College of Liberal Arts & Sciences
Political Science

Department Goals and Objectives

The faculty met for a series of discussions in 1997 and 1998 to identify and articulate a comprehensive set of departmental goals and objectives.  They are presented below as revised during a departmental retreat in May 2000.

Political Science Goals

With a major in political science, the student will:

  1. Understand the fundamental importance of one's membership in the human polity (normative).
  2. Develop knowledge of political movements, structures and institutions in the United States and other countries (empirical).
  3. Develop skills necessary to engage effectively in the study and practice of politics and to become fully realized citizens, thinkers and professionals (applied).
  4. Develop the ability to make connections between theory and practice, between global and local events, and between political science and other disciplines (analytical/integrative).

Objectives for each of these goals:

1. Normative: to foster…

  • an appreciation of the diversity and complexity of cultures, ideals, and ideologies
  • participation in the community and the political process
  • awareness of the connection between one's own life and the political process
  • a concern for the common good
  • a space, both physical and cultural, that will nourish a sense of community among faculty, staff and students who care about politics

2. Empirical: to foster understanding and knowledge of…

  • the basic U.S. political structures and institutions at the national, state and local levels
  • different political systems in various countries, and at different levels
  • fundamental similarities and differences among national political systems
  • political interactions between and across national boundaries
  • how political institutions have developed over time
  • the ways individuals and groups respond to and participate in the political process
  • the ways political change is achieved through voting, lobbying and legislative reform, and through protest, social movements, and revolution
  • the conflicting theories about politics and the tentative nature of knowledge
  • the fundamental differences and similarities among the various approaches to the study of politics
  • the causes and consequences of political and military conflict and the various approaches to the resolution of conflict
  • the nature of politics, and its role in the management of conflict over valued resources and divergent goals
  • the basic features and approaches of the various social science disciplines

3. Applied/Operational Skills: to develop the ability to…

  • write and speak clearly and effectively
  • listen to and understand divergent points of view
  • think critically about politics and political information
  • understand and manipulate statistical data and information
  • engage in conflict analysis and mediation, consensus building, and political reconciliation
  • do independent research

4. Integration and Analysis: to foster…

  • participation in interdisciplinary dialogues
  • an ability to analyze the connections between global and local politics
  • an ability to analyze the connections between the personal, private and public aspects of our lives
  • recognition and analysis of the connections between the political, economic, cultural and social aspects of society and the world
  • understanding and analysis of how race, gender and class shape politics and political life
  • awareness of the connections between culture, ideology, and politics


Department Curriculum in Relation to our Goals and Objectives

The Department's goals and objectives (see section IV above) are pursued throughout the major's curriculum.  As such, there are multiple overlaps and reinforcement at each successive level.   However, there also tends to be a progression toward increasing proficiency in the use of applied/operational skills and integration and analysis at the 300 and 400 levels, building on the normative and empirical foundations laid at the 100 and 200 levels (as indicated in italics below).

A. Intro Level Courses

100 Level Skills:  News Analysis, Position Papers, Basic Understanding of Political Processes, Ideas and Institutions

PO 101  Intro to Politics
PO 131  Intro to US Politics
PO 141  Intro to International Politics
PO 151  Intro to Comparative Politics

B. Intermediate Level Courses

200 Level Skills:  Research Design and Analysis, Complex Political Philosophical Issues, Conflict Resolution

PO 201 Research and Analysis
PO 210 Basic Political Thought
PO 220 Community Mediation

C. Upper Level Courses

300 Level Skills:  Write a Research Paper, Apply Political Science Training to Topics in Depth

PO301 Washington Seminar
PO302 Third World Politics
PO320 International Relations
PO332 State & Local Government & Politics
PO335 Racial & Ethnic Politics
PO350 African Politics
PO355 US Foreign Policy
PO360 Political Regimes in Latin America
PO362 Popular Participation in Latin America
PO364 US-Latin American Relations
PO370 Governments & Politics of Europe
PO371 US Parties and Politics
PO372 The Role of Protest in US Politics
PO373 Public Policy
PO377 Constitutional Law
PO379 The Presidency and the Congress
PO380 Topics in Politics Science
PO381 Ancient & Medieval Political Thought
PO382 Modern Political Thought
PO383 US Political Thought
PO384 Politics Through Film
PO391 Russian Politics
PO392 The Transition from Communism in East-Central Europe

D. Advanced

400 Level Skills: Thematic Integration and Analysis

PO 400-2 Independent Study in Political Science
PO 404-6 Internship in Political Science
PO 407-9 Student Apprenticeship in Political Science
PO 490 Seminar in Political Science
PO 499 Honors Thesis