Undergraduate Research Conference

Information, Elections, and the Future of American Democracy

The conference, led by Associate Professor of Political Science Chris Chapp, will highlight student research as well as the ways students engaged in civic processes during the 2022 midterm elections.

December 8, 2022


Student Research Panels

Panel Discussants

Dr. Chris Chapp is an Associate Professor of Political Science and the Morrison Family Director of the Institute for Freedom and Community at St. Olaf College. He is author of Religious Rhetoric in America Politics, published by Cornell University Press.

Dr. Tim Collins (‘10) teaches courses on research methods and American politics at St. Thomas University, the University of Minnesota, and St. Olaf College. His book, Hypocrisy in American Political Attitudes: A Defense of Attitudinal Incongruence, was published in 2018 by Palgrave Macmillan.

Dr. Kathryn Haglin is an Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Minnesota in Duluth, Minnesota. Her research explores concepts of political identity and scientific attitudes, particularly the role of misinformation in anti-science attitudes.

Dr. Kevin Parsneau is a Professor of Political Science at Minnesota State University – Mankato. Dr. Parsneau’s recent research explores the role of elite endorsements in nomination campaigns, as well as how political elites use social media as a communication tool.

Ashley Sorensen is a PhD candidate in Political Science at the University of Minnesota. She is also a visiting instructor at Macalester College and has taught courses on gender and politics, political psychology, and LGBTQ+ politics. Her research examines how social identities like race, class, and gender affect evaluations of parties and congressional candidates.

Workshop on Facilitating a Constructive Political Discourse | 11:00 a.m. - 12:40 p.m.

Hagar Attia is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication Studies at Gustavus Adolphus College. She has a Ph.D from the University of Maryland and studies fundamentalist argumentation.
Sarah Wolter is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication Studies at Gustavus Adolphus College. She has a Ph.D from the University of Minnesota and studies sports discourse and critical pedagogy.

KEYNOTE SPEAKERS | 6:00 p.m. – 7:45 p.m.


Renée DiResta

Renée DiResta is the technical research manager at The Stanford Internet Observatory at Stanford University. She examines how platform algorithms and affordances impact users, especially regarding the spread of misinformation and conspiracy theories. She has led investigations on influence and manipulation propaganda within the Russian Internet Research Agency and the GRU, and has advised Congress and the State Department on these subjects. Her work has been featured across many major media sources including the New York Times, Washington Post, Forbes, Wired, CNN, Yale Review, CNBC, The Atlantic, The Economist, Journal of Commerce, and many more.


Sean Illing

Sean Illing is a writer for Vox and host of Vox Media’s “The Gray Area,” a podcast exploring culture, politics, and uncertainty. He was previously a professor of political science and philosophy at Louisiana State University and Loyola University of New Orleans. Before teaching, he served as a paramedic for the United States Air Force. Earlier this year, Sean published his second book, The Paradox of Democracy: Free Speech, Open Media, and Perilous Persuasion, with University of Chicago Press (co-authored with Zac Gershberg).


This conference would not be possible without the contributions of the student researchers, panel discussants, and civil dialogue facilitators involved today and throughout the planning process. We would especially like to thank Sean Illing and Renée DiResta for bringing their time and knowledge to St. Olaf. We thank IFC student workers, Kate Linggi and Emma Rezac, IFC Coordinator, Jessica Maddoll, and Director for Academic Civic Engagement, Alyssa Melby for their contributions. Finally, we are grateful for the generous donors who allow us to continue fostering dialogue that opens minds.