The members of the Political Science Department endeavor to show why the study of politics is an important constituent of a liberal education.
We seek to promote attention to fundamental political questions, as well as to foster a commitment to the practice of politics both now and in the future. To this end, we seek to develop the capacity for careful reflection and the practice of thorough analysis that are an indispensable foundation for a thoughtful commitment to the study and practice of politics. We aim to help prepare our students to pursue their professional and academic ambitions as thoughtful, compassionate, responsible, and effective citizens and human beings.
We seek to develop the capacity of our students to think, read, write, and speak accurately, clearly, and knowledgeably about politics. All of our courses therefore emphasize skills in careful reading, clear writing, and critical thinking. Moreover, the political science major promotes the capacity: to ask questions about politics in a substantive and complex way; to distinguish clearly between tested and untested opinion; to grasp the intricate and contestable character of various principles, terms, and claims of political discourse; and to evaluate ideas, policies, and methodologies based upon a plurality of approaches, both past and present, local and international, empirical and philosophical.
Through the four major areas of study – United States politics and government, political theory, international relations, and comparative politics - we aim to develop an understanding of the discipline of political science and of the nature of politics. Students who major in political science will learn: to investigate concepts such as justice, liberty, authority, power, and law; to explore the relations of individuals to states, and of states to one another; to study the relation of politics to economics, history, philosophy, and religion; and to address moral questions of rights, duties, and moral responsibility.
In order to complement reflection in the classroom, the Political Science Department offers not only a range of courses, but also an extensive program of public lectures. We encourage personal contact and, wherever appropriate, independent study. We also provide various forms of support for student research projects, and encourage experiential learning, such as internships and international study.