Politics and 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




An historical and contemporary investigation of U.S. environmental policies with an applied focus on the impact of national policy on the ecosystems and cultures of the American West. Reciprocally, this course traces how pubic lands agencies, social movements, historical land uses, and diverse cultures in the West shape U.S. environmental policy. Students combine analysis and discussion of major U.S. policies, prominent theories and issues, and student-led environmental service projects to better understand environmental challenges. Prerequisites: ENVS 100


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.


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.


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.


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 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.


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.


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.


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.

Faculty & Staff


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., Louisiana State University, M.A., Arizona State University, Ph.D., Lancaster University
Phone: (970) 943-3024
Office Location: Kelley Hall 204
Phone: (970) 943-7011
Office Location: Kelley Hall 205