Insight from Jewish Americans offered in political science course

Amanda Stickles, Staff Writer

Wilkes University has started in the 2014 spring semester a unique new Political Science course involving the Jewish Community Center, JCC.

Great Decisions has become the largest public affairs discussion programs in the United States, having both students and adult learners be a part of it. Started in 1955, Great Decisions provides participants with the readings around topics in international issues and governments.  It is the first time Wilkes University is hosting the class in partnership with the JCC.

Associate professor of political science, Andrew Miller took a course similar to this in his undergraduate program in college and found it to be very beneficial. It became a great learning experience for him and the students. When Miller was approached by the school administration about if he knew of any new course ideas for political science he jumped at the idea to introduced Wilkes to the Great Decision course.

Miller is the instructor for the course and has nine Wilkes students in the class and seven participants at the JCC. It is a seven week one credit course class and involves going to visit the JCC once a week for two hours.

The topics discussed between the students and the JCC members include, defense, Israel and the United States, Turkey, Islamic Awakening, energy independence, food and climate and China. The topics change depending what is happening and going on in the world.

The students are able to have the opportunity to learn about international issues from someone else rather than just their professor and in a new environment rather than just sitting in a class room. The JCC members also get to learn the perspectives of the issues through the students’ viewpoints.

In addition to the students going to the JCC and interacting with the members they also have to write a short summary for each chapter they discuss in the class. This course opens up a new and interesting way for students to get out in the community and interact with people they might not normally interact with.

Kayla Rooney, a student in the Great Decisions PS198 course has become very fond of the class and enjoys discussing important current issues with people she might not normally get a chance to talk to on a regular base.

“I’m glad that I was able to take this class because it’s given me different perspectives about things that are going on internationally. This is especially pertinent to me because I am a Political Science and International Studies major, so I actually enjoy learning about things like this. I would definitely recommend the class to anyone who enjoys learning about and discussing current world issues,” said Rooney.

One of the JCC members, Mary Daly, participates in the course discussions and feels it is a great way to get fresh perspectives from the younger crowd in their opinions about the current international issues happening in the world.

“Everyone is very respectful of each other when they are speaking and the opinions that each person has for a topic,” said Daly.

The course has been quite successful thus far and many of the students and JCC members have been thoroughly enjoying the class and the discussions that have taken place between groups.