Political Science Major
The Department of History & Political Science offers a four-year program leading to a Bachelor of Arts in political science, a unique interdisciplinary major where students combine classroom learning with field experiences and interactions. Majors will develop knowledge of U.S. and comparative governments, international relations, politics and the policy process, as well as develop liberal arts and vocational skills to prepare for graduate school and careers in public administration, law, business, political and public policy research, and organizational management.
Students graduating with a major in Political Science will be able to:
- Demonstrate a comprehensive understanding in each of the following areas of political science: American politics, comparative politics, international relations, public policy, and research methods;
- Demonstrate proficiency in identifying, locating, and evaluating scholarly political science resources and literature and in using them responsibly to formulate effective arguments;
- Demonstrate the capacity to conduct original research using one or more methodologies in political science (i.e., quantitative, qualitative, historical institutional, etc.);
- Demonstrate competence in presenting research and analysis via written and oral communication,
- Demonstrate the application of skills and knowledge from the Political Science program in program-relevant internships.
Introduces the major institutions of national and state government and the discipline of political science. Through interdisciplinary study, students will develop an understanding of political behavior and the public policy processes in the United States.
Provides a comparative introduction to common political problems and the discipline of political science. Through an interdisciplinary study of various nation-states, students will develop an understanding of political behavior, political institutions, and public policy processes.
Provides students with an understanding of various theoretical approaches to the study of politics and the public policy processes, as well as developing skills in social science quantitative and qualitative research methods.
Examines politics in America with an eye to the role and responsibility of the news media in, and the relationship of the press to, politics. Analyzes the print and electronic media and current political campaigns, as well as how politics and the news media have been portrayed in film.
Focuses on theories surrounding American campaigns and elections for presidential and congressional elections. In this course, we will analyze how the structures of the American political system have changed over time and how/why candidates run, win, and lose office. Further, we will explore the role American voters play in the political process and how their attitudes, opinions, and ideologies influence candidate choice and voting behavior.
Analyzes constitutional law with special emphasis on civil liberties and civil rights. Legal issues will be examined in the light of relevant social and political conditions.
Focuses on structure, policy-making decisions, and functions in state and local government, especially in North Adams and the Berkshires. Utilizes the comparative method to examine the similarities and differences between state and local governments across the US.
Analyzes how the structure and rules of the American political system influence how women participate in politics. Specifically, the course focuses on women politicians by looking at theories of ambition, stereotypes, and partisanship, amongst others, that impact a woman's decision to run for office and then win election. These topics are presented in a comparative nature by gender and party and across all levels of government.
Surveys the three branches of the national government in the United States: Congress, the Presidency, and the Supreme Court. Using a variety of theoretical models, this course seeks to explain how the structure of these institutions affects behavior of actors in the institutions, outcomes as a result of those behaviors, and the practical process of policy formulation.
Focuses on aspects of issues and topics in political science and public policy that are at least mainly geared towards understanding the United States case and the corresponding academic research. Emphasis is placed on critical thinking, writing skills, and engagement with the political science literature. Examples of topics in this area include: State and Local Government, Campaigns and Elections, Women in Politics.
Focuses on aspects of issues and topics in political science and public policy that involve extensive analysis of international relations or comparative politics and the corresponding academic research. Emphasis is placed on critical thinking, writing skills, and engagement with the political science literature. Examples of topics include: Model UN, Latin American Politics & Society, and Global Development.
Focuses on why people think, act, and reason the way they do in the realm of politics. Are they acting this way with or without consciousness? The class largely focuses on individual-level political decision-making but we also examine group behavior and choice. By the end of this course, students will have a clear understanding in how political behavior and information processing impacts personal decision-making, politicians, researchers, and the media.
Provides an introduction to recent Latin American political history. The course especially looks at developments and debates in three areas: the evolution and quality of democracy; socioeconomic models, policies and outcomes; and, U.S. - Latin American relations. In examining these topics and others, attention is split between examining the relevant academic research and exploring country case studies and current events.
Explores issues in war and peace within countries and in the international system. Uses political science theories and recent cases to analyze the origins, evolution and resolution of various forms of conflict, including civil war, terrorism, and revolution.
Examines social welfare policies and programs from the New Deal to the present analyzing their economic, cultural, historic and political roots. Emphasis on selected issues such as poverty and inequality, healthcare, abuse and neglect, daycare and parental leave. Examines social welfare policies as expressions of American values and political processes and compares American programs to those of other industrialized countries. Special attention paid to the experience of social program recipients.
Analyzes the intersection of politics and economics both domestically and internationally in order to understand the accumulation and distribution of power and wealth. Uses theories from both political science and economics to explore issues such as taxation, redistribution, poverty, trade, finance, and immigration.
Focuses on the structure of the international system and also prepares students for one or more university-level Model United Nations conferences. Students will learn about the history, mandate and organizational structure of the United Nations and related organizations. They will also practice public speaking, memo writing, parliamentary procedure and other skills necessary to excel in MUN conferences. This course may be repeated once.
Explores in depth a particular problem, concept, or theme in political science using advanced research methods. Possible topics include: The American Presidency; Global Development; The American Political Tradition; Political Psychology.
Focuses on the political similarities and differences between African Americans/blacks, Latinos/Hispanics, American Indians, and Asian Americans. We will take a specific look at topics of intersectional identity, inter-minority group relations, and racial resentment. The course covers the political challenges each of these groups face, racial demographics across and within the states, voting behavior, and how race plays a role in elections, policymaking, and policy effects.
Focuses on the destabilizing forces, complex challenges, and exciting opportunities of the international system and their relation to the US and its foreign policy. How does the US determine when and how to act in international affairs? This course will familiarize students with the institutions and actors that shape US foreign policy, the major theories that explain these processes and outcomes, and significant cases where US foreign policy played an important role.
Focuses initially on the large socioeconomic inequality between countries across the globe. Does this gap have more to do with exploitation by foreign powers, the quality of domestic governance, or a country's environment and geography? What can be done about global poverty and inequality? This course will provide students a variety of tools for examining competing answers to these questions while improving their knowledge of the politics, economics, and cultures of less-developed countries.
Provides senior students majoring in Political Science and Public Policy with an opportunity and framework to reflect on their past work in the major and the wider liberal arts as well as look forward to opportunities and challenges after graduation. Completion of an ePortfolio will be an essential component. Students will work with the instructor, career service professionals, and alumni to understand career and graduate school possibilities and prepare strategies for success.
Open to juniors and seniors who desire to read widely in a given area or to study a specific topic in depth. Written reports and frequent conferences with the advisor are required.
Offers highly qualified majors or minors in political science an opportunity to assist an instructor in the conduct of a course. The student may be held responsible for conducting classes, review sessions, consulting on course materials, etc.
In consultation with a political science professor, students may apply for and earn internship credit by interning with elected officials or at local or town governments, state governments, national governments. Students may also intern for election campaigns, non-governmental organizations, law offices, interest groups, or other placements approved by the department. Internships are evaluated by a combination of site coordinator evaluations, student reports, and a debriefing memo.