Students in Dr. Wendy Watson's American Government class present the case for President Obama
Students in Dr. Wendy Watson's American Government class present the case for Governor Romney
Political science, initiated by the Greek philosopher Aristotle, seeks to understand the pursuit and employment of power as well as the different types of political structures under which human beings live. And if Aristotle is right—and really, when is he not?—that “man is by nature a political animal,” then political science is the key to understanding human beings, their motives (both moral and utilitarian), their aspirations (including how and to what extent society can assist in realizing them), and finally their often conflicting visions of a just society. Political science studies the various political decisions that societies make, starting with the basic constitutional one of who rules and how and extending to every manner of the ranking (and funding) of the wide array of human pursuits.
Our discipline is divided into four major areas: American Government, International Relations, Comparative Politics, and Political Theory. In addition, we have a strong focus on research methods. This is important, since political science may ask the simple questions that come up all the time in conversation (Why did the Supreme Court rule that way? Why are some countries prone to civil unrest or terrorism? Are there non-military ways of effecting change abroad?), it addresses them in very rigorous ways. Our country and the world at large are very complex and, in order to secure solid answers to the question of why they are the way they are—and even how they really are—we need to apply rigorous, thoughtful, and careful research agendas.
Our undergraduate program boasts hundreds of majors who are taught by an exceptionally engaging, award-winning faculty. Our graduate program trains students to be top-tier researchers, writers and teachers. The department houses the Castleberry Peace Institute, home to our Peace Studies program, and the Human Security, Democracy, and Global Development Research Cluster which addresses the questions of how to forge secure, decent democracies in the face of war, ethnic and religious conflict, corruption, and low levels of development. Finally, we currently are the editorial home to the American Political Science Review, the world’s premier journal of political science.
To pursue your interest in political science, you should be prepared to engage in orderly, careful, critical thinking, to consider a challenging and even unsettling array of political positions and outlooks, and to hone your ability to write and speak in a clear, precise manner. Of course, there is literally a world of questions and interests to engage you and to inspire your study. Please contact any of us if you have any questions.