Monday, April 25, 2011

Faculty profile: Political science instructor Joe Volpe on electronic revolution

Political science instructor
Joseph Volpe

MCC-Blue River political science instructor Joe Volpe brought to The MCC Insider a discussion of the effects of current events on the MCC-Blue River community. His recent studies reveal that the revolution in electronic media has affected a revolution in political activism which reaches across the globe and into our own community, even as far as our classrooms and the personal lives of our students.

MCC-BR: Of all of the current events that would interest a political science instructor, what is it that you see sparking the most interest in students right now?

JV: The things that everybody wants to talk about are the government shutdown which may happen by midnight tonight [at the time of the interview], and all the revolts in the Middle East. This has been a huge topic… a lot of them, since they’re fairly young, and a lot of [the activists], like
those in Egypt, are fairly young, they can relate to it.

And the fact that they’re using modern technology now, Facebook and so forth, to get meetings and to do revolts—students are totally fascinated. Truthfully I haven’t seen this kind of interest probably since the 1960s. And I think it’s great.

Any time I can get students, through use of events, involved in politics, I’m all for it—because we have such a low threshold in the United States for participation. Even when it comes to something simple like voting. You know, what, 24% voted in the last mayoral election? That’s sad… And that’s considerably higher than it used to be. And when you think about that, it’s even sadder.

MCC-BR: So you think there’s sort of a new social revolution happening?

JV: There’s a new social energy—I’ll put it that way—that people are really interested in what’s going on in the world. I’m glad. We were speaking earlier about a new class I’m going to teach this fall entitled International Relations, and that plays right into it.

The Introduction to International Relations class will be the first time on this campus that course has ever been taught. It’s been taught a few times at MCC-Longview and Penn Valley… I’ve been wanting to do this, and they finally said, go for it.

I’m hoping to turn a lot of students on to not just how politics affect America, but how it affects the world.

MCC-BR: Do you think that relates to the social revolution, the social energy that is present?

JV: I think they do play a part, yes. And I hope it continues. And it sounds like the revolts in the Middle East are going to continue. They’re happening in virtually every Middle Eastern country right now. Plus in China, Ivory Coast, all over the place.

MCC-BR: Do you have students currently that are from parts of the world where these events are taking place?

JV: I have had students from everywhere. This semester I have a couple from Mexico. In the past I have had from Taiwan, Mexico, Canada—one of my favorite students was a citizen of Canada—England, you name it… It’s nice to get a new perspective.

MCC-BR: What’s the most recent thing you can think of learning from one of your students that comes from another culture.

JV: The lady from Canada for example—we have a lot of misconceptions in this country about Canadian healthcare. It’s been a big topic in congress and so forth. She set me straight on a lot of stuff.

For example, you’ve got certain senators who are saying, “Well the wait is like… forever in Canada.” She said the longest she’s aver waited in a waiting room was twenty minutes.

Now I kind of use that when people go, “Well you’re gonna wait for days,” or what have you. I say, “Have you ever been to Truman in Lakewood? You want to wait a while? You’ll wait there.”

In Canada, according to this lady, it’s twenty minutes. She said that healthcare is just as good as it is here, if not better.

MCC-BR: It’s just which rules you’re waiting under. . . .

JV: Whenever I have students from around the world, or even maybe just a different state, I try to mine some of that—the differences between what’s happening in Missouri, or what’s happening in, say, Wyoming. Because they’re completely different political cultures.

It all plays in. I want to be able to get that across to students, and I think I am. They can have a dramatic impact on the system for good or for bad, whatever they want to do with it. That they are involved is the main thing to me.

Introduction to International Relations [this fall] should be a good foray into that.

POLS 234 Introduction to International Relations (3 Cr.) [fall semester]
This course acquaints students with the core concepts, processes, issues, and analytical tools of international relations. The course details the actors in international relations, how foreign policy is made, and the role of power. The course examines past, contemporary, and future problems in the international system, including military confl ict, economics, demography, and the environment. Upon completion of this course, students should have a strong basic understanding of international relations.
MCC-Blue River
49793 LEC 9:00A-9:50A MWF CC 212 Volpe,J

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