PL SC 299/499: North American Politics in Toronto, Canada
The 2020 program has been canceled.
Spend a month in Toronto—and get credit for it! The class is an official Penn State Education Abroad course that can be used to fulfill requirements for the political science major or minor at any Penn State campus, the international politics major at University Park (PL SC 499 only), and requirements in some majors for an Education Abroad component, including the international business major at Penn State Behrend. The course may also meet requirements in other majors and minors. The course is open to students at all Penn State campuses.
The course will be offered May 17-June 13, 2020, and will be co-taught by Dr. Robert Speel, associate professor of political science at Penn State Behrend, and by Ryerson University Professor Greg Inwood. The class will take place on the Ryerson campus in downtown Toronto and will include students from Penn State and Ryerson in the classroom together. American students from Penn State and Canadian students from Ryerson will participate together in class discussions and on class excursions and will take the same exams. Penn State students will be graded by Dr. Speel.
The course focuses on the comparative politics of the United States and Canada and on international relations between the two countries. Among the topics to be discussed will be a comparison of the development of separate political cultures in the two countries, comparisons of government institutions, election systems, federalism, and regionalism, and comparisons of each country's policy approaches toward the economy, health care, gun control, language, free speech, legal marijuana, abortion, medically assisted suicide, and the role of religion in education. Issues important in international relations between the two countries will also be discussed - this includes trade, border security, prevention of terrorism, and control of the Arctic. Class excursions will visit the Ontario Parliament Buildings and Fort York, site of an important battle in the War of 1812.
The grade for PL SC 299 will be determined by exams and class participation. An additional research paper will be assigned for students who enroll in PL SC 499; the paper will be due at the end of June.
The class will meet four days a week, three hours a day, Mondays-Thursdays, for fourteen days over four weeks, with a final exam on Friday, June 12. Students will have the option of staying in the Ryerson University residence an additional few days until June 16. Weekends will be free for students to explore Toronto on their own.
The Ryerson University Residence and Location
Students will live during the month in the International Living Learning Centre (ILLC) student residence on the Ryerson campus. Students will each have their own motel-style single rooms with television, air conditioning, internet access, and private bathrooms. Each floor of the residence also has a kitchenette, laundry machines, and a television lounge area. The residence is located next door to a 24-hour supermarket and to a 24-hour grocery store.
The ILLC residence is located just two blocks from Yonge Street, the Eaton Centre, and Dundas Square. Yonge Street contains miles of restaurants and retail shops. The Eaton Centre is a large downtown mall on several floors that contains many stores and a fast food court. Dundas Square, patterned after New York City's Times Square, offers frequent free live performances by musicians and buskers and is surrounded by restaurants, stores, food courts, a movie theater, and many large electronic billboards. The ILLC is also a short walk from subway lines and streetcar lines to take you to other parts of Toronto.
Toronto contains the tallest free-standing structure in the Western Hemisphere (the CN Tower), the second largest zoo in North America, a new aquarium, a large variety of ethnic neighborhoods, Canada's largest museum of world cultures and natural history (Royal Ontario Museum), several prominent art museums (including the Art Gallery of Ontario with a fine collection of European and Canadian works), the Hockey Hall of Fame, and the Harbourfront Centre, which is located on Lake Ontario and contains cultural attractions, shopping, boat cruises, and pedestrian walkways. Penn State students will visit several of these locations as a group while in Toronto outside of class time.
Over half of all residents of Toronto were born outside of Canada, and over half of the residents of Toronto's largest suburbs were also born outside of Canada. Because immigrants to Toronto have come in large numbers from every part of the globe (East Asia, South Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe, the Middle East, Africa), Toronto is considered by many to be the most international city in the world.
Applications, Costs, and Financial Aid
To take the course and participate in the Education Abroad program, students will need to fill out online application forms and pay in-state Penn State University Park tuition for 3 credits next summer. (Non-residents of PA will also pay in-state tuition amounts.) However, there is widespread financial aid available to assist with the costs of tuition. Behrend and Penn State offer many tuition scholarships and grants for Education Abroad students. Most students have received financial assistance with tuition in past years, including 80% of Behrend students in 2016. Information about the scholarships and grants are included on the application website. You may contact Ruth Pflueger of the Learning Resource Center (located on the second floor of Lilley Library at Penn State Behrend) to obtain more information about financial assistance with tuition.
The program fee to cover the cost of a room at the Ryerson ILLC residence for the month in downtown Toronto will be $950. However, ten Penn State Behrend students will be eligible to pay only $625 due to donations from the Humanities and Social Sciences Endowment Fund and from Penn State Behrend political science alumna Barbara Welton. Other Penn State students may also be eligible for financial assistance with the cost of the residence.
Students will need a minimum 2.5 GPA to be accepted into the course, though exceptions can be made. Contact Dr. Speel for details. The deadline for submission of applications and for the course is February 1, 2020, although interested students should sign up as early as possible to guarantee a place in the course and financial assistance.
Applications can be found on the Global Penn State Toronto, Canada: North American Politics (Summer) website.
Tuition and fees for the course go on regular university bursar bills - no payment will be required until after students are notified that their applications are accepted and learn of any financial aid awards.
All adult Americans now need a passport to travel to Canada and return to the US, so students will need to get one (or an acceptable alternative, such as a passport card or New York enhanced driver's license) if they don't have one already. Students will be responsible for their own food costs and personal items. Since each floor of the residence has a kitchenette and supermarkets are next door, students will be able to eat inexpensively while in Toronto. Students will also need to find their own form of transportation to get to Toronto, though we can offer suggestions to help with that. Toronto is about a 3-1/2 hour drive from the city of Erie.
If you have any questions about the course or residence, please contact Dr. Robert Speel at [email protected].
Photos from Previous Trips
Photos from Summer 2018
Photos from Summer 2016
This course, which focused on the comparative politics of the United States and Canada and on international relations between the two countries, took place on Ryerson University campus in downtown Toronto.
(left) Penn State Erie and Ryerson University students with a cannon at Fort York, Toronto, site of a War of 1812 battle.
(right) Penn State Erie and Ryerson University students at Queen's Park with Deborah Deller, the Clerk of the Ontario Legislative Assembly.
(left) Penn State Erie and Ryerson University students before a game at the Rogers Centre, where the Blue Jays beat the Yankees.
(right) Penn State Erie and Ryerson University students inside the CN Tower's Sky Pod, 1465 feet above the city of Toronto.
(left) Penn State Erie and Ryerson University students with the Courtyard Cows in the Toronto Financial District Pasture.
(right) Penn State Erie students in front of the Toronto sign at Nathan Phillips Square.
(left) Penn State Erie students at Harbourfront, Lake Ontario.
(right) Penn State Erie students at night in Toronto with CN Tower in the background.
Photos from Summer 2014
This course, which focused on the comparative politics of the United States and Canada and on international relations between the two countries, took place on the Ryerson University campus in downtown Toronto.
(left) Penn State and Ryerson University students at the entrance to the CN Tower
(right) Lying on the CN Tower glass floor 1122 feet above the ground
(left) Penn State and Ryerson University students at the entrance to Mackenzie House, home of the first mayor of Toronto
(right) Penn State and Ryerson students at the entrance to Queen's Park, home of the Ontario Provincial Parliament
(left) Entrance of the Ripley's Aquarium of Canada in Toronto
(right) Flamingo exhibit at Toronto Zoo
(left) Penn State and Ryerson University students watch the Toronto Blue Jays beat the Minnesota Twins at the Rogers Centre
(right) Penn State and Ryerson students guard a cannon at Fort York, site of a famous War of 1812 battle between Americans and the British and Canadians
Photos from Summer 2012
(left) Penn State students relax on the glass floor at the CN Tower 1,100 feet above ground level.
(right) Dinner at Wayne Gretzky's Restaurant.
(left) Penn State and Ryerson students guard a cannon at Fort York, site of a War of 1812 battle.
(right) Penn State students in front of Mackenzie House, home of the first mayor of Toronto.
(left) Penn State and Ryerson students at Queen's Park, site of the Ontario Parliament.
(right) Penn State students meet Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper while watching the Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Real Sports Bar in downtown Toronto.