Mission Statement and Goals

Political science is fundamental to helping students understand and act more effectively in the world. We contribute to the college, university, region, and state by examining critical questions about power and public life from local, national, transnational, global, and comparative perspectives in partnership with students and members of the community. We do so to foster the capacities of engaged and critical citizens who actively pursue questions and meanings of political community and civic life.

Our faculty are scholars and teachers who devote their careers to making important contributions in their disciplines through research, writing, and service. We are committed to undergraduate education and strive to maintain the highest intellectual standards, to stimulate political discussion from the abstract and theoretical to the immediately practical, and to encourage students to incorporate critical political viewpoints into their everyday lives and careers. Students are thus prepared for further graduate study, or assuming careers in diverse fields, including government, law, nonprofit and business administration, journalism, teaching, and the private sector. Our work extends well beyond the classroom. We are strongly committed to public engagement and reach out to the community through public speaker programs (such as those hosted through the Munro Institute for Civic Education) and collaborations with organizations and individuals in the community, state, and abroad.

The Political Science Department strives to embody and cultivate the habits and skills of clear thought, rigorous analysis, and effective argumentation in writing and speech. We examine politics at all levels: small groups, social and political organizations, towns and cities, economic systems, countries, nations, transnational flows, and the global system. In doing so, we raise critical questions about power and privilege, identity, institutions, justice, citizenship, and civic engagement in order to develop and sustain a nuanced understanding of political life, processes, systems, and dynamics. We embrace a variety of approaches in our research and teaching – qualitative, quantitative, historical, institutional, theoretical, sociological, economic, and legal – and seek to combine conceptual and theoretical analyses with policy and practical orientations. We encourage our students to bring their own perspectives and critical capacities to the classroom, even as they acquire new skills and knowledges to become more intellectually sophisticated and politically engaged members of their communities.

Department Goals

  1. Promote/support cross-departmental and/or interdisciplinary collaboration in research and teaching (CHSS G-1, G-2, G-3, G-5).

  2. Offer more courses on thematic subjects that cross traditional subfields and/or research methodologies. (CHSS G-1, G-3, G-5).

  3. Actively seek out funding to support team-taught courses both within the department and across disciplines. (CHSS G-1, G-2).

  4. Secure funding to expand upper-division offerings so that students can find courses that meet their intellectual, personal, and professional goals. (CHSS G-1, G-5).

  5. Pursue additional tenure lines to recruit faculty who build on our strengths and expand expertise in underrepresented geographic areas, policy domains, and research approaches. (CHSS G-1, G-2).

  6. Promote and support faculty scholarship by expanding opportunities for faculty to share their work internally and externally. (CHSS G-1, G-2).

  7. Develop systems and policies to support faculty who mentor students from historically underserved populations. (CHSS G-2, G-3, G-5).

  8. Review our undergraduate program with an eye to the scaffolding of writing, reading, and data analysis skills. (CHSS G-2, G-3).

  1. Expand opportunities for students to develop as scholars and researchers. (CHSS G-2, G-3).

    • Encourage and provide resources for faculty to support students in multi-term research apprenticeships.

    • Expand access to courses in qualitative and quantitative methods, research design, and various methodologies.

  2. Bolster writing instruction to help students develop habits and skills of clear thought, rigorous analysis, and effective argumentation. (CHSS G-2, G-3).

    • Encourage and provide support to faculty to teach additional writing proficiency courses, with an emphasis on lower and mid-level courses.

    • Pursue resources to develop and fund a departmental peer-writing support program staffed by advanced undergraduate students within the department.

  3. Sustain existing Munro Institute programs and seek out new opportunities for civic engagement. (CHSS G-1, G-4, G-5).

  4. Expand access to field-based learning opportunities for students. (CHSS G-1, G-4, G-5).

    • Secure funding to provide financial support to students engaged in off-campus field experiences (including study abroad programs).

    • Explore program opportunities and collaborative partners to help students learn and pursue internships and other field experiences in Washington, DC.