Political Science Newsletter - January 2018





Here is a list of Political Science and Sociology courses that will be offered at Penn State Behrend in Fall 2018.

Remember that all Behrend political science majors must take PL SC 001, PL SC 003, PL SC 014, and PL SC 007 or 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 adviser.

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.

Sociology minors must take SOC 001 and 15 other credits in SOC, including at least 6 credits at the 400-level.

Fall 2018 Courses
PL SC 001 - American Politics: Principles, Processes, and Powers (GS, US)*
PL SC 003 - Comparing Politics around the Globe (GS, IL)**
PL SC 007 - Contemporary Political Ideologies (GS)***
PL SC 014 - International Relations (GS, IL)
PL SC 014H - International Relations (GS, IL, Honors)
PL SC 017W - 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 130 - American Political Campaigns and Elections (GS, US, American)
PL SC 431 - Ancient, Medieval, and Renaissance Political Theories (Theory and Practice)
PL SC 439 - The Politics of Terrorism (International)
PL SC 472 - The American Legal Process (American, Theory and Practice)
PL SC 489 - Public Administration (American, Theory and Practice)
SOC 001 - Introductory Sociology (GS)
SOC 005 - Social Problems (GS)
SOC 012/CRIMJ 012 - Criminology (GS, Theory and Practice)
SOC 035 - Sociology of Aging
SOC 406 - Sociology of Deviance

*Note that PL SC 001 will have a new name and a US designation starting in Fall 2018.
**Note that PL SC 003 will have a new name starting in Fall 2018
***Note that PL SC 007 and PL SC 017W might be approved for Penn State's new Inter-domain requirement as GS/GH courses by Fall 2018.



The Behrend Public Policy Fund will host a series of skill-development workshops, taught by Dr. Lena Surzhko-Harned, that aim to provide students with essential analytical and professional skills pertinent to the sphere of public policy. The policy analysis and writing workshops will include: reading analytically and critically; speaking knowledgeably on a range of policy topics that concern state and local policy makers; communicating policy analysis clearly and persuasively in a manner that is accessible to a wide range of policy relevant audiences. 

Students will learn how to read empirical research presented in academic literature, synthesize the findings, and communicate policy related research and recommendations in policy review papers, policy briefs and memos, as well as other modes of written and oral policy communication. The workshops can be taken as stand-alone courses, or as a series.

The workshops are developed for Behrend students of all disciplines. The acquired skills are non-discipline specific and can be applied to a wide range of professional development goals.

Each section consists of two meeting sessions; students are strongly advised to attend both sessions. Make sure to bring your computer.

Start Date: Wednesday, February 21, 2018
Location: TBD


  • Feb 21 and Feb 28-- Writing a Policy Brief
  • March 14 and 21-- Policy Analysis: Papers, Research and Presentation 
  • March 28 April 4 -- Communicating Policy to General Public: Op-Ed
  • April 11 and 18 -- Communicating Policy: Memo 

To sign up for any session, please email Dr. Lena Surzhko-Harned at [email protected] to reserve your spot. More details will be announced soon.




This course (PL SC 299 or PL SC 499) will be offered between May 13 - June 9, 2018.
The deadline to apply online is Thursday, February 1, 2018.

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 also may meet requirements in other majors and minors. The course is open to students at all Penn State campuses. 

The course 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 also will 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. 

More details about the course can be found on the Toronto course website.

To apply online or more information on how to apply can be found on Global Penn State website.



The Political Science Society will be hosting a debate on Tuesday, February 13, at 7:00 p.m., in Burke 001, on the following topics:

  • Should LGBTQ people be allowed in the military?
  • What steps can society take to prevent school shootings in America?
  • Is the Me Too movement turning into an echo chamber, or is it promoting actual change?

Outside the debate, there will be also be a Valentine-themed sale to benefit UNICEF.

For more details, contact President Jack Walker at [email protected].

Model United Nations will be participating in February at a national conference at Harvard University and representing the country of Bangladesh on five UN Committees. For details about getting involved, contact Vice President Carlos Mora at [email protected].

College Republicans is organizing speakers, events, and meetings for this semester. For details, contact President JP Jarecki at [email protected]

For information about College Democrats, contact President Jillian Dunn at [email protected]



Dr. Zachary Irwin, associate professor emeritus of political science, has published a book review in the Library Journal of Luke Harding’s Collusion: Secret Meetings, Dirty Money and How Russia Helped Donald Trump Win.

Dr. Kilic Kanat, associate professor of political science, continues to write regular columns for Daily Sabah, an English-language newspaper in Turkey. Those columns, of which the most recent is titled "US Ignores NATO Ally's Redline in Northern Syria," can be found on the Daily Sabah website.

Dr. Nicole Rosen, assistant research professor of sociology, has published an article titled, "Reflexivity and Social Location: A Case Study on the Maasai," in SAGE Research Methods Cases.

Dr. Nicole Shoenberger, assistant professor of sociology, has published an article titled "The Use of Snowball Sampling to Examine the Differences Between First- and Second-Generation Ex-Cult Members’ Disaffiliation Processes," in Sage Research Methods Cases.

Dr. Robert Speel, associate professor of political science, was interviewed for five news articles this month about Trump's foreign policy in HK01, a Chinese-language newspaper in Hong Kong, about the size of Pennsylvania's General Assembly in LNP, a daily newspaper in Lancaster, PA, about Trump's mental stability in Semana, a Spanish-language Colombian news magazine, about this year's elections in the Erie Times-News, and about a special election in Pennsylvania's 18th Congressional District for the Fox News website.



Internship Opening: Political Journalist, Spring 2018 

Interested in getting first-hand journalism experience covering Pennsylvania politics? This Fall will feature candidates announcing for next year’s gubernatorial and senatorial elections, campaigns for statewide judicial office, and more. 

PoliticsPA, Pennsylvania's longest running political news website, is seeking talented individuals to contribute to our news coverage throughout the Commonwealth. 

Interns will have the chance to gain journalism experience and a stronger understanding of Pennsylvania politics. Additionally, interns will have the opportunity to build a portfolio with published political writing. 

Internship openings are available for the Spring 2018 semester. The position can be performed remotely and applicants are welcome from anywhere in Pennsylvania. 

Intern duties include:
● Writing news stories.
● Monitoring press releases and regional news outlets for relevant source material.
● Covering political and government events.
● Conducting other research, including taking transcripts.

● Applicants must have strong writing skills.
● Applicants must have working knowledge of Pennsylvania politics.
● Applicants must possess strong research skills.
● A commitment of 15 hours per week; specific times based on news events.

The strongest applicants will have a background in politics or journalism. Positions are unpaid. 

Please send a resume, cover letter and a writing sample to [email protected]. The ideal writing sample will demonstrate the applicant’s familiarity with PoliticsPA subject matter. Email Paul Engelkemier at [email protected] with any questions



All students and alumni are invited to like the Penn State Behrend political science Facebook page and get updated news and find out about events.