News & Announcements



HIS 185: Survey of Middle Eastern History

If you are interested in taking a Summer 2021 undergraduate course, HIS 185: Survey of Middle Eastern History is available on CampusNet.

How has the long history of the Middle East shaped modern conditions in the region? Historical eras and events such as the formative period of Islam, the glorious heights of Islamic civilization, the Crusades, the era of Western colonial empires, and the birth of the post-colonial nation states played a significant role in the development of Middle Eastern world views. And yet, most Westerners do not understand the important ways in which Middle Eastern perceptions of past events continue to influence the region.

This survey course examines Middle Eastern history from the great kingdoms of the pre-Islamic past to the troubling events of recent years, with a concentration upon historical trends in the modern Middle East. We will analyze recurrent themes, examine key problems in Middle Eastern history, investigate a wide variety of primary sources, and discuss critical issues that led to the creation of the modern Middle East.

The course is designed for lower division students who would like to better understand the history and culture of the Middle East. It is assumed that some undergraduate students have had no previous background in Middle Eastern history. This course meets the Arts and Humanities Non-Western (ALAAME) General Education requirement (GE08).

Philosophy and Comparative Religion

PHL 121: Critical Thinking

If you are interested in taking a FALL 2021 undergraduate course, PHL 121: Critical Thinking is available on CampusNet!

Fake news, biased reporting, internet trolls, & conspiracy theories. In the modern world, so much information is at our fingertips and yet it seems harder than ever to determine what is true and what is false, what to believe and what to reject. The aim of this course is to help you improve your ability to distinguish truth from fiction, good reporting from bad reporting, and good arguments from bad arguments. We will do this by introducing the basics of arguments and a systematic method of evaluating them and then applying that method to a variety of domains, including scientific studies and political speeches.

The course is designed for lower division students who would like to better understand critical thinking and group work skill areas. This course satisfies the University’s Arts & Humanities GenEd requirements.

Political Sciences

PSC 394: Special Topics; Democratic Erosion in Comparative Politics

Is democracy in trouble? Since 2005, the world has seen a reduction in democratic institutions and practices, why?

This course prepares you to think critically about key questions such as:

  • What determines a democracy’s fragility or resilience?
  • How can democracies “die”?
  • What are the key institutions that buttress democracy?
  • Are norms and the intangible “guardrails of democracy” taken-for-granted?
  • How has the COVID-19 pandemic deepened the world’s democratic recession?
  • What does post- “recession democracy” look like? Can democratic erosion be reversed? Do democracies contain the seeds for their own recovery?

Want to learn more about some major trends in comparative democracy today? Among the cases we will consider include: the U.S., Hungary, Poland, Turkey, Venezuela, Myanmar, Hong Kong, Egypt, Tunisia, India, and others. Take this new Political Science special topics course to learn more! For more information visit the Political Science website or contact Professor Jeffrey Lewis.

*PSC 394 Special Topics may be repeated for credit with departmental permission as long as the topic is different.


PSC 394: Special Topics; Global Organized Crime and Corruption

Organized crime has appeared larger-than-life in recent years due to its portrayal in Hollywood movies. And not just the traditional American favorites of the Sicilian Cosa Nostra and the Italian Mafia—but Russian mobsters, Chinese Triads, and the Japanese Yakuza as well. Behind these often glorified portrayals, however, there is a real societal and global cost to the existence of these organizations, as they often fulfill roles traditionally performed by the state. Increasingly, these criminal groups operate transnationally to expand their reach into global markets and financial institutions, exerting a truly global influence on patterns such as corruption.

In this course, we will critically examine questions such as

  • How has organized crime become a global phenomenon?
  • How does corruption influence foreign affairs?
  • Why is organized crime so difficult to eradicate?
  • What can be done to mitigate the harmful effects of global organized crime and corruption?

If you have ever wanted to learn about different international criminal organizations and understand
why they and the corruption that usually accompanies them have become such a potent international menace in the world today, take Global Organized Crime and Corruption to find out. For more information, visit the Political Science Department website, or contact Dr. Todd Nelson.

*PSC 394 Special Topics may be repeated for credit with departmental permission as long as the topic is different.


PSC 350 Russian Politics and Society (MWF 9:10 – 10:00 a.m.)

Was there ever a more relevant time to study Russia from a Political Science perspective? We are pleased to announce a brand new Comparative Politics course to introduce you to the politics and society of the Russian Federation, from its Soviet past and turbulent transition to current attempts to redefine itself for the 21st century. Like the fictional portrayal of the Oblonsky family in Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina, everything seems topsy-turvy in Russia’s state-society relationship today and this course is designed to help you comprehend why!

By taking this new 300-level PSC/IR elective, you will:

  • Learn about the structure of the Russian political system and the relationship to civil society in a time of volatile authority and legitimacy patterns
  • Contemplate key historical events in the late Soviet and early Russian Federation era that led to contemporary Russia today
  • Understand the political and social dynamics and  led to Russia’s current mixture of democratic transition and a modern market economy
  • Grasp the nuances of Russian cultural and societal norms, including the importance of the past (such as the legacy of World War II) on memory politics in Russian society today

Join us to investigate some of the significant challenges Russia has faced and is facing in order to comprehend Russia’s current place in the world and where it may go in the future. PSC 350 will count as an “Area Studies” elective option for IR Majors (and PSC/IR Double Majors) and as a “Comparative/International” elective option for PSC Majors.

For more information visit the Political Science website or contact Dr. Todd Nelson.