Network and share career advice with your colleagues on a Professional Development Roundtable at the 2023 MPSA Conference!

The Professional Development Roundtables are a valued tradition of the MPSA Annual Conference, providing an opportunity for scholars at all career stages to share professional experience, expertise, and other resources with colleagues. These roundtables are dedicated to specific topics in the areas of career advancement, publishing, teaching, public engagement, and graduate school.

If you are interested in participating on a Professional Development Roundtable, please fill out this short form.

The 2023 Professional Development Roundtables are listed below along with short descriptions of each roundtable.

A complimentary registration will be available for those who are attending the hybrid conference (either in-person or online) and are only participating as a professional development roundtable panelist (Section 74 only). If you are listed as a co-author you must decline your role and have your name removed from the paper so it does not appear on the program in order to qualify for a complimentary registration (please email for assistance). If you are added to a role on the program (other than to an additional role as a participant on a professional development roundtable in Section 74 of the conference or as a discussant), the complimentary registration may be revoked. If you are eligible to receive a complimentary registration, you will be emailed a link to register at no charge.

Balancing Parenting in the Academy

Being a parent under any circumstances is a profoundly rewarding yet demanding experience. For those in the academy—whether students, postdoctoral researchers, or faculty—parenting comes with a unique set of challenges. This panel provides an avenue for parents (and soon-to-be-parents) in the academy to share their experiences and discuss strategies for balancing a successful academic career with a devoted and meaningful family life.


Balancing Teaching and Research

There are only so many hours in a day and many early-career academics find themselves stretched thin between rigorous teaching demands and the need to produce high quality research. Add to this departmental and university service requirements, and it quickly becomes clear that time is a scarce resource. This roundtable will raise a discussion around the theme of time management and the allocation of finite energy and attention, with the goal of maximizing both teaching effectiveness and research productivity.


Balancing Work and Life

Striking a balance between work and life is a major challenge for many professional academics. Today’s academic typically faces a lengthy list of work-related tasks that interfere with research. Moreover, the professional culture of the academy often prioritizes productivity over mental health and personal wellbeing. The hypercompetitive environment surrounding job and funding opportunities frequently adds to the stress. For many, this results in bringing work home and working longer hours at night, over the weekend, and on holidays—to the detriment of one’s commitments and interests outside of work. Given these challenges, this roundtable aims to articulate some strategies for confronting and mitigating the stress that is increasingly associated with an academic career, while conserving the requisite energy for self-care and personal wellbeing.


Being Faculty at a Community College

Being Faculty at a Liberal Arts College

Being Faculty at a Regional University

Being Faculty at a National University

In today’s competitive job market, many academics will interview and/or land their first job at a different kind of institution from the one where they attended graduate school. Duties and responsibilities associate with the career of a political science professor can vary greatly depending on the type of institution, and some early-career academics may not be fully prepared for these differences. These roundtables aim to bring together a group of faculty members at particular types of institutions—community colleges, liberal arts colleges, regional universities, and national universities—to discuss the nature of their jobs and share insights that job seekers and early-career academics might find useful as they seek and gain employment at these institutions.


How to Mentor Graduate Students

Faculty mentorship plays a crucial role in the education and professional development of graduate students. A healthy relationship between faculty advisor/mentor and graduate student is more involved than most other relationships in the academy, and sometimes those who find themselves in the position of a mentor may not have had good models to follow from their previous experience as a mentee. This roundtable raises a discussion about the best approaches to mentoring and training graduate students. Relevant topics of discussion may include: how to establish and maintain effective communication; how to build reciprocal commitment between the two parties; how to facilitate a graduate student’s professional development; how to model professional excellence in research and teaching; and how to support a graduate student’s mental health and personal wellbeing.


Navigating the Tenure and Promotion Process

Given the time and effort required to simply attain a tenure-track position, it is easy to find oneself underprepared for what comes next, once the tenure clock starts ticking. This roundtable aims to bring together senior faculty and administrators in order to share some tips and tricks for junior faculty members who are actively seeking tenure or promotion. The focus of discussion will be how to develop concrete strategies in the early stages of one’s career in order to make progress toward tenure and promotion, as well as more specific stages along the way such as preparing for mid-term review or assembling a tenure packet.


Transitioning From Faculty to Administration

At many colleges and universities it is quite common for administrators to come from the ranks of faculty. At some point in their career, many faculty members will make the transition into an administrative position, but usually without any formal training and perhaps without clear expectations of what the transition will entail. This roundtable brings together faculty members who have made this transition, in order to discuss and demystify the journey from faculty to administration for those who may be considering it. Topics covered may include: how to set oneself up for success in the pursuit of an administrative career; what to expect in the first year of a new administrative position; and how to deal with the challenges that accompany a new workload, new schedule, and new professional relationships.

Interviewing at a Research School

Interviewing at a Teaching School

These roundtables are intended to provide practical advice for graduate students and recent PhDs who are entering the job market and confronting their first job interviews. Topics covered will include presentational style, how to prepare for the interview, how to design a job talk and/or teaching demonstration, what to do during the job talk, what sorts of questions to expect, and what sorts of questions to ask. Faculty members with prior experience on job search committees are especially encouraged to participate.


Preparing for the Job Market – From CV to Teaching Statement

Given the hypercompetitive nature of the academic job market in political science, candidates need every advantage they can get. This roundtable aims to provide graduate students and recent PhDs with practical insights that will help set them up for success in their job hunt. The focus of discussion will be on preparing an application packet that helps to set one apart in the eyes of a search committee, including tips and tricks for writing a CV, teaching philosophy, research statement, and cover letter. This roundtable is one of the most popular and most attended in the professional development section.


The Non-Academic Job Search

Many graduate students and recent PhDs find themselves interested in pursuing career opportunities outside of the academy, and increasingly so the longer they spend on the academic job market without success. However, graduate programs often focus exclusively on preparing students for the academic job search, leaving them in the dark as to how they might apply their political science training in an alt-academic or non-academic job. This roundtable aims to provide insights for navigating a different job market from the one that most graduate students are trained for. Prior participants on this roundtable have included political science PhDs who have leveraged their training and skills to achieve meaningful careers in government organizations, NGOs, nonprofits, think tanks, research institutes, and tech companies.

Communicating Research to the Public


How to be Heard by Policy Makers


Mixing Academics and Practical Politics


Working with the Media

Best Practices for Reviewing Journal Manuscripts

Peer review is a crucial component of the scientific research process, and one that most professional academics will participate in at some point in their careers. Taking the time to become a more effective manuscript reviewer is not only of value to the discipline of political science, but it can help to improve one’s own research effectiveness in the process. This roundtable aims to raise a discussion around the best approaches and methods for reviewing journal manuscripts. Faculty with current or previous editorial experience are especially encouraged to participate.


Getting Your Book Published – Advice from Authors

Getting Your Book Published – Advice from Editors

Historically the most attended panels in MPSA’s Professional Development section, these roundtables bring together a group of accomplished authors in the discipline, and a group of political science acquisitions editors from academic publishers, to share some tips and tricks and answer any and all questions related to process of publishing an academic book.

Meet the Journal Editors

This roundtable provides an opportunity for conference attendees to meet some of the current political science journal editors. Panelists will provide some general insights and advice about the process of publishing journal articles, and then open the floor for audience questions about all things related to publishing research in an academic journal.  Any faculty members currently serving in an editorial capacity are encouraged to apply.


Turning Your Dissertation into a Book

A common career goal for most PhD candidates is to publish their dissertation as a book. However, graduate school does not always provide PhD candidates with an adequate working knowledge of what is required to transform a dissertation into a publishable manuscript. This roundtable aims to provide such knowledge through a discussion of the important differences between the two types of document, and some of the approaches that current dissertation writers might adopt in order to begin preparing their dissertation research for publication. Faculty members who have gone through the process of turning their dissertation into a book, along with publishers and current acquisitions editors, are especially encouraged to participate.

Applying to Graduate School

This roundtable, intended for undergraduates interested in pursuing a graduate education in political science, aims to demystify the daunting process of applying to graduate school. Panelists will speak to both the application process and the evaluation process and provide some concrete tips and tricks to become a stand-out applicant.  Particular topics discussed may include:

  • How to prepare for the GRE.
  • How to narrow down a list of target graduate programs.
  • How to prepare an effective grad school application packet.
  • Skills, qualities, and experiences that graduate programs are looking for in prospective graduate students.


How to Finish Your Dissertation

The dissertation is perhaps the biggest obstacle standing between a graduate student and the PhD. Many students complete graduate-level coursework and pass qualifying exams, yet never finish their dissertation. This roundtable attempts to lay a groundwork to prevent that from happening. Topics discussed will cover all aspects of dissertation writing, from day-to-day research and writing habits to effective long-term communication with dissertation committee members.


How to Survive (and Thrive) in Graduate School

Graduate school can be a trying time for many students, especially those who are still transitioning from college or the workforce into the rigor of graduate academic life. This roundtable is intended to provide current and prospective graduate students with effective strategies for navigating the grad school experience and coming out the other side. Relevant topics of discussion will include:

  • How to transition from the mindset of an undergraduate student or working professional to that of a graduate student.
  • How to develop effective research (including time management skills and writing skills) while in graduate school.
  • How to plan ahead and maximize one’s future career prospects while in grad school.
  • How to maintain a healthy work-life balance while in grad school.


What They Didn’t Teach You in Grad School

This open-ended roundtable, intended for an audience of graduate students or recent PhDs, has been one of the most popular at recent conferences. Faculty panelists answer audience questions and share a variety of personal insights centered on the question “What is something you were never taught but wish you had learned before leaving graduate school?”

Approaches to Teaching Introductory Courses

While most faculty instructors will teach introductory courses at some point in their careers, doing so is not without unique challenges. Students in these courses are often just beginning their collegiate journey, navigating their transition into adulthood, and some of them may have no intention of ever taking another political science course. At the same time, recent events in American politics have called into question the conventional wisdom that undergirds standardized approaches to the introductory course, while also generating new interest in political science among students. Thus, new and seasoned instructors alike may find value in discussing how best to approach introductory courses, with a view to fostering political literacy, civic awareness, and critical thinking among students. Specific questions to be discussed may include:

  • Do recent political events and the current political climate necessitate new approaches to introductory courses, in terms of course content and pedagogical methods?
  • How does one foster student interest and engagement among non-majors who are simply fulfilling a gen-ed requirement?
  • What are some innovative approaches to the introductory course, beyond the standard “American Government & Politics” textbook approach?
  • How can instructors ease the transition into collegiate life and learning for first-year students?


Approaches to Teaching Undergraduate Research Methods

The teaching and learning of political science research methods is often a daunting task for faculty and students alike. This roundtable aims to provide instructors with the pedagogical tools that will enable undergraduate students to become better consumers and producers of political science research through solid foundations in research methodology. Specific questions to be discussed may include:

  • How might we reduce student anxiety about research methods and statistics?
  • What statistical programs work best for undergraduate instruction?
  • What is the best approach to balancing quantitative and qualitative methods in a single course?
  • What assignments, assessments, or general strategies have other instructors used with success?


Best Practices for Online Courses

This roundtable is devoted to one of the most relevant pedagogical topics of the past few years: designing and teaching online courses. Since the transition to remote learning brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and beyond, a basic aptitude with online courses is becoming a common requirement for faculty instructors. Yet many instructors reasonably feel a bit uncomfortable with online courses, and some question whether their pedagogical effectiveness is compromised by the remote format. This panel aims to raise a discussion around such concerns, and address such questions as:

  • How do I avoid “Zoom burnout” and maintain student attention and engagement in my online course?
  • How should one go about designing an online course while still meeting the same learning outcomes of a traditional in-person course?
  • What kind of assessments work best in online courses?
  • What success have other instructors had in utilizing digital tools (e.g., breakout rooms for group assignments) in their online courses?
  • What are the best approaches for asynchronous vs. synchronous online courses?


Civic Engagement in the Classroom

Most faculty instructors would agree that student learning is not limited to the classroom alone. Civic engagement aims to help students become active participants in the communities they are a part of, and it is of critical importance for some areas of political science education like public policy and administration. Yet civic engagement is often not incorporated into the curriculum design of political science courses. For the instructor, it can be difficult to grasp what civic engagement actually is, what it might look like, and how it might be facilitated in the classroom. This roundtable discussion aims to clarify these issues and address related questions such as:

  • What does “civic engagement” mean to different instructors, and why is it an important part of student learning?
  • What are some of the best approaches, strategies, and mechanisms for incorporating civic engagement in a political science course?
  • What are some resources for instructors to help students find civic engagement opportunities outside of the classroom?


Designing and Teaching New Courses

This roundtable will discuss strategies for designing a new course for the first time. Achieving pedagogical goals can become more difficult when coupled with teaching new material. Issues covered include familiarizing oneself with new material, easing students into a new course prep, and finding materials, activities, and assessments for a new course. This panel is geared toward providing advice newer university instructors who have not had much experience with preparing new courses. Specific questions to be addressed may include:

  • What are some common pitfalls to avoid when designing and teaching a new course?
  • How do I go about determining the learning outcomes for a new course?
  • How do I choose a textbook for a new course given the abundance of options?
  • What are some good strategies for selecting materials and determining course content?


Diversity Issues in the Classroom

Most instructors have probably heard about the importance of building an environment of diversity and inclusion in their courses, but not everyone may fully grasp the importance of doing so.  Moreover, understanding the importance of diversity and inclusion is one thing; but taking practical steps to actively foster an inclusive environment can be challenging. This roundtable is devoted to a discussion of various strategies for fostering diversity and inclusion in the classroom, as well as navigating diversity-related issues that may arise. Specific points of discussion may include:

  • Why are diversity, equity, and inclusion important in the context of the classroom, and how does this influence student learning outcomes?
  • What are some tangible steps I can take to actively foster an environment of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the classroom?
  • How does one go about fostering diversity in a non-diverse or non-inclusive environment?
  • How should an instructor be prepared to handle non-inclusive situations that might arise in the classroom?


Engaging Students with Simple Strategies

In most courses, obtaining and maintaining a high level of student engagement is crucial for fostering student achievement outcomes. However, anyone who has taught knows that keeping students engaged can be incredibly challenging, especially given the changes in learning environments post-COVID. On this roundtable panelists will discuss strategies for fostering student engagement from the first day class, keeping students engaged throughout the entire class period, and utilizing different teaching methods and learning mediums for the express purpose of fostering engagement.


Experiential Learning in the Classroom

Incorporating hands-on learning activities into a course is an effective way to increase information retention and improve student success. Additionally, the opportunity to gain hands-on experience can be invaluable for students’ future career prospects. This roundtable raises a discussion around experiential learning in political science, how it relates to positive course outcomes, and how it might be incorporated into existing courses.  Participants might provide specific examples or case studies of experiential learning opportunities that they have employed with success.


How to Use Simulations and Games

The use of simulations and “learning games” in the classroom has been shown to assist in information retention and facilitate student learning outcomes. IR courses using diplomatic simulations, for example, typically see high levels of enrollment and student satisfaction. However, the prospect of incorporating simulations or games in one’s courses may seem intimidating and unduly complex. This roundtable aims to articulate some strategies for bringing simulations and games into the classroom, while also making the case for the effectiveness of doing so. Specific topics to be discussed may include:

  • Do simulations and games positively influence student engagement and learning outcomes? When might they fail to do so?
  • What are some examples of simulations or games that have been used effectively in the various subfields?
  • What are some strategies for handling the logistics involved with simulations and games?


Teaching Graduate Seminars