Politics & Government

Why Study Politics and Government at Western?

Whether you are unsure of your political stance or consider yourself to be a democrat, republican, independent, conservative or liberal, the Politics and Government program is dedicated to the free exchange of ideas and the development of critical thinking skills that are necessary for a healthy and vibrant democracy.

You will be a part of a small and dedicated community that searches for answers to the large social questions of are time. Join the student led Politics Club where students have decided to take on these questions together and work to bring dynamic debate to campus.

You will benefit from working closely with professors who challenge students to create and find their own political voice. Students are encouraged to think critically about the times we live in and the history that has made our democracy what it is.

Student Perspectives on Studying Politics and Government at Western-

Nelsa Burkett- "I love the Politics and Government major because my classes are small that we can actually have real discussions and debates."

Phil Parlier- "I don't have TA's teaching my classes like at other larger universities- all of my professors are experts and have advanced degrees."

Emily Jackson- "In my Politics and Government classes my opinion actually matters, and I have the ability to speak my mind in class."

Career Preparation

This program will prepare you for law school graduate or professional schools, as well as public service at the local, state, national or international level. Graduates have gone onto careers in politics, campaigning, public policy. business, teaching or journalism. We have also had many graduates go to the Peace Corps after graduation.

The program encourages students to engage in internships and service learning to explore future career paths. Such internships have ranged from working in local law offices, working at the state Capitol, and interning in United States Senate offices in Washington, DC.

Law School Preparation

Students interested in the pre-law emphasis will gain law school advising. Traditionally, about 1/3 of our graduates continue on to law school. Professor William Niemi is a LSAC advisor (Law School Admissions Council) and works with students one-on-one to prepare for the LSAT and law school admission. Our students have attended law school at the University of Denver, University of Colorado at Boulder, American University, Willamette University among many others. After law school our alumni have pursued careers as environmental lawyers, state legislators, lobbyists and many more diverse careers.

Colorado Statewide Articulation Agreements for Approved Majors: http://highered.colorado.gov/Academics/Transfers/Students.html

 

Next Steps

If you're interested in Western's Politics and Government Program, we invite you to take the next steps towards becoming a part of the Mountaineer family.

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Courses

 POLS 117 - INTRODUCTION TO POLITICAL IDEAS (3 credits)

An introduction to political analysis through a study of important political concepts and theories, as well as their historical development. Students study the ideas and practices of the public and philosophical development of concepts such as citizenship, democracy, equality, justice, liberty, or power.

 POLS 180 - INTRODUCTION TO AMERICAN POLITICS (3 credits)

Introduces institutions and processes of American politics, including themes such as constitutionalism, representation, participation, political development, political economy, civil liberties and rights, public policy, and the ideas and values of American democracy.

 POLS 250 - POLITICS OF THE ENVIRONMENT (3 credits)

A survey of key issues of national and international environmental politics, the course introduces students to the historical foundations and ongoing debates concerning the environment. A specific political lens informs our discussions while students analyze theoretical, cultural and political domains of various political systems and the ways in which they have gained importance on the international scene. Some of the main issues discussed in class involve a survey of international environmental treaties, government responses to environmental disasters and crises, environmental justice movements, environmental causes of war and displacement, democratic participation as a tool for environmental change, indigenous modalities of treating the environment, and the politics of environmental agreements and developments in the United States. Students learn to examine the connections between the environment and politics in a critical, engaged and broadly-informed way. Prerequisite: POLS 117

 POLS 255 - INTRODUCTION TO COMPARATIVE POLITICS (3 credits)

An introduction to the challenges and problems encountered in the study of comparative politics. Students examine various issues of local and national governance through a comparative lens. By looking at similar political phenomena in several contexts, students explore the question of why some countries have successfully developed their political, economic and social systems while others are lagging behind. Some of the issues examined in the class deal with women's rights, poverty, underdevelopment, the environment, and democracy.

 POLS 260 - INTRODUCTION TO WORLD POLITICS (3 credits)

An introduction to some of the more important concepts and approaches to understanding world politics. Students examine the politics between different countries and seek to answer questions about the promise and peril of the global future. Questions contemplated include: What are the sources of political conflict and how can they be minimized? Under what conditions will nation states cooperate with each other to accomplish common goals? Should tyranny and human rights violations justify humanitarian intervention?

 POLS 282 - ISSUES IN STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT (3 credits)

Using the foundations of American Federalism, the class examines policy issues at the state and local levels. With a comparative perspective and, at the same time, with particular attention paid to Colorado, some of the themes examined in states and localities include: budgets and economic policy, education, energy, and environmental Policy. Prerequisite: recommended POLS 180.

 POLS 300 - CONSTITUTIONAL LAW I (3 credits)

A study of the historical development of the United States Constitution and Supreme Court through the most important Supreme Court decisions. The course focuses on the areas of jurisdiction of the courts, development of the common law, the separation of powers, federalism, and the inter-state commerce power. Prerequisite: POLS 180 recommended.

 POLS 301 - CONSTITUTIONAL LAW II (3 credits)

A continuation of POLS 300. An examination of the constitutional protections of individual liberties as defined by the Supreme Court. Students study the historical development of the Supreme Court's point of view in such areas as freedom of speech, subversion and disloyalty, religious freedom, church-state separation, and equal protection of the law. Prerequisite: POLS 180 recommended.

 POLS 309 - POLITICAL THEORY I - ANCIENT TO EARLY MODERN (3 credits)

A survey of the historical development of western political theories from their origins in ancient Greece to the development of early modern political theories such as liberalism and republicanism. Students study thinkers such as Sophocles, Plato, Aristotle, William Shakespeare, Niccolo Machiavelli, John Locke, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Prerequisite: POLS 117 recommended.

 POLS 310 - POLITCAL THEORY II: LATE MODERN AND CONTEMPORARY (3 credits)

A survey of the historical development of modern and contemporary political theories since the French Revolution. Issues investigated might include the rise of liberal democracy and its critics, the impact of the industrial revolution on modern politics, and how technological change and environmental limitations have affected contemporary political thought. Students study thinkers such as Mary Wollstonecraft, John Stuart Mill, Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche, Hannah Arendt, and Michel Foucault. POLS 117 recommended

 POLS 331 - THE POLITICS OF THE PRESIDENCY (3 credits)

After more than two centuries of change and development, the presidency stands not only as the nation's preeminent public office but also its most problematic. This course examines the design and creation of the office, the impact various officeholders have made on shaping future expectations, and the problems of contemporary leadership. Prerequisite: POLS 180 recommended.

 POLS 355 - POLITICS OF DEVELOPMENT (3 credits)

A historical and case-specific examination of development and underdevelopment debates waged about, against and by countries in the Global South, examining assumptions about poverty, sustainability, liberal democratic regimes and free-market economy. The class engages students in a critical examination of what our assumptions about development are and how we can work toward broadening and refining them with the end goal of greater equity, political agency, and empowerment for populations within and outside the Global South. Particular focus on political regimes, their role in promoting development, and the scope of their relationship to economic, cultural, and social processes informs class objectives. Specific topics include malnutrition, food security, rights of indigenous populations, international aid and donors, disease, democratization processes, human rights, and the environment. Prerequisites: POLS 255 and/or POLS 260 recommended.

 POLS 360 - AMERICAN FOREIGN POLICY (3 credits)

Not since the Roman Empire has any nation had as much economic, cultural and military power as the United States does today. Yet, as has become all too evident through the problems of terrorism, environmental degradation and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, that power is not enough to solve many global issues. This course examines the way in which U.S. foreign policy is made and the variety of ongoing and emerging foreign policy problems the U.S. faces in the context of their evolution. Prerequisites: POLS 255 and/or POLS 260 recommended.

 POLS 376 - AMERICAN POLITICAL THOUGHT II-AMERICAN CAPITALISM AND DEMOCRACY (3 credits)

A study of the development of early American political thought including enduring themes such as the Puritans and community, the ideas behind the Declaration of Independence, and the significance of the arguments found in the Federalists Papers or the work of Alexis de Tocqueville. Students also engage political ideas often challenging and reshaping the accepted order from sources such as Jacksonian workingmen and Abolitionism.

 POLS 397 - SPECIAL TOPICS (3 credits)

Special topics (1-6 credit hours, to be determined by faculty, department and student)

 POLS 476 - AMERICAN POLITICAL THOUGHT II - AMERICAN CAPITALISM AND DEMOCRACY (3 credits)

A survey of American political thought and practice since the Civil War focusing on how democracy and capitalism have enabled and constrained one another in the course of the development of the American polity. Surveys key thinkers, social movements, and institutional developments such as Reconstruction, Populism, Progressivism, the labor Movement, the Women's movement, the New Deal, and the Civil Rights Movement. Prerequisite: instructor permission.

 POLS 485 - STUDIES IN POLITICAL THEORY (3 credits)

Senior seminar in political theory with varying topics. This course meets the Capstone requirement. Prerequisite: senior standing or instructor permission.

 POLS 486 - STUDIES IN AMERICAN POLITICS (3 credits)

Senior seminar in American politics with varying topics. This course meets the Capstone requirement. Prerequisite: senior standing or instructor permission.

 POLS 487 - STUDIES IN INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS: (3 credits)

Senior seminar in International Relations with varying topics. This course meets the Capstone requirement. Prerequisite: senior standing or instructor permission.

 POLS 488 - STUDIES IN COMPARATIVE POLITICS (3 credits)

Senior seminar in Comparative politics with varying topics. This course meets the Capstone requirement. Prerequisite: senior standing or instructor permission.

 POLS 492 - INDEPENDENT STUDY ( 1-3 credits)

Independent Study Opportunity

 POLS 499 - INTERNSHIP ( 1-12 credits)

Internship Opportunity

Faculty & Staff

Faculty

Lecturer in Sociology and Politics and Government
B.A., Dartmouth College, Philosophy , Ph.D., University of Colorado at Boulder, Philosophy of Education
Phone: (970) 943-2582
Office Location: Kelley 208
Assistant Professor of Politics and Government
B.A., James Madison University, M.A., University Colorado at Boulder , Ph.D., University of Colorado at Boulder
Phone: (970) 943-2043
Office Location: Kelley 205
Assistant Professor of Politics and Government
B.A., Louisiana State University, M.A., Arizona State University, Ph.D., Lancaster University
Phone: (970) 943-3024
Office Location: Kelley Hall 204