Department of Political Science

Student Spotlight: Abigail Martuscello

Certainly nobody expected to be packing their bags to go home for the semester at the beginning of March, 2020. But for some students, the journey home when campuses closed was a little longer than most. One of our very own Political Science majors, Abigail Martuscello, was studying abroad in Haifa, Israel when things began shutting down around the globe. Abigail was spending her semester abroad, funded by the prestigious Gilman Scholarship, a nationally competitive award open to college students who are receiving Pell Grant funding. 

Photo of Abigail in IsraelThough her time in Israel was unexpectedly cut short, Abigail says the situation “made the experiences I did have even more special.” She explains that some of the conversations and experiences she did get to enjoy before leaving might have been overlooked if she’d stayed the whole semester, but because it was so brief, it allowed her to really reflect on what she did get to experience.  And now that she’s returned to the US to finish her studies, she wants to encourage other students to experience study abroad as well, especially in non-traditional locations. 

One piece of advice Abigail couldn’t stress enough was the importance of not letting fear hold you back. She struggled with safety concerns about her destination from friends and family before leaving, but she said, “safety wasn’t a concern once I got there, and research can sometimes confirm biases when they may not be true.” So, she suggests trying to find the sweet spot of researching your host country: you want to know what you’re walking into, but don’t obsess over every single thing that could possibly go wrong. 

She also emphasizes that the best way to learn about the politics of a region is simply to study there; you can read books and take classes, but nothing compares to experiencing local politics firsthand. In fact, Abigail became interested in Israeli politics after taking Dr. Creed’s World Politics class, where she learned about the conflict between Israel and Palestine. She says, “when you see a huge issue that seems unsolvable, it just makes you want to tackle it and be part of the solution.” In order to dive into this problem, she decided to spend a semester immersed in it. 

Abigail wants to encourage more students to apply for the Gilman award; last year, she was the only CofC student to apply. Because part of the Gilman Scholarship includes completing a service project following your time abroad, Abigail is currently collaborating with the Center for International Education to help her peers learn how to make study abroad possible when it may not seem to be at first. 

Congratulations to Abigail for identifying a passion, squelching her fears, and embarking on a life-changing adventure!


Message from the Department Chair: Dr. Hollis France

Welcome to the Department of Political Science. Whether you are interested in American campaigns and elections or international human rights, global climate change or criminal justice, foreign policy or urban planning, Chinese politics or the politics of Africa, intelligence gathering or health policy, local community groups or international development agencies, the Department of Political Science has the courses and extracurricularPhoto of Dr. Hollis France programming for you. The faculty and staff in our department are committed to your success, both as a student in Charleston and for life after college. Our department has a large and distinguished alumni network, as you can see from the profiles (below) which were featured in The College Today. More information can be found on the Alumni Corner of our website.

Please feel free to contact us with any questions you may have and let us know how we can make your time at the College of Charleston even better!

WE'VE MOVED!  Our offices are now located on the 2nd floor of the JC Long Building. At this time, we are open BY APPOINTMENT ONLY - NO DROP-INS ALLOWED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE. Contact  Dr. France ( or Dr. Ragusa ( for an appointment.







Alumni Profiles


                                                     Are you Career Ready? Master these competencies for a successful transition into the workplace: critical thinking/problem solving; teamwork/collaboration; oral/written communication skills; career management; professionalism/work ethic; leadership; information technology application. Learn how a political science degree helps you develop these skills by going to


Alumni Spotlight: Caroline Fowler Allen
Posted on 11 November 2020 | 12:51 pm
Caroline Fowler Allen graduated in 2008 with minors in African studies and geography.  In her first year at CofC, Caroline took a class with Dr. Chris Day, which inspired her to become a political science major.  The topic of the Rwandan genocide grabbed her interest that year and held her focus as she completed her […]
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Alumni Spotlight: Carmen Conley
Posted on 9 November 2020 | 11:51 am
Carmen Conley (’88) may not have been the top student in her first two years at CofC, but once she discovered her passion for political science, things started to click.  Dr. Jack Parsons (emeritus professor) had a lot to do with that.  He piqued Carmen’s interest in Africa and got her involved with the Model […]
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Alumni Spotlight: Sarah Ali
Posted on 5 November 2020 | 5:31 pm
Sarah Ali graduated from the Honors College in 2008, sold her car and moved to Palestine with the “hope of finding a job!”  Though her first adventure was short-lived and she returned to the U.S. for a few months, she has “no regrets” about the choices she made in that “rocky first year.”  “Sometimes, and […]
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