Southwestern

Engaging Minds, Transforming Lives

Political Science

About The Department

POLITICAL SCIENCE DEPARTMENT
Division of Social Sciences

Department Goals and Student Learning Outcomes

Our department aims to cultivate students’ understanding of the cultural and theoretical dimensions of politics, as well as the institutional and structural dimensions of politics. We aim to develop students’ ability to understand decision-making processes and help them acquire the skills of political analysis. Our major prepares students very well for graduate and professional school, but our goals also extend beyond the academic realm: we also give students critical and analytical tools toward preparing them for local, national, and global citizenship. 

The discipline relies on different levels of analysis, moving from specific issues or problems faced by individuals or groups in different parts of the world, to theoretical analyses of the overarching political ideologies, theories, and structures that shape everyday life. In addition to the wide range of topics that give focus to the study of politics, political scientists also employ different strategies and tools for understanding political life, from institutional methods of analysis, to cultural, historical, institutional, structural, and theoretical approaches.

These topics are explored and these methods are employed across the four traditional sub-fields that make up the discipline: American Politics, Political Theory, Comparative Politics, and International Relations. Our major is designed to develop students’ substantive knowledge in these different subfields. But, across the discipline, we also strive to give students the critical and analytical tools they need to analyze the complex ways that power and politics work, while also cultivating their skills as researchers and writers. 

Our curriculum reflects the diversity of the study of politics. We offer courses on a broad range of topics shaped around the expertise and current research of our faculty. You’ll find courses that analyze the theory and practice of democracy, or women, gender, and politics, or terrorism, or revolutions in Latin America, or religion and politics in the U.S., or leadership in Japan, or the judiciary and Constitutional Law, or the interaction of peoples and states in the international arena.

Our faculty is committed to helping students develop as active participants in the world. We seek to cultivate graduates who are conscious of human society’s major problems and are interested in bringing the best constructive critical thinking to bear upon them.

A major or minor in Political Science prepares students to go on to graduate or professional programs, into politics, government, non-governmental organizations, journalism, public relations, banking, or teaching, while also giving students the tools and skill-sets they need as citizens to understand and question how power and politics shape the world around us. 

Some of our exceptionally well-qualified students may also be invited by the department to submit a research proposal to work on a year-long Honors Thesis, in lieu of the senior Capstone course.  

See the different paths our students follow after graduating from Southwestern University by checking out our alumni news and stories.