Political Science adds two special topic classes

Blair Donald

Starting in the fall 2014 semester, Kent State’s department of political science will add two new special topics courses: Social Media and Government Change, taught by term instructor James McQuiston, and Women’s Rights and Gender Equality, taught by term instructor Inga Winkler.

Social Media and Government Change will teach students the ways social media and communication on the Internet has influenced governments worldwide. McQuiston said he wants to teach students to compare current governmental changes to revolutions in the past and other current events.

“[This class] shows currently what’s happening in regards to social media and government change,”McQuiston said. “Just really the transformative potential of social media. It’s not just something you can get on to play FarmVille or those types of games. You can actually do something major with these services.”

McQuiston said that his class would teach students how to use social media to create change as well.

“I want to provide some information that will close the gaps in the information that people have. The class has a final paper that will allow people to create their own primary resources. I don’t know how many other courses at Kent State offer that,” McQuiston said. “We can be generators of news and not just passive readers of news, and that’s what I’d like to provide for students in my class.”

Winkler’s class, Women’s Rights and Gender Equality, will also take students through current events and compare how genders are treated worldwide.

“I want students to really start thinking about these issues, to relate it to their own situation and the situations of other women,” Winkler said. Whether you want to look at somewhere far away and look at female genital mutilation or whether you want to look at situations in the U.S. where women face huge challenges when they, for example, have a baby.”

Winkler is originally from Germany. She said she hopes to give students a broader understanding of human rights worldwide and present students with the issues that women still face.

“I think in particular when you speak to younger women you sometimes have that feeling, ‘oh we’re done with that, we have equality’ and I wish I could say that we do,” Winkler said. “But I don’t think we’re there yet, so it is a topic we definitely need to deal with.”

Thomas Yantek, director of undergraduate studies in the political science department and political science associate professor, said that the classes were added to give students the opportunity to learn about topics the department does not usually cover.

“I hope we’re able to provide students with the opportunity to study topics that are of real direct interest to them, not just as students but as citizens of the world,” Yantek said. “What they learn, I hope, is that politics isn’t just something that you study in a book, it actually matters in everyday life. I think that both of these courses will really drive that home.”

Yantek said that the classes are also designed so that any student at Kent State can take them, not only those students who are studying political science.

“There are no prerequisites for these courses so anyone could take them,” Yantek said. “But I would caution students who have never taken a political science course — ask the professor about it and make sure you won’t be in over your head.”

The classes are now available for students to sign up to take next semester. The political science department is in Bowman Hall.

Contact Blair Donald at [email protected].