by Grace Lim and Morgan Counts
Druscilla Scribner found political science on the side of the road between San Salvador and La Libertad in El Salvador. It was spring of 1992 and the small Central American country was nearing the end of its civil war. Barely two months out of college, Scribner and a friend talked their way out of some tight spots as they made their way from the capital to the coast. They had already traveled
|Dr. Druscilla Scribner with sons Jack and August and husband, Dallas, on a family grip to Tanzania in 2012.|
“We had spent two increasingly troubling days in San Salvador explaining to authorities why we were there; and we were finally leaving the city with our visas extended by three days, enough time to make it to the border by bus,” Scribner recalled. through the poorest and most troubled countries of the region.
The rural poverty she saw was eye-opening, unparalleled to anything she has seen before and since. She saw families cultivating the shoulder and ditches along two-lane highways that run alongside the barbed wire-fence of coffee estates. She saw patches of withering corn stalks, the occasional squash or bean vines, makeshift shacks. For Scribner, then all of 22, that was what she called her “coming to political science” moment.
“Poverty, inequality, stark concentration of wealth and land: these issues had political roots – an intertwining of economic, political, and social power and privilege that doomed many economic development efforts to failure.”
It was one of those “a-ha” moments that she would later hope her political science students at the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh would one day experience.
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