Politics is most fundamentally about forging and maintaining community, about how we manage to craft a common destiny guided by shared values. Communities need a way to reconcile conflicts of interest among their members and to determine their group interest; they need to allocate power and to determine its just uses. Power may be used wisely or foolishly, rightly or cruelly, but it is always there; it cannot be wished away. Political science attends to the ways that social power is grasped, maintained, challenged, or justified. The contests over power and the values that it should be used to further give politics its drama and pathos. The effort to understand politics aims not only to describe and explain, but also to improve political life.
The Political Science major is structured to allow students either to participate in the established ways of studying politics or to develop their own focus. To this end, the department offers two routes to completing the major, each requiring nine courses. We invite students either to organize their major through the subfields that structure the discipline of political science (American politics, international relations, political theory, and comparative politics), or to develop individual concentrations reflecting their particular interests, regardless of subfields. More information can be found on the Political Science site.