Politics & Government


FOR REQUIRED COURSES AND DEGREE PLANS, VISIT THE OFFICIAL UNIVERSITY CATALOG. This is a list of courses offered by Western State Colorado University. To ensure the courses you need are offered during the current semester, please visit the current university catalog at http://www.western.edu/catalog. To determined the courses required for your major, check the "Majors and Minors" tab for your area of study.


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. Prerequiste: ENG 102 with a grade of C- or above.


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 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 continuation of POLS 300. An examination of the constitutional protections ofindividual liberties as defined by the Supreme Court. Students study the historicaldevelopment 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.


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 - POLI THEORY II- MOD CONTEM (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


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.


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.


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 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.


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

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 our 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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Faculty & Staff


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) 943-3025
Office Location: Kelley 205
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