The study of Political Science at Gettysburg College introduces students to a core set of themes - the state and other political structures, power, and choice - that define the discipline and provides students with the skills and tools to explore these themes in a critical and analytical fashion. The Political Science major, which consists of ten courses, is structured to guide and stimulate student learning regarding these themes and related issues such as democracy, justice, and their institutions, civic and political participation. Accordingly, there is a series of learning goals associated with the courses students take at each level of the major.
Effective Communication Conventions in Political Science
The department holds as important the ability of students to:
These goals are met through a variety of courses required as part of the major in Political Science. Specifically, at each level students will be exposed to and gain expertise in particular communication conventions in the discipline:
100-level: Introduction to the terminology and basic concepts of political science (e.g., state and other political structures, power and choice), distinction between social science theory and theory in lay terms. Students will also be introduced to modes of social science inquiry, both normative and empirical, and the distinctions between the subfields of the discipline. In addition, students in introductory courses will learn appropriate methods for citation.
200-level: In the POL 215 course required of all majors, students will build on prior exposure to modes of inquiry via an extensive exposure to the elements of the research process culminating in the production of a research paper with a literature review, research design, and data analysis. Students in this class will also engage in reading and critiquing peer-reviewed scholarship and possibly data acquisition and writing original research dealing with the fundamental questions in the respective subfield.
In other courses at this level, students will be exposed to peer-reviewed scholarship and more specific application of the concepts, theories and analyses introduced at the 100-level.
300-level: At this level students will be engaged in more in-depth analyses of scholarship and literatures on specific topics. Additionally, students at this level will regularly take part in acquiring, reading and critically evaluating peer-reviewed research and, in many cases, producing research papers and other relevant writing following the model developed in POL 215 and other courses.
400-level: 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. In addition, the process of peer-review will be reinforced as students review both the work of political scientists as well as one another. The original research conducted by students will be presented orally as well as in written form.