Political Science

  • Laura van Assendelft, department head
    Amy Diduch, Sarah Andrews, Mandi Montgomery Smith

  • Requirements for the Major in Political Science

    39 semester hours
    POLS 100 American Government
    POLS 111 Comparative Politics OR POLS 112 International Relations
    ECON 101 Principles of Microeconomics
    ECON 102 Principles of International and Macroeconomics
    INT 222 Social Science Statistics
    One Course in Research Methods: POLS 300 Political Behavior; ECON 301 Advanced Data Analysis; Math 233 Statistical Methods I; OR POLS 300 (Note: additional courses recommended)
    POLS 400 Senior Seminar

    Additional Courses in Political Science to total 39 s.h.

    One of the following PHIL courses may count towards the major: PHIL 201 Greek and Medieval Philosophy; PHIL 211 Modern Political Thought; PHIL 235 Ethics, Community, and Leadership

    Senior Requirement: Satisfactory completion of POLS 400 Senior Seminar

    Requirements for the Minor in Political Science

    18 semester hours
    POLS 100 American Government
    POLS 111 Comparative Politics
    POLS 112 International Relations
    Three additional Political Science courses

  • Civic Engagement Opportunities

    • POLS 220 Special Topics in Campaigns and Elections
    • Civic engagement contracts associated with any course in political science
    • MBU Election Live Broadcast
    • Political science internships approved by the political science faculty supervisor
    • Study abroad for academic credit through student participation in issues of public concern and reflection on the public issues encountered
    • Senior projects in political science designed to emphasize civic engagement
  • 100 Introduction to American Government and Politics (3 s.h.) (S)
    Students are introduced to political science by studying the U.S. Constitution, major institutions, political processes (elections and lobbying), and political behavior.

    111 Comparative Politics (3 s.h.) (I)
    Students examine challenges to democratic government by studying the domestic politics of several non-U.S. political systems. Particular attention is paid to social foundations of government. The status of the individual and the rights of minorities provide themes for learning about the distinction between democratic and non-democratic political systems.

    112 International Relations (3 s.h.) (I)
    This is the basic course in which students apply tools of systematic study to relations among the actors in the international system: states, international organizations, and non-state actors (e.g., terrorist groups). The sources of states’ behavior, including ideological and strategic motivations, are studied. The ways in which the global set of states operates as a system also are analyzed.

    128 U.S. Foreign Policy (3 s.h.) (I)
    Students study the institutions and events that have shaped the relations of the United States with the rest of the world. Diplomatic, covert, and military techniques used to maximize U.S. national interests are addressed.

    200 State and Local Government (3 s.h.) (S)
    Students examine the regional political units in the U.S. federal system and their relationships with each other and with the national government. The course focuses on the contemporary functions of state and local governments and their role in managing diversity among competing social, political, and judicial pressures.

    205 Political Parties and Interest Groups (3 s.h.)
    Students examine the nature of political parties and interest groups and the role they play in American politics, including analysis of platforms, purposes, strategies and influence in elections and policymaking. Students engage in writing assignments, hands-on experiments, group exercises, and oral presentations, including a mock political convention.

    208 Congress and the Presidency (3 s.h.)
    This course explores the historical origins and contemporary operation of the United States Congress and the Presidency as separate but equal branches, with an emphasis on the unintended consequences of divided government and increased party polarization. Students will evaluate the institutional differences between Congress and the Presidency in representation, leadership, and processes through analysis of policymaking in domestic, budget, and foreign policy arenas. Students will also gain hands-on experience through a variety of simulations.

    209 Women and Politics (3 s.h.) (G)
    Students examine the roles and influences of women in politics and the effect of politics upon their status and life choices. Students analyze gender differences in patterns of political participation, including voting, working in campaigns, running for public office, serving as elected officials, and participating in various kinds of interest groups.

    215 Politics of Developing Nations (3 s.h.) (I, W)
    This course studies political problems in the nations outside the affluent North of the globe. The political options of democratic, military, and single party forms are analyzed.

    220 Special Topics in Campaigns and Elections (3 s.h.) (CE)
    This course covers the politics of American campaigns and elections, focusing on election laws, candidate recruitment, campaign strategy, voting behavior, issues, and the roles played by national, state, and local politics. Students in this course also gain hands-on experience through planning and staging the Mary Baldwin Election Live Broadcast, including “war room” research, interviews, live reporting, film and sound crew, and voter engagement. The primary focus of this course changes each year to reflect presidential, gubernatorial, and midterm congressional elections.

    222 Social Science Statistics (3 s.h.) (Q)
    For course description, see INT 222 in the Interdisciplinary Studies listing.

    245 Health Care Policy, Politics, and Law (3 s.h.)
    For course description, see HCA 245 in the Health Care Administration listing.

    249 Latin American Politics (3 s.h.) (I)
    This course studies the political patterns in Latin America. Revolutionary socialism, military dictatorships, and emerging democratic patterns of governance are examined.

    260 Public Policy (3 s.h.) (R)
    This course explains the nature of public policy and analyzes stages in its making, including problem identification and policy agenda, formulation, adoption, implementation, and evaluation. Case studies in varied policy areas will show how the process actually works, i.e., what the results of policy look like in the real world. Leadership roles of individuals, groups, and institutions will be reviewed in depth. Cross listed as ECON 260.

    277 Colloquium (3 s.h.)
    These courses look into subjects best covered in intensive group study experiences. Core readings and seminar discussions form common experiences for the group, and individual projects refine understanding. Offered as needed.

    287 Internship (3 s.h.)

    295 African Politics (3 s.h.) (I)
    This course studies the modern political experiences and issues of the peoples, cultures, nations, and states of sub-Saharan Africa. Special emphasis is placed on development, legacies of colonialism, democratization, and peace and conflict.

    300 Political Behavior (3 s.h.) (Q)
    Students investigate determinants of political behavior, including political socialization, group differences, political efficacy, and civic engagement. They develop skills in empirical analysis as they measure and analyze public opinion and voting behavior.

    301 Advanced Data Analysis (3 s.h.) (Q)
    For course description, see ECON 301 in the Economics listing.

    311 Civil Wars and the International System (3 s.h.) (I)
    This course studies modern terrorism with special attention paid to terrorism arising from the Middle East region. The choices and consequences of various counter-terrorism policies of the United States and other states are studied to bring practical dimensions of the problem into focus.

    321 Constitutional Law I: Structure and Powers (3 s.h.)
    This course is a case-method study of the significant decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court that define judicial, presidential, and congressional powers and their limits. Federalism and administrative power also will be examined.

    322 Constitutional Law II: Civil Rights and Liberties (3 s.h.)
    A case-method study of the U.S. Supreme Court decisions in the areas of First Amendment freedoms of speech, press, and religion. Constitutional protections in criminal law, the right to privacy and equal protection will be examined.

    400 Senior Seminar in Political Science (3 s.h.) (M)
    Seniors majoring in political science or international affairs, or who include this discipline in an independent major, must enroll in this course and complete an acceptable senior thesis on a major independent research project.