Political Science

Program Description

Political science is the study of governments, public policies and political processes, systems, and political behavior (APSA).  The department offers courses in four of the subfields of political science: political theory (the history of political thought and normative theory); American government (institutions, political processes and political behavior); international relations(interstate behavior, international organizations international political economy,and transnational actors);and comparative politics (institutions, political processes of other states, political and economic development). The department uses both normative and empirical methodologies to examine political issues in all of the subfields, and a principal goal of the department is to teach students how to think analytically, write clearly and persuasively, and be inquisitive and imaginative as they contend with these issues.  The College's location gives students an excellent historical vantage point from which to ponder contemporary political questions. As part of the liberal arts tradition, political science students acquire a variety of skills that prepare them for a wide range of careers in the public and private sectors. 

Political science students may experience a rich array of hands-on activities, including internships in a variety of settings; class visits from faculty at the nearby Army War College and other colleges and universities; class trips to Washington, D.C., with visits to the Supreme Court, sessions of Congress, briefings at the State Department; and participation in approved study abroad programs or programs in Washington, D.C. Finally, students are encouraged to build curricular bridges to related academic disciplines, such as environmental studies, economics, and history.

Program Requirements

All majors specialize in two of the four subfields in political science; therefore they should give considerable thought to which subfields they pursue as they complete the major.

Major requirements:

A minimum of ten courses in political science.  The courses are categorized in four general subfields of the discipline: American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations, and Political Theory. Students take three introductory courses, two 200 and two 300 level courses, an elective at the 200 or 300 level, the methods course, and the capstone.

Introductory Courses: Majors are required to take three of the four introductory courses. The options are: Political Science 101 American Government; 102, Introduction to Political Theory; 103 Introduction to International Relations; or 104 Introduction to Comparative Politics. Courses at this level introduce students to the core set of themes that define Political Science including the manner in which they are conceptualized by the particular subfield.  The 100-level courses may be taken in any order, and should be completed by the end of the sophomore year. Occasionally, certain First Year Seminars offered by members of the department may be used to satisfy one of the introductory courses. Students should consult their First Year Seminar instructors to see if their seminar is applicable. Introductory courses are prerequisites for all advanced courses. Students who submit an AP score of 4 or 5 in American Government may receive course credit for POL 101. Course credit for advanced placement will be lost if a student takes POL 101 at Gettysburg

Political Science Methods: All students must take Political Science 215, Political Science Research Methods, as sophomores or first-semester juniors. Starting with the Fall Term 2012, students must earn a grade of C (2.0) or better in POL 215 to graduate with a major in political science.

Subfield Specialization: 200 level courses: Courses at this level explore key themes and related issues in greater depth. Students learn about the research process and how to pursue their own research questions. All students must choose two subfields from the three represented in their introductory courses. All students must take at least one 200 level course in each of these subfields.

Subfield Specialization: 300 level courses: At this level students engage in a critical and deeper examination of specific topics that exemplify the core set of themes of importance to political scientists.  All students must follow up the 200 level courses with at least one 300 level course in each of their selected subfields.

Elective: Students may fulfill the elective requirement by taking either a 200 or 300 level course in one of the three subfields taken at the introductory level.

Capstone: The capstone course serves as the culmination of the communication conventions in the discipline. Students will be immersed in a specific area of scholarship, will read, analyze and finally produce research relevant to the topic of the course. All seniors must enroll in a senior capstone course. The course must be in one of the two subfields pursued in the major. Capstone seminars in American Politics, International Relations, and Comparative Politics will be offered every year. The capstone in Political Theory will be offered every other year. Students who are unable to take the Political Theory capstone in their senior year may enroll in it in their junior year.

Honors: Majors with a 3.67 grade point average in the major are invited to pursue Honors by completing a major research endeavor and maintaining the 3.67 GPA at graduation. The Honors project can be completed within the student’s capstone or in an independent study.  In either case, the student will work with the faculty member responsible for the capstone or independent study.

Off Campus Courses: Students are encouraged to pursue off campus programs. Political Science course credit will be given to those courses that are consistent with the department’s subfield designations. Political science courses taken off campus will satisfy 200-level requirements only, and only two political science courses taken off campus can satisfy major requirements.

Internships: Students are encouraged to take internships for academic course credit, but they are graded S/U and do not fulfill any major requirements. Students need to work with the Center for Career Development and consult with a faculty member on the nature of the internship and its academic requirements.

Individualized Study: Individualized study provides an excellent opportunity for students to work with a faculty member on an important political topic and produce a significant research paper. Students need to consult with a faculty member on choosing the topic and arranging the requirements of the course. Individualized Study is graded A-F, is calculated in the major grade point average, but does not fulfill any major requirements.

 

The Minor in Political Science

Students intending to minor in political science need to understand the subfield orientation of the minor as well as the minor requirements. Prof. Roy Dawes is the department advisor for the minor and students should consult with him on choosing courses to fulfill the minor requirements.  At this time, students should formally declare the minor.  Prof. Dawes will sign their minor declaration form which they will then turn in to the Registrar’s office.

The minor in political science consists of six courses in political science. All minors specialize in two of the four subfields in political science; therefore they should give considerable thought to which subfields they pursue as they complete the minor.

Minor requirements:

Introductory Courses: Minors are required to take two of the four introductory courses. The options are: Political Science 101 American Government; 102, Introduction to Political Theory; 103 Introduction to International Relations; or 104 Introduction to Comparative Politics.

Advanced Courses: Minors are required to take four courses at the 200 or 300 level that are consistent with the subfields chosen at the introductory level. These courses cannot all fall in the same subfield. The usual sequence of courses is two courses in each subfield but some students take three in one and one in the other. Students may substitute POL 215 Political Research Methods for one of these courses.

Course Listing

Course level:
100 | 200 | 300 | 400
POL-101 American Government
Examination of the institutional structure and policy-making process of national government as reflections of assumptions of liberal democracy and the American social and economic systems. In addition to the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of government, political parties, interest groups, and elections are considered.


POL-102 Intro to Political Thought
Analysis of political philosophies relating to fundamental problems of political association, past and present. Course examines concepts of power, authority, freedom, equality, social justice, and order, as expressed in works of major political philosophers.


POL-103 Intro International Relations
Examination of the behavior of states and non-state actors in the international system. Topics include systems analysis, nationalism, power, foreign policy, international institutions, interdependence and the world economy, conflict and cooperation, global environmental and ecological issues.


POL-104 Intro to Comparative Politics
Introduction to structures and processes of political institutions in major types of political systems, including parliamentary systems, countries of the former Soviet Bloc system, and systems in developing countries.


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POL-201 Topics in American Government
Exploration of announced topics in American Government. Prerequisite: POL 101


POL-202 Topics in Political Theory
Exploration of announced topics in political theory at the intermediate level. Prerequisite: POL 102


POL-203 Topics in International Politics
Exploration of announced topics in international politics at the intermediate level. Prerequisite: POL 103


POL-204 Topics in Comparative Politics
Exploration of announced topics in Comparative Politics at the intermediate level. Prerequisite: POL 104


POL-215 Methods of Political Science
Introduction to quantitative research methods and their application to the study of politics. Topics include empiricism, survey research and polling, electoral behavior, and public opinion. Special attention is given to research design, data collection, data processing, and statistical analysis. Prerequisite: Completion of any two from the following: POL 101,102,103,104 and Sophomore or Junior Standing.


POL-221 The Politics of Public Policy
This course examines public policy and the policy process in the United States. Beginning with an exploration of the processes and institutions through which public policy is developed in the United States, we will pay special attention to how ideas get turned into policies and the central players in those processes. The course will then take an introductory tour of policy analysis: the assessment of policy alternatives to solve public policy problems. Finally, the balance of the course will be spent applying what we have learned to several policy areas. Although the course primarily explores policymaking in the American setting, we will make some cross-national comparisons when doing so helps to illuminate the American case. Prerequisite: POL 101


POL-223 U.S. Congress
Study of the United States Congress, focusing on theories of representation, nomination and electoral processes, internal organization of Congress, influences on Congressional policy-making, and Congressional interaction with other participants in the policy process. Prerequisite: POL 101


POL-224 The American Presidency
Study of the presidency in the American political system, including presidential selection, presidential leadership and decision-making, the president's advisors, and the role of the presidency in the policy-making process. Prerequisite: POL 101


POL-225 American Constitutional Law
Study of the judicial process in the U.S., with particular focus on the Supreme Court and its historical role in nation-building, establishing principles of federalism and the separation of powers, and determining the scope of personal and property rights. Prerequisite: POL 101


POL-228 Race and Politics in the United States
An examination of the impact of race on political representation in the United States. Using the concept of political representation as our framework, students explore topics such as race and the electoral process, voting trends and public opinion among racial minorities, race and representation in the American party system and the U.S. Congress, and race and public policy. The intense struggle of African Americans to gain fair political representation in the United States is a special focus of this course. Prerequisite: POL 101


POL-242 United States Foreign Policy
Examination of the sources, goals and patterns of foreign policy. Attention is given to the processes by which policy is formulated and implemented and to the evaluation of the effectiveness of policy. Topics include decision making, foreign economic policy, deterrence, instruments of foreign policy, regionalism, multilateralism, and the development of post-Cold War objectives. Prerequisite: POL103


POL-252 North-South Dialogue
Course investigates the political economy of North-South relations. Examining the distribution of wealth between the developed and developing countries of the world, course focuses on political and economic factors that have made global inequality a central characteristic of the relationship between the North and South. Important issues of the contemporary period such as North-South trade, the debt crisis, foreign aid, and famine are investigated and the developmental prospects for the South are assessed. Prerequisite: POL 103


POL-253 Nationalism and Ethnic Conflict
Ethnically based hostilities continue to pose a significant threat to contemporary international security. This course aims to develop an understanding of the nature of ethnicity, ethnic identity and role of ethnic groups in international politics. The goal of the course is to introduce fundamental concepts and major theoretical approaches to contemporary analysis of ethnic groups with a specific focus on eight cases of ethnic conflict across the globe. Prerequisite: POL 103


POL-260 European Politics
This course examines the government and politics in Europe with emphasis on the processes of state-formation, democratization and democratic consolidation, welfare state policy and European integration. Particular attention will be paid to the U.K., France and Germany but additional cases from Southern Europe, Central and Eastern Europe and/or the Nordic countries will be considered depending on student interest. Prerequisite: POL 104


POL-267 Settler States and Indigenous Peoples
Examination of the diversity and conflict brought about through settlements and colonization. Comparison of the experience of Native Americans in the United States with other indigenous groups and settler populations in countries such as Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. Topics include colonization, economic development and poverty, forced assimilation and political mobilization and marginalization. Prerequisite: POL 104


POL-270 Gov't & Politics in China
Introduction to the domestic politics of China, particularly since 1949. Topics include the historical legacy, ideology, political institutions, elite-mass relations, policy process, developmental strategies, and efforts at reform. Prerequisite: POL 104


POL-271 Gov't and Politics in Japan
Introduction to post-World War II Japanese politics, involving comparison with political patterns elsewhere in the industrialized world. Topics include the historical legacy, political structures and processes, elite-mass relations, and the nature of the connection between business and government. Prerequisite: POL 104


POL-275 Latin American Politics
Introduction to Latin American politics. Focus is on political issues surrounding economic development in the Latin American context: political preconditions, policy choices of Latin American regimes and leaders, and political consequences of development in general, and of those policy choices in particular. Course also compares the political systems and development trajectories of Latin American countries to other countries in the world. Pol 275 and LAS 275 are cross-listed. Prerequisite: POL 104


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POL-301 Topics in American Government
Exploration of announced topics in American Politics at the advanced level. Prerequisite: POL 101 and 224


POL-302 Topics in Political Theory
Exploration of announced topics in political theory at the advanced level. Prerequisite: POL 102


POL-303 Topics in International Politics
Exploration of announced topics in international politics at the advanced level. Prerequisite: POL 103


POL-304 Topics in Comparative Politics
Exploration of announced topics in comparative politics at the advanced level. Prerequisite: POL 104


POL-316 Legacies of European Civil Conflict
Although contemporary observers may think of Europe, particularly Western Europe, as peaceful, prosperous and lacking conflict, historically the region has witnessed large-scale civil conflicts that have shaped state formation and development. Moreover, the outcomes of these conflicts continue to shape our understanding of how to deal with modern civil conflicts through means such as proportional representation, federalism and other means of power sharing, yet relatively little consideration for the historical contexts of the European conflicts is presented. Prerequisite: POL 104


POL-321 Gender in American Politics
An examination of the expanding role of women in American political life. Students gain historical background regarding the women's movement in America and an understanding of how and why women and men come to politics with different information, experience and priorities. This political analysis includes economic, social and psychological factors that enhance or diminish women's opportunities for an effective political voice. Prerequisite: POL 101


POL-322 Civil Rights & Liberties
Study of selected problems involving interpretations of the Bill of Rights. Attention will be given to both the evolution and current standing of issues treated by the Supreme Court. Pre-requisites: POL 101 and 225


POL-323 Religion and Politics in the United States
An investigation of religious factors in American political life through the examination of the historical and contemporary effects of religion on political culture, political coalitions, individual political behavior, and public policy. Legal perspectives on the religion clauses of Article VI and the First Amendment are reviewed. In addition, empirical analyses on such religion-related issues as parochial school aid, abortion, gay rights, and gender equality are presented. The relationship between religion and democracy is explored. Prerequisite: POL 101


POL-324 Executive Policy Making
Study of the constraints in the presidential policy-making process. Included is an examination of the bureaucratic, constituent, and congressional impact on the development of policy options in executive decision making. Students are responsible for a major term paper, which involves considerable independent research. Prerequisite: POL 101 and 224


POL-327 State Politics and Policy
Comparative analysis of politics and the policy process in the fifty states. An empirical analysis of the operation and functions of state political systems. Prerequisite: POL 101 and 215


POL-333 Environmental Policy
Analysis of the policies that guide the use, control and management of natural resources. Students examine the laws, bureaucracies, economics, politics and ideologies underlying policy making processes in order to understand how and why certain policies emerge as well as their social and ecological effects. The primary focus is on the United States, but the growing international dimension of environmental policies and the ambiguous role of the US in these efforts is also considered. Prerequisite: ES 196 or POL 101. Cross-listed: Political Science 333 and ES 333


POL-344 U.S. Nat'l Security Policy
Examination of the domestic and foreign policies developed by the U.S. to defend itself and its interests. Attention is given to the structure within which policy is formulated and implemented and the transition to post-Cold War defense objectives and strategies. Topics include decision making, defense spending, military intervention and peacekeeping, regionalism, terrorism, nuclear proliferation, and war fighting strategies. Prerequisite: POL 103 and junior or senior status


POL-346 International Relations Theory
Examination of the study of international relations from the perspective of the realist/ neorealist and liberal/neoliberal theoretical traditions. Attention is also given to the theories' impact on policy making. Topics include power, war, peace, integration, international organization and law. Prerequisite: POL 103


POL-347 Global Conflict Management
An examination of some basic forms of conflict prevalent in the international system. The course focuses on conditions that provoke conflict, attempts to prevent conflict, the ways to manage conflict, the means to end conflict, and what happens when conflict can't be resolved. Cases are drawn from global and regional examples. Prerequisite: POL 103


POL-351 The Political Economy of Armed Conflict
Employment of a political economy approach to study both interstate and intrastate conflicts. Students examine the relationship between war and economics, ranging from the role these factors play in the development of the modern nation-state to civil wars and the virtual collapse of the state in contemporary civil conflicts. Prerequisite: POL 103


POL-370 Contemporary Issues in Turkish Politics
Turkey is a democratic, secular, and predominantly Muslim country. It has a rapidly growing economy, making it one of the twenty largest economies in the world. Moreover, due to its geographic proximity to Iraq, Iran and Israel, and energy reserves of the Caspian Sea and Central Asia, Turkey is an important international actor especially for the West. Turkey’s unique domestic political attributes and international role in between Europe and the Middle East makes it an intriguing case for political scientists. This course seeks to familiarize students with the main issues around which politics revolves in Turkey during the post-1980 period. Using scholarly work conducted on different dimensions of politics in Turkey, special attention will be paid to the discussion of the issues of the consolidation of democracy, civil society, secularism, the rise of Islam, nationalism, identity politics, socio-economic changes, political parties and modernity in order to be able to capture the essence of the changing nature of Turkish politics.


POL-381 American Political Thought
Study of the development of political thought in America from the colonial period to the present. Course examines individual writers and movements, and considers the relationship of the ideas examined both to current issues and politics and to the broader tradition of political philosophy. Prerequisite: POL 102


POL-382 Feminist Theory in Amer Pol
Course examines the role of feminist political thought in American politics. Topics include various strains of feminist theory, including liberal, Marxist, radical, and anarchist theories, with particular emphasis on kinds of feminist political participation that emerge from liberal and anarchist political ideals. Course also provides a context in which key concepts such as politics and power may be reconceptualized from an American feminist point of view. Prerequisite: POL 102


POL-383 The Holocaust and Modern Political Thought
Examination of ideas of modern political thinkers, from Machiavelli to Wiesel, which provide insight into human behavior during the Holocaust: the systematic destruction of six million European Jews, and other targeted populations, by the Nazi German regime and their collaborators during the 1930s and 1940s. Explores the values of those thinkers which help explain the documented behavior of people involved in the Holocaust, including perpetrators and rescuers, victims and resisters, as well as apathetic and indifferent publics.


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POL-401 Capstone-American Government
Advanced study of American politics. A common core of reading and written reports by each student is provided. Topics differ each year.


POL-402 Capstone-Political Theory
Advanced study of political theory. A common core of reading and written reports by each student is provided. Topics differ each year.


POL-403 Capstone-International Relations Seminar
Advanced study of international relations. A common core of reading and written reports by each student is provided. Topics differ each year.


POL-404 Capstone-Comparative Politics
Advanced study of comparative politics. A common core of reading and written reports by each student is provided. Topics differ each year.


POL-410 Individualized Capstone



POL-450 Individualized Study-Tutorial
Individualized tutorial counting toward the minimum requirements in a major or minor, graded A-F


POL-451 Individualized Study-Tutorial
Individualized tutorial counting toward the minimum requirements in a major or minor, graded S/U


POL-452 Individualized Study-Tutorial
Individualized tutorial not counting in the minimum requirements in a major or minor, graded A-F


POL-453 Individualized Study-Tutorial
Individualized tutorial not counting in the minimum requirements in a major or minor, graded S/U


POL-460 Individualized Study-Research
Individualized research counting toward the minimum requirements in a major or minor, graded A-F


POL-461 Individualized Study-Research
Individualized research counting toward the minimum requirements in a major or minor, graded S/U


POL-462 Individualized Study-Research
Individualized research not counting in the minimum requirements in a major or minor, graded A-F


POL-463 Individualized Study-Research
Individualized research not counting in the minimum requirements in a major or minor graded S/U


POL-470 Individualized Study-Intern
Internship counting toward the minimum requirements in a major or minor, graded A-F


POL-471 Individualized Study-Internship
Internship counting toward the minimum requirements in a major or minor, graded S/U


POL-472 Individualized Study-Internship
Internship not counting in the minimum requirements in a major or minor, graded A-F


POL-473 Individualized Study-Intern
Internship not counting in the minimum requirements in a major or minor, graded S/U


POL-474 Summer Internship
Summer Internship graded A-F, counting in the minimum requirements for a major or minor only with written permission filed in the Registrar's Office.


POL-475 Summer Internship
Summer Internship graded S/U, counting in the minimum requirements for a major or minor only with written permission filed in the Registrar's Office


POL-477 Half Credit Internship
Half credit internship, graded S/U.


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