Majors & Minors

Political Science

 Southwestern faculty and students explore the various dimensions of power, analyze political philosophies and behaviors, and practice civic engagement with the world around them.


Emily Sydnor

Emily Sydnor

Associate Professor of Political Science & Chair

Emily Sydnor

Emily Sydnor

Associate Professor of Political Science & Chair

Studying political science is crucial to understanding one of the most powerful institutions shaping our lives: government. By comparing how different ideologies and forms of government have developed and evolved, analyzing how power and resources are distributed throughout a society and the world, and examining the impact of political events and public policies throughout history and across countries, students of the discipline become more informed, engaged participants within the local, national, and global communities.

At Southwestern, majoring or minoring in political science will broaden your understanding of a range of fascinating topics:

  • campaigns and elections
  • domestic and foreign policy
  • international politics
  • civil discourse
  • the relationship between media and politics
  • the relationship between politics and gender
  • models of political leadership
  • theories of revolution, conflict, and peace
  • ideologies and political philosophies

You’ll cultivate the analytical tools, creative thinking, and communication skills that will prepare you for effective critical engagement with many different kinds of power structures. Those skills will also help you develop a sound foundation for future study in  a wide variety of professions as well as graduate programs. Recent Southwestern political science alumni are currently pursuing careers in law, government, K–12 and higher education, nonprofits, urban planning, business, and international affairs.


Featured Alumni Stories

Emily Calderón Galdeano’99

Video: From Southwestern to Community Leader

Emily Calderón Galdeano ’99 shares insights on her Southwestern experience and the impact of Southwestern’s Hispanic-serving institution designation.

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Katherine Tanner ’13 and Bradley Ottmers

Think Globally; Act Locally

International studies and political science major Katherine Tanner ’13 helps nourish a community as “the heart” of Hat & Heart Farm.

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Meredith Murphy ’16

Training for a Thoughtful Future

History and political science double major Meredith Murphy ’16 reflects on the many benefits of a liberal-arts education.

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Political Science News

Andrews Fellowship advertising

Andrews Endowed Fellowship: Apply by 3/17 for grad school scholarship

Are you a graduating senior or recent grad (within two years of graduation) entering graduate school in Fall 2024? If so, please apply for this opportunity to earn $3,000 toward the cost of the first year of graduate/professional school study. Application deadline is March 17, 2024, at 11:59 p.m. 


Meet Our World-Class Faculty: Alex Goodwin

A conversation with Assistant Professor of Political Science Alex Goodwin.

Kadidiatou Magassa ’13 with Djibouti flag

A Journey to Diplomacy

Southwestern’s 2022 Distinguished Young Alumna Kadidiatou Magassa ’13 leveraged her SU education into Peace Corps volunteering in Senegal before landing the Thomas R. Pickering Fellowship from the U.S. Department of State. Now her journey to diplomacy continues in Djibouti, East Africa, as a Foreign Service Officer. And she hopes other SU students will want to contribute positively to the world in similar ways.



Political Science Events

Marco Alcocer

Drop-in Hour: Grad School in Poli Sci with Dr. Marco Alcocer ’14

Interested in grad school in political science? Drop by to visit with SU poli sci and Spanish alum Dr. Marco Alcocer ’14, to get advice about your journey. Currently a Harvard University Academy Scholar, Dr. Alcocer researches violence and crime, with a particular focus on the interactions between the state and criminal organizations in Latin America. Co-sponsored by CCPD, the Department of Political Science, LatinXcel and Captain’s Academy.

Political Science Group Advising & Department Information Session, Tuesday, 10/17/2023, 4:00 - 5:00 PM

Political Science Advising and Interest Session

Join the political science department on the library deck for snacks and to learn about the classes we’ll be offering during the 2024-2025 academic year. You’ll also have the opportunity to meet and hear from Zoe Moss, who will be joining the department in the fall and teaching political theory courses! After the advising meeting, we’ll head up to the Prothro Room in the library for a talk by Dr. Marco Alcocer (SU ’14) on “From Drug Cartels to Criminal Enterprises: Government Crackdowns and the Evolution of Organized Crime in Mexico”

Marco Alcocer

‘From Drug Cartels to Criminal Enterprises: Government Crackdowns and the Evolution of Organized Crime in Mexico’

Dr. Marco Alcocer, SU ’14
The Harvard Academy for International and Area Studies, Academy Scholar

Lecture Summary: Scholars have long argued that organized crime expansion is extremely difficult and rare since these groups rely on local networks and are unable to operate without some degree of state protection, which they often lack outside their historical strongholds. Yet, Latin America is currently experiencing significant criminal expansion. Why do criminal organizations expand beyond their historical strongholds and what explains where they go? Moreover, what are the implications for democratic accountability and citizen wellbeing? In this presentation I will show that government interventions in the drug market can create incentives for drug cartels to diversify their activities and expand to territories with lucrative new business opportunities. Cartels then seek to gain state protection when entering new political jurisdictions by exploiting electoral cycles to capture local politicians, allowing them to operate with impunity and worsening citizen well-being. 

Lecture Sponsored by the Department of Political Science, Southwestern University