History, Politics, Society and Law

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Dr. Michael Slaven (chair) | Dr. Melanie J. Blumberg | Dr. Clarissa W. Confer | Dr. Paul Crawford | Dr. Kelton Edmonds | Dr. Joseph C. Heim | Dr. Cassandra L. Kuba | Dr. Elizabeth A. Larson | Dr. Sean Madden | Dr. Craig A. Smith | Dr. Emily M. Sweitzer | Dr. Christina A. Toras | Dr. Laura Tuennerman 


The Department of History, Politics, Society and Law is the home of programs in:

  • African American Studies
  • Anthropology
  • History
  • International Studies
  • Jurisprudence: Legal Studies Concentration
  • Liberal Studies
  • Political Science
  • Sociology and Social Science

These closely-related disciplines provide exciting opportunities for students to learn about the human experience through history, theory, politics and social interactions. Our mission is to encourage literate critical thinking by students, who work with faculty engaged in diverse, broadly based scholarship.


African American Studies

The department offers an interdisciplinary minor in African American studies, which includes core courses related to African American history and allows students to select from a range of elective courses addressing historical, cultural, sociological, political, psychological, literary and artistic factors that affect the lives of African Americans. 


The anthropology major consists of a core requirement of six courses that are designed to provide a broad and coherent approach to the two concentrations. The first is a forensic anthropology concentration consisting of six required courses. The second is an archaeology concentration also consisting of six required courses. In addition to these, a series of low- and mid-range courses can be taken as general electives or as electives for the General Education requirements. In addition to the B.A. in Anthropology, students can also complete a minor in anthropology.


History is the study of records of the human past.  Historians assess the meanings and relevance of past human experience. 

The department offers a Bachelor of Arts degree history as well as a certificate in the history of war, service and the American experience. The history major is general in nature, providing students with the opportunity to select areas of topical interest. 

International Studies

The international studies program encourages diversity and a stronger understanding of social issues. Through this interdisciplinary degree, students: 

  • Learn Arabic, French or Spanish
  • Develop cross-cultural expertise
  • Select a focus area from: 
    • Business and Economics
    • History and Political Science
    • Biology and the Environment
    • Geography
    • Global Issues


The 100% online Legal Studies concentration of the B.A. in Jurisprudence is a versatile degree that hones valuable skills such as how to think critically, write effectively and conduct relevant research. Core courses in classical, medieval and Anglo-American jurisprudence allow students to delve into the history of legal thinking and reasoning and gain a deeper understanding of the foundations of our current legal system. Practical coursework engages students in the study of case law and assignments that are relevant to what they will be doing as a legal professional. 

Liberal Studies

California University of Pennsylvania's liberal studies on-campus bachelor's degree gives you the flexibility to follow your many interests. Explore humanities subjects such as communication studies, history and theater. Delve into natural sciences topics in biology and computer science. Or investigate social science issues in sociology, political science and economics.

 If your interests span traditional disciplinary liberal arts boundaries, liberal studies at Cal U could be a great path for you. This accredited bachelor's degree program also provides a flexible completion option if you have not taken a traditional degree route.

Create a customized course plan; choose your degree classes from a wide range of topics in the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. Whether you're interested in theater or physics, sociology or math, you can tailor your degree to your personal and professional interests.

Political Science

Political scientists analyze, model and predict political behaviors and actions.

The B.A. in Political Science is a highly prescribed discipline. It limits its interests to the political aspects of human behavior, both national and international, including the study of power and organizations. Concentrations are offered in pre-law and public affairs. Minors are offered in both political science and pre-law. 


Sociology is the study of social life, social change, and the social causes and consequences of human behavior.  It is the systematic study of all features of group life beginning with family and extending to global arrangements. Sociologists investigate the structure of groups, organizations and societies, and how people interact within these contexts.

The mission of the sociology program at California University of Pennsylvania is to teach you to think critically about the structure and processes characteristic of all human groups and social systems. This program encourages exploration of the interrelationships among the individual, social institutions and the cultural context.

The primary purpose of the sociology program is to prepare students for graduate work in sociology or a related social science advanced degree. The sociology program is also a strong liberal arts major that provides its graduates with the necessary skills for entry-level positions requiring knowledge of human behavior.

In addition to the B.A. in Sociology and minor in sociology, the department, in conjunction with the College of Education and Human Services, provides a teacher certification program for those interested in teaching the social sciences in secondary schools. The department also works with the women's studies program and offers a selection of courses on gender issues in social institutions and social movements.

The general concentration within the sociology major is oriented toward preparing students for research positions in applied settings. Students are trained to:

  • Use sociological concepts, theories, skills and research methods to understand social and organizational problems;
  • Apply these tools to concrete, real-world, practical problems faced by organizations and communities at all levels; and
  • Provide organization leaders with practical solutions to these problems. 

With the deviance concentration within the sociology major, you will develop an in-depth understanding of the societal variables (values, norms, ideologies, sanctions, mores) that exist, influence and change with social, cultural and political influences.  The bachelor's degree in sociology integrates concepts from various academic disciplines to examine and tackle the real world issues of deviance as it relates to the aberrant, the diverse, the different, and the ever-evolving values and norms of our society and broader culture.

Honor Societies

  • History students who meet the academic requirements are eligible for membership in Phi Alpha Theta, national honor society in history.
  • Political science students who meet the academic requirements are eligible for membership in Pi Sigma Alpha, the national political science honor society.
  • Anthropology majors are eligible for membership in the Gamma Chapter of Lambda Alpha, the national anthropology honor society.
  • Students in the sociology program are eligible for membership in Pi Gamma Mu, the social science honor society, and Alpha Kappa Delta, the honor society for sociology.



Anthropology graduates can pursue numerous careers. Those students taking the forensic anthropology concentration work with coroners' and medical examiners' offices, as well as state, federal and international law enforcement agencies. Students specializing in archaeology may work as archaeological excavation crew members, cultural resource management specialists, environmental impact reviewers, and museum curators and researchers. Students may also pursue careers in the Foreign Service as well as undertaking graduate study.


Teacher, archivist and museum curator are professions directly related to the history major. Careers in law, religion, foreign service, both corporate and government, and diplomacy have a great reliance on historical knowledge. In addition, history majors are employed in the marketing field, the communications industry and the insurance industry.


A degree in Jurisprudence: Legal Studies prepares students for law school or to go directly into the legal field as paralegals, legal assistants, court system personnel, real estate practitioners, law enforcement professionals, government agency employees or business owners.

Political Science

Students may choose to concentrate in a major field of student in political science, pre-law or public affairs. A degree in political science or either of the concentrations prepares students for a variety of careers in the public and private sectors. Students may be employed in:

  • National, state and local government agencies
  • International government and public agencies
  • Fields such as environmental protection, consumer affairs or urban planning
  • Political consulting or research firms
  • Nonprofit organizations and citizen action groups
  • Public administration
  • Policy analysis


Students with an undergraduate degree in sociology find work in a variety of social settings. Material published by the American Sociological Association indicates that sociologists pursue careers in teaching and research in universities, federal, state and local government, corporations, and small business and nonprofit organizations.

Sociology graduates may work in diverse applied settings such as industry, government, higher education and voluntary associations, or as solo practitioners/consultants. Examples of applied sociological work in these settings include:

  • Evaluating the effectiveness of various educational policies/programs;
  • Investigating the social norms promoting or inhibiting the spread of AIDS;
  • Evaluating and assessing the effectiveness of various criminal justice programs;
  • Analyzing employment records for evidence of discrimination; and
  • Planning medical services and facilities for a target population.

Our sociology graduates hold positions in community agencies at the local, national and international levels; nonprofit organizations; trade associations; labor unions; foundations; and small and large corporations. In addition, sociology deviance concentration courses are all application-based and will prepare you for a wide range of careers and jobs in such areas as probation and parole, drug, alcohol and addiction treatment, mental health case management, children and youth services, corrections, and victims and veterans services.