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Welcome to the Department of Political Science

Political science deals with the various political, social, economic, and cultural arrangements through which people govern their lives. It attempts to interpret the past and explain the present, and often dares to draw images of the future. As a field of study, it covers several fields, from the evolution of political philosophy and the implications of contemporary political concepts to the problems of development in emerging nations, from the performance American government at the local, state, and national levels to the interaction of peoples and states in the international arena. In short, the discipline ranges across broad and diverse areas of inquiry.

Many people think of politics in terms of what governments do, but political science also covers much else. Students will find courses on the ideas of great thinkers from Plato to the present, the problems of cities, war and peace, democratic and authoritarian political systems, international political economy, human rights, women and politics, political parties and forms of political participation that include interest groups and social movements, constitutional and international law, public policies such as immigration, the domestic and foreign policies of the United States and other countries, and the political systems of various regions around the world including the Middle East, Latin America, Africa, and Asia.

Some political science majors choose to enter public service upon completing their bachelor’s degrees, working for government agencies or nonprofit organizations. Other popular careers have included teaching, business, and journalism. Still other graduates enter politics. Many pursue law school – more political science majors attend law school than majors from any other department at the college – or some other kind of graduate training. Graduates have earned advanced degrees in international affairs, public policy, public administration, journalism, social work, and other fields. In sum, political science prepares students for a variety of career opportunities as well as for a lifetime of active citizenship.

Political Science as a Major

Political science at Hunter College is a liberal arts department. This means that in addition to expanding your substantive knowledge, we as a department faculty are committed to developing your critical thinking skills and improving your ability to communicate, especially your capacity for effective, analytical writing. As you look around you at the world today, you will find most of the leadership positions in the public, non-profit, and private sectors occupied by people with a liberal arts background. These kinds of leadership positions require a broad educational foundation, with exposure to a wide field of knowledge. A liberal arts curriculum gives our majors the ability to explore problems from a variety of perspectives. We believe the intellectual tools developed in the liberal arts will remain essential for leaders in a rapidly changing world. Graduate and professional schools continue to regard the liberal arts as the strongest basis for most advanced education.

We also stress writing in most political science courses. In our view, writing forces students to think in the most organized and systematic manner and to express their ideas in clear language. Writing assignments become more demanding as you progress from introductory courses through intermediate (200-level) courses to advanced seminars. Our graduates, especially those who go on to professional and graduate schools, often tell us that the attention they received on their written work made a major contribution to their success in the next stage of their education. Other former students who entered the job market directly after graduation have discovered that their writing skills have helped them advance more quickly in their organizations.

At Hunter College (as in most universities), political science is divided into four subfields: American Politics, Political Theory, Comparative Politics and International Politics. In addition to the four core fields, political science at Hunter reflects new developments in our discipline and work done in other disciplines. For example, we offer courses in law, public policy, political economy, human rights, globalization and research methods that are listed within the four primary fields. Scholarship in political science sometimes overlaps with other fields, such as Women & Gender Studies or Philosophy. We offer a number of courses that are cross-listed with other departments, while still falling within the four-field classification. For a listing of all courses being offered this semester, click here.

Programmatic Learning Goals for the Department of Political Science

1. Comprehend complex political science texts and understand how they relate to specific political topics and questions.

2. Understand abstract political science theories, discuss the major schools of thought in political science, and recognize and describe key political institutions and features of political systems.

3. Orally describe arguments found in political science, including the nature of the evidence on which they are based, and to deliever a clear and coherent oral critique of the texts with which they engage.

4. Students' written work will demonstrate an ability to critically examine arguments contained in political science texts on the basis of the quality of the argumentation, evidence used, reasonableness of the assumptions, and normative and policy implications the author seeks to advance.

5. Students' written work will demonstrate an ability to generate answerable research questions of relevance to political science, select appropriate theories and concepts through which to address them, and marshal compelling evidence in support of empirical and normative arguements.