American Politics

The United States boasts the oldest, continuous constitutional democracy in the world. The ability of this nation to withstand everything from economic change such as the industrial revolution, to social changes such as the civil rights revolutions, to international threats in the modern age including terrorism and globalism, mark the study of the American experience. The Florida Atlantic University American Politics program provides students with a strong understanding of the fundamentals of political science theory and methodology in the context of the American experience. Students of American Politics study policymaking, political institutions, and processes. The study of institutions includes political organizations, the Presidency, Congress, and the courts, which are analyzed from both a U.S. and a comparative perspective. Students may also study political behavior and processes such as public opinion, elections, political parties, social movements, and the influences of media and popular culture from sources such as political film and fiction. Students learn to quantitatively and qualitatively analyze political science phenomena, to understand the philosophical underpinnings of the American political system, and to develop an appreciation of and ability to compare the United States to other political systems.

Comparative Politics

The sub-field of comparative politics encompasses a broad range of issues, areas, and theoretical perspectives, all of which are combined to understand and explain current political phenomena. Comparative politics invites the scholar, the professor, and the student to research, teach, and learn about a great many interests in political science. Cultural, institutional, rational choice, and structural approaches offer frameworks for analyzing issues such as development, democratization, and regime change, using the comparative method. In addition to the expertise in major comparative schools of thought, professors in the Department of Political Science have been recognized and published in areas in which they also offer courses: Europe, Latin America, and the Middle East.

International Relations

International relations, a branch of political science, is the study of foreign affairs and relations among among states within the international system, including the roles of states, inter-governmental organizations (IGOs), non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and multinational corporations. It is both an academic and public policy field, and can be either positive or normative as it both seeks to analyze as well as formulate foreign policy.

Apart from political science, IR draws upon such diverse fields as economics, history, law, philosophy, geography, sociology, anthropology, psychology, and cultural studies. It involves a diverse range of issues, from globalization and its impacts on societies and state sovereignty, to ecological sustainability, nuclear proliferation, nationalism, economic development, terrorism, organized crime, and human rights.

Public Law and Policy

Are you interested in how public policy is developed and implemented or how public agencies work? The Public Law and Policy program blends theory with practice in addressing such concerns. The program provides students with knowledge and skills in the areas of organization behavior, public budgeting and finances, public management, policy analysis, program evaluation, and computer applications. Students develop expertise in one or more substantive areas and research methodologies.

Political Theory

What is justice? Why do governments exist? What does it mean to be a good citizen? These are some of the central questions explored in political theory. As is evident from these questions, political theory is largely a normative enterprise—meaning that it is less concerned with what is than with what should be. By searching for ideal political forms, political theory helps to guide the efforts of other political scientists while also challenging core assumptions and concepts in the study and practice of politics. At the same time, political theory involves a deep awareness of empirical reality. Students will read the works of great thinkers in the history of Western political thought—such as Plato, Aristotle, Hobbes, Rousseau, Nietzsche, and Foucault—to deepen their understanding of human nature, power, and rights. Students may also study thinkers outside of the Western tradition to gain a more global perspective. Ultimately, political theory is not just about examining the world around us; it is also about examining ourselves. For as the ancient Greek philosopher Socrates once said, “the unexamined life is not worth living.”