The Department of Political Science provides students with the tools for a careful and systematic study of politics, within the scope of a liberal arts education. Students are grounded in factual material about governments and politics, and in political philosophy as well. The department’s program is also grounded in values: we study both what happens and what ought to happen in politics. We stress the importance of life-long academic skills in critical thinking, writing, and speaking: courses require analytic reading and clear writing. Classes rarely exceed twenty-five students in size, which means students get individual attention in a variety of ways.
The Political Science Department believes strongly that learning is not limited to the classroom. The Department encourages community involvement: we are engaged with the International Institute of Rhode Island in a series of voluntary projects, we encourage foreign study, and we support internships, all as part of our academic program. On campus, the department presents a full range of public events every year, including lectures, films, “teach-ins,” for examples. Our students are actively involved in campus student government and many other organizations.
In addition, the Department has a chapter of Political Science’s national honor society, Pi Sigma Alpha. We offer an Honors option for outstanding students, which includes writing an honors thesis during the Senior year. Our faculty all participate as Academic Advisors for our Majors. We maintain a small computer lab available to our students. We invite prospective students to find additional information about our program on the Internet.
To graduate as a political science major, students must complete 33 credit hours, normally 11 courses, with a minimum cumulative GPA of 2.0 in the department, distributed in the following manner:
Introductory Sequence (2 courses)
Political science students are required to take an introductory sequence of two courses: PSC 101 - Politics, and PSC 102 - Empirical Analysis. Students normally take these courses in sequence, although these two courses may be taken simultaneously in a given semester, especially for students joining the department as sophomores or juniors. Normally, this introductory sequence should be completed before taking other courses in the department, but exceptions are allowed.
Field Requirements (4 courses)
Students must take one course in each of four fields: comparative government and politics, international relations, political theory, and American politics. The department maintains lists of courses that fulfill each of these field requirements. The list is printed in department publications, can be found on the department Web page, and is available in the department office and from academic advisors. Note that these courses are not all offered every semester or even every year. Students should always check the latest preregistration booklet to see what is being offered in the near future. Students also should note that there are many courses in the Department of Political Science that do NOT fulfill any of these four fields.
Political Science Electives (4 courses)
Students may take any of the department’s courses to fulfill this category of four electives, as well as SOC 342 and HPM 408.
Capstone Seminar (1 course)
All students will take PSC 488 or 489, Capstone Seminar in Political Science, in their senior year.
To graduate with a political science minor, students must complete 6 courses (18 credit hours), including PSC 101 and PSC 102, plus four more political science courses.