Learn more about our special topics courses that allow students to apply their political science knowledge to more in-depth exploration of a particular issue. The department offers at least one capstone seminar focused on environmental politics and policy each year.
Fall 2023 Capstones
Thinking about Utopia in Dystopian Times
POLS 492-002 / POLS 492-003, MWF 1-1:50pm -or- TR 2-3:15pm, Prof. Eric Fattor
The idea of a perfect state or society has been a recurrent theme in philosophy, literature and politics for centuries. Thinkers, writers and political activists as diverse as Plato, Thomas More and Charles Fourier are famous for their accounts of cities that are ruled by the best and wisest, mitigate social and political conflict and eliminate poverty and inequality. In the present historical moment, however, these accounts of utopia are seen as foolish and naïve in the face of the dystopian visions of figures like George Orwell, Ray Bradbury, Margaret Atwood or the popular young adult fiction series by Suzanne Collins (Hunger Games) and Veronica Roth (Divergent). Drawing upon the concepts students have learned during their time as political science majors, this seminar will examine and analyze many of the key works of utopian and dystopian literature and scholarship to identify the dominant themes of these genres of inquiry, the social and political contexts out of which they emerge and, perhaps most importantly, the possibility of putting cynicism and pessimism aside and rediscovering the benefits of thinking about utopia.
Politics and Policymaking in American Democracy
POLS 492-001, T/Th 9:30-10:45am, Prof. Clare Brock
One of the primary purposes of government is to serve the public good by developing and executing policies that benefit society. As students of public policy, we often advocate for evidence-based policy. However, the process of determining what is best for society – even what constitutes “evidence” – often generates debates and controversy. The give and take, bargaining, competition and compromise that arise from this process are called politics. All in all, The Politics of Public Policy is concerned with the ways in which politics advances, hinders, encumbers, enhances, or just plain screws up meaningful and necessary public policy. The purpose of the class is threefold. First, the class provides a framework for analyzing and understanding the politics of public policy formation. Second, the course assesses the implementation of policy: How well are the policies working? Do they affect different groups of people differently? Third, the course provides you with the tools to allow you to analyze American public policy and politics more critically in your day-to-day life.You should note that this course does not provide a sanitized version of American politics or public policy. The U.S. was founded on the principles of liberty and equality but has faced and continues to be challenged by a dilemma as to how to accomplish these ideals due to on-going inequalities based on race, gender, religion, class, and sexuality. We will, at times, discuss these inequalities as well as analyze the ways in which disparities between groups have been developed, perpetuated, or ameliorated by public policies.
Empirical Analysis of Democracy
POLS 492-004, T/Th 2-3:15pm, Prof. Daniel Weitzel
Are you interested in understanding the principles of democracy and how it works? Are the United States becoming more or less democratic? What is the global trend in democratization? In this course you will delve into the theories of democracy, democratization, and backsliding. You will also learn how to conduct empirical analysis with democracy data, providing you with the tools to understand how democratic systems function in practice. By the end of the course, students will have the tools necessary to perform comprehensive data analysis, which will enable them to draw meaningful conclusions about the state of democracy in different parts of the world. The final product of the capstone seminar will be a research poster that showcases each student's empirical analysis, highlighting their findings and conclusions about the state of democracy in a specific country, over time, or across various regions of the world.
Accelerated Degree Programs
Accelerated Bachelor’s Degree
Colorado State University’s Accelerated Program offers political science students a pathway to graduate in 3 to 3.5 years instead of 4 years. Students who choose the Accelerated Program typically take 15-16 credits each fall and spring semester for three years, plus 6-9 credits over two or three summer sessions to earn their bachelor’s degree quicker.
Accelerated Master’s Degree
The Accelerated Master’s Degree provides a pathway for qualified political science undergraduate students to complete a Master of Arts (M.A.) degree in political science in one year.
Undergraduate Advising Resources
The political science department pairs students with an Academic Success Coordinator (or ASC). Your ASC will be with you throughout your entire time as an undergraduate and is here to help you get the most out of your college experience. Your ASC will help you register for classes, recommend courses based on your interests, and familiarize you with other opportunities both within the department and on campus, such as education abroad, clubs, internships, and minors.
The College of Liberal Arts Academic Support Center is here to help you start the process.