Dr. Sutton Prepares for Fulbright Study in Ghana

Professor Thomas Sutton, Chair of the Political Science Department.

Office of University Relations

Professor Thomas Sutton, Chair of the Political Science Department.

Dr. Thomas Sutton, Professor and Chair of the Political Science Department at Baldwin Wallace University, was recently awarded a Fulbright Scholar Award to teach and research at the University of Cape Coast in Ghana during the 2014 spring semester.
Sutton’s scholarship proposal was previously accepted in 2008, but the project was postponed until 2014 when one of his research partners turned their focus to family obligations.
“We were particularly interested in the West Coast of Africa because of the opportunities to study slave trade,” Sutton said. “An advantage of Ghana is the safety, and that it is an English-speaking country.”
Sutton’s project is also meant to continue the relationship established between BW and the University of Cape Coast. In 2011, BW began a study abroad relationship with this university, sending students to Cape Coast as well as receiving exchange students from Ghana.
Aside from strengthening the relationship between these two institutions, Sutton will be teaching three courses: “History of U.S. Politics,” “History of Political Theory,” and “History of U.S. and Russia Relations.”

Credit: Stephanie Kumler
Credit: Stephanie Kumler

While at the University of Cape Coast, a much larger school than BW, Sutton will be teaching classes of nearly 200 students. He is excited for the change of pace from BW’s small classes.
In addition to the teaching aspect of his project, Sutton will be studying the voting process in Ghana.
“The election cycle syncs up with the U.S. Presidential elections,” Sutton said.
In addition to this similarity, both the U.S. and Ghana recently shifted in power from a more conservative to a more liberal government. Ghana has only been a democracy since 1992.
Sutton’s research will also compare the U.S. and Ghana’s election technology. Ghana uses biometric scanning, a system involving fingerprint recognition as proof of identity, while the U.S. still uses paper ballots and some forms of e-voting. Sutton plans to study how this use of biometric technology affects voter participation in Ghana.
While Sutton expects to grow academically, he expressed an enthusiasm for both personal and emotional growth.
“I know I will become more conscious of racial issues,” Sutton said.
Sutton’s educational background has prepared him well for this project. He earned his BA in Political and Social Thought at the University of Virginia, and after 13 years of nonprofit work, he went on to pursue his Ph.D. of Political Science/Public Policy at Kent State University.
“I have never lived out of the country,” Sutton said. “I think the biggest challenges will be having spotty internet connection and getting used to the slower pace, by the same token this will be a good thing.”
Sutton will be bringing his wife and his two daughters, ages 16 and 12, to Ghana as well.
They plan to be leaving the U.S. January 4, 2014 and returning July 1, 2014.