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Contact Information:
Office: Old Main 333
Phone: 360-438-4588


PLS 152
Global Issues
Saint Martin's University

Dr. Richard L. Langill      

SP 2012


Office: Old Main #333      

Office Hours: MWF 8-9; 10-11

TR 10-11


The purpose of this course is to provide a critical understanding of a range of global issues that confront the peoples of the world.  The instructor does not assume that you have any knowledge or background on these issues.  However, he does hope that you have some interest in understanding the various dimensions of these issues as an informed citizen.

The course will begin by analyzing the major issues of terrorism and human rights.  Then, we will examine global ecological problems. global energy problems, and the problems of human trafficking, child labor, child brides and international piracy.


The instructor proposes to run this course on a lecture/discussion basis. A series of textbooks and reserve readings have been selected to highlight various dimensions of US policy toward these problems. The instructor will lecture on the background of these problems in class.  He expects that students will read these works BEFORE coming to class so as to stimulate informed discussion of these problems.

The instructor urges students to make an effort to keep up with current political and international affairs by watching TV news programs and reading at least one quality newspaper like the New York Times or Washington Post.  Both of these newspapers are available on line for free though you must register and obtain a password to obtain these on line.  The URL’s for these are and  These are really great sources of high quality information on current world affairs. These newspapers can also be used for your entries for your global issues journal.

The instructor welcomes conflict and controversy, particularly in dealing with alternative policy prescriptions.  Nobody has a monopoly on Truth except PRAVDA, the former Soviet Communist Party newspaper, and since the demise of the CPSU not even PRAVDA is sure of the truth in Russia today.

 There are few final answers to any of the questions we will raise in class.  What students should grasp after completing this course is that alternative policy prescriptions usually flow from different value assumptions that individuals have about politics. 

The instructor will make extensive use of public affairs programs that deal with the issues under consideration. These programs should not be viewed as entertainment.  They are an integral part of the course.  The  instructor expects that students will take notes on these programs and be prepared to discuss the arguments and themes raised by these programs in class. Material on these programs will appear on examinations.


All students will be required to keep a global issues journal in his class.  This journal will focus on current newspaper articles related to the topics and we will cover in this class - terrorism, human rights, global ecological problems, world energy problems, population in immigration problems, and world health and disease problems.

The instructor expects that students will find two articles per week for inclusion in this journal.  Students should obtain these articles from newspapers or current periodicals.  Students have a choice of either clipping these from a newspaper like the New York Times or photocopying these and pasting them in the journal, or they may download these directly from the web, and prints them for inclusion in the journal. (The instructor has provided a list of good academic journals that are available through EBSCO on the SMU Library network.)

These entries should be appropriately dated with an indication of where the article was obtained.  The student should write a short description of the main point (s) of the article as well as a short evaluation of the article itself.  This description should run between one to two pages in length for each article. Maps, pictures, or graphs that accompany these articles should also be included in the journal.  Students are encouraged to comment and analyze these as well.

The instructor will collect these journals at the beginning of each month to make sure that students are keeping up with this project. The global issues journal will account for 20% of the students’ final grade.  This project is designed to help students understand and reflect on events that are happening in the world.

The instructor has included a brief sample of several entries that might be used as models for this exercise on the left side of the syllabus.  For additional questions on this project, please talk to the instructor in class or during office hours.


Plagiarism is a serious academic offense punishable by a failing grade and in some cases expulsion from the institution.  Do not even consider plagiarizing a paper.   If  you are unsure about what constitutes plagiarism, check the SMC College Catalog or SMC Student Handbook.


Attendance is an essential part of this course. Students will be allowed 2 unexcused absences for any reason.  Beyond this limit, students will be penalized 5 points per class missed. Excessive unexcused absences may result in failure in this class.  The instructor reserves the right to use pop quizzes if attendance proves to be a problem.   Particular problems should be discussed with the instructor.


Evaluation of class participation is based on a combination of attendance and your willingness to raise questions and answer questions that are posed by the instructor.  There will be several small out of class research projects that will count toward your discussion grade.  The instructor will also attempt to have at least one extensive discussion on each of the topics covered in class. 

Final grades will be based on the following formula:

60%   Three Examinations worth 20% each.
             (Final is not comprehensive.)
20%   Class participation/discussion
20%   Global Issues Journal                                                                


If you need course adaptations or accommodations because of a disability, if you have medical or safety concerns to share with me, or if you need special arrangements in case the building must be evacuated, please talk with me as soon as possible.

  (GI)       Global Issues.  The CQ Researcher.  Articles on Reserve

Jan 17 Introduction (1)
  Course Description, Syllabus and Global Issues Journal
Jan 19- Terrorism (7)
Feb 9 Required Reading:
Feb 14-28 Human Rights (5)
  Required Reading:
   "Treatment of Detainees"  CQ Researcher On Reserve
   "Human Rights Issues" CQ Researcher On Reserve
   "Geneva Conventions"  Foreign Policy On Reserve
Mar 6-13 Global Population Problems (3)
Mar 15-29 Global Ecological Problems (3)
Required Reading: 
     (CQ)    Chpt 16 "Climate Change"
     "Offshore Drilling"  CQ Researcher On Reserve
    "Climate Change " Foreign Policy 2009 On Reserve
    "On Clean Energy China Skirts Rules"  On Rseerve
Apr 3-12 World Energy Problems (4)
  Required Reading:
     "Energy and Climate" CQ Researcher On Reserve
     "It's Still the One"  Foreign Policy 2009 On Reserve
     "Navigating the Energy Transition"  On Reserve
Apr 19-26 Women's Issues- Trafficking, Child Labor 
 and Child Brides (3)
Required Reading:
    (CQ)  Chpt 13  "Women's Rights"
     "Trafficking Women and Children in India  On Reserve
      "How to End Child Marriage"  Wash Post On Reserve
      "Tragedy Shines Light on Yemeni Child Brides  On Reserve
May 1-3 International Piracy (2)
    (CQ)  Chpts 6 and 7.
"Attacking Piracy" and "The Troubled Horn of Africa"   

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