Concentration in Political Science

Advisory Board:

Dr. Tim Steigenga
Dr. Mark Tunick

Political Science

Political science is a broad discipline concerned with how people with different interests and values reach collective decisions and form binding policies in order to maintain a stable and flourishing society. It studies the role of law and government and non-governmental institutions in distributing scarce resources. It takes up questions such as what makes a government legitimate? What causes revolutions and wars? How can government be arranged to realize the greatest happiness of its citizens, and what factors determine whether the ideal arrangement is achieved in practice? The Honors College concentration in political science provides the necessary groundwork for students wishing to do graduate work in political science and related disciplines, and is excellent preparation for law or business school or careers in journalism, public affairs, education, or government. Students also have the opportunity to take advantage of public speaking opportunities including participation in the Diplomacy program and moot court.

The discipline of political science is closely connected with other disciplines, including economics, history, philosophy, and sociology. Political science itself is commonly divided into four sub-fields:

American Politics: studies the government of the United States, including the relations between the three branches (the Presidency, Congress, the Judiciary), between the federal government and the states, and between government and private interests. Students might examine health care or immigration policy, explain election outcomes, learn how to measure public opinion, or consider whether lobbying, litigating, or taking to the streets is more effective in achieving social change;

Comparative Politics: focuses on foreign (non-U.S.) political systems. Students compare different systems to evaluate the various ways in which governments respond to similar problems and meet citizen needs. Central factors for comparison include political culture, political institutions, political processes, and public policy. A comparative analysis of these factors can help us to answer questions such as why some countries are democratic while others are authoritarian, why some are well-developed politically and economically while others are not, and why some are stable while others face internal conflicts and civil wars;

International Relations: International Relations is the study of patterns of conflict and cooperation among world actors, primarily nation-states, but also international organizations, nationalist groups, religious groups, non-governmental organizations, and others. Students examine questions about the nature of the international system, the distribution of power and resources among international actors, why nations go to war and make peace, and how foreign policy is constructed. Topics for study include war and the use of force, nuclear weapons and proliferation, the politics of global welfare, development and underdevelopment, international political economy, international organizations, globalization, environmental security, and foreign policy.

Political Theory: Political theory is concerned with the nature of politics and the sort of knowledge appropriate to the study of politics. It also focuses on concepts such as justice, freedom, equality, and legitimacy, exploring how these concepts have been developed throughout history and how they bear on contemporary issues. Political theorists examine foundational questions such as: Why do people live in government? What makes government legitimate? Why should policies be decided by majority vote and not by experts? Government may be needed to ensure our freedom, but at what point does government make us unfree? Can there be a science of politics?

Available Options: Concentration in Political Science.

Concentration in Political Science

Course # Course Name Credits
POS 2041* Honors Government of the U.S. 3
CPO 3003* Honors Comparative Politics 3
INR 2002 Honors Introduction to World Politics 3
  Political Theory Course: 3
POT 3021, or History of Political Theory  
POS 2692, or Punishment  
PHI 2642 Ethics of Social Diversity  
  Political Science Electives 18
POS 4970 Honors Thesis in Political Science 6
  Total Credits 36

* May be replaced by an upper level course (for POS 2041, in American politics; for CPO 3003, in Comparative politics) with approval of a concentration advisor.

Political Science Electives: At least four of these courses must be 3000-level or above, two of which are political science courses in the same sub-field. Up to three of the six courses may be "Electives in related disciplines" (see below). Courses used to satisfy the requirements of the Honors Core can not be used to satisfy this requirement. Courses not listed below may be used only with the prior approval of the Concentration Advisor. For students entering the Honors College with fewer than 60 credits, no more than two non-honors courses may be used for the concentration; for students entering with 60 or more credits, no more than three non-honors courses may be used for the concentration. Students are reminded they need 45 upper-level (3000 or 4000-level) credits to graduate.

Political Science Electives

Course # Course Name Credits
American Politics
POS 3691 Honors Law and American Society 3
POS 4603 Honors Constitutional Law I 3
POS 4604 Honors Constitutional Law II 3
POS 2642 Honors Ethics of Social Diversity 3
POS 4206 Honors Political Psychology 3
POS 4423 Honors The U.S. Congress 3
POS 4414 Honors The U.S. Presidency 3
Comparative Politics
CPO 4305 Honors Religion and Politics in Latin America 3
CPO 4303 Honors Latin American Politics 3
POS 4957 Honors Political Science Study Abroad 3
International Relations
INR 3102 Honors American Foreign Policy 3
INR 3248 Honors Exporting Democracy:
U.S. Policy Toward Latin America
POS 4932 Honors International Organizations 3
POS 4932 Honors Advanced Diplomacy 3
Political Theory
POT 3021 Honors History of Political Theory 3
POT 3022 Honors History of Political Thought I 3
POT 3023 Honors History of Political Thought II 3
POS 2692 Honors Punishment 3
POS 3626 Honors Privacy 3
PHI 2642 Honors Ethics of Social Diversity 3
PHI 3644 Honors Obligations 3
PHP 3502 Honors Hegel's Political Philosophy 3
General Electives
POS 4905 Honors Independent Study 3
POS 4932 Honors Special Topics 3
POS 3734 Honors Research Methods in Political Science 3


Electives in Related Disciplines

Course # Course Name Credits
AMH 3630 Honors American Environmental History 3
AH 4932 Honors The 1960s 3
ASN 3006 Honors Introduction to Asian Studies 3
ECS 3013 Honors International Economic Development 3
ECO 3303 Honors History of Economic Thought 3
ECP 3451 Honors Law and Economics 3
ECO 4532 Honors Modern Political Economy 3
ECO 3101 Honors Intermediate Microeconomics 3
ECO 3203 Honors Intermediate Macroeconomics 3
ECO 4400 Honors Industrial Org and Game Theory 3
ECO 4531 Honors Public Finance and Public Policy 3
EUH 3575 Honors Russian History I 3
EUH 3576 Honors Russian History II 3
EUH 3662 Honors Revolution in Europe 3
EVS 3403 Honors Global Environmental Issues 3
GEA 2000 Honors World Geography 3
HIS 1933 Honors The Civil Rights Movement 3
HIS 4930 Honors History of Terrorism 3
IDS 2931 Honors History, Politics, Civilization
and Culture in Latin America
IDS 3930 Honors Law in the Real World 1
IDS 3932 Honors Immigration 3
IDS 4933 Honors Racial Integration and Jim Crow 3
ISS 4304 Honors Comput Social Science 3
PHH 3100 Honors Ancient Greek Philosophy 3
PHH 3400 Honors History of Modern Philosophy I 3
PHH 3442 Honors History of Modern Philosophy II 3
PHI 3682 Honors Environmental Philosophy 3
POS 3675 Honors Moot Court 1-3
SOP 3004 Honors Principles of Social Psychology 3
SYG 1000 Honors Introduction to Sociology 3
SYD 4792 Honors Race, Gender, Sexuality and Science 3
WST 3015 Honors Introduction to Women's Studies 3
WST 4504 Honors Feminist Theory 3


Honors Thesis

Students concentrating in political science must write an honors thesis on a topic within political science.

A good deal of research conducted by political scientists is quantitative, and students concentrating in political science are strongly encouraged to take Research Methods (POS 3734). All students concentrating in political science are strongly encouraged to participate in an internship or study abroad program with a substantial political content.