Political Science Faculty Teach Abroad


Professor Ryan Patten

Professor Ryan Patten

“I happened to arrive in Barcelona on one of the biggest party nights of the year: the celebration of St. George (I didn’t know of the celebration prior to my arrival),” said Professor Ryan Patten. “I was told to expect an all-night party on the beach and lots of fireworks, which sounded like fun. What they neglected to tell me is that peo- ple throw the fireworks AT you. Yes, I mean directly at you.” This is the beginning of one of the many events experienced this summer by Assistant Professor Ryan Patten, who spent several weeks as a visiting professor at the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos in Madrid, Spain, teaching a course on comparative death penalty politics to American students studying abroad.

He joins the ranks of many other political science department faculty who have traveled abroad in recent years to teach summer or semester long courses for the University Studies Abroad Consortium (USAC), a nonprofit organi- zation which provides quality, accredited summer, semester, and year-long programs in 25 countries. Teachers are selected based on their superior teaching ability, flexibility regarding international working and living conditions, and ability to develop or expand their courses to relate to the program site, region, or nation.

Visiting teachers have an opportunity to establish contact with international colleagues or engage in international research and to strengthen and support study abroad programs on our campus.

Professor Diana Dwyre in Venice with husband, Joe, and son, Quinn

Professor Diana Dwyre in Venice with husband, Joe, and son, Quinn

As Professor Diana Dwyre, who taught during summer 2009 in Turino, Italy, notes, “this experi- ence has made me the most enthusiastic advocate of study abroad for our students. I ask every student (in class or while advising) if they have considered studying abroad.”

Teachers also work abroad for the new experiences. Associate Professor Mahalley Allen made full use of her time teaching at Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic in summer 2010, to explore many of Europe’s great cities. She explained that “the course itself was four weeks, but the entire program was five weeks because it included a week-long field study to Vienna, Austria; Budapest, Hungary; and Bratislava, Slovakia.” And after the end of her USAC teaching responsibilities, she was then able to travel to Rome, Vienna, Amsterdam, Paris, Berlin, and Krakow.

In fact, USAC selects teachers based in part on their willingness to experience the local culture and encourage their students to do the same.

Teachers like Professor Lori Weber, who offer courses with activities outside the classroom, provide rich and novel experiences for their students. As Professor Weber reports, “The absolute highlight of my semester abroad in Italy was bringing students to the international food conference, Terra Madre, hosted by the interna- tional organization and movement Slow Food, and held every two years in Turin, Italy. The conference draws participants from hundreds of countries, and students were able to observe international policymaking firsthand at this conference. Taking part in this conference with over twenty students will be an experience I will cherish for the remainder of my career.”

Professor Beau Grosscup, with son Cooper, in Ireland

Professor Beau Grosscup, with son Cooper, in Ireland

Professor Emeritus Beau Grosscup experi- enced the success of his class when a student brought in a picture of graffiti that said “NO ONE WILL CHOOSE FOR ME" (in Spanish, meaning women have a right to choose on the issue of pregnancy/abortion) that was on all the churches in Granada. Subsequently, on program excursions students not in the class commented on how their peers in the class had changed their behavior — now paying keen attention to the graffiti and political posters that are everywhere — whereas it remained invisible or un-noticed by others.

The exciting combination of developing new courses with an international flavor, meeting and working with new students and colleagues abroad, and gaining new cultural experiences works as an irresistible draw; all those who have taught abroad agree that they definitely intend to do so again.

The following offers short profiles of five of the political science faculty who have taught abroad in the past two years.

Diana Dwyre, Professor, taught a five-week course on Business and Politics in the EU in summer 2009 at the School of Business Administration at the University of Torino, Italy. She plans to teach the same class in Bilbao, Spain in summer 2012. Dwyre also spent a semester teaching in Australia.

Mahalley Allen, Associate Professor, taught Political Films and Novels of Europe in June and July 2010 at Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic.

Lori Weber, Professor, taught two semester- long courses: The Politics of Food: The “Slow Food” and Local Food Movement, and Compara- tive Politics: U.S. and Italy/EU in fall 2010 at the School of Business Administration at the University of Torino, Italy.

Ryan Patten, Assistant Professor, taught a four- week course in Comparative Death Penalty Politics in June 2011 at the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos in Madrid, Spain.

Beau Grosscup, Professor Emeritus, traveled to Alicante, Spain during the summer 2011 to teach Visual Display of Contemporary Political Issues at the University of Alicante.

Political Statements is the official newsletter of the Political Science Department at California State University, Chico.

With around 1,000 total majors, Political Science is one of the largest departments at Chico State. Students choose courses from a rich curriculum, providing close student-faculty contact in each of the following majors of study: general political science, legal studies, criminal justice, international relations, and public administration. The department also offers a Master of Public Administration and a Master of Arts in Political Science.

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