Faculty Spotlight: Government Honors Course

 Professor Ryan Rynbrandt

Federal Government Honors Course (GOVT 2305.S1H)

Ryan Rynbrandt

Course Summary:

The Declaration of Independence declares that governments are instituted to protect our inalienable rights, including life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. In this course, students will research what the American federal government does to fulfill this mission, and where it fails to do so. In the process, students will learn about the structure and operation of government and investigate the groups and individuals who seek to influence and control it.

For more information on this course and other honors courses, feel free to contact the Honors Institute.

Contact Information:

Professor Ryan Rynbrandt


Phone: 972-881-5986

Room: L-268



Faculty Spotlight: Learning Communities

FALL SEMESTER- "Utopia and the Republic: Reflections on the Model Society"

SPRING SEMESTER - "Hoping for Change? Political Argument and Problem Solving in the U.S., Texas, and Local Communities"

Taught by:

Zack Shipley, Professor of Political Science & Lari Ranta, Professor of English

Zack Shipley and Lari Ranta


Each fall we do "Utopia and the Republic: Reflections on the Model Society" (which is ENGL 1301 - English Composition I and GOVT 2305 - US Government). This course explores the idea of the ideal society, how it is designed and what it expects from its citizens, and the often nebulous distinction between the utopian ideal and dystopian application. The social and political system of the United States is evaluated based on these theories, and we explore compromises made to adapt the "City upon a Hill" to the modern world and the limitations of human nature.

Each spring we do "Hoping for Change? Political Argument and Problem Solving in the US, Texas, and Local Communities" (ENGL 1302 - Comp II and GOVT 2306 - TX Gov). This course is the practical application of the theories built up in the fall -- how individual people can work through the political system to affect change in society. The course takes a thematic approach with social issues, particularly exploring civil rights, economic inequality, and justice. Emphasis is placed on student research of a social problem and the avenues (both political and argumentative) available to address the issue in their communities.

Taken together, the sequence fulfills both the English Composition and Government core requirements, exposes students to both philosophical and practical understandings of government, and develops their understanding of the rhetorical strategies employed (by others or themselves) to influence change within the community.

In Learning Communities courses, professors team teach and connect the concepts of their disciplines under a common theme or question. You receive credit for each class as if you were taking traditional classes thus transfer and graduation credits are met.

For example:
"Utopia and the Republic..." = Government + English = 6 credit hours!

What are some of the benefits of joining a Learning Community?

  • See the connections between courses
  • Experience a collaborative learning environment
  • Get to know your teachers and fellow students better
  • Enjoy a variety of learning experiences - discussions, group projects, field trips, lectures, service-learning


Faculty Publications

 Practicing Texas Politics 

Practicing Texas Politics is co-authored by Professor Ryan Rynbrandt

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Undue Process is authored by Professor Michael Norris