Professional Development Courses & Workshops

Political Science Forums

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The mission of the Political Science Department is to provide students with the educational experiences and environment to become familiar with and competent in the attitudes, subjects, and skills of the discipline of political science, the capacity to attain career success that allows them to utilize the knowledge, skills, and judgment acquired in our programs, and a sense of civic responsibility.


Political Science Forums


My Life Fighting the Death Penalty

Dr. Ed Bronson

Professor Emeritus of Political Science, CSU, Chico

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Dr. Bronson is one of the nation’s leading researchers and expert witnesses on the death penalty. By his account, he has testified in 50 or 60 trials around the United States, with some of them very high-profile, such as the trial of Timothy McVeigh, the man who bombed the Oklahoma City government building.  Dr. Bronson has conducted significant research in the demographic variables of the juries – and the accused – in death penalty cases. And yet he didn’t set out to specialize in death penalty issues – before he graduated from law school, he worked as an engineer for various U.S. military missile systems and then owned a club in Denver where he was “a professional gambler.” During his long career as a professor at CSU, Chico, Dr. Bronson taught many students who became attorneys and judges. In 1970, he and a group of students started CLIC (Community Legal and Information Center) – a CSU, Chico organization that continues to thrive, giving students the opportunity to learn about legal issues while they provide free legal information to residents of the Chico area.

Presentation Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes


The Constitution and The American Dream

Dr. Cal Jillson

Professor of Political Science, Southern Methodist University


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In this presentation, as in his book, “Pursuing the American Dream,” Dr. Jillson explores the origins of the “American Dream” ideal and the modern impediments to achieving it. He notes that the American Dream comes from the notion of “American exceptionalism” – that the common person has a better chance to be successful in the United States than in any other country. He then explores the role the U.S. Constitution – especially the Fourth through the Eighth Amendments – plays in attempting to assure that the pursuit of the American Dream is possible. Dr. Jillson also states that we are currently experiencing one of those times in American history when pursuing the American Dream is “troublesome, problematic, and fraught with difficulty.”

Presentation Time:  1 hour, 10 minutes

Thinkin’ About Lincoln

Dr. Michael Zuckert

Faculty, University of Notre Dame

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Dr. Zuckert explores American attitudes toward Abraham Lincoln over the past century and a half since his death. He also discusses the political context in which Lincoln rose from his humble roots to be elected President. The heart of the talk is concerned with Lincoln’s complex attitudes toward slavery. Dr. Zuckert is the author or co-author of four books and more than 100 academic articles on a wide range of topics within the history of political thought.

Presentation Time: 1 hour, 12 minutes

Talking Criminal Justice: Language and the Just Society

Dr. Michael J. Coyle

Faculty, Political Science Department, California State University, Chico

Dr Coyle Lecturing

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The title of Dr. Coyle’s presentation is the same as that of his recently published book. He maintains that the language we use to talk about justice constructs definitions for words such as “criminals,” “offenders,” and “innocent victims” that do not accord with our commonly-held commitment to “equal justice for all.” He argues that this is an across-the-board problem that perpetuates our current system, whether the words are spoken by “conservatives” or “liberals.”

Presentation Time: 54 minutes

Constitution Day Address

Jason Ross

Staff writer, “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart”

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Chico native Jason Ross has earned six Emmy Awards during his 10 years as a staff writer at “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.” He is also one of the writers of the show’s two best-selling books, “America: The Book” (2004) and “Earth: The Book” (2010). In his talk, Ross provides a humorous and entertaining view of the use of satire in commenting on current events, both in the past and in the present day. He describes what he and his “Daily Show” colleagues do as “shouting back at the TV.”

Presentation Time: 1 hour, 7 minutes

The Assault of Public Worker Pensions: A Rebuttal

Dr. George Wright

Professor Emeritus, Department of Political Science, CSU, Chico and co-founder, United Public Workers for Action

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Political Science Professor Emeritus George Wright presents a rebuttal to the current intensified assault of public worker pensions. The presentation includes: 1) an over view of his methodology; 2) the historical context to the current assault; 3) a rebuttal to the arguments used in the assault; and, 4) conclusions. Professor Wright argues that public worker pensions are not the cause of state and local government budget deficits, but are, instead, a result of a combination of the structural crisis of capitalism manifested in 2008; 40 years of neo-liberal economic policy; and specific political factors at the state level. He also proposes that the offensive is aimed to break public worker unions while making the public sector pay for the financial-economic crisis.

Presentation time: 55 minutes

The Third Branch v. Citizens United: The Root of the Evil

Jan Schlichtmann

Nationally-Recognized Civil Litigation Attorney


Jan Schlichtmann, one of the country’s eminent plaintiff’s attorneys, visited the CSU, Chico campus to make two presentations. Schlichtmann received national recognition for his representation of eight Woburn, Massachusetts, families against W.R. Grace and Beatrice foods for contamination of the city water supply. Jonathan Harr’s “A Civil Action,” which told the story, became a best-selling book and then a movie. The focus of this talk is on reform of the legal system. “Citizens United” is shorthand for the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to allow unlimited political campaign spending by corporations, on the grounds that “corporations are people.”

Presentation time: 1 hour

Confessions of an Environmental Warrior

Jan Schlichtmann

Nationally-Recognized Civil Litigation Attorney

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In this presentation, his second at CSU, Chico, Jan Schlichtmann talks about lessons he has learned from his experiences as an environmental attorney. Schlichtmann’s groundbreaking work in the Woburn, Massachusetts case regarding the contamination of that city’s water supply has been the subject of a number of national and international television and radio shows, press reports and magazine stories, including “60 Minutes” and “Nova,” as well as articles in legal and scientific journals and books. He explains how the experience changed him and changed his thinking.

Presentation time: 1 hour, 18 minutes

John Bidwell and the 1851 Indian Treaty Meeting

Dr. Michele Shover, Professor Emeritus, Department of Political Science, CSU, Chico

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Dr. Michele Shover provides an in-depth look at the 1851 Indian treaty meeting in Chico and its aftermath. In 1851, John Bidwell assembled 300 Maidu Indians to meet with a Federal Treaty Commissioner at Bidwell’s ranch. This meeting resulted in an offer to the Maidu tribe of a reservation east of present-day Chico. While the mountain Maidus considered the reservation a threat, it appealed to valley Maidus. John Bidwell made the local treaty possible; then, a month after the government and the Indians signed it, he used all of his influence to defeat it in the U.S. Senate. Dr. Shover provides historical and political contexts to this event and its consequences.

Presentation time: 56 minutes