How do political and legal systems influence our lives? John Soyka ’22 (political science, law & policy) discusses his research on the intersections between American law and politics and environmentalism. He also illuminates his internship at the Cumberland County Courthouse, the "coolest building on campus" and more.
Clubs and organizations:
Dickinson College Democrats (president), Carlisle Sunrise, College Choir and The Hive.
Cat’s Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut.
Best thing about my major:
I get to study how political and legal systems work together to influence the lives of everyone in the world. I think understanding how these systems work together makes us better equipped to solve the major problems of our time.
On choosing Dickinson:
I decided to come to Dickinson because of the school’s commitment to sustainability. And because the building most of my classes would be in was Denny Hall, and Denny is the coolest building on campus.
Favorite place on campus:
The top floor of The Quarry, before my 10:30 class.
I want to work in environmental advocacy with an NGO, a government organization or a nonprofit type of employer in D.C., or in other political hubs around the country. Research, policy work or something in law is what I’m looking for, but my future is wide open.
As I kid, I wanted to be …
… the president of the United States.
Favorite class/learning experience so far:
My First-Year Seminar is still the best class I’ve taken. I learned so much more than I have anywhere else, and the Learning Community format integrated the course into my broader college experience.
Too many to pick one—sorry.
About my internship:
I interned at the Cumberland County Courthouse with Judges [Edward] Guido ’72 and [Al] Masland ’79, P’06. I was able to observe courtroom procedure and how people interact with the legal system on a day-to-day basis. Most rewarding was observing the Addiction Treatment Court, which gave me a whole new perspective on what a courthouse should be.
If I could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, it would be …
… Tom Morello.
On studying abroad:
I studied abroad in Ebensburg, Pennsylvania, during fall 2020 and the first half of spring 2021. The highlight was having my parents cook dinner most nights.
About my research:
I am currently researching the Rights of Nature and how plants, animals, and landscapes might be included in American law and politics. I think that to solve the climate crisis, democratic institutions will have to find a way to consider the needs of the environment alongside the needs of humans. Thus far I have learned that I have a strong web of support at Dickinson, and I have strengthened my understanding of environmental issues.
Most important thing I’ve learned so far:
Everything is a construct and can be reconstructed.
Best thing about my Dickinson experience:
The people. All the friends I’ve made over the past years, all my advisors and the faculty I’ve come to know, the Caf ladies and even the familiar faces on Britton. The people at Dickinson have had such an important influence on me as a scholar, leader, musician, activist, athlete and everything in between.
Read more Student Snapshots.
Published May 16, 2022