Political Science Newsletter- September 2014



This newsletter goes monthly to all Behrend political science majors and minors, as well as students who expressed interest in the political science major during the admissions process and Behrend students who have taken at least two PL SC courses.  













Here is a tentative list of Political Science courses that will be offered at Penn State Behrend in Spring 2015.  This list is subject to change, but it is what we plan to offer at the time this newsletter is sent.

Remember that all political science majors must take PL SC 001, PL SC 003, PL SC 014, and PL SC 017, as well as 24 other credits (usually 8 other courses) in PL SC. Of those other 24 credits, at least 12 (4 courses) must be at the 400 level, and at least 3 credits (one course) must be taken in each of the subfield requirements (American Government, Comparative Politics, International Politics, Government in Theory and Practice). Some courses can be used to fulfill either of two subfield requirements, but you cannot use the same course on your degree audit to meet both of those subfield requirements.

If you need help with scheduling or understanding the requirements of the major, please make an appointment to see your advisor.

Politics and Government  minors must take PL SC 001, PL SC 003, and 12 other credits (4 courses), including 6 credits at the 400-level.

Spring 2015 Courses

PL SC 001 - Introduction to American National Government* (GS)

PL SC 002 - American Public Policy (American, Theory and Practice)

PL SC 003 - Introduction to Comparative Politics (GS, IL)

PL SC 003U - Introduction to Comparative Politics (GS, IL)
PL SC 014 - International Relations* (GS, IL)
PL SC 017 - Introduction to Political Theory (GS)

PL SC 022 - Politics of the Developing Areas (GS, IL, Other Cultures, Comparative)

PL SC 111 - Debating the Purpose of Government (GH, Theory and Practice)

PL SC 111H - Debating the Purpose of Government (GH, Theory and Practice)

PL SC 155 - Understanding Tyranny (Theory and Practice)

PL SC 177 - Politics and Government in Washington DC (GS, American, International)

PL SC 178 - Organized Crime, Law, and Politics (American, Theory and Practice)

PL SC 428 - Gender and Politics (US, IL, Theory and Practice)

PL SC 442 - American Foreign Policy (American, International)

PL SC 456 - Politics and Institutions of Latin American Nations (Comparative)

PL SC 484W - The Foreign Policy of Soviet Successor States (W, International)

PL SC 487 - International Law and Organizations (International, Theory and Practice)

INTST 400 - Seminar in International Studies (IL, International)


*PL SC 001 and PL SC 014 will each offer two separate sections in Spring 2015.




Along with our introductory-level courses of PL SC 001, PL SC 003, PL SC 014, and PL SC 017, we are offering the following political science courses in Spring 2014:


PL SC 002: American Public Policy will introduce students to the development and evaluation of policies in the areas of consumer protection, health care, taxation, free speech, the war on drugs, social security, food safety, environmental protection, and birth and death.


PL SC 022: Politics of the Developing Areas. “Underdeveloped countries”, “developing areas”, and “third world”, are some of the labels most commonly assigned to a heterogeneous conglomerate of more than 130 countries that are the home of 84 percent of the world population, but produce only 20 percent of the world’s wealth. Except for the common denominator provided by their colonial experiences, the main criterion for the clustering of such a high number of countries in a single category is a negative one: the lack of membership in the select club of “developed democracies”. This universe, however, shows a wide variety of experiences regarding political stability, economic development and democratization. This course offers an introduction to the major themes of the politics of the developing world structured around three main objectives: a) the development of a broad, general knowledge of the main theories and debates regarding the “third world”; b) the acquisition of conceptual tools for the comparative assessment of some of the major dimensions of political development; c) the application of those theories and concept to the realities of some countries selected for case studies.


PL SC 111:  Debating the Purpose of Government will involve an integrative look at the mega issues confronting the United States: wars, violence, who runs the country, inequality, poverty, gender, environment, religion, science, and culture wars. These are interrelated issues and involve aspects of politics, economics, engineering, business, law, art, music, literature, philosophy, psychology, sociology, religion, and science.  Lecturers will have interdisciplinary experience (academic and worldly).


PL SC 155: Understanding Tyranny is interested in the degree to which political philosophy itself causes, abets, or stimulates tyrannous politics. There is a question as to whether tyranny is caused more by elite philosophers, or by unleashed popular passions. We will study Plato and Hobbes as examples of these two currents of political philosophy. The course will conclude with an examination of the Nazi regime, and the form of political philosophy most fundamental to its emergence.


PL SC 177: Politics and Government in Washington DC will include a Spring Break visit to the national capital where students will meet and talk with members of Congress, diplomats, international organization leaders, executive branch officials, and interest group and political party leaders, and tour government buildings like the White House, Pentagon, State Department, and Library of Congress. More details about the course will be in the October newsletter.


PL SC 178:  Organized Crime, Law, and Politics.  Have you ever wondered which "mob" movies and television shows provided an accurate portrayal of organized crime?  Do you know what U.S. officials consider the most serious present threat to the security of our borders?  When and why was the Drug Enforcement Administration (D.E.A.) created?  The answers to these and many other interesting questions will be discussed in PL SC 178.  Students will learn about the serious threat that organized crime has presented to the United States and other countries for the past 100 years, and the ongoing threat it poses in the 21st Century. 


PL SC 428: Gender and Politics. 

Are you a man or are you a woman, really?  You see, advertising provides us with gender imperatives.  Does it have to be one way or the other, masculine or feminine?  Wear make-up when you want, or shop in the men's department, where the clothes are cheaper and more durable.  Who, exactly, determines what it means to be a man or a woman?  It would be good if we chose for ourselves.  No matter what the politicians say, politics is theater, for better or for worse.  So, what will your life say on the stage?  Traditional?  Progressive?  Anarchist rebel?  Sign up for Gender and Politics and take a look inside.


PL SC 442: American Foreign Policy is about the principles of American foreign policy; processes of policy formulation; roles of the President, Congress, the State Department, and other government agencies.


PL SC 456:  Politics and Institutions of Latin American Nations offers an introduction to the dynamics of Latin American political systems, structured around a basic question: Why was it so difficult to build stable democracies in Latin America during the Twentieth Century? In the first half of the semester we will review the historical experience of Latin American countries with democracy. In the second part, we will discuss different explanations for the emergence, failure and survival of democratic regimes, and apply those analytical tools to the political history of the region. Throughout the course, we will consider the main political issues of contemporary Latin America, and examine the major political institutions and the ways in which social classes and interest groups participate in politics and interact with political parties and governments. 


PL SC 484W:  The Foreign Policy of Soviet Successor States is a course concerning the role of the fifteen Soviet successor states in world politics. The 1991 collapse of the former Soviet Union led to the emergence of fifteen ”successor states,”  including the most  important, the Russian Federation. Russia is  the centerpiece of the course. Our discussion will involve Russia’s relations with the United States, the European Union and Asia, with  particular attention devoted to conflicts between Russia and other successor states, such as Ukraine and the Republic of Georgia. In addition the course will emphasize the emerging role of Central Asia successors, such as Kazakhstan,  and relations with China.  


PL SC 487:  International Law and Organizations probably is NOT what you think. The course examines what international law is and how countries establish and enforce it. International Organizations go hand in glove with International Law. We’ll examine several international organizations in depth and discuss the International Criminal Court.


INTST 400 - Seminar in International Studies. The seminar next semester will examine Afro-Hispanic political and cultural issues in Latin American and the Caribbean. Topics will include race and dictatorship, race and the female body/beauty pageants, race and contemporary films that capitalize on ruins, race and the globalization of music, race and the Latin American soap opera, and race and baseball. 




The Hamilton Project of the Brookings Institution think tank in Washington has released a study based on US Census data this week that indicates that political science majors nationwide achieve median lifetime earnings higher than the median for all college majors. Political science majors over their lifetime achieve the highest median earnings of any liberal arts or humanities and social sciences major in the study and also achieve median earnings higher than many business and science majors.  


Full details can be found on the Hamilton Project website.




The Political Science Society, College Republicans, and College Democrats are working together to plan campus events for October.


This week, the three groups will be leading a campus voter registration drive at a table outside Bruno's between 11 AM - 2 PM every day.  Voter registration forms, absentee ballot applications, and campaign literature will be available.  Students can register to vote at their campus or nearby address and will be able to vote at the local polling place on Election Day in November. The deadline to register to vote for this year's election is Monday, October 6.


The groups will be sponsoring a debate between State Representative candidates Curt Sonney (incumbent Republican) and Curt Smith (Democrat) on Thursday, October 16, tentatively at 8 PM in Reed 117. Students will be welcome to attend and ask questions about state politics to the two candidates who hope to represent the campus area in Harrisburg over the next two years.  Watch your email and campus posters for confirmation about details and the location.


The groups will also be sponsoring a forum titled "An Evening with Three Judges," on Wednesday, October 22, at 7:30 PM, in Reed 117.  Three western Pennsylvania judges will be present to discuss their work, the legal profession, and their law school experiences.  Judge John Trucilla serves on the Erie County Court of Common Pleas, Judge Bill Ward serves on the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas, and Judge Guy Reschenthaler, a Behrend political science alumnus, serves as a District Judge in Allegheny County.  Watch your email and campus posters for details about time and location.


College Democrats and College Republicans have also been active in local political campaigns, including the race for the third district in the US House of Representatives. College Republicans have met with incumbent Republican Mike Kelly, while College Democrats helped to open the downtown Erie headquarters of Democratic congressional candidate Dan LaVallee.


For more information about any of these groups, or to attend meetings or events, contact their presidents:


Sarah Hall, Political Science Society

Taylor Pokrant, College Republicans

Lillie Gabreski, College Democrats




Tom Lawless owns the distinction of being the only player ever traded for the legendary Pete Rose. He is also remembered for a game-winning home run in Game 4 of the 1987 World Series.  Earlier this month, the Penn State Behrend political science alumnus and Erie native once again etched himself into the record books when he was named the 21st manager of the Houston Astros on an interim basis. It’s Lawless’ first Major League managerial job since his coaching career began in the minor leagues in 1992.  Lawless played at Penn State Behrend from 1975-78 before becoming the college’s first-ever player to be drafted into the majors by the Cincinnati Reds on June 17, 1978.  Lawless later graduated from Penn State Behrend in 1980 with a degree in political science.


Connor Sattely, Chief Operating Officer at GovFaces, and the rest of the leadership team at GovFaces have won a European Youth Award for 2014.  

GovFaces is a social network connecting people with politicians on burning issues. On GovFaces, interaction is the key: citizens, organizations, journalists, and other users post questions or ideas directly to the profiles of politicians. A politician answers using text or video response, showing their face behind the screen.  GovFaces was launched at the European Parliament and Commission in March, 2014. Over fifty EU parliamentarians already use GovFaces to interact with citizens across 15 countries.  Http://www.govfaces.com.  The European Youth Awards are a joint effort by the Council of Europe, the European Parliament, and the United Nations, and are given to the most outstanding digital initiatives for social good.  Winners will present their projects in Graz, Austria, in November 2014.  Sattley graduated from Penn State Behrend in 2011 with a double major in political science and communication.




Dr. John King Gamble and Penn State Behrend political science alumni Lauren Kolb and Casey Graml co-authored an article with the title "Choice of Official Text in Multilateral Treaties: The Interplay of Law, Politics, Language, Pragmatism, and (Multi)-Nationalism" in the May 2014 issue of The Santa Clara Journal of International Law.


Dr. Zachary Irwin, associate professor emeritus of political science, was a speaker at an event on campus in August to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Arboretum at Penn State Erie.  The arboretum is recognized by the American Public Gardens Association.


Dr, Kilic Kanat, on leave of absence this semester, continues as a regular columnist for the Turkish newspaper, The Daily Sabah.  Several of his recent columns have been about ISIS and international military and diplomatic efforts to stop the group. Dr. Kanat was also a panelist last week at a Uyghur Studies Conference at The George Washington University in Washington, DC, where he spoke about China's political repression of the Uyghur community.


Dr. Robert Speel was interviewed for two recent articles in the Erie Times-News, about fundraising in local congressional campaigns, and about planned debates in a local state representative campaign.




Zack Yost, a Mercyhurst University student and a campus coordinator with Students for Liberty, a Libertarian group, is seeking Penn State Erie students who may be interested in starting a libertarian-oriented group on the Behrend campus. Zack can help the group to set up and can offer resources from Students for Liberty.  He is also organizing a carpool to the SFL regional conference in Pittsburgh on November 15. The conference is free of charge.  Interested students should contact Zach.