Information for Students

Engaged and enlightened citizenship begins with the acquisition of basic skills and knowledge and grows from there. From majors in Political Science and Justice Studies to specialized Honors’ seminars, general electives, and service-learning courses, JMU offers something for everyone, no matter what his or her level of curiosity and engagement.

For example, all undergraduates at JMU have to fulfill a four credit American Experience requirement as part of the General Education program. All three American Experience courses (American Government, American History, Justice Studies) are designed to do the same thing; they enable you to identify, conceptualize, and evaluate:

  • Social and political processes and structures using quantitative and qualitative data
  • Key primary sources relating to American history, political institutions and society
  • The nature and development of the intellectual concepts that structure American political activity
  • The history and operation of American democratic institutions
  • The history and development of American society
  • The history and development of American involvement in world affairs.

 Other courses in General Education: The Human Community advance your ability to think critically and communicate civilly, to appreciate the diverse, creative dimensions of the human experience, to interpret scientific and mathematical data, and to develop a sense of responsibility for self and others. Each of these outcomes is needed to participate fully in a democratic, pluralistic society.

Additional opportunities can be found across the curriculum. Some of the courses emphasizing civic learning outcomes and available in Spring 2011 include:

GHUM 251: Modern Perspectives: The Struggle for Human Rights
Professor M. Louise Loe

This course will offer a multi-disciplinary examination of human rights in the 20th and 21st centuries. Students will examine the background of contemporary views of human rights, beginning with the establishment of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. We will then study the origins and development of the modern concept of human rights during the Enlightenment, the American Revolution, and the first attempt during the French Revolution to establish a legal system based on human rights not just for men, but also for women, slaves, Jews and homosexuals. We will then proceed to study ten twentieth century movements for human rights.

WRTC 322: Making a Difference: Service Learning Writing
Professor: Sarah O’Connor

 What is community? What is this community? What is my role as a citizen? What are the qualities of a leader? What motivates people to live lives of service? How should I live my life? WRTC 322, Service Learning Writing, explores these and other questions through community service, readings, discussions, and a variety of writing: creative, exploratory and transactional. This is a writing intensive course.


GPOSC 200. Global Politics.
3 credits. Offered fall and spring.
An exploration of political, social and economic issues and structures existing within and between states in the contemporary global community. Students are introduced to alternative approaches to analyzing these issues in diverse cultures and political settings.

POSC 201. Introduction to Western Political Theory.
3 credits. Offered fall and spring.
A general survey of Western political theory from Plato to Marx, order and freedom.

GPOSC 225. U.S. Government.
4 credits. Offered fall and spring.
An examination of institutions, processes and intellectual concepts which structure American political activity. The interaction of the political system with the changing American society and America's changing role in world affairs are also treated. The course provides an introduction to quantitative methodology.

POSC 230. International Relations.
3 credits. Offered fall and spring.
A survey of the field of international relations including consideration of the elements of national power, foreign policy, diplomacy, propaganda, foreign aid, war, international law and international organization.

POSC 240. Comparative Politics.
3 credits. Offered fall and spring.
A comparative study of selected political systems. Emphasis is on the structure of government, the political process and the conditions which either promote or constrain political change and stability.

PPA 200. Introduction to Public Policy.
3 credits.
This course introduces students to the nature, dynamics and substance of pubic policy. Selected policy issues in the United States will be examined through the use of case studies. Foreign and global influences on U.S. policy-making will also be analyzed. Issues will vary across course sections and over time.

PPA 265. Public Administration.
3 credits.
An introductory survey of the principles, functions and processes of public administration with specific emphasis on the political aspects and environment of bureaucracies and the how and why of policy-making within an administrative system. Organizational structure, personnel, budgeting, public relations and government values, traditions and objectives are analyzed. Prerequisite: GPOSC 225.


JUST 200. Introduction to Justice Studies.
3 credits. Offered fall and spring.
This course offers students an introduction to the field of justice studies. It includes an examination of moral, philosophical and political definitions of justice and injustice and a history of their development; the distinctions and commonalities between various "kinds" of justice, e.g., criminal social, environmental; a discussion of classic and contemporary theorists and practitioners of justice and their impact on societal understanding of the concepts of justice and injustice. Prerequisites: Declaration of justice-preparation.

JUST 210. Crime and Criminal Justice.
3 credits. Offered once a year.
This course provides an introduction to the nature of the crime problem in the United States, including patterns of victimization and offending and the ways in which the criminal justice system responds to these behaviors. Prerequisites: JUST 200 and admission to the major.

JUST 212. Theories of Crime and Criminal Justice.
3 credits. Offered once a year.
This course provides an in-depth exploration of theoretical perspectives pertaining to the two central realms of criminological inquiry: crime and the response to crime (criminal justice). Both classic and contemporary perspectives are examined. The course will examine why people commit crime, why crime occurs, why it differs across groups and the objective underlying crime control policy. Prerequisite: JUST 200.

JUST 221. Social Justice Theories.
3 credits. Offered once a year.
This course serves as a theoretical introduction to the social justice track of the justice studies major. It includes an examination of the major concepts regarding inequality. How do we define and create inequality? Can we rid ourselves of inequality or should we accept it as a necessary element in society? Prerequisite: JUST 200.

JUST 223. Social Justice Interventions and Policies.
3 credits. Offered once a year.
This class provides a review of the general structures of American social justice interventions and policies including governmental, corporate and not-for-profit organizations. Emphasis will be placed on macro-structures such as entitlement programs and micro-structures such as neighborhood and grassroots organizations. Prerequisite: JUST 200.

GJUST 225. Justice and American Society.
4 credits. Offered fall and spring.
This course introduces the student to the concept and reality of justice in America. It is a broad-based, interdisciplinary consideration of justice: What it is, what it means, and how it intersects with society and social institutions in American. Philosophical and theoretical underpinnings of the notion of justice and the historical context of justice in American society will be considered.

JUST 235. Justice in the Global Community.
3 credits. Offered once a year.
A survey of different definitions of justice relating to the operation and development of a global community in international affairs. Prerequisite: JUST 200 or permission of instructor.