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Dr. Robert Speel

Associate Professor of Political Science

Speel lgDr. Speel is a recipient of the University’sUndergraduate Program Leadership Award, an award that recognizes one Penn State faculty member who has demonstrated exemplary leadership in service to an undergraduate degree program. Speel is program chair for Penn State Behrend’s baccalaureate degree in political science and also its certificate in crime, psychology and public policy. Among his popular American government courses is Politics and Government in Washington, D.C., which includes a week of behind-the-scenes tours and meetings with Penn State Behrend alumni who work for and with federal agencies. Speel is a past recipient of the George W. Atherton Award for Excellence in Teaching, the Guy Wilson Award for Excellence in Advising, and the Penn State Behrend Council of Fellows Excellence in Outreach Award. He is the author of Changing Patterns of Voting in the Northern United States: Electoral Realignment 1952-1996 (Penn State University Press, 1998).

Education: Ph.D. and M.A. in Government, both from Cornell University; B.A. in Political Science and Sociology (double major) from the University of Pennsylvania

What courses do you teach? Introduction to American National Government; American Public Policy; Ethnic and Racial Politics; American Political Campaigns and Elections; Politics and Government in Washington, D.C.; Congress and the Presidency; American State and Urban Politics; North American Politics (in Toronto)

What can students expect when they take one of your courses? To learn a lot, to think about politics and government in new ways, to debate political ideas with other students, to challenge preconceived notions about government, and to learn why it all matters.

How would you describe yourself as a teacher? I use up lots of chalk. I try to help students think logically and to connect how one political fact or event follows from another and to analyze the potential outcomes of government decisions. I also like to show video clips of Senators shouting "Barbaric!" on the Senate floor.

What do you like best about teaching at Penn State Behrend? The small class sizes allow me to learn all student names and allow for class discussions about political issues raised in class. The campus's administrative employees go out of their way to help with the college's teaching mission and treat students and faculty members as the individuals they are.

What’s your favorite…

Book? I mainly read newspapers and news magazines. The next book I hope to read is called Champlain's Dream, by historian David Hackett Fischer.

Movie? In the past year, Avatar in 3-D. In the past decade, City of God. Of all time, maybe The Graduate.

Music/band? Smashing Pumpkins, the Killers, Muse, Linkin Park, most 1980s British techno-pop

What are some of your hobbies/pastimes? Watching TV, lots of news, walking my dog, visiting Niagara Falls

What advice can you give students to succeed both in college and in life? If you see a problem and do nothing about it, you're part of the problem. If you see a problem and try to do something about it, you're part of the solution.

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