Political Science Newsletter- October 2013













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 123 GS US IL - Ethnic and Racial Politics

Race, religion, and ethnicity all play a key role in American politics and in the politics of most countries around the world.  This course will discuss issues such as Native American sovereignty, use of the Spanish language, religious freedom, immigration, affirmative action, and voting rights in the United States, and will examine case studies from France, Bosnia, Kosovo, Switzerland, Rwanda, Burundi, and Botswana to compare ethnic and religious politics around the world.


PL SC 308H - Introduction to Political Research

Introduction to conceptualization, research design, and measurement in political research. While previous knowledge of statistics is not required, this is an honors course that will move at a fast pace. In a nutshell, we shall ask “what can Political Science measure." To enroll in the course, students must be in an honors program or have a GPA > 3.5 or receive permission from Dr. Gamble.


PL SC 419  - The Bureaucratic State

Was there a time in American history when cocaine was legal and alcohol was illegal? How were drug laws created and enforced before there was a DEA? Did the FBI or the CIA come first?  Do you know the story of how their first powerful leaders shaped the agencies? How were veterans treated before the Veterans Administration (VA) was established?  What famous American military hero ordered veterans who were storming the US Capitol building to be shot? The answers to these and many other interesting questions are answered and discussed in “The Bureaucratic State” (PL SC 419).  By focusing on agencies like the L.C.B. (Liquor Control Board), the class seeks to familiarize students with the modern American bureaucratic state, its history, and how it was developed.  In tracking the unprecedented growth of the federal government in the twentieth century, and role of modern regulatory agencies, the course seeks to enable students to understand key concepts of public policy, and to provide an understanding of how public policy is shaped by, and implemented in, the bureaucratic state. Whether discussing large federal bureaucracies like the Department of State, or small, local agencies like the Erie County Board of Health, the course examines the various actors in the policy process, and the influence they have in the evaluation, development and implementation of public policy.


PL SC 430W - Selected Works in Political Theory

A very radical change took place in the political philosophy of the 17th century. The claim to justice, which in Aristotle's 'Politics' is recognized as the decisive element of both freedom and human nature, becomes in the work of Thomas Hobbes the great menace to political society generally. In Hobbes, a new ethic of self-preservation, which is hostile to the classical virtues of justice and courage, surges to the fore. This course will examine the foundations of Aristotle's political science in his classic work 'the Politics', and it will examine Hobbes's revolutionary teaching in 'The Citizen'. Part of Early Modern Philosophy, and certainly part of Hobbes, is the indictment of human perception as an adequate means to knowing facts about the common external world. This sceptical element can be seen to culminate in the work of David Hume. In order for students to understand the pivotal Federalist Paper number 37, they will need to understand Hume. Hume preserves the Hobbesian revolution in political morality, but extends and deepens the role that scepticism plays in the philosophical attempt to shape public opinion. Hobbes and Hume both were serious influences on the authors of the 'Federalist'. For students interested in the foundations of American political philosophy, this course is ideally suited. It is a writing intensive course. Papers will be written on all three authors.


PL SC 433 - Political Foundations of the Early American Republic

Those guys with the big buckles on their shoes go to Philadelphia to start a new country.  Do they get Fareed Zakaria's checklist right?  Does Colbert have them on speed dial?  Was the Constitution a miracle that sprung out of the heads of the sainted American Founders, or, a well-considered blueprint that is the result of centuries of trial and error with human nature?  In this course we will look at the constitutional debates and original documents of the American founding era in order to answer this question.


PL SC 467 - International Relations of the Middle East

This course covers Middle Eastern politics since 1945 and emphasizes both the international and domestic circumstances that account for patterns in politics of the region. The first half of the course  examines the changing international agenda in the Middle East, with a focus on US involvement in the region. This section of the course will also cover how regional policies are shaped by international and domestic variables. The second half of the course deals specifically with the current configuration of regional politics and major issues in international relations. Topics will include the Arab-Israeli conflict, Arab Spring, Iran and nuclear power, Syria, the conflict in the Persian Gulf, the role of energy and economic issues, the foreign policies of major Middle Eastern players, non-state actors in the region and issues such as democratization and human rights.


INTST 400 - Seminar in International Studies

This course examines some of the most important  and controversial areas  of  public policy from a comparative perspective. We will consider areas such as health care, the environmental protection , and welfare policy in Europe, Japan and the United States less to determine which county’s policy might be “better,” than to ask about  the impact of certain policy choices for funding, coverage, and effectiveness. In addition the course will emphasize the history, accomplishments, and limitations of the international  financial system. We will assume that  the policy environment of modern banking and finance has enormous consequences for the material well-being of most people in developing and developed countries. In particular the course will attempt to untangle the factors leading to the recent global recession and efforts to avoid any similar crisis. Students should have completed PL  SC 003 or 14.  This course is required of all Behrend international studies minors and can also be used to complete requirements in the POLSC major or minor.



As of September 2013, 73 (23%) of our Penn State Behrend alumni work in the legal field, including:

53 attorneys

10 in law school or who just finished this year

8 paralegals or legal assistants

2 in graduate school to become paralegals


Some of the attorneys are partners in large law firms, some of our alumni have opened up their own law firms, some work for the government, and some work as corporate counsels.

The government attorneys work for:

US Customs and Border Protection

New York City Department of Education

US Department of Labor

Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services

Erie County District Attorney (our alumnus is an assistant district attorney)

Potter County District Attorney (our alumnus is the elected district attorney)

Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission

Federal Bureau of Prisons


Some of the corporate counsels work for:

Dick's Sporting Goods

Consol Energy


Gateway Health Plan


Among the law schools attended by our alumni since 2000 are:

Cornell University

Syracuse University

Duquesne University

University of Pittsburgh

The George Washington University

University of Maryland

Case Western Reserve University

Michigan State University

The Ohio State University

Vermont Law School

University of Michigan

Thomas M Cooley Law School

Ave Maria School of Law

Widener University

Cleveland Marshall College of Law

Penn State Dickinson School of Law

University of Buffalo

Willamette University

Ohio Northern University

Catholic University of Washington DC

Boston College



The Office of Student Activities, the SGA, and the Political Science Society are coordinating rides to the local polling place on Election Day, Tuesday, November 5.  A Penn State minivan will be available to take students from the front of the Reed Building to the polling place at the East Side Assembly of God Church at 2653 Saltsman Road. This is the polling place for students who are registered to vote at a campus address or at University Gates.  The van will be available to students between 11 AM - 1 PM and 6 PM - 8 PM.



There will be some changes to the requirements for the Crime, Psychology, and Public Policy certificate program, starting in Fall 2014.  The main change will be that students will be required to take SOC 012 - Criminology - in order to complete the certificate, starting in Fall 2014.  Students who will complete the certificate by next semester can follow current requirements.  Also, starting next semester, Dr. Nicole Shoenberger, assistant professor of sociology, will be in charge of coordinating and administering the CRIMBC certificate. If you have questions, please contact her at nas25@psu.edu.



The Political Science Society organized a successful Harborcreek Candidate Forum last week and is organizing rides to the local polling place for students on Election Day.  The Political Science Society meets every Wednesday at 5:30 PM in the upper part of Bruno's. For details, contact president Ryan Snyder at rms5368@psu.edu.

The College Republicans helped to organize a fundraiser for Erie County Executive candidate Don Tucci this past weekend and is planning for upcoming events.  College Republicans meets every Monday (except October 28) at 5:30 PM in the upper part of Bruno's. For details, contact President Taylor Pokrant at tgp5036@psu.edu.

College Democrats will next meet on Monday, November 4, 7 PM, in either Reed 112 or in Bruno's, and they plan to offer pizza for those in attendance. For details, contact president Lillie Gabreski at log5135@psu.edu.



Dr. John Gamble spent part of last week and last weekend in Utrecht in The Netherlands at a symposium and farewell reception for Professor Fred Soons, a professor of international law at Utrecht University and the Chair of the Scientific Advisory Council of the Netherlands Defence Academy.  The events were held at the historic Paushuize in Utrecht.  Dr. Gamble will be writing a chapter for a book that will celebrate the career of Professor Soons.

Dr. Zachary Irwin will be attending the Association for Slavic, East European and Eurasian Studies in Boston in November, where he will be a discussant for a panel on recent developments in “Religion and Politics in the Balkans."

Dr. Kilic Kanat was in Istanbul earlier this month for a Future of Egypt Conference. Next month, he will be presenting a paper at the International Studies Association Midwest conference in St. Louis. The paper is titled, "Foreign Policy of the Justice and Development Party in Perspective: Understanding Evolution of JDP Foreign Policy in the Last Ten Years."

Dr. Robert Speel was interviewed for a front page article about the role of yard signs in local political campaigns for the Erie Times-News on October 21.