Monmouth College / Midwest Matters



Robin A. Johnson, Political Science

Tom Best, History

Kevin Roberts, English

Fred Witzig, History


Politics and Government in the Midwest

Robin Johnson, lecturer for political science

This course explores the forces that make the Midwestern states so critical in the balance of governmental and political power. The goals of the course are to gain a better understanding of Midwestern politics by examining how demographic, economic, historical, cultural and migration patterns impact voting and policy decisions in eight Midwestern states (Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio and Wisconsin). Students will gain an understanding of forces at play in the Midwest region as a whole and in individual states and their combined impact on American politics and government.

Heartland of America:  History of Illinois and the Midwest

Fred Witzig, assistant professor of history

This course explores the religious, social, and economic cultures of the Midwestern region and the region’s place in America.  The goal is to use the past to better understand the present and the possibilities for the future, and to share conclusions with the academy and the larger public.    Each student will visit a historical site in the region and write an academic paper to be presented at an academic conference or research the history of and produce a history document for a Midwestern business suitable for public distribution.  Both of these projects are types of public history, which is the practice of doing history in a way that engages a public--as opposed to strictly academic--audience.


The Civil War

Tom Best, Lecturer in History and Educational Studies

A survey of the war between the states, using documents of the government depository in the Monmouth College Hewes Library.  Special attention is given to the soldiers and units of the Midwest.

Home is Where the Heartland Is

Kevin R. Roberts, English Instructor

"Home is Where the Heartland Is” is a study of Illinois through its literature--fiction and non-fiction examples from throughout the history of the state, ranging from Southern Illinois to Chicago.  The course will also look at the folklore and music of the state while studying the concepts of literary analysis.  The course is designed to explore what it means to be an Illinoisan or to gain a clearer understanding of the concept if not a native Illinoisan.  The course will also reflect the history, politics, religion, philosophy, education, sports, music, and day-to-day life of the state during the semester.  Students will gain an appreciation for the resources the state has to offer, both natural and manmade, while exploring the positive and negative aspects of life in a Midwestern state known for Abraham Lincoln and Chicago.  Students will also gain knowledge of the history of the state, along with exposure to various native Illinoisan authors who have been published through the years.



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