North Texas Daily

Q&A with political science professor Jae-Jae Spoon

Q&A with political science professor Jae-Jae Spoon

Q&A with political science professor Jae-Jae Spoon
September 11
22:52 2013

Carina Aquino / Staff Writer

Did you always know that you wanted to do political science and European studies?

Yeah. As an undergrad I was a political science and French major, I was kind of always interested in those two areas. Then after college I worked in politics for a while and decided to go back to graduate school and work more in sort of the political science part, but also in the European studies part. Cause I always liked that.

You said that you worked in politics. What did you do regarding that?

I worked for a member of congress for several years after I graduated from college and before I went back for graduate school. I worked as a staff member for three years and did all sorts of work on campaigns. But the actual paid job was working for a member of congress.

How was that experience? Did it open up your eyes to a lot of the behind-the-scenes stuff?

Yeah! I always tell students in political science that doing some sort of internship or being able to do this kind of thing is great because you actually get to see how things work. You sort of see behind-the-scenes. You actually read about it, in terms of the outcomes of things, but it’s fun to actually see how decisions are made, how people work together, how the whole government works. 435 members of congress each have five staff members, so it’s like 4,000 people trying to work together to get bills passed and things like that. It was a fun experience.

Would you ever do that again?

Probably not. It was a while ago and it was a great experience. It was really interesting, it sort of allowed me to work in politics and for people I really believed in. I think it was fun. I did this in the late ‘90s, but I wouldn’t want to do it again.

I know that you’re always busy, but do you do anything to kind of get away from everything?

Yeah. I do a lot of biking, road biking, some cycling and other outdoor things. But my husband and I have done lots of very long bike rides. We’ve ridden several hundred miles on trips and stuff like that. It’s definitely harder here to do, because it’s so hot. You’ve got to wait until later in the year to do it. I’ve just lived in Texas for a year, so I’m still getting used to the weather.

Where did you move from?

I taught at the University of Iowa for seven years before coming here. It’s been kind of an adjustment. A good adjustment, but you know it’s a different place, which is a good thing. But I think that I’m sort of ready for fall and it’s still 95 degrees outside.

I’m going to go back to cycling. When did you first get into that?

When I lived in Iowa, actually, and some of that was just the circumstance of living in Iowa City, where the University of Iowa is. It’s a college town, sort of like Denton except that Dallas isn’t right there. But the nice thing is you ride your bike five miles out of town and you’re in the middle of nothing, which is great for biking. There’s not too much traffic, the roads are good, the scenery’s beautiful, the rolling hills, it feels almost like a painting. So it was just a nice place to be, to start cycling and you don’t have to deal with traffic and the heat. And it was just really beautiful, so it was kind of fun to do that. And there’s this bike ride across Iowa that surprisingly about 10,000 people do. A lot of people travel from all over the world to do this every year. It’s about 600 miles over a week and we’ve done that four times over the summer. So that’s kind of fun. It’s a nice way to see things and meet people.

Do you do the Tuesday night bike rides here on campus?

I have done them! Every so often, yeah. It’s just timing wise it hasn’t been the best. But I’m looking forward to it getting cooler so that I can go back to biking more. When it’s 100 degrees outside, it’s not very fun.

So I know that you’re very involved with environmental issues and you had two events earlier this year revolved around that. How do you get involved?

I taught a class last semester, the spring semester, on environmental politics, which was the first time I had taught it and it was really fun. I had a lot of students in political science and in philosophy, international studies, and sort of all across the board. It really kind of focused on politics in the environment, which was a lot of fun. So I gave a talk in the spring on some of my work that looks at green parties, which I’ve done a lot of work on in Europe. We have parties in the U.S., but the parties in Europe actually get elected. So I gave a talk on that to try and talked about what I do.

Feature photo courtesy of Jae Jae Spoon 

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