Politics & Government

Get Involved

A college education is more than just taking courses. Meet new people, apply your skills and stretch beyond your comfort zone. Make your education an experience.

  • Events: Global Justice Film Series, visiting speakers, political debates and voter registration.
  • Internships: Students intern with political candidates, elected officials, nonprofit organizations and legal professionals.
  • Mock Trial: Introduces students to real criminal or civil cases to prepare for trial after graduation.
  • Model United Nations: Competes in the National Model United Nations event in New York City.
  • Politics Clubs: A student-led club that tackles political topics, provides professional development opportunities and works to bring dynamic debate to campus.


Hannah White


Headshot of Hannah White with flowers in the background
Headshot of Hannah White with flowers in the background

Hannah White

“Being so involved in so many different things you get to know all kinds of people. You get to make connections with people that just aren’t at Western.”

Hannah White is a junior from Kansas City studying Politics & Government with an emphasis in Global Studies and minors in Philosophy and Environment & Sustainability (ENVS).

When Hannah was researching different colleges, she wanted a school with a good ENVS program that was somewhat close to home. Western was a school that stood out to her most, and the rest is history.

On campus, Hannah has her toes dipped into everything she is passionate about.

“I am a Senator on Western’s Student Government Association (SGA) and an Orientation Leader for the 2019-20 school year,” said Hannah, but it does not stop there. “I am also a member of Women at Western, Vice President of the Politics Club, a member of the Women’s Student Lounge, participated in Model United Nations (UN) and a Geiman Fellow starting 2019-20 school year.”

Hannah always knew she wanted to work to protect the environment and write policies.

“When I was taking the Intro to ENVS course, I was really passionate about it. I still am, and then I took American Foreign Policy with Dr. [Maria] Struble,” said Hannah. “It made me realize that what I want to do with the environment is to write protection policies for it and to do that on the global scale. My majors and minors are how I think I can do the most with the environment.”

Because of how involved Hannah is on campus, she has a lot to choose from as her favorite part of attending Western.

“The friendships I have made here are one of my favorite things about coming to Western,” said Hannah. “Being so involved in so many different things, you get to know all kinds of people. You get to make connections with people that just aren’t at Western, because of conferences like the Model UN. The opportunities that Western has given me through these different groups and clubs have been an amazing thing.”

When Hannah gets time away from school, she likes to spend time relaxing. Her favorite spot to be is the Women’s Student Lounge in the library.

Her advice to incoming freshmen: “Get involved. Freshman year, I did not do anything besides class and hanging out in my room. What would have made that year better for me was to be involved with clubs on campus. Doing the extracurriculars really makes the college experience that much more enjoyable.”

Profile by Western junior Taya Olson.

Faculty & Staff


Brian Bernhardt, Ph.D. headshot
Associate Professor of Politics & Government
Phone: 970.943.3025
Office Location: Kelley Hall 205
Maria Boikova Struble, Ph.D. headshot
Professor of Politics & Government, Model UN Faculty Advisor
Phone: 970.943.3024
Office Location: Kelley Hall 204


FOR REQUIRED COURSES AND DEGREE PLANS, VISIT THE OFFICIAL UNIVERSITY CATALOG. This is a sample of courses offered by Western Colorado University. To ensure the courses you need are offered during the current semester, please visit the university course search.

 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 recommended.

 POLS 255 - Introduction 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. Prerequisite: ENG 102 with a grade of C- or above.

 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. Quest- ions 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? Prerequisite: ENG 102 with a grade of C- or above.

 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.

 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 - Political 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 - 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 340 - Politics of Social Movements (3 credits)

A study of social movements, past and present, in both domestic and international contexts. Students examine theories on why social movements develop, spread, and decline, while considering the factors that lead to their successes and failures. Through an examination of transnational movements, students consider the roles of social networks and participatory democracy in a globalized world. Prerequisite: ENG 102.

 POLS 350 - Human Rights (3 credits)

An engagement with the history and current developments in international human rights practices, offering a justification and critique of universal human rights through the lens of various schools of thought, discussing pre and post-WWII developments with attention to specific cases, and examining the relationship between culture, globalization and human rights violations in the 21st century. Prerequisite: ENG 102.

 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 370 - Political Economy (3 credits)

A study of economic systems that focuses on the structure and uses of economic power and the relationship between economic and political power. Students think about questions such as: What is capitalism? What varieties of capitalism exist around the world? How has capitalism changed over time? Ultimately, students consider the relationship between capitalism, freedom, and democracy. Prerequisite: ENG 102.

 POLS 376 - American Political Thought (3 credits)

A study of American political thought from the colonial period to the present day through a survey of key thinkers and social movements. Students gain an appreciation for dominant views and key controversies within American political thought, as well how the ideas of challengers, such as Abolitionism, Populism, Progressivism, the Labor Movement, the Women's movement, the New Deal, and the Civil Rights Movement, have reshaped the accepted order. Prerequisite: POLS 117 or POLS 180.

 POLS 380 - The United Nations (3 credits)

A study of the United Nations, focusing on the relationship between the UN, the proliferation of human rights regimes and international human development. Students think about the importance of creating international norms, working toward a sustainable world peace, political efficacy, and human rights in the world. A Model UN simulation is part of the course requirements. Prerequisite: ENG 102.

 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 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 499 - Internship in Politics and Government (1 to 12 credits)

Credit earned in an internship may be applied to the Major or Minor with adviser approval.


Politics & Government students are exposed to different and often conflicting points of view on a variety of important political ideas (e.g., democracy, freedom, equality, development and power). Studying how different individuals have looked at these ideas, as well as how such ideas have been practiced in the contexts of real institutions and political controversies, enlarges the mind, develops the tools necessary for effective citizenship and serves to cultivate critical reasoning. Students rethink their assumptions about the world and their place in it, while learning skills to influence issues that matter to them.

The Program

  • The Pre-Law emphasis prepares students for law school and gives them access to law school advising.
  • The Global Studies emphasis is designed to encourage student engagement with and knowledge of foreign policy, human rights, social movements, political economy, world politics and international organizations.
  • The Secondary Licensure emphasis qualifies students for State of Colorado Licensure in Social Science Education.
  • The Environmental Management emphasis is for students who intend to enroll in the Master in Environmental Management 3+2 program.


A degree in politics can lead to many careers, including:

  • Advocacy
  • Campaigning
  • Consulting
  • Data Science
  • Diplomacy
  • Journalism
  • Law
  • Lobbying
  • Local Government
  • National Security
  • Peace Corps
  • Public Relations
  • Teaching
  • Writing

Learn More

Reach out to Maria Boikova Struble, Ph.D. or Brian Bernhardt, Ph.D. for more information.

Interested in Graduate School?

Western’s accelerated 3+2 programs allow you to earn your bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in just five years—saving you time and money.

Professor discusses solar panels on the roof of Kelley Hall

Master in Environmental Management 3+2

Master in Environmental Management, MEM, Western Colorado University, accelerated degree, 3+2, Western State, accelerated graduate degree