UAFS Hosts 48th Annual Conference of the Arkansas Political Science Association

Williams Yamkam speaks to the virtual conferenceThe 48th Annual Conference of the Arkansas Political Science Association took place in a virtual format Thursday, Feb. 25 and Friday, Feb. 26, hosted for the first time by the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith. Influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic and social unrest that has caused a myriad of political, social, economic, and international disruptions, the theme for this year’s event was “An Unnatural State of Affairs: Governing in Uncertain Times.” 


“It was an honor for the UAFS campus to have virtually hosted the 48th Annual Conference of the Arkansas Political Science Association,” said Dr. Williams Yamkam, assistant professor of political science at UAFS and conference program chair. “Though we wished we could have physically hosted this prestigious conference on our campus to fully experience the effervescence that often surrounds the event, we are nonetheless grateful to have pulled off this grand premiere in the history of this conference. It was indeed the first time that this conference was hosted virtually.”


The two-day Zoom events included a Friday morning welcome by Dr. Terisa Riley, UAFS chancellor, and featured as guest speakers Fort Smith Mayor George McGill and Dr. Jim Thurber, distinguished professor of government and founder of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies at American University. The day’s program also included a panel discussion and a symposium of research papers presented by political science scholars and students from across the state.


“The quality of the submitted papers, the depth of the panel discussions, Mayor McGill's impassioned and heartfelt speech about how Fort Smith got through recent challenging times, and Dr. Thurber's mastery of his subject matter during his speech contributed to turning this conference into a success,” Dr. Yamkam said.


The conference was attended by political scientists, political science students, and political aficionados from throughout Arkansas. Discussion topics focused on core issues affecting not only local, state, federal, and international politics as well as the field of political science as a whole.


Chairs for the conference were:

  • Program Chair: Williams Yamkam of the University of Arkansas – Fort Smith.
  • American Government & Politics: Don Gooch of Stephen F. Austin State University
  • Arkansas Politics/State Politics: Janine Parry of University of Arkansas
  • International Relations/Comparative Politics:  Mark Elrod of University of Central Arkansas
  • Political Theory: Steven Thomason of Ouachita Baptist University
  • Public Administration/Public Policy: David Harding of Arkansas State University
  • Undergraduate Student Research: Amy Buzby of Arkansas State University
  • Undergraduate Student Poster Presentations: Jaeyun Sung of Lyon College

The Arkansas Political Science Association (ArkPSA) is a non-profit organization incorporated in the state of Arkansas made up of university and secondary political science educators, graduate and undergraduate students, practitioners, and others interested in the scientific study of government and politics. The association was originally established at the University of Central Arkansas on March 1, 1974.


For more information on the Arkansas Political Science Association, go to or contact Dr. Yamakam at

Date Posted: 
Thursday, March 11, 2021
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