Political Science Department

Political Science Department


The goal of the Political Science Department is to help build within students the knowledge, skills, and desire to be life long public and global citizens. Students are challenged to think critically about their beliefs and understandings of the world around them, while developing the language, analytical and writing skills necessary for them to present these ideas effectively to others. Beyond the classroom we hope to provide students with the inspiration and opportunities to engage with politics in its multiple forms and locations.

We offer instruction in the four traditional subfields of the discipline of Political Science: American Politics, International Relations, Political Theory, and Comparative Politics.

American politics

This is the study of the institutions, processes, and behaviors that characterize politics in the United States. We offer courses in Congress, the Presidency, law and the court system, electoral politics and political parties, public opinion, political psychology, urban politics, and public policy regarding health care, the environment, and education.

Political theory

Political theorists study the ideas, practices, discourses, and power formations that undergird political institutions, state formations, and all instances of collective life. In our classes, we seek to familiarize students with the “canon” of political thought as well as critically evaluate that canon by revealing gender, race, and power dynamics that constitute these texts. To achieve these goals, we analyze the canonical texts by situating them in their historical contexts while asking them to speak to our contemporary concerns. We also critically engage the canon by putting canonical texts into “conversation” with texts, theories and practices that have traditionally been marginalized in the history of political thought.

International relations

This is the study of relations between and among the countries of the world. Central topics in international relations include war and peace, arms control, patterns of international trade and finance, globalization, development, international organizations, foreign policy, and transnational terrorism, trafficking, and organized crime.

Comparative politics

This is the study of domestic politics in settings across the globe, featuring two broad types of courses. One set of courses grounds students in the political history and dynamics of crucial regions of the world: the Middle East, Latin America, Sub-Saharan Africa, Europe, and Asia. A second set of courses addresses specific themes or issue areas, such as the state, authoritarian rule, democratization, political economy, ethnic conflict, civil war, corruption, and human rights. In both types of courses there is a methodological emphasis on comparing and contrasting across cases in order to discover patterns and better understand causality.