Political Science Newsletter - January 2023


  1. FALL 2023 COURSES


Here is a list of Political Science, Sociology, Criminal Justice, and Global and International Studies courses that we intend to offer at Penn State Behrend in Fall 2023.

  • PLSC 001 - American Politics (GS, US)
  • PLSC 003 - Comparing Politics around the Globe (GS, IL)
  • PLSC 007N - Contemporary Political Ideologies (GS/GH)
  • PLSC 014 - International Relations (GS, IL)
  • PLSC 017N - Introduction to Political Theory (GS/GH)
  • PLSC 155 - Understanding Tyranny
  • PLSC 200N - Government and Politics of Europe (GS/GH, IL)
  • PLSC 291 - Introduction to Peace and Conflict Studies (GS)
  • PLSC 458 - Government and Politics of East Asia (Other Cultures)
  • PLSC 471 - American Constitutional Law
  • PLSC 489 - Public Administration
  • SOC 001 - Introductory Sociology (GS)
  • SOC 012/CRIMJ 012 - Criminology (GS)
  • CRIMJ 100 - Introduction to Criminal Justice (GS)
  • GLIS 102N - Global Pathways (GS/GH, IL)

Please note that all students in the International Relations option of the POLSC major should be taking PLSC 200N next semester (if they have not taken it already).

All students in the Crime and Law option of the POLSC major should be taking PLSC 471 next semester (if they have not taken it already).

All students in the Public Policy option of the POLSC major should be taking PLSC 291 or PLSC 489 next semester (if they have not taken them already).


Students who are eligible to enroll in a major (usually completion of 30 or more credits, with a GPA of 2.0 or above) are strongly encouraged to do so. If you are of fourth-semester status or later as a Penn State student, you need to enroll in a major right away to receive proper advising and other forms of assistance. If you are a third-semester student, you are usually eligible to enroll in a major.

Students enroll in a major or minor via LionPath and the “Update Academics” tab.

Enrollment in the POLSC major provides at least four benefits:

  1. The ability for academic advisers to make needed degree substitutions, including proper placement of transfer credits on degree audits
  2. Eligibility to be invited to certain events, such as dinners with alumni and community leaders
  3. Eligibility for certain awards open only to POLSC majors
  4. Notifications about certain jobs or internships for POLSC majors

The Penn State Behrend POLSC major currently has four options:

  1. Politics and Government (General Option) - This option allows students to choose their own concentrations of coursework within political science and helps to prepare students for a variety of careers, including government employment, social studies secondary education, activist politics, and graduate school in political science. 
  2. Crime and Law - This option requires coursework in criminology and law and helps to prepare students for careers in law or criminal justice, including students planning on law school. 
  3. International Relations - This option requires coursework in international politics and comparative politics and prepares students for careers with international institutions or in business in other countries, and for graduate school work in international affairs.
  4. Public Policy - This option requires coursework related to how to make government and policy decisions effectively and prepares students for careers with government offices, businesses, interest groups, or think tanks related to public policy, or in public administration, or for graduate degree programs in public policy or public administration.

Each option requires completion of 36 credits of PL SC courses and 6 credits of general education courses from other relevant fields. To learn the requirements of the options, see the Bulletin listing.

Lists of approved courses are available on the Political Science website

Students are allowed to complete more than one option within the POLSC major if the requirements of each option are met.


Every few years, we compile some statistics about the careers of Behrend alumni who graduated with a Political Science degree. Previous newsletters last semester covered Behrend political science alumni with careers in law, government service, education, or professional business positions.

This month, we focus on POLSC alumni with current careers in politics and policy, international affairs, or other areas.

Politics or Public Policy

Outside of government service, thirteen alumni currently work in Politics or Public Policy. Among the positions of our alumni in politics and policy are:

  • Government Relations Specialist, Erie Insurance
  • Political Director at Unite Here (union), Local 25, in Washington, D.C.
  • Ballot Measures Staff Writer, Ballotpedia
  • Director of Opposition Research, Invest in America
  • Senior Proposal Intelligence Analyst, RTI International

International Affairs

Eleven alumni have internationally focused careers. Among the positions of our alumni with internationally focused careers are:

  • Foreign Service Officer, U.S. Department of State
  • International Relations Officer, U.S. Department of Labor
  • Director for International Trade Policy, Toyota Motor North America
  • Program Manager, Embassy of France, Washington, D.C.
  • International Admissions Coordinator, University of Pittsburgh

Other Career Areas

Our remaining alumni work in a variety of fields, with health care practitioners, non-profit professionals, entertainment management, and counselors, therapists, and social workers among the most numerous careers. Jobs held by some of our alumni in these other fields include:

  • Executive Director, Neighborhood Learning Alliance in Pittsburgh
  • General Manager, The Erie Club
  • Director of Podcasts, Turner Classic Movies
  • Executive Assistant to the President, Millcreek Community Hospital
  • Senior Director, Public Relations, Cashmere Agency
  • Project Manager, Our West Bayfront, Erie
  • Licensed Clinical Psychologist
  • Registered Nurse
  • Social Worker, Highmark Health
  • Program Director, Catholic Charities of Pittsburgh


The Penn State Behrend Political Science Program is pleased to announce that Melissa Shirey has started on campus as a pre-law adviser. Attorney Shirey received her bachelor’s degree in Political Science from Penn State Behrend, her master’s degree in Public Administration from Gannon University, and her J.D. from The Ohio State University. Since completing law school, she has practiced law in Erie County, where she is a partner at The Family Law Group and focuses her practice in family law, estate planning, estate administration, and real estate. Attorney Shirey was the 2016 president of the Erie County Bar Association.

Attorney Shirey is on campus two hours per week to answer student questions about LSAT preparation, law school admissions, and legal careers. She can also answer emails and will help to organize campus events for pre-law students. She is happy to meet with Behrend students from any major who are interested in law school, not just political science majors.

Attorney Shirey holds office hours every Friday between noon and 2:00 p.m. in 155 Kochel.

If you are potentially interested in law school, please stop by to see her to ask any questions.


The Pennsylvania House Legislative Fellowship Program is currently accepting applications for the Summer 2023 semester. Applications are due on March 1, 2023.

The thirteen-week Fellowship Program is based in Pennsylvania’s magnificent Capitol Building in Harrisburg. Fellows are assigned to work in House Standing Committees or House Leadership offices, are compensated for their work (which may also include college credit), and are provided the opportunities to draft and present their own legislation, attend meet-and-greets with various public officials and staff, and tour some of the Commonwealth’s historic public spaces, to name a few.

Qualified applicants will be those who are:

  1. College undergraduate juniors or seniors, graduate students, or law school students;
  2. Enrolled in a Pennsylvania college/university, or a Pennsylvania resident enrolled in an out-of-state institution; and
  3. Pursuing any major with a GPA of 3.0 or higher.

Visit their website to apply at PA House Legislative Fellowship Program.


  • Dr. John Gamble, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of Political Science and International Law, has been doing some work on “Information Cornered,” a term that he has trademarked. The idea is to help people to look more carefully at information, all kinds of information. Recently he watched an early morning news program. "The local TV station had a reporter live at the airport, heavy snow in the background, '75 flights will be canceled by 10:00 a.m.' Too bad if you are on one of those flights, but no attempt to put ‘75' into context. Is it 75 out of 75 or 75 out of 750.” There are many examples in politics. Dr. Gamble asks anyone who is interested to email him at [email protected].
  • Dr. Kilic Kanat, Associate Professor of Political Science, moderated a panel organized by the Turkish government earlier this month in Prague, Czech Republic, on the topic of “Information Security in Election Processes in the World.” The panel was part of a series of discussions to be held around the world and will lead to a report.
  • Dr. Mikaela Karstens, Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow, co-authored an article with Michael J. Soules and Nick Dietrich, titled “On the Replicability of Data Collection Using Online News Databases,” in this month’s issue of PS: Political Science & Politics.
  • Dr. Maggie Shum, Assistant Professor of Political Science, published her article “Transnational Activism during Movement Abeyance: Examining the International Front of Hong Kong’s 2019 Anti-Extradition Bill Movement” in the Journal of Asian and African Studies, as part of the special issue on Hong Kong and the 2019 Anti-extradition Bill Movement.
  • Dr. Robert Speel, Associate Professor of Political Science, was interviewed earlier this month for the Shaye Ganam radio show on Global News in Edmonton (CHED) and Calgary (CHQR), Alberta, about the discoveries of classified records at the home and office of President Biden and the home of former President Trump.
  • Dr. Lena Surzhko-Harned, Associate Teaching Professor of Political Science, co-authored an article with Jiří Nykodým, a visiting scholar at Penn State Behrend last semester, and a student at Masaryk University in the International Relations and European Politics Master's program in the Czech Republic. Their article, titled "Russian Abuses of International Law: The Kosovo Precedent and R2P,” was published in World Orders Forum earlier this month.


  • Behrend Model United Nations will be participating at the Model NATO conference at Howard University in Washington, D.C., in February. The group will be representing Portugal at the conference. Students who are interested in getting involved should contact President Madison Kwiecinski at [email protected].
  • The Behrend Political Society will be meeting this semester every Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. in 150 Reed. On Wednesday, February 1, the group will host Dr. Robert Speel, associate professor of political science, at its regular meeting time and location to discuss the possibility of “Statehood for Washington DC.” The group is also planning to organize a debate between College Republicans and College Democrats later in the month. To get involved, ;contact President Spencer Finley at [email protected].
  • College Republicans has been meeting this semester on Wednesdays at 3:00 p.m. in 114 Reed. To get involved, contact President Noah Esper at [email protected].
  • To get involved with Behrend College Democrats, contact President Mallory Flesik at [email protected].


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.