Political Science Newsletter - October 2019

This Month's Headlines:


1. SPRING 2020 COURSES - Not all are taught every semester!

Below is a list of Political Science and Sociology courses that will be offered at Penn State Behrend in Spring 2020.

While PL SC 001, PL SC 003, PL SC 014, PL SC 007N, PL SC 017N, and SOC 001 are taught every semester or almost every semester, other courses are not. Many courses are taught just once every two years.

For that reason, it is important for students pursing the POLSC major and certain other minors and certificates to keep track of when courses are offered to fulfill academic requirements.

For example:

  1. Students interested in the new Public Policy option of the POLSC major should make sure to take the required PL SC 002 next semester.
  2. Students interested in the new Crime and Law option of the POLSC major should take SOC 005 next semester. Students pursuing the Crime, Law, and Psychology minor or the Crime, Psychology, and Public Policy certificate should also take this course.
  3. All Penn State students must take a W (Writing Across the Curriculum) course for any degree. All POLSC majors need to take either PL SC 480W next semester or PL SC 484W in Spring 2021. Many other majors can also use these courses to complete W requirements.
  4. All Penn State B.A. students must take an other cultures course. Other cultures courses can also double count toward your major or as a general education course. PL SC 132, AFR 110N, and GLIS 102N next semester are all other cultures courses.
  5. All students seeking to complete the Legal Studies certificate should take either PL SC 473 or PL SC 487 next semester (or both).
  6. Students interested in international law should take PL SC 487 next semester, as it will be taught by an internationally known expert in the field.
  7. AFR 110N will be taught next semester by an African politics expert teaching for us this year. The course can count toward the POLSC major and now has an inter-domain general education designation.

Spring 2020 Courses

  • PL SC 001 - American Politics (GS, US)
  • PL SC 002 - American Public Policy
  • PL SC 003 - Comparing Politics around the Globe (GS, IL)
  • PL SC 007N - Contemporary Political Ideologies (GS/GH)
  • PL SC 014 - International Relations (GS, IL)
  • PL SC 017N - Introduction to Political Theory (GS/GH)
  • PL SC 111 - Debating the Purpose of Government (GH)
  • PL SC 132 - Politics of International Intolerance (GS, IL, Other Cultures)
  • PL SC 155 - Understanding Tyranny
  • PL SC 433 - Political Foundations of the Early American Republic
  • PL SC 473 - American Judicial Behavior
  • PL SC 480 - Congress and the Presidency (W)
  • PL SC 487 - International Law and Organizations
  • SOC 001 - Introductory Sociology (GS)
  • SOC 005 - Social Problems (GS)
  • SOC 451 - Health, Disease, and Society (GS)
  • AFR 110N - Introduction to Contemporary Africa (GS/GH,Other Cultures, counts toward POLSC major)
  • GLIS 102N - Global Pathways (GS/GH, Other Cultures, counts toward POLSC major)



Every few years, the Political Science Program at Penn State Behrend researches the career paths of our alumni. This semester, we will provide some of the results of our September 2019 study in each monthly newsletter.

There are 466 living POLSC alumni since the first major graduated in 1977.

We were able to determine the current jobs of 378 (81%) of those alumni.*

Of those 378 alumni, the most common career paths are:

  • Business professionals (n=116, 31%)
  • Government service (n=76, 20%)
  • Law (n=74, 20%)
  • Education (n=52, 14%)
  • Politics and policy (n=15, 4%)
  • Other (n=66, 17%)

Note that numbers add up to over 100% because 20 alumni were counted in two categories, mostly government attorneys in both the law and government service fields.

*A few older alumni have retired – they are counted in the fields of their most recent jobs

Government Service

Among the 76 alumni who work in government service:

  • 35 work for the federal government
  • 21 work for state governments
  • 19 work for local governments
  • 1 is a master of public administration student
  • 8 are current or retired police officers
  • 7 are active duty career military officers
  • 16 are government attorneys

3 alumni currently hold elected office:

  • Congressman in the U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, D.C.
  • District Attorney for Potter County, PA
  • District Judge in Erie County, PA

Federal government positions of alumni (excluding attorneys) include:

  • Foreign Service Officer, U.S. Department of State
  • Chief Inspector, U.S. Marshals Service
  • U.S. Capitol Police officer
  • Research Analyst, FBI
  • Case Analyst, Social Security Administration
  • International Relations Officer, U.S. Department of Labor
  • Revenue Officer, Internal Revenue Service
  • Deputy Director for Program Management, U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
  • Equal Employment Opportunity Specialist, U.S. Department of Defense
  • Project Support Lead, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
  • Data Analyst, U.S. Senate Office of Public Records
  • U.S. Border Patrol agent
  • Community Planning and Development Representative, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
  • Analyst, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement
  • Intelligence Educator, Office of Director of National Intelligence
  • Supervisory Data Analyst, Federal Trade Commission

State government positions of alumni (excluding attorneys) include:

  1. Pennsylvania State Police trooper
  2. Deputy Director for Community Development, Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development
  3. Puget Sound Recovery Lead, Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife
  4. Executive Director, Pennsylvania Governor's Action Team
  5. Director of Adult Protective Services, Pennsylvania Department of Human Services
  6. Program Assistant, Florida Department of Environmental Protection
  7. Policy Analyst, Texas Sunset Advisory Commission

Local government positions of alumni (excluding attorneys) include:

  • Caseworker Supervisor, Erie County Office of Children and Youth
  • Investigator, Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Police Department
  • Chief Magistrate of Mecklenburg County (NC)

Those with military careers are serving in the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Coast Guard, and U.S. Marines.



"Patient No More" is a microbudget feature documentary about the barriers LGBTQ+ women navigate across health care systems and how the never-ending hunt for affirming care affects their lives. The documentary will be screened on Wednesday, October 30, at 7:00 p.m. in 117 Reed, followed by a discussion/Q&A with the filmmaker, Diana Fraser. This event is sponsored by the Behrend Public Policy Fund as part of a year-long series of programming about health care policy.



The James Madison Memorial Fellowship Foundation offers $24,000 James Madison Graduate Fellowships to individuals desiring to become outstanding teachers of the American Constitution at the secondary school level. Fellowship applicants compete only against other applicants from the states of their legal residence. As funding permits, the Foundation plans to offer one fellowship per state per year. Go to JamesMadison.gov to apply and for more details.



North American Politics (PL SC 299/499) will again be offered as a Penn State study abroad program between May 17–June 13, 2020 and taught by Dr. Robert Speel. The course, which takes place on the Ryerson University campus in downtown Toronto, combines Penn State and Canadian students in one classroom for discussions about 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, 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. More details about next year's course, including costs, should be in the November newsletter.



  • Dr. John Gamble, Distinguished Professor of Political Science and International Law, has been invited and will attend a conference in Vienna, Austria, in November. The conference will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, often called the treaty on treaties. Gamble will illustrate 500-year trends in treaty-making from his treaty database (CSDMT) developed at Behrend over the last decade. Dr. Gamble is also serving on the Ph.D. thesis committee for Robert Chardulo, a Ph.D. student at the Australian Defence Force Academy.
  • Caitlin Handerhan, Public Policy Fund Executive Director, has been named to the Pennsylvania Commission for Women by Governor Tom Wolf. The Commission for Women, which was created by Executive Order and consists of volunteer members, is responsible for advising the governor on policies and legislation that impact women; supporting economic and civic opportunities for women; encouraging mentoring programs for girls and young women; identifying programs and opportunities for the benefit and advancement of women; and serving as a resource center for Pennsylvania women. The Commission also acts as an advocate for policies and legislation that impact women and girls in Pennsylvania.
  • Dr. Kilic Kanat, Associate Professor of Political Science, is on sabbatical during this academic year. Last week, he participated in a panel discussion titled "The Future of Turkey–U.S. Relations: Political and Security Dimensions," at the TRT World Forum in Istanbul. TRT is Turkey's national public broadcaster.
  • Dr. Robert Speel, Associate Professor of Political Science, is scheduled to be a guest on Top of Mind with Julie Rose on BYUradio SiriusXM 143 on Monday, October 28, at 4:20 p.m. to discuss the electoral college. Podcasts of the show are available on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher, TuneIn, and Google Play.
  • Dr. Lena Surzhko-Harned, Assistant Teaching Professor of Political Science, published an online article this month titled "Ukraine's President Zelensky May Come to Regret His Discussion with President Trump," that appeared on several news websites, including Salon.com and the Pennsylvania Capital-Star.



  • The Behrend Political Society meets on Tuesday evenings at 7:00 p.m. in 055 Kochel. To get involved, contact President Rachel Mills at [email protected].
  • Model United Nations meets Mondays at 7:00 p.m. in 112 Reed. This past weekend, they hosted a scrimmage with Lakeland Community College and Baldwin-Wallace University and simulated the UN Human Rights Council and discussed the situation of the Kurds in Syria. Penn State Behrend's MUN team won first place at the scrimmage, and Behrend Political Science Major Marissa Litzenberg was recognized as superior delegate. To get involved, contact President Carlos Mora at [email protected].
  • College Democrats meets Tuesdays at 6:00 p.m. in 113 Reed. Erie County Executive Kathy Dahlkemper visited the meeting on October 22. On October 29, the group will host a political trivia game. To get involved, contact President Tiffany Zinn at [email protected].
  • College Republicans meets on Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. in 114 Reed. To get involved, contact President Andrew Griglio at [email protected].



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