Published: April 16, 2020

Dr. Tony Robinson, Political Science Department Chair at table still from video.Hello, to Everyone in our Political Science Community!

How odd it is to be reaching out to everyone from my home, instead of the good old hallways of Third Floor, Student Commons, but such is our situation nowadays. I miss the energy of faculty, students and staff bantering in our hallways greatly, and the dynamic interactions of our classrooms, and all the lovely life that always bursts out every spring in our common spaces across campus. Though I miss all that, I know we all have been finding ways to connect remotely and to keep up with our studies and other intellectual pursuits—and I know that we will all be able to reconnect in person soon. All of us in Political Science look forward to that.

We hope that all our students and their families are doing well and staying healthy at this time. If you are facing any difficulties that the Department of Political Science might be able to help with, such as challenges finishing your courses or confusion about upcoming semesters, I hope you will reach out to us via email and we will help however we can. 

In the rest of this newsletter, we provide some updates on the activities of students and faculty over the last several months. 

We are happy to report that our Department in the last year has continued its tradition of engaged teaching, research, and creative activities in the community. For example, Professor Glenn Morris was a leader this last year in successful efforts to abolish the divisive Columbus Day holiday in Colorado. Professor James Walsh remains active in efforts to establish a permanent memorial in Leadville's Evergreen Cemetery for the 1200 persons buried in unmarked graves there, mostly Irish immigrants who were miners. Professor Betcy Jose has been active in international efforts to protect human rights in times of conflict, and was featured on BBC interviews several times last year. Professor Stefes will offer his successful semester in Germany trip again this coming fall, including opportunities for students to intern in various non-governmental organizations during their experience. We have many student leaders who are active in Colorado State Government (Undergraduate Fahad Khan interns with the Governor’s office), in community advocacy work (Graduate Student Sky Roosevelt Morris is Chair of the Four Winds American Indian Council), and in many other settings. Read on in this newsletter to learn more.      

In addition to these creative efforts, of course our Department continues to offer a wide range of creative and provocative courses every semester, and we look forward to seeing students in course this summer and fall. Among those courses, I am happy to announce that our new Labor Leadership Certificate can now be completed entirely online! Read on in this newsletter to learn how you can develop community and labor leadership skills through this transcripted certificate.

Before I close, I want to mention three Department transitions.

First, it is with heavy heart (but hearty congratulations and best wishes) that our Department announces the retirement of Professor Steve Thomas from our faculty. Professor Thomas has taught for more than 40 years for our program, focusing on Chinese politics, Human Rights, and International Studies. Professor Thomas has been a community leader from his days as a Freedom Rider in the south to anti-nuclear weapon struggles at Rocky Flats, to his current work with UN Ambassador Andrew Young and the family of Dr. Martin Luther King. He has been a Department leader in his time as Department Chair, bringing his warm and big-hearted spirit to all his colleagues and students. We will miss him greatly, and wish him the best in his well-earned retirement.

Second, our Department extends best wishes to Dr. Tania Islas-Weinstein, who will be leaving our faculty this year for a new position as Assistant Professor at McGill University in Canada. Tania brought great energy and vision to her time here in our program. In her short time here, she impacted many students with her model of creative scholarship and deep civic commitments. It is a loss to CU Denver to see Dr. Islas-Weinstein move on to other opportunities, but we wish her all the best success and look forward to crossing paths in the future.

Finally, I have the bittersweet job of announcing that my own time as Chair of this Department is coming to an end as this summer approaches. It has been a great honor and joy to serve and work with all our students and faculty over the last ten years as Chair, and I am so appreciative of having had this opportunity. I will be enjoying my upcoming sabbatical year and looking forward to transitioning to a new Chair in the months to come. 

Until then, best wishes everyone—see you all down at the shop again, one day soon!