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Politics, Geography and International Studies


The Politics, Geography and International Studies (PGIS) Department combines the expertise and years of experience of our faculty and staff in the disciplines of geography and geographic information science, international studies and political science.

We look forward to supporting our students with the strength of our combined faculty and staff!

Our students say.....


Hello! My name is Alice Shock and I am currently a senior at UWRF. I am majoring in international studies and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages and my minors are in Asian studies and German.

I was drawn to the international studies major at UWRF because I am passionate about different cultures and our increasingly global society. I have loved all of my classes here at UWRF, but my favorites from the international studies major have to be Introduction to International Studies, INTS 200, and World and Food Populations, AGEC 250. Both of these classes helped me learn about current social and political issues that exist in our world. I have used information from these classes to direct my projects and hone in on how I can make a difference in the world.

What I like about projects from the international studies program is that students often have a choice in what they research. Because I am an Asian studies minor, I wanted to direct my research towards countries in Asia. In Introduction to International Studies, I was able to select a country I wanted to research throughout the semester. There were countries from all across the globe to choose from so students were able to tailor studies towards different interests. I chose Japan as the country for my case study since I am also studying Japanese at UWRF. With what I learned in class, I was able to narrow my research and learn more about the culture and demographics of Japan along with the social and political issues that exist within the country.

When I first started attending UWRF, I was only majoring in TESOL. I was looking at the international studies major too, but I thought it would be too much to do a double major. After a semester of taking classes and talking to my advisers and professors, I realized that I could double major in international studies and still graduate within four years! The international studies degree extracurriculars often double-counted with my minors too. Faculty and staff have been supportive in my studies and know me by name. I always find the topics in class to be engaging and useful for future studies and my future career.

After college, I know I want to continue learning and working with different countries and cultures. My professors have shown me several programs to work and study abroad after school, such as the JET Program and Fulbright. Although I don’t know where I’m headed yet, I know I’ve learned what I need to be a successful professional from UWRF!

Lucie-Royla-webMy name is Lucie Royla and I am a political science major at UWRF. I have taken many political science classes so far and really liked all of them, but there are some that really stood out to me throughout the last semesters. One of my favorite classes I have taken so far is Comparative Politics, POLS 245. I love learning about new things from different places in the world, how their politics work and how that might explain the things we see in the news. Learning more about how different countries function politically truly helped me understand the American system better but also helped me understand how different systems could be improved and why certain aspects of it work out well while others do not. Another class that I really liked was called Gender and Human Rights, POLS 389. What I appreciated most about this class was how much it looked at the reality of the subject and how it helped me see everything related to peace, war, and gender from a new perspective. Ultimately, I realized that all of the new things I learned in this class also play out in our everyday lives which helped shape my perspective on a lot of the events going on around me.

For one of my projects last semester, I was asked to analyze a specific peace agreement and assess whether it was in compliance with specific guidelines that the UNSC had outlined in order to protect women from violence and to give more rights to women in general. What I really liked about this project was that it asked me to approach this peace agreement in a different way. Normally, you would simply read the agreement and decide whether you think it is effective or not. But by being asked to study it from a very specific point of view and to decide whether it responded well to the protection of women and women’s rights, I was able to gain a much deeper understanding of the document itself. This also helped me understand that, even though something like a peace agreement might look good from an overall perspective, if you look at it from one specific perspective and whether it responds well to a specific group of people, it might suddenly appear very different.

One of the things that I appreciate most about the political science program at UWRF is how knowledgeable and interested the professors here are. I truly feel as though, in every class, the professors care about the topic they are talking about and want you to understand as much of it as possible. Also, I really like the discussions in class about the many different topics. Sometimes, talking about your views about politics and sharing your opinions with others openly can be difficult, but in the classes that I have taken in the past, the atmosphere felt safe so that you can speak your mind. I have personally thought about going to law school after finishing at UWRF, but am not 100% sure about that yet. Either way, I really enjoy studying political science here at UWRF and love all the knowledge and experience I am gaining!

Emma-JaworskiEmma Jaworski

Geography major with a GIS emphasis, Spanish minor

There are many things I appreciate about the geography program here at UWRF. First, is the faculty. The department is fairly small, and because of this, I've had the same few professors numerous times. This allowed me to feel like the professors really knew me personally and knew how to best help me succeed in the program. I never felt like just a number. Another thing I appreciate is how few limitations there are when it comes to projects. In general, there are no strict formats that you have to follow when making your research poster or when writing your paper, and there are really no topics that are off-limits. This allowed me to really get creative and pick topics that I found interesting and/or meaningful. One last thing I'll mention about the geography/GIS program is that there are so many resources to help you succeed. The GIS lab has just about every GIS-related software imaginable, and the professors are always there to help you with anything. Whether it's finding data for a project, getting advice on a certain color scheme for a map, or coming up with a way to arrange your graphics on a research poster, they're always happy to help. All you have to do is ask.

My favorite geography/GIS class that I've taken was probably GIS 351 (Map Design). That class was the first time I'd really gotten hands-on experience using various mapping techniques, and I ended up making some really cool maps. It was also my first time doing a big final project for a GIS class, and the success I had with that project just made me really want to keep learning more about GIS and discover other interesting topics that I could create maps for.

I've done many projects, both big and small, throughout my time here at UWRF, but these are two of my favorites: In Map Design, GIS 351, my final project was about the 2020 presidential election results and how they related to various state-level demographic data. The results were pretty predictable, but it was really interesting to see them visualized as maps, rather than just raw numbers. Also, one of the professors in the PGIS Department asked if they could use my maps in their political science class, which was really flattering, especially since that was my first big GIS project and my expectations for it were fairly low. In Field Methods in Geography and GIS, GIS 366, I did a project with Trista Sweda, a fellow classmate, about litter on the UWRF campus. For two weeks, we walked around campus for an hour or so each day collecting litter on campus and marking the locations with GPS units so we could eventually map all the litter locations as points. That was my first time using a GPS unit to gather locations, so that was a fun opportunity. We presented the poster with our findings at the Fall 2021 URSCA Gala, and we got lots of positive feedback on it, and it's now hanging in both the GIS lab and the third floor hallway of Kleinpell Fine Arts.

My plans for after graduation are still up in the air. I may study abroad to get my master's degree. I may look for a GIS-related job right away. It's too soon to tell.

Contact Us

Politics, Geography and International Studies
M-F, 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m.
355-356 Kleinpell Fine Arts
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