UC-Davis’ Belcher Wins the First Annual Lamb Prize

David Belcher and his faculty sponsor Ethan Schiener of U.C. Davis

David Belcher and his faculty sponsor Ethan Schiener of U.C. Davis


Negotiation Guidance Associates and the extended family of Bert & Phyllis Lamb are pleased to announce that David Belcher, a junior in the Department of Political Science at UC-Davis, is the recipient of the 2015 Bert & Phyllis Lamb Prize in Political Science.

The 2015 Lamb Prize Selection Committee was favorably impressed by Mr. Belcher’s application, written proposal, and the experimental research he used to support his recommendation for moving toward Ranked Voting Systems (RVS) in America. His submission addressing an important issue, voter apathy and ignorance, was well-written and presented. The research empirically tested a creative solution to those issues. It also showed a command of prior research on the topic, identified competing arguments, and noted the limitations of his approach and recommendations. A précis of his proposal follows below. Given the high quality of his proposal, the Selection Committee sees a bright future in political science, if he chooses that path, and wishes him well in future endeavors.  Full Paper


The Bert & Phyllis Lamb Prize in Political Science is an annual award for excellence in writing and policy or program innovation that is open to undergraduates majoring in Political Science. The Prize is underwritten by the extended family of Bert & Phyllis Lamb through Negotiation Guidance Associates Continue reading

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by Berton Lee Lamb, II, Ph.D.  Negotiation Guidance Associates

The Bert & Phyllis Lamb Prize in Political Science is presented by Negotiation Guidance Associates in memory of Berton Lee Lamb and Phyllis Jeanne Schultz Lamb.

Click Here to Read More About the Prize

Years ago, I enjoyed reading Herbert Spiro’s book entitled Politics as the Master Science. Spiro argued that the major, successful political institutions of our day are the result of the study of politics. One of the reasons I enjoyed Spiro’s book is because of the dinner table conversations in my home as I grew up. Our mother, Phyllis, especially engaged my sister and me in long conversations about successful policies and good governance. The interest in governance arose in the early part of our parents’ relationship and was one of the things they discussed throughout their lives. During our childhood, our father, Bert, focused on building his business. Our mother was also entrepreneurial, for a time owning an asphalt paving business. But at the same time they were absorbed in community affairs, such as whether or not to incorporate our small town. Both our parents were active in civic organizations. Continue reading

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Good Writing

Good writing is important because the sponsors of the Bert & Phyllis Lamb Prize in Political Science want the findings or products developed by the winner of the prize to be useful and useable. Good writing helps ensure the usability of the winner’s work.

For the purpose of the Lamb Prize, good writing includes, but is not limited to: proper use of grammar; appropriate use of tone in an individual voice capable of specificity; conventions that are correct and communicative; logical organization and clarity; and articulation of interesting and important ideas.

Written submissions in support of an application or nomination must be typed and include sufficient references to demonstrate that the applicant or nominee understands the literature upon which the submission is based. Applicants or nominees may use any citation style. However, the citation style must be employed consistently within any one document and among all documents.

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A Word about Innovation

Bert and Phyllis Lamb’s interest in innovation might be best described as a concern for efficiency.

Phyllis designed homes for individual clients and for sale. Bert built them. She and Bert were looking for ideas, improvements, short cuts, systems of order, and cost benefit analyses and that would make the construction process faster, easier, and less expensive.

Later, when Bert was Superintendent of Parks and Golf Courses for the City of Palm Springs he pursued innovation in the same way: How could play on the city golf course be made faster, how could employee work schedules result in less “down time?”

Although their focus was on efficiency, for the Lamb Prize we have a more expansive view. Spiro (Politics as the Master Science, pg. 161) observed that “…the most awesome problems facing mankind can be solved, if they can be solved at all, only through politics.” We might write a litany of problems but any such list will seem very limiting a few years from now. Thus, being innovative means identifying a problem that is amenable to politics. With that in mind, what might count as an “innovation” for the Lamb Prize? Continue reading

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