The Department of History, Philosophy, & Political Science offers the following Political Science degrees and minors.
For the second straight year, political science professors, Drs. Jeff Bosworth and Jonathan C. Rothermel, accompanied 14 Mansfield University students for a two-week trip to Belize as part of a six-credit summer course, PSC 3385 Field Research Abroad. The students represented a wide range of majors, including criminal justice, environmental science, psychology, radiology, biology, computer science, history, sociology, social work, and political science. The course focused on the politics, culture, and economy of Belize. Belize is a small Central American country that markets itself as an ecotourism and cruise ship passenger destination.
Students learned about how Belize, a developing country, is trying to balance the need for economic development with environmental and historical conservation. Tourism is an important source of income for Belize, but there is concern by some that tourism, foreign investment, and even oil drilling, which are fueled by global forces, are threatening Belizean sovereignty. Although sustainable economic development is desired, a government faced with a 40% poverty rate is pressured to produce immediate short-term gains for its people.
The exposure to a developing country had a profound impact on our students. Political science major, Madisen Slagle, commented, "They are grateful for what they have and are able to enjoy life with simple necessities. I think our country and a majority of the world could learn a few things from visiting Belize. "Danielle Cole, radiology major, added, "Being in Belize made me realize what we consider poor is not even close to the real thing."
As part of their fieldwork, students had the opportunity to interview several government officials, including the mayor of Orange Walk, a National Assembly representative, a member of the Elections and Boundaries Commission, and an official from the Ministry of Tourism, Culture, and Civil Aviation. The MU professors also facilitated several other presentations by Belizeans, including a hotel owner, two University of Belize professors, a veterinarian, and a citrus plantation owner, to name a few. Additionally, the US Embassy in Belmopan, the capital of Belize, formally briefed students about its mission.
Students visited several beautiful Mayan ruins, including Altun Ha, Lamanai, and Xunantunich. These archaeological treasures are some of the attractions that entice over a million tourists a year to Belize. One of the highlights of their trip was a challenging journey into a cave, the Actun Tunichil Muknal (ATM) cave, which was recently named by National Geographic as the most sacred cave in the world.
The guides explained how some tourists have damaged ancient artifacts by dropping their cameras on them (cameras are no longer allowed in the cave).Simple plastic tape on the ground demarcating restricted areas of the cave is the only thing that separates tourists from ancient Mayan pottery and skeletal remains. The area of the mostly intact skeletal remains of the Crystal Maiden (the finale of the tour) was recently wired off because a tourist lay down next to it and posted the photograph on the Internet. Students were able to see firsthand the need to properly manage the influx of tourists.
Interestingly, private initiatives in Belize have been successful in promoting environmental conservation among its people. The bottom-up approach to environmentalism empowers communities to take charge of protecting their natural resources. For example, students visited the Community Baboon Sanctuary, where landowners have voluntarily pledged to keep habitat on their land for the black howler monkey. Their efforts have resulted in a sizable increase in the black howler monkey population. The Belize Zoo, the Iguana Project, and the Belize Wildlife and Referral Clinic are other examples.
The diversity and hospitality of Belizeans is a major reason why Drs. Bosworth and Rothermel returned to Belize. "Our friend, Landy Espat, who we met last year, gave us an insightful political talk. Later in the trip, on his own volition, he made arrangements to host a private reception and dinner for our students," explained Dr. Rothermel, "This is the way things happen in Belize."
The students capped off their trip by traveling to Caye Caulker, an island off the coast of Belize, for three nights. The go-slow attitude on the island was a good way for the students to decompress and observe the "surf" side of Belize's so-called surf and turf attractions.
The field research in Belize is the basis for a 12-15 page research paper that was due two weeks after the students returned home. Prior to the trip, students chose to focus on one of four research questions relating to globalization, culture, ecotourism, or politics. The course is rigorous but rewarding. Dr. Bosworth explains, "Our hosts are actually impressed that our students know a thing or two about Belize before they get there, which mutually enriches the experience."
In the end, the ultimate purpose of the course is to expose students to the world beyond the United States. For many, it is a transformative experience. Tracey LaFrance, biology major, explained, "Although my time in Belize was relatively short, the experiences I had will last a lifetime. Everywhere I turned during my time there made me take pause to think about how different the country was from anything I have experienced."
Drs. Bosworth and Rothermel are already planning to return to Belize next summer with a fresh crop of Mansfield students.
On March 20, 2015, political science majors, Ariel Faber, Colton Long, and Jason White, joined Drs. Bosworth and Rothermel in Philadelphia for the 76th Annual Meeting of the Pennsylvania Political Science Association (PPSA). This year the conference was held at Temple University (Center City campus).
On Friday, Drs. Bosworth and Rothermel participated in a Roundtable Discussion entitled, "Globalizing the Classroom: Ecotourism in Central America," where they shared their experiences organizing a short-term, study abroad to Belize last summer. Later that afternoon, Dr. Bosworth presented a paper on Chilean politics, "Curing the Authoritarian Hangover in Chile: An Assessment of the Diminished Authoritarian Legacy."
On Saturday morning, the Mansfield students presented their academic papers at a panel chaired by a Wilkes University professor. Other panelists were from Washington & Jefferson College and Muhlenberg College. In her paper, "Is Turkey Becoming the New Russia?" Ariel Faber drew similarities between Russia and Turkey, which has increased censorship of the press in recent years. Turkey, which has enjoyed a reputation as a secular, Muslim democracy, is increasingly headed down the path of authoritarianism, she argued.
Colton Long incorporated field research, including interviews, he gathered during a previous study abroad trip to Belize to argue that systemic corruption threatens Belizean democracy. In his paper, "A Hundred Dollars and a Bottle of Rum: The Role of Corruption in Modern Day Belizean Politics," Colton offered recommendations to improve democracy in Belize.
Jason White who had also been impacted by his study abroad experience in Belize explored the topic of ecotourism. In his paper, "Ecotourism in Belize: Who Benefits?" he sought to identify the winners and losers of tourism in Belize, especially in light of an increasing volume of cruise ship tourists. He argued that more Belizeans benefit from overnight tourists rather than cruise ship tourists.
Dr. Rothermel was a discussant and chair for an undergraduate panel on international relations. This is the fourth straight year that Drs. Bosworth and Rothermel have accompanied undergraduates to the annual conference. Dr. Rothermel explained, "Not only does this annual conference give our students the opportunity to showcase their research, but it helps to expose them to academic and professional networks. Furthermore, it builds their confidence and gets them excited about research."
Fourteen Mansfield University students and two professors traveled to Belize this summer, a small Central American country about the size of Massachusetts with a population just over 300,000. Drs. Jeffrey Bosworth and Jonathan C. Rothermel had been planning the short-term, study abroad trip for over a year. The course, PSC 4455 Field Research in Belize, ran during the first summer session, but the highlight of the course was a two-week, in-country field research component.
Why Belize? Dr. Bosworth explains, "Belize represents an excellent opportunity for students to see the problems that face a developing country, particularly with regard to globalization and environmental protection and it has the added benefit of being English-speaking and a multi-ethnic democracy."
Each student selected a research question prior to arriving in Belize and focused their field research on gathering information about their topic and developing their theses. Students met with a wide range of people including the Speaker of the House for the National Assembly, an American expatriate citrus farmer, government officials from the Ministry of Tourism, U of Belize professors, and a representative from the US Embassy, just to name a few.
While in Belize students visited historical Mayan sites, including Altun Ha and Xunantunich (see pic on right). They also ventured deep into the Actun Tunichil Muknal cave (at times submersed into water up to their shoulders) to see Mayan pottery vessels and human remains believed to have been sacrificed, including the mostly intact skeletal remains of a woman (who many now believe to be a man) for whom the cave is named after. While most of the trip was spent in the interior of the country, mainly San Ignacio, students traveled to one of Belize's beautiful tropical cayes for the final leg of the trip.
Dr. Rothermel explains what it was like interacting with Belizeans. "Most people we met in Belize assumed we were archaeologists or biologists, and they seemed surprised - if not slightly amused - when we told them we were political scientists." He added, "Belizeans were very forthright about sharing their political views and their concern for the future of their country was evident in conversations that we had with them."
For most of the students, it was their first time out of the country. Many were struck by the obvious poverty in parts of Belize. Ariel Faber, a political science major, noted, "I appreciate what I have here in the states so much more based on how happy the people of Belize are with so little."
Geology major, Anthony Magistro appreciated the simplicity of the Belizean lifestyle, which emphasizes a "go slow" attitude. He said, "Belize changed my perspective on what amenities I would be comfortable living without. I was pleasantly surprised at how easily I found it to go about my day without something as basic as cell phone service."
The friendliness and hospitality of the Belizeans quickly won over the students. Kelsy Woodman, a history and political science major, loved the connections she made with the locals during the trip. She said, "Being able to study in a developing country, eating local food, and talking to locals was one of the greatest experiences I've had in my life."
Students agreed it was an incredible and transformative experience. Communications major, Jalise Clark, summed it up, "I believe that studying abroad in Belize was a life-changing experience, helping me to discover a part of myself and learn so much about the world I live in."
Drs. Bosworth and Rothermel are planning to run the course again in Summer 2015.
Political science majors, Alex Young, Kalen Honeyfield, and Colton Long (pictured), accompanied Drs. Bosworth and Rothermel to the 75th Annual Meeting of the Pennsylvania Political Science Association held at the Penn State-Harrisburg campus on April 11-12, 2014.
Alex's paper, "Analyzing the Paradox of Security Council Reform," analyzed three proposals to reform the UN Security Council. He argued that increasing the overall membership of the Security Council was the most viable reform, which could potentially lead to de facto permanent members. Kalen assessed the African Union's record in maintaining peace among its 54 members in his paper, "The Effectiveness of the AU's Peace and Security Council." He found the most formidable obstacle facing the AU was its lack of monetary and military resources. Finally, Colton examined the effects of the US drone campaign in Pakistan on US-Pakistani relations. He argues in his paper, "Death and Diplomacy," that the importance of US's geopolitical relationship with Pakistan and the concerns of international and domestic non-state actors may have contributed to the decline in drone strikes in recent years.
Drs. Bosworth and Rothermel presented papers at the conference as well. Dr. Bosworth analyzed the 2013 Chilean election, and Dr. Rothermel examined the unresolved Guatemalan-Belizean territorial dispute. They also participated in a Roundtable Discussion on Short Term Study Abroad Courses. Dr. Rothermel served as a discussant for an undergraduate panel as well. This is the third year in a row that Mansfield has participated in the PPSA conference.
Drs. Bosworth and Rothermel are organizing a short-term, study abroad trip to Belize, which is a small country located in Central America. The trip will be part of a six-credit summer course on Belize. The course will cover the history and political economy of Belize and its efforts to promote sustainable development and eco-tourism.
As part of the course requirements, students will travel to various parts of Belize for two-weeks. Among the activities planned, students will meet with government officials in the capital city, Belmopan, study conservation efforts such as the Baboon Community Sanctuary, interview local business leaders, and explore some of the natural treasures of Belize, including Mayan ruins. The course, which is limited to 12-14 students, is being planned for June 2014.
Recently, Drs. Bosworth and Rothermel traveled to Belize to establish contacts and become more familiar with the country. Our four nights and five days in Belize convinced us that Belize will offer incredible opportunities for our Mansfield students to learn firsthand the challenges faced by a developing country lured by the promises of globalization.
Belizeans are warm and friendly, and Belize is an example of a peaceful and stable, English-speaking democracy among a multi-ethnic people (there is even a thriving and important Mennonite community in Belize). We invite you to join us this summer studying one of the frontlines of globalization from the perspective of Belize.
Kristin Patterson, Lucas Haas, and Lillian Hines (not pictured) successfully presented papers at the 74th Annual Meeting of the Pennsylvania Political Science Association (PPSA) in Harrisburg on April 6th. The political science majors worked hard to revise and expand upon research for Dr. Bosworth's presidency course. Drs. Bosworth and Rothermel worked closely with the students and accompanied them to the conference.
Kristin's paper, entitled "Decision Breakdown: Carter's (Mis)Management of the Iranian Hostage Crisis," was a multilevel analysis of factors that influenced decision making. In "George Washington's Executive Decision Making during the Whiskey Rebellion," Lucas used a comparative approach to highlight the significance of Washington's leadership as the first president of the United States. Finally, Lillian focused on one of President Roosevelt's major accomplishments during the progressive era in "Theodore Roosevelt and the Passage of the Food and Drug Act and Meat Inspection Act."
Drs. Bosworth and Rothermel served as chairs and discussants on numerous panels. Additionally, they participated in a roundtable panel on teaching political science. Dr. Bosworth presented a paper on teaching without a textbook, while Dr. Rothermel shared lessons learned on using foreign policy simulations in class. This is the second year in a row that Mansfield has participated in the PPSA conference. The PPSA is the nation's oldest state political science association.
Ali Soufan, who graduated from Mansfield University with a political science degree, is considered by many to be a national hero. As an FBI agent, Mr. Soufan was the lead investigator in the aftermath of the USS Cole terrorist attack. Following 9/11, he interrogated numerous terrorists obtaining critical actionable intelligence and linking 9/11 to Al Qaeda.
Mr. Soufan left the FBI in 2003 eventually starting his own global security consulting firm with offices in New York, London, Qatar, and Singapore. He has also been an outspoken critic of enhanced interrogation practices. He writes about his experience fighting terrorism in his book, The Black Banners: The Inside Story of 9/11 and the War against al-Qaeda.
In the book, Mr. Soufan fondly reminisces about his Mansfield University experience. It is noteworthy that it was Mr. Soufan's writing skills that brought him to the attention of his future boss and mentor, John O'Neill, who was the head of the FBI's Counter-Terrorism Office. Mr. Soufan has visited Mansfield University and spoken with political science majors.
To view a CBS 60 Minutes interview of Mr. Soufan, click here.
Click here to read Dr. Rothermel's USA Today Op-Ed on the Presidential Primaries:
Click here to read Dr. Rothermel's Fox News Op-Ed:
Click here to read Drs. Bosworth & Rothermel's analysis of the 2014 midterm election: