Navigating the Major
Government majors should emerge from the program with an understanding of the factors that shape a variety of political systems and influence policy outcomes at both the domestic and international level. They should be able to assess critically political actions, and to be attentive to the social forces that shape the exercise of power. They should have frameworks within which to think about the purposes of politics, the aims and responsibilities of governments and the rights and duties of citizens. Consistent with the mission of a liberal arts college, the government department seeks to prepare its majors for a variety of postgraduate options, including law school and graduate study in political science.
There is no single paradigm for the study of government, no one ideal way for everyone to structure a major. Within the overall framework of our major requirements, here are some ways in which students, in consultation with their major adviser, can shape their program of study.
Every government major is required to choose a concentration within the major, either by subfield or by theme. We also encourage students to deepen and broaden their understanding of these concentrations by taking related courses outside the major.
The subfields of study within the government department are representative of the way the academic study of political science is normally divided.
- American Politics (PDF) is the study of institutions, policies and processes within the United States
- Political Theory (PDF) is the study of fundamental ideas that underlie political life
- Comparative Politics is the study of institutions, policies and processes within individual countries, as well as cross-regional and cross-country comparisons
- International Politics (PDF) is the study of patterns of interaction and relationships between sovereign states and other actors in the international system, as well as global processes which shape relations between them
The following are examples of possible themes which can be developed from some combination of the subfields.
- Politics of a specific country or region of the world
- Political processes and behavior
- Gender and sexuality
- History of political thought
- Public policy
- Political economy