Soko Cheng '19 has been awarded a competitive Gilman International Scholarship, which she will use this sprin...
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Assistant Professor of Political Science
2 East South Street
Galesburg, IL 61401-4999
Assistant Professor of Political Science
"I am fascinated by the processes of democratization and development in politically transitioning states. My research and teaching focus on understanding how these processes work, and how international actors and non-governmental organizations may influence them.
Most of my research to date has focused on institution-building in the post-communist countries of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. As a doctoral student, I spent twelve months conducting field interviews with legal and political elites in Romania and the Czech Republic, investigating how informal cultural attitudes and practices have influenced the post-communist judicial reform process. I also worked for nearly three years with the Parliamentary Development Project for Ukraine, a democracy assistance organization providing training and technical expertise to Ukraine's Verkhovna Rada.
More recently, I have become increasingly interested in the role of international organizations in other parts of the developing world. I am currently working on a new project investigating models of foreign aid delivery and implementation in post-earthquake Haiti."
Years at Knox: 2010 to present
B.S./B.A., 2002, Northwestern University.
Ph.D., 2011, Indiana University-Bloomington.
Comparative politics, democratization, international development, Russian and East European politics, European integration, foreign aid, NGOs, democracy promotion.
Micro-Savings Field Experiment, 2016-2017.
Seminar in Advanced Interdisciplinary Learning (SAIL), Associated Colleges of the Midwest, with Katherine A. Adelsberger and Danielle S. Fatkin: Sustainability on the Margins: Investigating Adaptation and Change in Jordan, 2014.
German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) Grant (with Todd Heidt and Emre Sencer). Travel-study program to Berlin and Istanbul, 2013
Philip Green Wright-Lombard College Prize for Distinguished Teaching, Knox College, 2013.
Mellon Foundation Faculty Career Enhancement Award, Knox College, 2012.
Visiting Scholar, Elliott School of International Affairs, George Washington University, 2010.
Visiting Scholar, Jackson School of International Studies, University of Washington, 2009-10.
REEI/Mellon Endowment Dissertation Write-Up Fellowship, Indiana University, 2009.
Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Junior Scholars' Training Seminar, 2008.
Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Fellowship, 2007-08.
REEI/Mellon Endowment Pre-Dissertation Research Grant, Indiana University, 2006.
Foreign Language and Area Studies Academic Year Fellowship, Indiana University, 2004-05.
"Judicial Self-Governance and the Rule of Law: Evidence from Romania and the Czech Republic." Problems of Post-Communism 59.5 (2012): 50-67.
"Legislative Oversight in the Ukrainian Rada: Assessing the Effectiveness of Parliamentary Committees." Co-authored with Irina Khmelko. Journal of Legislative Studies, 17.4 (2011): 501-524.
"A Tale of Two Transitions: Exploring the Origins of Post-Communist Judicial Culture in Romania and the Czech Republic." Demokratizatsiya: The Journal of Post-Soviet Democratization, 18.1 (2010): 28-55.
"Romania." In Crime and Punishment around the World, ed. Graeme Newman. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2010.
"Policymaking in Post-Earthquake Haiti: A Real-Time Classroom Simulation." American Political Science Association (APSA) Teaching & Learning Conference, 2013.
"Understanding Corruption in the Post-Communist Courts." Havighurst Center for Russian & Post-Soviet Studies, 11th Annual International Young Researchers Conference, Miami University, 2012.
"Representing Judicial Interests: Self-Governing Institutions and the Rule of Law in Romania and the Czech Republic." International Studies Association (ISA) Midwest Annual Conference, 2011.
"Judicial Institutions vs. Judicial Attitudes: Bridging the Gap between Theory and Practice in Transitioning Legal Systems." Midwest Political Science Association (MPSA) Annual Meeting, 2011.
"More Than a Feeling? Understanding Perceptions of Judicial Independence in Romania and the Czech Republic." American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies (AAASS) National Convention, 2009.
"Sensitive Questions Demand Sensitive Methods: Gauging the Effects of Survey Mode on Questions about Corruption." American Political Science Association (APSA) Annual Meeting, 2009.
"The Rule of Norms: Examining the Institutional Culture of the Judiciary in Romania and the Czech Republic." Havighurst Center for Russian & Post-Soviet Studies, 8th Annual International Young Researchers Conference, Miami University, 2008.
"Cultures of Corruption: Attitudes towards Corruption and Professional Misconduct in the Romanian and Czech Judiciaries." American Political Science Association (APSA) Annual Meeting, 2008.
"Committee Strength in Legislative Oversight: The Case of the Ukrainian Parliament" (with Irina Khmelko). American Political Science Association (APSA) Annual Meeting, 2007.
"Corruption in the Romanian Judiciary: Perceptions vs. Reality." Ethics of Politics; Politics of Ethics conference, Romanian Cultural Institute, Bucharest, Romania, 2007.
"Mass Attitudes toward the Law in Post-Communist Europe: Normative Support vs. Institutional Trust." American Political Science Association (APSA) Annual Meeting, 2006.
"Pressure on the Press: The Decline of Media Freedom in Russia and Ukraine." Midwest Political Science Association (MPSA) Annual Meeting, 2005.
"Euroskepticism in Transition: Public Support for Euroskeptic Parties in Eastern Europe at the National and Transnational Levels" (with Nicholas Clark). European Union Studies Association (EUSA) Biennial Conference, 2005.
Discussant, "Property Rights, Courts, and the Emergence of the Rule of Law," Midwest Political Science Association (MPSA) Annual Meeting, 2012.
External Reviewer, Romanian-U.S. Fulbright Commission, Junior Fulbright Award Competition, 2011-present.
Faculty Participant, ACM Workshop on Teaching International Development in the Liberal Arts, 2011.
Chair and Discussant, "Asian Politics," International Studies Association (ISA) Midwest Annual Conference, 2011.
Discussant, "Gender, Electoral Politics and Policies in Central and Eastern Europe," Midwest Political Science Association (MPSA) Annual Meeting, 2011.
Discussant, "Governance in the Post-Communist World," Midwest Political Science Association (MPSA) Annual Meeting, 2007.
Campus & Community Involvement
ACM Botswana Faculty Program Advisor.
Member, Peace Corps Preparatory Program Committee.
Member, Campus Diversity Committee.
Board of Directors, Knox Prairie Community Kitchen, Galesburg, Illinois.
Faculty Advisor, Knox College Model UN.
Volunteer, Hands On Disaster Response, Leogane, Haiti.
Member, American Political Science Association.
Member, Midwest Political Science Association.
Member, Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies.
What Students Say
"Professor Beers inspires his students to do better than they think possible. His experiences as an avid researcher and as a compassionate international volunteer, specifically in the post-earthquake clean-up in Haiti, have given a sense of authenticity to his courses. He delves into complexities of the material, making his students think critically of the issues, giving his students a fuller understanding of how things work. As my advisor, he has been supportive and understanding like none other. I feel incredibly grateful for his honesty and guidance."
-Maricruz Osorio, International Relations Major