Meet the Department: Political Science

Critical Thought and Inquiry (CTI) classes allow students to learn subjects outside of their major and get to know professors in other departments. However, you take only one class in each of the CTI categories, so there are some faculty you may not know. This is the fifth part of a series of articles highlighting different departments on campus in order for you to become familiar with the faculty at William Jewell College.

Dr. Holiman

Dr. Alan Holiman, department chair of the political science department, received his Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from the University of Arkansas, a master of arts in political science from Ohio State University, a second M.A. degree in Russian and east European studies and doctorate in political science from the University of Kansas. Holiman especially enjoys discussing, and debating, comparative and American politics. Having lived and studied in the Soviet Union, Holiman has gained first­hand experience analyzing the similarities and differences between states, especially Russia and other post­-communist states.

“Alas, no new subject has captured my fascination lately. I track what I track and follow what I follow and these are more than enough,” he said, when asked whether any specific topic had recently grabbed his attention.

However, his recent foray into Russian politics has brought him to a “wonderful read” called, “”Vsya kremlevskaya rat,” which translates to “All the Kremlin’s Men” by Mikhail Zygar, news director for TV-­Rain in Moscow,” which details the rise and transformation of Vladimir Putin.

Dr. Gary Armstrong

Dr. Gary Armstrong has extended his role at William Jewell College beyond his own department. His titles include: professor of political science, director of the international relations major and associate dean of the core curriculum. While his administrative work does occupy some of his time, his classes still see his passion for political science. Armstrong came to Jewell after receiving a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Oklahoma and a doctorate from Georgetown University, where he now spends his summers teaching. While he primarily teaches political science courses, Dr. Armstrong instructs the CTI capstone course “Birth By Any Means” for William Jewell seniors and has also found interest in teaching “Preparation for Marriage” with his wife. His educational interests include American foreign and security policies, international relations theory, international conflict and war ethics and international political economy.

When asked if any new topic had recently captured his attention, Dr. Armstrong reflected on a course called “Intro to World Politics.”

“’Intro to World Politics’ has changed,” he said. “That’s been a lot of fun. Students get to try to connect politics to fundamental notions of human happiness. Of course, the students get to involve patterns and charts to create a hypothesis. However, I really don’t care too much about the statistical process in this case. I care about their ability to create an interesting hypothesis.”

Dr. Rien Staal

Dr. Staal, professor of political science, received his bachelor of arts from the University of California at Santa Cruz. He then received his Master of Arts and a doctorate at the University of California at Berkeley. His specialties include politics and literature, political philosophy and American political thought. While his work at Jewell occupies much of his time, Staal has found time to write several political and theological texts, including “The Forgotten Story of Post­Modernity,” “The Irony of Modern Conservatism” and “A Viable Russian Federalism.”

Dr. Fletcher D. Cox

Dr. Fletcher D. Cox, the most recent addition to the political science department, is an assistant professor of political science and he received his B.S. from William Jewell College. After graduation, he received his masters of theological studies from Harvard University, which he followed with his doctorate from the University of Denver alongside work with the Sié Chéou­Kang Center for International Security and Diplomacy. As a Jewell graduate, Dr. Cox has the experience of teaching at the same school where he first studied and is spending his first year back at his alma mater “focused on designing new courses for the department.” His special interests keep him focused on comparative politics and international political economy.

In in addition to teaching, I am working on three research projects that will produce multiple publications over the next few years,” said Cox.


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