2013 Distinction Honorees
Congratulations to Paul Mori, Luke Riley, Kate Bjorklund and Rachel Buchmeier for achieving Distinction in Political Science. Distinction is an honor that a small number of majors receive each year for having performed exceptionally well in the major.
2013 Recipient of the Charles Umbanhowar Sr. Distinguished Alumni Award – Birgit Fladager ’83
The Charles Umbanhowar Sr. Distinguished Alumni Award is given each year to a political science graduate who has demonstrated a commitment to public service and vocational engagement with their community. In keeping with the mission of the Political Science department, the award honors those who take the duties of citizenship seriously and demonstrate a pattern of service to others in both their professional and personal lives.
This years recipient, Birgit Fladager, graduated with a major in political science from St. Olaf College in 1983. She received her law degree from the University of the Pacific’s McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento. She has been a prosecutor in the Stanislaus County District Attorney’s Office since 1990. Prior to joining the office, she served on active duty with the United States navy from 1986 to 1990. After attending Officer Indoctrination School in Newport, Rhode Island in 1986, and completing Naval Justice School in early 1987, she was assigned as an Assistant Staff Judge Advocate at Commander, Naval Base San Diego where she served two years. She was then detailed as a Court-Martial prosecutor and as Assistant Officer-in-Charge of the Legal Service Office at the North Island Naval Air Station (San Diego). She prosecuted courts-martial for military offenses, such as desertion, and general criminal offenses, including child abuse and attempted murder.
Ms. Fladager was elected District Attorney in June 2006. She frequently serves as an instructor in the areas of Trial Advocacy and Dealing with the Media for the California District Attorneys Association and the National District Attorneys Association. Ms. Fladager’s assignments within the Stanislaus County district Attorney’s Office have included the Crimes Against Children/Sexual Assault Unit, the Stanislaus Drug Enforcement Agency and Felony Trial Team. She was the first Deputy District Attorney to lead the Domestic Violence Unit. She was promoted to Chief Deputy in 1999. In that capacity, she supervised felony trial deputies and was responsible for the homicide on-call team.
War and peace, taxing and spending, dictatorship and democracy — these and a hundred other realities of modern life are played out in the realm of domestic and international politics. In an increasingly complex and interdependent world, public decision-making requires thoughtful discourse, broad-based participation and intelligent, responsive leadership. To that end, the Department of Political Science promotes the systematic and critical analysis of government, politics and public policy. It helps students learn to frame thoughtful questions, conduct imaginative research, marshal convincing evidence, write with clarity, precision and conviction, and engage in lively conversation. Its faculty members conduct research that enriches understanding of political life and public affairs in a global context, not only for other scholars but for decision-makers and citizens as well. The department also seeks to provide and promote responsible and effective leadership within and beyond the St. Olaf community.
The study of politics is an essential part of a liberal arts education and our lives as scholars. The Department of Political Science fosters habits of reflection and analysis, and cultivates knowledgeable, thoughtful, and effective citizens.
Intended Learning Outcomes
Students will demonstrate their:
1. Ability to identify political problems, familiarize themselves with existing scholarly research and discussion of political issues and problems, understand, criticize and apply existing research and design and conduct additional research to further understanding of the causes and/or possible solutions to political problems. Students should be equipped to analyze critically the process by which systematic knowledge is produced as well as the content of that knowledge.
2. Familiarity with diverse perspectives as they are used to identify, understand, and address political issues. By “diverse” we mean both domestic and international differences which may be geographic, ethnic, racial, gender-based, cultural, and even temporal.
3. Ability to write clearly about political issues, including the ability to access and assess the wide range of information sources available and use these appropriately to make assessments and support arguments.
4. Capacity to be knowledgeable, thoughtful and effective citizens. The department wishes to foster students’ active and critical engagement with politics and public policy making, whether as professionals or as citizens. Civic literacy necessarily engages students in questions of private and public values as well as the more empirical issues of governance and decision making.