also mentioned that one of her reasons for choosing Knox is the college’s good reputation for exposing people to a broad array of topics.
“It is really important to get training and exposure to not just one area, but to a broad array of topics and ways of thinking about and studying the world,” she said.
This term, Stewart is teaching two courses: PS128: Russian and Eastern European Politics,and PS295: Nationalism. Her interest in teaching Russian and Eastern European Politics (REEP) developed during her time in graduate school. Stewart then decided to focus her research on nationalism, but was unsure about which country she wanted to study at that time.
After taking a course about nationalism in Eurasia, Stewart became interested in Russia as a topic of further exploration
“Russia is a really interesting state with which to study issues of nationalism because it’s so varied and has these different regions, so you can have these substate analyses of feelings of pride and belonging to the Russian nation,” she said.
For three years, she studied Russian politics and the Russian language, which culminated in a summer abroad in Russia itself doing pre-dissertation work.
Stewart’s time in graduate school led to her create PS295. She created the class because she has a strong passion for studying nationalism and wishes to share it with the students she teaches. She thinks it is especially important in today’s modern world to learn about nationalism due to a lot of the issues faced by the United States today and the resurgence of white supremacy.
“By learning more about nationalism, then I think we can have more productive discussions of how to deal with [white supremacist] forces,” she said.
After obtaining her Ph.D. at the end of the year, Stewart is uncertain about what the future may hold. Although operating as a visiting professor this academic year, she hopes to pursue a more permanent position here at Knox.