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DEGREE CONCENTRATIONS

The Department of Political Science, Public Administration & Nonprofit Management offers a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science with concentrations in American Studies, International and Comparative Studies, Legal Studies, Public Policy, and Public Administration and Nonprofit Management. Each degree concentration is described below.  Students should also refer to the Undergraduate Catalog for course descriptions and other important information.

 

American Studies

American Studies is the concentration for students who are interested in the study and practice of American Government. Classes explore such topics as the institutions of government at the state and federal level (executive, Congress, judiciary), elections and campaigns, interest groups, and the political behavior of citizens. In their classes, students will learn how to interpret current events, analyze the news, write coherently, create and consume original research, read and interpret statistics and data, argue a point with clarity and logic, and integrate different sources of information in a meaningful way.

We encourage students in the American Studies concentration to engage in fieldwork, volunteer on local, state, and national campaigns, and intern in governmental offices, nonprofit organizations, or interest groups. Formal semester-long internships are available in the state government and in Washington, D.C.
 
Through these courses and practical experience, students are able to develop skills that will be translatable to a large number of careers. Graduates of this program work on campaigns, serve as elected officials, are political reporters, work at many levels of government, engage as lobbyists, or pursue careers in the private or nonprofit sectors. Regardless of the career path our students follow, they are equipped to be engaged and active citizens, an essential quality in a representative democracy.

International and Comparative Studies

International Relations affects our daily lives as global markets, business, technology, and travel result in a flood of ideas, people, products, and forms of governance across borders.  The International and Comparative Studies track focuses on helping students understand both the governmental and non-state functioning of international politics.  Students in this concentration learn about global problems: conflict, ethnic violence, refugee flow, nuclear proliferation, terrorism, and how differing political systems and cultures seek to address these problems in an interdependent world.
 
Courses within the concentration range from understanding government structures of various regions of the world in an area studies focus to topical courses within broad themes of international security, international law and organizations, and the international relations theory that holds it all together.  Courses are designed to enable students to analyze global problems in a manner that is theoretically-informed and conceptually rigorous.  Focusing on current issues in global politics placed in historical context, the concentration is designed to prepare students for a variety of related careers in national government, international organizations, law, business, journalism, diplomacy, public service, and academics.
 
Concentration Advisor:  Dr. Jessica Auchter

 

Legal Studies

Course work in the Legal Studies concentration encourages Political Science majors to focus attention on structural and procedural aspects of our federal court system while also analyzing philosophical and ideological perspectives that have influenced conflicting assessments of the proper role of the Supreme Court in our system of government. Students explore the nature of legal reasoning as well as diverse theories of constitutional interpretation while pursuing in-depth studies within such legal studies topical areas as justice and the American trial process, constitutional law, civil liberties, the philosophy of law, the philosophy of punishment, religious liberty, and a complex array of constantly evolving First Amendment issues. 

Analysis of the nature and functioning of the American judiciary is essential to understanding our American version of republicanism. As Alexis de Tocqueville observed in Democracy in America (1836), “There is hardly a political question in the United States which does not sooner or later turn into a judicial one.”  Clearly, court decisions affect nearly all aspects of our political and personal lives since our federal courts, through the exercise of judicial review, are entrusted with assessing the constitutionality of both executive and legislative actions on all levels of American government. Moreover, in recent times, Supreme Court decisions have often defined the limits of contested political and legal rights and civil liberties. 

Students enrolled in the Legal Studies concentration confront such seminal questions regarding our Constitution and judiciary as how did Americans come to possess a Constitution that functions as a “higher law” to which Congress and the President must conform? Is Supreme Court rule-making compatible with democratic rule? Why are federal judges appointed rather than elected?  Should judges interpret constitutions in the same manner as they construe statutes?  What role, if any, should the federal courts play in facilitating social change? What are the practical outcomes of the supremacy of the Constitution, federal laws and treaties to state laws and constitutions?  Should courts protect established legal doctrines, or should such doctrines be subjected to continual scrutiny and revision?  Should due process be regarded merely as a procedural concept, or should due process entail substantive rights guarantees?

Experienced in textual analysis, with well-practiced written and verbal communication skills, and evidence of analytical expertise, students graduating with a BS in Political Science and a concentration in Legal Studies are well-equipped to be competitive in law school, the public sector, and judicial administration.

 

Concentration Advisors:  Dr. John Friedl and Dr. David Carrithers

Public Policy

Public policy is an academic discipline rooted in political science and branching into the full range of substantive policy areas, such as education, health, crime, economics, and environment. The public policy concentration's curriculum mirrors the public policy discipline itself, with the political science department providing foundation courses in public policy processes, institutions, and theories, and departments from across the university providing courses in a broad range of substantive policy areas. Political science courses include Introduction to Public Policy, American Government, Controversies in Public Policy, American Public Policy, Introduction to Public Administration, and senior-level public policy seminars.

Policy-related electives offered throughout the university explore policy areas including environment, social welfare, crime, labor, economics, education, technology, urban policy, community health, and immigration.  In these courses, students investigate issues like how societal problems come to be addressed by public policy, the strengths and weaknesses of different kinds of policies, how public policy is shaped by policy implementation, why people disagree over what kinds of policies are legitimate, and how all this plays out in specific policy areas they're interested in.

Graduates of this concentration are prepared to work in entry-level positions in government and nonprofit agencies related to proposing, implementing, and analyzing public policies; to participate in public policy processes as an informed citizen; and to pursue graduate education in public policy, law, public administration, or specific policy areas.

 

Concentration Advisor:  Dr. Christopher Horne

 

Public Administration and Nonprofit Management

The Public Administration and Nonprofit Management (PANM) concentration offers two distinct tracks - one in public administration and the other in nonprofit management. With a focus on either the public or nonprofit sector, students in the PANM concentration learn the structure of government and nonprofit entities and how to manage people, financial resources and communications to best serve diverse populations.

The PANM concentration is designed to prepare students for management-related careers in fields such as public policy, financial management, program evaluation, social welfare, and the arts. It equips students with the knowledge, skills, and values required for effective public and nonprofit management.

 

Concentration Advisors:  Dr. Irina Khmelko and Dr. Marcus D. Mauldin

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