Course Description

The course offers a critical examination of crime committed by governments and against governments.  Students will investigate how social, political and economic power is structured and wielded across societies and systems in ways that both cause and normalize political crime, with a particular focus on democracies. 


Political crime is a social and political phenomenon that is often overlooked or narrowly viewed as the corrupt actions of a few morally bankrupt or ethically challenged individuals. A broader view of political crime as ideologically motivated behavior to bring about change or maintain an existing order can offer insights into how social injustices and systems of inequality can occur and persist even in democratic societies with institutions and values designed to protect against abuses of political and governmental power.  By taking this course on political crime, students, therefore, will be able to gain a deeper understanding of how and why political power in democracies and other forms of government can be abused with often devastating social and human consequences.  Moreover, students will analyze and identify existing and potential mechanisms within democratic societies to control political crime. 

Meeting Place and Times



Kenneth Silvestri

"I am originally from a small town near Buffalo, NY that had only one stop light and about 2,000 people. However, unlike Montana, it only takes 10-20 minutes to get to the next town, not 1-3 hours! After completing two graduate degrees, including a master's degree in political science and a master's degree in educational technology, I made my way to Bozeman, Montana, where I have resided for the past 5 years.  Prior to my current role as Montana State University's instructional designer, I taught social science courses full-time at Northern Arizona University and worked in government and public policy research.  One of my favorite courses to teach was the political crime course, as it related to my research focus on political violence.  As you will learn in this course, political crime covers a broad array of political acts and can be found in many current and past political events. In case you are wondering, an instructional designer advises and supports faculty who teach online courses and use technology to enhance learning.

When I am not working, you will most likely find me on the trails running, hiking, or skiing with my dog Porter pictured below or on the river or at a lake fly fishing (my therapy!). I am a politics junkie and stay informed the best I can with podcasts and online news sources.  I also enjoy watching sports and root for the Buffalo Bills, NY Mets, and Buffalo Sabres. I have watched every Game of Thrones episodes and read all the books.  If you ever want to talk politics or sports, feel free to stop by my office."



Tuition and Fees

If you are accepted into a qualified online program, see the appropriate MSU Online Only Tuition and Fee table.

If you are also taking a face-to-face course, please refer to the MSU Fee Schedules.

Required Books/Materials

  • Ross, J. An Introduction to Political Crime. The Policy Press, 2012.
  • Seferiades, S. and Johnston, H. Violent Protset, Contentious Politics, and the Neoliberal State. 2012
  • Green, P. and Ward, T. State Crime: Governments, Violence, and Corruption. Pluto Press, 2004.
  • Rose, R. and Peiffer, C. Bad Governance and Corruption. Palgrave-MacMillian, 2019.
    • Available for free online through the MSU library

Computer Requirements:

  • Internet access
  • A device and browser that pass the system check for Brightspace LE, MSU's learning management system.


For More Information

For more information, plese contact Ken Silvestri at [email protected]


How to Register

You must be accepted as a student to Montana State University to take this course.

Learn how to apply.

After your application has been accepted, you will register via MSU's online registration system, MyInfo.

Registration requires a PIN. Learn how to find your PIN.

Once you have your PIN, learn how to register through MyInfo.