Jul 19, 2024  
2022-2023 Undergraduate Catalog 
    
2022-2023 Undergraduate Catalog [Archived Catalog]

Political Science and International Relations


Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Departments and Programs

Faculty

Chair:  Professor Jeffrey Ayres
Professors:  Michael Bosia, Patricia Siplon
Associate Professor: Shefali Misra
Assistant Professor: Daniel Simmons

Political science is the study of how humans live collectively—how individuals organize themselves into social structures and how they make decisions concerning their common destiny.  International relations—a branch of political science—is concerned with similar questions of power and structure, especially as connected to issues of state and non-state interaction at the international level.  As students of politics and international relations, we seek to understand the structures and processes of government on both the local and the national levels, as well as the relations among states on the world stage. Our focus, however, is broader than the formal institutions of government or global governance. Many social entities—including interest groups, corporations, media and even other states—influence the allocation of values and goods in a society and between states. Hence, civic and economic organizations are also within the purview of political science and international relations. Finally, politics and international relations are inherently normative enterprises, involving questions about the nature of justice, how individuals should treat each other, and what it means to live a good life in the context of a political or international society. Thus, we are also concerned with the “oughts” and “shoulds” of political and international life.

The Political Science and International Relations department offers both a major and a minor in political science and a major in international relations. The goal of the Political Science and International Relations department is to prepare students for the demands of active citizenship, ideally at the local, national and international levels.  Upon graduation, political science and international relations majors enter a variety of fields, including business, law, education, journalism, the non-profit sector, diplomacy, international development, and the public service.

Study Abroad—The Political Science and International Relations department encourages, but does not require, its students to take advantage of the opportunities to study abroad (the international relations major does require an international practicum that might include study abroad). Courses outside the majors and electives in political science and international relations may be transferred for credit, with the permission of the Chair of the department and the Office of the Registrar of the College. Required political science and international relations courses should be taken on campus. Students should plan carefully for a semester abroad, so they do not jeopardize their timely graduation. Recent political science majors have gone to Australia, Fiji, New Zealand, Denmark, Italy, Japan, Chile, Argentina, France, Ghana, Great Britain, Ireland, Kenya, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, Tanzania, and Spain.

The Washington Semester Program—An alternative to international study is a semester in Washington, D.C., under the auspices of American University’s Washington Semester Program. Although there are several courses of study available through this popular program, students typically take seminars on issues in government or the public policy process, and work in internships in government agencies or legislative offices. As with international study, careful planning in coordination with one’s academic advisor and the Study Abroad Office is essential.

Global Citizenship International Internship Program—Additionally, students might consider participating in the College’s Global Citizenship International Internship Program, funded generously by the Freeman Foundation.  This campus program supports students who wish to participate in an eight-week summer international internship placement in Asia.  In addition to invaluable workplace experience and the opportunity to develop life-long global competencies, students earn four credits through the accompanying academic portion of the internship experience.

LEARNING OUTCOMES:

Students who receive a B.A. in Political Science will:

  • Understand key concepts and concerns in political science including notably the way power is acquired and exercise at the state and/or national levels and international levels
  • Illustrate a broad understanding of the four major subfields of political science, including American politics, international relations, comparative politics and political
  • Become conversant in current political events through a close reading of the news and interpretation of events through political science theories and concepts
  • Develop the ability to evaluate and synthesize information from diverse and reliable sources, identifying and differentiating between primary and secondary source material
  • Bring research skills to bear on a specific issue related to politics, producing a research paper, opinion paper, personal reflection or analytical essay
  • Exhibit familiarity with qualitative and quantitative research methods by students of political science to pose and answer questions and conduct research
  • Effectively develop a logical argument and justify a position through written and oral presentations and demonstrate the ability to read and question original research and theoretical writings
  • Understanding of the relationship between personal ethics, individual decision-making and public outcomes at the national and international levels

Students who receive a B.A. in International Relations will:

  • Understand key concepts and concerns in international relations, including notably the way power is acquired and used globally and how states and non-state actors interact
  • Demonstrate an appreciation for the practice of comparative political inquiry, and an understanding of institutions of American government or traditions of Western and non-Western political thought
  • Become familiar with contemporary theories of international relations to use as lenses to differently explain outcomes and events in world affairs
  • Become conversant in current international events through a close reading of the news and interpretation of events through international relations theories and concepts
  • Develop the ability to evaluate and synthesize information from diverse and reliable sources, identifying and differentiating between primary and secondary source material
  • Bring research skills to bear on a specific issue related to international affairs, producing a research paper, opinion paper, personal reflection or analytical essay
  • Exhibit familiarity with research methods by students of international relations and political science to pose and answer questions and conduct research
  • Effectively develop a logical argument and justify a position through written and oral presentations and demonstrate the ability to read and question original research and theoretical writings
  • Engage in an international practicum—study abroad or international internship—that enhances global citizenship and cultural competency
  • Understanding of the relationship between personal ethics, individual decisions and public outcomes at the national and international levels

Return to {$returnto_text} Return to: Departments and Programs