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 2024 Capstones
POLS 492-004, Prof. Courtenay Daum
This course will explore LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, and queer) politics broadly-defined. We will begin with a historical review of social movement formation within LGBTQ communities in the U.S. during the mid-twentieth century and progress to a discussion of the current mobilization strategies and priorities for LGBTQ individuals in the twenty-first century. We will focus attention on 1) the antagonisms within the LGBTQ communities throughout the modern era, and 2) political strategies (ranging from protest to electoral politics and legal mobilization to policymaking). Topics to be covered include the politics of AIDS, marriage equality, workplace discrimination, and current debates about trans rights.
Spring 2024 Capstones
Just Transitions Across Value Chains
POLS 492-001, Prof. Dimitris Stevis
The strategy of Just Transition was developed in the USA, and in fact Denver, during the 1990s in an effort to ensure that workers and communities affected by environmental regulation were treated in a humane fashion. After many years of efforts by labor environmentalists the strategy has now spread around the world and across stakeholders – from unions to corporations- and is high on the agenda of global climate negotiations. Moreover, we now have just transition policies and policy development in places like Colorado, Scotland, Canada, Spain, India, and South Africa, to name a few.
In this capstone seminar we will explore a number of questions through research on existing just transition policies and well-developed proposals.
- How has Just Transition risen to global prominence during the last thirty years?
- Is Just Transition limited to energy or environmental transitions or can it be applied to all transitions, whether due to social changes, automation, economic agreements, or disasters?
- How can we distinguish superficial uses of the term from more transformative ones?
The goals of this capstone seminar will be to produce StoryMaps that systematically describe and evaluate prominent just transition cases while placing those cases within their value/supply chains. For example, what are the impacts of transitioning to electric vehicles in the USA, Europe, or China on communities in the Global South or in rural areas within those countries that provide the necessary minerals?
The seminar is appropriate for students in all POLS concentrations. Moreover, it is appropriate to students across the breadth of geographic and issue interests. The work for the seminar will be both individual and group-based, resulting in each group producing a StoryMap on a case.
Empirical Analysis of Democracy
POLS 492-002, 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.
Northern Colorado Civic Leadership Capstone
POLS 492-003, Sam Houghteling
Want to learn more about how government really works? This capstone explores the core functions of the City of Fort Collins and Larimer County, along with local special districts, school districts, emergency response agencies, and more. The course includes classroom learning and on-site visits at locations in the community including Fort Collins City Hall, the Larimer County Courthouse, the Larimer County Jail, Horsetooth Reservoir, the Poudre Fire Authority, and more. Discussion topics include executive management, budgeting, strategic planning, sustainability, public safety, public utilities, human services, and more. Students will be placed on interdisciplinary work teams and assigned to develop a policy recommendation on behalf of a local agency or department. For students interested in community development, public administration, or civic leadership, this is a fantastic opportunity to see things firsthand, and gain professional experience before graduating through the applied project. For more information, please contact Sam Houghteling at the Straayer Center for Public Service Leadership. firstname.lastname@example.org or 970-219-4656.
Thinking about Utopia in Dystopian Times
POLS 492-004, Dr. 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 Ursula K. LeGuin 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 authors like 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.
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.