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The mission of the Department of Political Science and Criminal Justice 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 and Criminal Justice Forums

Free Speech on Campus - Erwin Chemerinsky - Constitution Day 2018

Dr. Erwin Chemerinsky,

Dean of the University of California Berkeley School of Law

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Erwin Chemerinsky, Dean of the University of California Berkeley School of Law, is a nationally-renowned First Amendment scholar, a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the author of 10 books, including The Case Against the Supreme Court (2014) and Free Speech on Campus (2017). Chemerinsky's presentation focuses on campus free speech, informed by his constitutional scholarship and firsthand experience as a professor and dean.

Presentation time: 43 minutes

The Politics of Impeachment

Dr. Greg Weiner

Professor, Department of Political Science
Assumption College

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Dr. Greg Weiner is an Associate Professor at Assumption College in Massachusetts. In this presentation he explains why impeachment needs to be used as a deterrent against corrupt behavior by the President. He also explains what impeachment should mean to the current administration and how it should be used in the future to strengthen impeachment’s power to deter corrupt conduct.

Presentation time: 58 minutes


Department of Political Science & Criminal Justice 50th Anniversary Roundtable Discussion

Ed Bronson, Jim Gregg, Rick Ostrom, Chuck Price, Irv Schiffman, & Michele Shover

Emeriti Professors, Political Science & Criminal Justice Department, CSU, Chico

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Emeriti professors Ed Bronson, Jim Gregg, Rick Ostrom, Chuck Price, Irv Schiffman, and Michele Stover discuss the early history of the Department of Political Science and Criminal Justice on the occasion of its 50th anniversary in 2017.

Presentation Time: 1 hour, 5 minutes

The Role of Democracy in International Law

Dr. Adam Irish

Faculty, Political Science & Criminal Justice Department, CSU, Chico

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Dr. Adam Irish explains how countries that can be defined as “democracies” exert both positive and negative effects on international law. The positive effects from democracies to international law include increased transparency, a role for human rights, and power/leadership that is not concentrated in one person. On the other hand, ratification of a treaty might be stalled by a country such as the United States, where treaties can be debated in Congress for a long time – and, ultimately, can be voted down. For example, the U.S. Congress never ratified the Kyoto environmental treaty.

Presentation Time: 49 minutes

Policing and Political Participation

Dr. Traci Burch

Political Science Faculty, Northwestern University, and Research Professor, American Bar Foundation

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In 2014, the police shooting of unarmed black teenager Michael Brown in a suburb of St. Louis resulted in street protests by members of that community. That incident, and other such incidents around the U.S., helped spawn the Black Lives Matter movement. Dr. Traci Burch’s ongoing research focusses on a question that she feels has not been fully answered: How, when, and under what circumstances are policing practices associated with political participation? She is looking not only at political participation in the form of street protests, but also at voting patterns. For example, Dr. Burch obtained precinct-level voter turnout numbers for the city of St. Louis and related it to the frequency of police stops. So far, it appears the more frequent the police stops, the lower the voter turnouts. Other studies suggest that voter turnout is increased by certain types of policing. Dr. Burch will continue her research on the correlation between policing and political participation.

Presentation Time: 35 minutes

Machiavelli’s Popular Prince

Dr. Catherine Zuckert

Professor, Department of Political Science
University of Notre Dame

Catherine Zuckert

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Dr. Zuckert asserts Machiavelli has a strangely two-sided reputation. He is most notably known for Machiavellian politics based on his widely read book, “The Prince.” Political philosophers reviewing his discourse on Livy label Machiavelli as a Republican thinker. So which is he? Dr. Zuckert presents a fuller, more comprehensive and coherent understanding of Machiavelli’s thought by arguing that in “The Prince” he was not trying to teach others to be tyrants but rather he was seeking to convince rulers that were tempted to become tyrants that the best way they could maintain or expand their position was to serve the basic desires of their people for security of life, family, and property. Join Dr. Zuckert as she takes viewers on a fascinating journey.

Presentation Time: 1 hour, 17 minutes

Are We Great Yet?: The First 100 Days of the Trump Administration

Dr. Diana Dwyre, Dr. Darin Haerle, Dr. Adam Irish, Dr. Andrew Potter, & Dr. Sue Hilderbrand

Faculty, Political Science Department, CSU, Chico

Dr. Jacob Jennings

Faculty, Economics Department, CSU, Chico

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A panel of six CSU, Chico Faculty discuss the topics of criminal justice (Dr. Haerle), international relations (Dr. Irish), health care policy (Dr. Potter), economics (Dr. Jennings), and Congressional dynamics (Dr. Dwyre) as they relate to President Donald Trump’s first 100 days in office. Moderator Sue Hilderbrand introduces the discussion by pointing out that while 100 days seems like an arbitrary number in which to begin to assess a new U.S. President, this milestone has a long-standing tradition that dates back to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s first term in 1933. It has been a time to reflect on what has happened and to speculate on what can be expected in the remainder of a Presidency.

Presentation Time: 1 hour, 23 minutes

The Future is Ours: How Demographic Change and Latino Voters are Changing American Politics in 2016 and Beyond

Dr. Gary M. Segura

Morris M. Doyle Centennial Professor of Public Policy, Stanford University

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From 1996 to 2016, the number of Latinos voting in U.S. General Elections has jumped from 4.9 million to an estimated 13.1 million. Dr. Gary Segura has been studying this phenomenon and has now co-written a book, “Latino America” How America’s Most Dynamic Population is Poised to Transform the Politics of the Nation.” Dr. Segura explains how this trend has affected the American political landscape. He points out that this will continue far into the future, as the Latino vote doubles in the next 20 years. He says this will happen “even if not one additional Latino immigrant comes to the United States.”

Presentation Time: 1 hour, 36 minutes

Why Free Speech is the Only Safe Place for Minorities

Jonathan Rauch

First Amendment Scholar and Best-Selling Author

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Jonathan Rauch begins his presentation with a powerful statement: “The greatest idea in the history of human civilization is the idea that we are better off, personally and as a society, if we not only tolerate but actively protect speech and thought that is wrong-headed, offensive, bigoted, seditious, blasphemous, critical of the authorities, or just in dissent.” Rauch traces the trend of protecting certain groups from hateful comments that has moved from the “hostile workplace doctrine” to the “safe space doctrine.” This has led to more rules on college campuses about what is allowed to be said – in some cases, this trend has even led to the firing of professors. The central premise of his talk is that the safe space doctrine is a bad idea and especially bad for minorities. Rauch is the author of six books, including “Gay Marriage: Why It is Good for Gays, Good for Straights, and Good for America” and “Kindly Inquisitors: The New Attacks on Free Thought.”

Presentation Time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Plutocrats United: Campaign Money, the Supreme Court, and the Distortion of American Elections

Dr. Richard Hasen

Chancellor's Professor of Law and Political Science, University of California, Irvine

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The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in the Citizens United case removed restraints on campaign spending, resulting in the emergence of “Super PACs” that provide millions of dollars to candidates for elected office. Dr. Richard Hasen, author of nine books and dozens of articles on election law and campaign finance regulations, declares, “The relationship between money and politics in the United States is more complicated than mere vote buying.” He goes on to say he believes it is incorrect to focus on politicians being bribed as the main fallout from Citizens United. He believes that the bigger concern is “the fundamental unfairness of a political system moving toward the wealthy.” Dr. Hasen gives examples of how the top economic class increasingly is dictating the outcome of elections.

Presentation Time: 1 hour, 8 minutes

Socio-legal Aspects of Sentencing

Panel of CSU, Chico Faculty

Dr. Jonathan Caudill, Dr. Michael Coyle, Dr. Alan Gibson, Dr. Darin Haerle, Dr. Doris Schartmueller, and Dr. Sarah Smith

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This presentation is part of a series of events related to CSU, Chico’s 2015-2016 Book in Common, “Just Mercy,” by Bryan Stevenson, which focuses on prisoners and criminal justice issues. Six CSU, Chico professors approach the subject from six different perspectives: Criminal Continuity among Homicide Offenders (Dr. Caudill); Sentencing in the Age of the Prison Industrial Complex (Dr. Coyle); The Constitutional Roadblock to a Moratorium on the Death Penalty (Dr. Gibson), Adultification – Sentencing Youth into Adulthood (Dr. Darin Haerle); The U.S. Supreme Court and Major Sentencing Decisions (Dr. Schartmueller); and Patriarchy, Paternalism, or Just Plain Punishment? (Dr. Smith).

Presentation Time: 1 hour, 24 minutes

Prisoners as Capital and Persons as Property

Dr. Michael Coyle

CSU, Chico, Political Science Faculty


Dr. Kate Transchel

CSU, Chico, History Faculty

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These presentations could be subtitled, “Look beneath the surface.” Dr. Michael Coyle advocates looking more closely at the prison system in order to find alternatives to it, while Dr. Kate Transchel explains how human trafficking is going on everywhere – we just need to educate ourselves to be able to see it. Each speaker ends with suggestions for what the audience can do to take action.

Dr. Coyle has been studying penal abolition – that is, the eventual abolition of the current prison system. He states that the “criminal justice” system is not working, is not “justice,” and is detrimental to society. Dr. Coyle also steps back and looks at how people don’t tend to question what other people do to produce the food and other commodities they use every day. He gives examples of this, and then encourages the audience to look more closely at the prison system.

Dr. Transchel is working to educate people to realize that slavery is not a thing of the past; there are an estimated 30 million slaves world-wide, including 200,000 to 300,000 in the United States. She places the reality of sex trafficking in the context of societal attitudes, such as how sexualized images of children and the objectification and commodification of women play into sex trafficking. She also touches on other types of slavery: labor exploitation, begging, body parts, babies for adoption, and child soliders.

Presentation Time: 1 hour, 34 minutes

Iraq: Looking Backward, Moving Forward

Dr. Allen Weiner

Stanford University, School of Law, senior law lecturer and co-director of the Stanford Program in International and Comparative Law


Dr. Allan Stam

University of Virginia, Dean, Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy

Iraq: Looking Backward, Moving Forward

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Dr. Weiner and Dr. Stam review the events in the Middle East over the past seven years and offer insights into the region's politics, national security policies and strategies, and legal strategies and doctrines. They discuss various past wars and revolutions in Iraq and other countries in the region, as well as the effects of the 2011 “Arab Spring” uprisings. The presenters also address more recent events, such as the war in Syria that has resulted in 200,000 civilian deaths and 3 million refugees, and the rise of the terrorist group ISIS. Dr. Stam explains that the goal of ISIS is to establish their version of an Islamic State in Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Egypt, Yemen, Libya, and Algeria. During the last hour the presenters answer students' questions.

Presentation Time: 1 hour, 39 minutes

Understanding Thomas Jefferson

Dr. Annette Gordon-Reed and Dr. Peter Onuf

Co-Authors, "The Most Blessed of Patriarchs: The Worlds of Thomas Jefferson"

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This Constitution Day presentation features two world-renowned Thomas Jefferson scholars who are in the process of co-writing a book, “The Most Blessed of Patriarchs: The Worlds of Thomas Jefferson.” Dr. Gordon-Reed and Dr. Onuf present Jefferson in ways that do not fall into a one-sided approach of either condemning or celebrating him. The authors explain that their book focuses on what they believe is a pivitol time for Jefferson – his years in Paris, from 1784 to 1789, as U.S. Minister to France. Dr. Gordon-Reed received the Pulitzer Prize for History for her book about the “second family” Jefferson had with his slave, Sally Hemings, “Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy.” She explains that the goal of the book she is writing with Dr. Onuf is to bring Jefferson’s public and private lives together.

Presentation Time: 1 hour, 2 minutes

When Do the Ends Justify the Means? Machiavelli and Modernity

Dr. John T. Scott

Faculty, Department of Political Science, UC Davis

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A high level, influential Florentine official in the early 16th century, in 1513 Machiavelli was thrown out of office, tortured and imprisoned, and then released to exile. As Dr. Scott explains, it was after this series of events that Machiavelli wrote the works that prompted his name to become a commonly used word. Today, 500 years later,“Machiavellian” refers to the unscrupulous use of people, places and things in order to gain power. Dr Scott’s talk focuses on the book, “The Prince,” in which Machiavelli outlines many of his thoughts on power and the idea that “the ends justify the means.”

Presentation Time: 1 hour, 12 minutes

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

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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