College of Liberal Arts
Department of Political Science
Chair: Michael Towle, Ph.D.
Professors: Kristen Urban, Ph.D.; Paul Christopher Manuel, Ph.D.
Associate Professor: Maureen Rand Oakley, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor: Amanda Beal, Ph.D.
The faculty members of the Department of Political Science believe that the study of politics is an essential part of an undergraduate liberal arts education and an important aspect of good citizenship. Pursuant to this end, the department is committed to providing students with a strong background in the study of politics. It offers a wide variety of courses that explore critical political issues at the local, national and international levels. Students are taught to identify important political issues and apply appropriate research skills to analyze them.
The programs of study offered by the Department of Political Science are ideal not only for students who are seeking a liberal arts education to prepare themselves for careers in the public sector or international affairs, but also for those who hope to continue their studies in graduate school or law school. In addition, the department is attentive to the career concerns of students who seek certification to teach social studies at the secondary level.
The department offers majors and minors in both political science and international studies. Additionally, the department administers the conflict, peace and social justice minor and participates in the interdisciplinary minors relating to Latin American studies, non-Western studies, gender studies and legal studies.
Departmental majors are encouraged to pursue governmental and nongovernmental internships, which help students make connections between the theory and practice of politics, sharpen their communication and analytical skills, and begin the process of developing professional networks–all of which prepare them for professional careers. The department also encourages its students to participate in study-abroad programs and to make connections with the larger, globalized world of the 21st century.
Co-curricular opportunities provided by departmental faculty have included Mount participation in three political simulations: the Mid-Atlantic European Union Simulation, the National Model of the Model Arab League and the Maryland Student Legislature. These annual events gather students from many colleges to locations such as Washington and Annapolis, and require students to adopt formal roles, become acquainted with issues and agendas of specific countries or political parties, and join in the process of negotiating with other student role-players to achieve desired political outcomes. Students are also encouraged to be active in campus organizations such as the Political Science Club, International Affairs Organization, Amnesty International, College Republicans and College Democrats. The department supports a chapter of the political science honor society, Pi Sigma Alpha.
By the time they graduate, political science majors are expected to meet the following specific goals and objectives.
► To understand the nature of political science as one of the social science disciplines. Upon graduation, students should be able to:
discuss major questions of the discipline.
list discipline subfields and their topics of interest.
explain how political scientists use the scientific method to answer their questions.
► To understand the similarities and differences of political systems and cultures. Upon graduation, students should be able to:
describe the basic features of totalitarian, authoritarian, and democratic regimes.
explain the basic operations of parliamentary and non-parliamentary (e.g. presidential) democracies.
explain the difference between unitary and adversary style democracies.
describe at least three different electoral systems used around the world.
summarize the difference between communist, socialist, social democratic, and capitalist economies.
compare the political cultures of two nations in one region of the world.
► To analyze political questions using philosophical, legal, qualitative and quantitative methods. Upon graduation, students should be able to:
use a major social science theory to explain a political behavior or phenomenon.
formulate an hypothesis to explain a political phenomenon or behavior
design a test of an hypothesis using the appropriate methods.
analyze political science data and draw conclusions (quantitative and qualitative).
► To be familiar with the history, operations and salient features of American political institutions, processes and behavior, and their relationship to the public policymaking process. Upon graduation, students should be able to:
explain at least three ways that the courts can affect public policy in the United States.
explain at least three ways that the president can affect public policy in the United States.
summarize at least three ways that members of the United States Congress are constrained in the positions they take on matters of public policy.
describe not only the basic rules and procedures for election to congress and the presidency, but also the relevant politics of such elections (such as the roles of money, media, political parties, etc).
describe the historical development of either the Supreme Court, the Congress, or the Presidency.
► To make informed and reasoned arguments concerning constitutional democracy in contemporary America. Upon graduation, students should be able to:
describe opposing political arguments on at least three major issues in the contemporary United States.
provide critiques and defenses of at least three aspects of the United States political system, and describe the pros and cons of alternative methods of operating.
► To understand the nature and evolution of the international political system, including state and nonstate actors. Upon graduation, students should be able to:
discuss major theories of international behavior.
describe the development of the international system during the past 200 years.
discuss the role of at least two significant non-state actors in the international political system.
describe at least two major challenges facing the international political system in the next fifty years.
► To understand the salient features of political systems in other regions of the world such as Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Middle East. Upon graduation, students should be able to:
describe the basic features of the political systems in at least one country in three of the named regions.
summarize the dominant political culture in at least three regions of the world.
describe future challenges facing the political systems in at least three parts of the world.
► To analyze the role of international organizations and laws in addressing global issues such as conflict resolution, environmental issues, and human rights. Upon graduation, students should be able to:
describe how the European Union, United Nations, or one other international organization addresses global issues.
be able to discuss the implications of two or more principles or issues of international law.
discuss the role of two international trade agreements/organizations such as NAFTA, CAFTA, ASEAN, WTO, the World Bank or others.
describe at least two types of human rights violations currently occurring in the world, and explain both the possible methods for and obstacles to addressing them.
► To understand the evolution and salient features of Western political thought. Upon graduation students should be able to:
identify at least three figures in the realm of political thought and the ideas they advocated.
discuss at least three ideological approaches to governance and the policy implications that derive from each.
describe two emerging political ideologies (such as religious fundamentalism, environmentalism, and feminism).