Civic Literacy & Engagement


A presentation to PS 335 by Derek Olson,

Chief of Staff for Rep. Sheri Malstrom.

Olson is graduate of Western Oregon University. 

The faculty in the Politics, Policy, and Administration Department of Western Oregon University strive to prepare our students with real-life experiences and challenges in the classroom so that they can succeed in the career or graduate school of their choice. We offer many learning and experiential opportunities in our classes for our majors and minors by incorporating research, civic engagement projects, internships, oral and virtual presentations, simulations, team exercises, and interactive activities in addition to the traditional lecture format. Check out some examples of our diverse classroom activities to see for yourself why WOU is the right choice for you!

Dr. Mary Pettenger – Political Science 355 “Civic Literacy and Engagement”

Students in PS 355 Civic Literacy and Engagement are challenged to research a societal problem of their choice (recent examples include a wide variety of interests such as health care, education, and the criminal justice system). Students must then meet with stakeholders and devise and implement a policy solution to the problem, learning along the way the trials and triumphs of networking with their community and a hands-on practice implementing the policymaking process on the local, regional, state, or national level. Below are the presentations of two students from Winter 2020, who presented their projects as part of the WOU Academic Excellence Day.

Rachel Bayly- “Addressing the Academic Achievement Gap”

Gustavo Guerrero- “The Genesis of Law: Changing Oregon’s Marijuana Employment Policies”

Jacob Hanson and Julie Postma’s Civic Engagement Project designed to increase WOU student engagement in the local Monmouth community through a service project for seniors.

Dr. Mark Henkels – Political Science 425 “Native American Politics & Policy”

PS 425 “Native American Politics and Policy” is a wide-ranging course that seeks to introduce students to the legal, political, and (in a limited way) cultural context of Indian Country. A key element in this course is the extensive use of guest speakers and film so that the students see and directly discuss the complexity and richness of the Native American political context. One of the co-teachers is Justin Martin, owner of Perseverance Strategies, a lobbying firm in Salem which includes the Grand Ronde tribe as a client.  Mr. Martin is a Grand Ronde tribal member as well.

One of the many guest speakers from this course was Roben Itchoak.

Roben Itchoak was born in the Nome, Alaska area to a native family and grew up with direct connections and experiences with the old ways.  She is a graduate of Western Oregon University in the Public Policy and Administration program and completing her Masters in Planning, Public Policy and Management.  Her final MA project examines models for adaptation to climate change in Arctic communities.

Her presentation from this course is featured below:

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