Here at the Politics, Policy and Administration Department of Western Oregon University, we value many different learning styles. Our professors work hard to incorporate different presentations, simulations, exercises, and activities into the traditional lecture format in order to create the best learning environment possible for our students. Check out some examples of our diverse classroom activities to see for yourself why WOU is the right choice for you!

Dr. Edwin Dover – Political Science 495 “Public Sector Labor Relations”

Collective Bargaining Simulation:

“I divide the class into four teams, naming them Union Team 1, Union Team 2, Management Team 1 and Management Team 2. Each team will have about four to five members as the class tends to attract about twenty or so students. The two Teams 1 are matched against one another, while the Teams 2 are also matched against one another. Each team is considered to be a collective bargaining team, and their goal is to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement. The union represents the Sanitation Workers Union and negotiates on behalf of 75 trash collectors. The management team represents the city government. There are three issues to be negotiated — salary, health insurance for both workers and their families, and paid vacation time. After establishing the teams, I have the students assume different roles such as chief negotiator, who is a person who speaks for the team; a salary specialist, a health care specialist, a recorder, and a finance person who calculates the costs of various proposals. Each team develops its proposals, crafts a negotiating strategy, and learns how to make deals in order to accomplish what they seek. The union team is to get as much as possible without forcing layoffs, while the management seeks to keep city costs down and avoid a strike. The students then write a five page paper on their experiences. The simulation itself lasts for about two and a half weeks.” – Dr. Dover

Dr. Mark Henkels – Political Science 449 “Environmental Values and Political Action”

Student Video Projects:

“This class explored a range of political and philosophical writings about humanity’s relationship with the natural world and considered the diverse perspectives and beliefs people and groups have towards issues such as public lands, climate change, and animal rights.  Students created these movies as an effort to explore the issues and the parties involved in them, and to consider how we communicate and engage in environmental disputes. These were not a major part of the grading, but a chance for students to explore communicating in media other writing and traditional class presentations.” – Dr. Henkels

Here are some examples of the student projects:

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

Civic Engagement Project by Jacob Hanson and Julie Postma: 

“The main scope of our project was to determine what factors hinder college students from being engaged in the community that surrounds their university. Our hypothesis was that if we were to have a civic engagement project in the local community in which students participated, then those students who partook in the project would be more likely to be civically engaged in the local community in the future. In this study we surveyed 100 students from WOU and asked them a series of questions regarding their demographics, past volunteer experience, current involvement in the community at WOU, and desire to become more involved in the local community that surrounds WOU. From these results we crafted a civic engagement project that was suitable and in line with the desires of the students. We coordinated with the local senior center and created a campaign for leaf raking for the seniors in our local community who were unable to rake their leaves themselves. From the pre- and post-surveys that we administered during the project, we found out that those students who were already civically engaged were also the students who participated in our project. Therefore, we deduced from our project that past civic engagement determines the level of future civic engagement. However, due to time constraints we were unable to find a way to get those students who are not currently civically engaged in the local community to become engaged. This, of course, begs the question for a future project.”


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: