Political Science and Public Affairs Department



Have you ever wondered why countries go to war? Why people vote the way they do? Whether the Mass Media are truly “biased"? Or why the Supreme Court decides cases the way it does? If so, the study of political science and public affairs may be for you.

When you enroll in our undergraduate and graduate academic programs—the NASPAA accredited MPA Program among them—you won’t find yourself regurgitating lecture information, you’ll be researching and applying your knowledge to real-world social and political problems on a local, national, and global scale. Still not convinced? Check out what our alumni are doing now. Want to know more? Contact our Department Head, or our student department ambassadors. Our degree programs include:

Political Science     Choose between a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) and a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) degree or complement your studies with a minor in political science. These offerings are organized around the traditional sub-fields of political science: American politics, international relations, comparative politics, and political theory.

Minor in Political Science     The minor requires 18 hours in political science, including PSC 110 and PSC 150 and 12 hours of electives (at the 200 level and above).

Master of Public Affairs (MPA)     Western’s NASPAA-accredited MPA Program (taught at our Biltmore Park location) is your first stop on the way to a career in public service.

International Studies     The Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) program offers courses in fields such as Foreign Languages, Politics, Culture, and Globalization.

Minor in International Studies     The minor requires 18 hours including either PSC 110: “Global Issues” or PSC 241: “International Politics.”

Special Opportunities

Take advantage of the opportunity to work in the Public Policy Institute or get involved with the Political Science Club or one of our other partner programs and organizations such as the Local Government Program Training Program, the Model United Nations, the College Democrats, and the College Republicans. We are also fortunate to have three endowed undergraduate scholarships, two graduate scholarships, and many awards that are available to our students. Please click HERE for a list of past winners. And click HERE for a larger list of special opportunities available to our majors.


Political Science and Public Affairs Faculty

Our committed and highly respected faculty are dedicated to modeling how to research practical solutions for existing challenges. Professionally active and representing a diverse and broad range of interests and backgrounds, our faculty are determined to provide you with a world-class education that will prepare you to compete and find success in the fields of political science and public affairs … anywhere! Their real-world knowledge translates into the classroom by providing you with a depth of academic experience and practical understanding that will prepare you to excel in today’s world of politics and public affairs. Browse the links below and get to know our faculty.

Name Role
Full Time Faculty and Staff
Chris Cooper Ph.D.; Department Head; Professor; American Politics, Public Administration, Research Methods
Ingrid Bego Ph.D.; Assistant Professor; Comparative Politics, International Politics
Todd Collins Ph.D.; Public Policy Institute Director, Steed Distinguished Associate Professor; Public Law, Judicial Politics
Charles Fagan Ph.D.; Instructor, International Relations, Comparative Politics
Jay Gerlach Ph.D.; Associate Professor; MPA Director; Public Administration, Nonprofit Management, Environmental Policy 
Jake Greear Ph.D.; Instructor; Political Theory, American Politics, International Relations
Jessica Hayden Ph.D.; Assistant Professor; American Politics, Congress, Presidency
Phyllis Hoffman Administrative Support Associate
Michael McDonald Ph.D.; Instructor; International Relations, Comparative Politics
Niall Michelsen  Ph.D.; Associate Professor; International Relations 
Heather Rimes Ph.D.; Assistant Professor; Public Administration, Public Policy
Jennifer Schiff Ph.D.; International Studies Director, Associate Professor; International Relations, Comparative Politics
Bob Boylan MPM; Director of Local Government and Training Program (LGTP)
JoBeth Shafran Ph.D.; Assistant Professor; Public Policy, Public Administration, American Politics
Part-Time Faculty
Andy Coburn M.E.M.; Adjunct Instructor (MPA), Environmental Policy
John Connet MPA; Adjunct Instructor (MPA), Public Administration
Paul Dezendorf Ph.D.; Adjunct Instructor (MPA),Public Administration
Blake Esselstyn MA; Adjunct Instructor (MPA), GIS, Planning, Public Administration
Clay Fuller Ph.D.; Adjunct Instructor, International Relations, Comparative Politics
Brian Hardt Ph.D.; Adjunct Instructor; International Relations, Comparative Politics, Formal Theory
Laura Jeffords MPA; Adjunct Instructor (MPA); Nonprofit Management and Leadership
Tyler Reinagel Ph.D.; Adjunct Instructor; Public Administration, Public Policy
Emeritus Professors 
Don Livingston Ph.D.; Professor Emeritus; American Government
Gordon Mercer Ph.D.; Professor Emeritus; Public Administration
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