College of Arts & Sciences

Political Science Department

Why Political Science?

Interests

Frequently, people assume that political science is primarily about elections and policy debates, particularly in the United States. While American politics and policy on the local, state, and national levels are certainly important topics, the field is actually much broader. If you are interested in learning about how race, gender and ethnicity affect opportunities and political outcomes in the United States and around the world, how the law can be used to bring about social change, how the ideas of the founders and later 19th and 20th century thinkers resonate through American political debates today, why some countries are successful democracies while others aren’t, why nationalism can be so destructive in some settings and a positive force in others, what the politics are like in other parts of the world, how the global political economy operates, what the causes and consequences of migration are, why conflict emerges and how building peace is complex but possible, or probing the ideas of great political philosophers, then political science may be the major for you. You can take courses on the many facets of American politics and the law, the politics of different countries around the world, the ways in which collectivities such as ethnicities, countries, international organizations, and terrorist groups interact, and the nature of politics according to important thinkers.

Talents

Do you like to read the newspaper, watch the Sunday morning talk shows, or have favorite internet sources of information? Do you like to talk about what is going on in your hometown, the nation, and/or the world? Political Science majors typically have a fascination with current events and want to learn more about both what is happening and why. Majors tend like to read, research, analyze, and write about contemporary issues, exploring their roots, explaining their origins, and considering their implications

Careers

Political science is an excellent liberal arts major that will help you develop your reading, writing, research, presentation, and analytic skills and, as such, is a great place for students considering law school or careers in government, the non-profit sector, or the corporate world. To help students develop their interests and enhance their chances of finding a rewarding job, SJU’s political science department encourages students to become involved in internships in the greater Philadelphia region (for course credit) or at the Washington Center (www.twc.org) (for a semester’s worth of credit). We also promote experiential learning, where students study abroad (some sites provide opportunities for international internships), take study tours, or participate in specially-designed courses. Our majors become corporate executives, teachers, government employees, attorneys, policy specialists, and advocates in non-profits. You can go anywhere you want with a political science degree, hard work in developing your skills, and determination!

Major

Political Scientists study power and how it operates at different levels – among individuals, within and between institutions and individuals, and between countries, international organizations, corporations, societal groups, and individuals in the international arena. The Political Science major is designed to acquaint you with the substance of politics and to develop your reading comprehension, research, writing, speaking, and analytic skills. Our goal is to provide you with interesting courses about politics and policy that will also give you the tools that will serve you well in your professional careers, law school, or graduate school.

In addition to completing the Political Science major, students often pursue a minor––in such fields as History, Economics, Philosophy, American Studies, a foreign language, or one of the many interdisciplinary programs at the University such as Justice and Ethics in the Law, Gender Studies, or and Latin American Studies. Many majors choose to spend a semester studying abroad or interning in Washington, and each year, some students graduate with College or University Honors, after successfully completing a thesis under the supervision of a faculty mentor.

Minor

A minor in Political Science is a great choice for students who are interested in the world around them. In addition to learning about U.S. or world politics, minors can take advantage of the many experiential learning activities (local internships, Washington Center, summer study tours, study abroad) that political science offers. The minor also helps students sharpen and broaden their reading, research, presentation, writing, and analytic skills.

Faculty

The Department faculty are among the best at SJU, many of whom have been recognized within the institution as outstanding teachers and scholars. They have received awards for their work in the classroom and have published their research in first-quality outlets.

Class sizes vary with the largest topping out at 45 at the introductory level. These courses tend to have a small feel because instructors use small groups and other techniques to create community and involve students in active learning. Upper division classes are capped at 25, while the maximum for writing intensive courses and senior seminars are 20 and 15 respectively. Because teachers quickly learn everyone’s name and encourage and expect interaction, students and faculty have the chance to develop strong relationships. Faculty are energetic and expert in the material they teach, their enthusiasm infuses the classroom, and they frequently make themselves available outside of class for both further instruction and informal interactions such as “Meet-and-Greets” at Landmark or outings to cultural or political events.

Political Science faculty want to make the educational experiences of their students first-rate. Students are encouraged to consult their teachers frequently and freely. As academic advisors, over the course of a student’s SJU career, faculty spend multiple hours discussing course selection, career development, and other issues with their advisees. They also help in planning the Networking Night with alumni and help link students to alumni. Not surprisingly, given the high quality of their advising, several faculty in the department have been rewarded for their outstanding efforts.