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Academic Program

The academic program of the political science department encompasses all four major subfields of the discipline: American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations, and Political Theory. 

American Politics – The study of politics in the United States, including topics such as American political development, American elections, American political institutions, racial and ethnic politics, environmental politics, democratic theory and practice, urban underclass, faith-based public policy and constitutional law, judicial politics, lesbians and gays in American politics, and presidential elections.  [For courses in American Politics, click here]

Comparative Politics – The study of domestic politics of countries around the world.  Some courses focus on particular regions, like Latin America, China, Europe and the Middle East.  Others focus on themes, such as democracy and authoritarianism, nationalism and ethnic conflict, the politics of natural disasters, migration, social movements, or surveillance and repression. [For courses in Comparative Politics, click here]

International Relations – The study of politics between states, including American foreign policy, causes of international and civil war as well as methods of peacekeeping, international political economy, globalization, and transnational movements and international (multilateral) organizations. [For courses in International Relations, click here]

Political Theory – The intellectual history of thinking about politics, beginning in the Western world with The Greeks and the Bible, and culminating in Marx, Nietzsche, Foucault, Arendt and contemporary modern and postmodernist theorists. [For courses in Political Theory, click here]

All political science majors, regardless of major type, must meet the department’s breadth requirement by taking at least one course or seminar in each of these four subfields.  For more information on specific requirements and expectations for your particular type of major or minor within the department, click on the links on the left-hand sidebar.

Learning Goals for Political Science

  1. Demonstrate knowledge of fundamental political processes, institutions, actors, and relationships, and the theoretical concepts and ideas that move them;
  2. Demonstrate a familiarity with major theorists and theories, methods and concepts in Political Science and several of its major subfields;
  3. Demonstrate proficiency in thinking systematically and historically about political actors and interactions in national, regional, global and international contexts;
  4. Demonstrate proficiency in thinking critically and creatively about the ethical dimensions of politics;
  5. Write effectively in making strong, evidence-backed arguments, engage in intellectually grounded oral debate and discussion, and form and express cogently formulated arguments and interpretations;
  6. Synthesize, analyze, and critically evaluate major arguments in the discipline as a whole and in major subfields of the discipline;
  7. Assess original and secondary sources of argument and evidence and apply scholarship to new areas of research;
  8. Develop abilities to engage with the broader world, applying disciplinary knowledge to understand and possibly shape political processes, institutions, and discourse.