Spring class will discuss conflict in “The Hunger Games”

Nic Britton

Let the games begin.

This spring, the IUS Political Science Department will offer a course about the political and social themes found in “The Hunger Games,” the dystopian series of books and films that has become a worldwide phenomenon. The class will examine how its themes can be connected to real-life conflicts and politics.

The course, Political Science Y200: Politics & Conflict in “The Hunger Games” Trilogy, was first held last spring as a course in the Honors Program. The spring 2014 section will not be limited to honors students only; it is aimed toward political science majors with some prior experience in the department’s classes.

Jean Abshire, associate professor of political science and the instructor for the course, said she is excited to offer it to a wider variety of students this spring.

“I was interested in doing so from the beginning,” Abshire said, “especially since the honors students seemed excited about it.”

Abshire said she got the idea for the course while re-reading the books with her nieces.

“It struck me again how many political themes there are,” Abshire said. “I thought it would work for a class. It’s obviously a popular series, and it’s loaded with political science.”

Abshire said some of the issues covered in the course include the role of government in peoples’ lives, protest, political violence and democratization, all of which are themes found in “The Hunger Games” series. She said she will also be comparing themes in the series to real events. In the spring 2013 section, she used real-life examples such as the democratic reconstructions of Central European countries and revolutions in Latin American countries such as Cuba and Nicaragua.

“The class touches on issues in a lot of places,” Abshire said.

Abshire said that it is “not a fluff class,” and a prerequisite is required in order to enroll; either Political Science Y107: Introduction to Comparative Politics or Political Science Y109: Introduction to International Relations must be taken first.

“Though it is a 200-level course, I’m treating it with a 300-level focus,” Abshire said. “I want my students to have some background in political science.”

Abshire said the spring 2013 section of the class was “kind of an experiment” and that she was glad she tried it with honors students first.

“It went well overall,” Abshire said. “It was good to start small with something experimental. The students seemed to really enjoy it.”

Abshire said she will be making substantial changes to the course this spring, however.

“There are various real-world case studies you can look at, so I’m totally re-evaluating what to use compared to last spring,” Abshire said. “We can touch on issues in a lot of places.”

Heather Colvin, human resources management junior, said she found the concept appealing.

“It’s ‘The Hunger Games,’ so that’s really cool,” Colvin said. “I think it’d be a fun class, but at the same time, you’d be learning a lot.”

Martin Bacala, pre-nursing freshman, said he was interested as well, and that the series is worth exploring in a classroom setting.

“I’m a fan of the series, and think it’d work well for a class,” Bacala said. “I think it could be compared to Orwell’s ‘1984,’ as they both use Big Brother as a theme.”

Abshire said that students interested in “The Hunger Games” class should also consider another new political science class, Political Science Y200: Politics & Theatre, which will be taught by Margot Morgan, visiting assistant professor of political science.

“Both classes are unconventional and have a similar approach,” Abshire said.

Students seeking more information about these new political science classes, as well as the rest of the spring course schedule, should visit ius.edu/registrar/ schedule-of-classes/semesters/spring-2014.