Mission Statement for Graduate Students
We assume students who enter graduate level study have been given appropriate training in the fundamentals of the discipline and possess the qualities necessary to produce graduate–level work. From the admissions process on, students are assessed upon several important outcomes which are listed below.
Mission Statement for Undergraduate Students
Political Science (POLS) examines politics not only in government and among nations but also in private organizations, businesses, universities, families, language, and daily life. Various methods are used to do this, ranging from the interpretive and historical to the quantitative and statistical. Although properly eclectic in our orientation, the department's major methodological emphasis can be called critical interpretivist: we utilize and develop poststructuralist, feminist, Marxist, post–colonial, queer cultural and philosophical theories, as well as more mainstream theories, in our approaches to political phenomena.
Political science graduates enter numerous professions: journalism, foreign service, social services, government, law, teaching, law enforcement, civil service, business, librarianship, and research.
Graduate Learning Outcomes
- The ability to produce quality scholarship.
At the graduate level we anticipate that students will use their knowledge of the fundamentals of the discipline as well as critical evolution of the discipline over time to help contribute to that field through their own research.
- Master of one or more sub–fields offered in the major.
Our program offers subfields that form the specialization a graduate student will develop while enrolled in the program. We expect students graduating from the program to have mastered one or more of these subfields. Specifically, they should have an understanding of the tradition and critical literature of the subfield and be able to demonstrate a mastery of these fields.
- Ability to think politically. Much like our expectations of the undergraduate majors, we require students to think politically about social phenomenon. Comprehending that all social, economic, and cultural processes are also political is a crucial learning outcome. Understanding that no knowledge is innocent, but that all knowledge has consequences is key to this learning outcome.
Undergraduate Learning Outcomes
We see the political in numerous phenomena, many of which have not been developed by political science. We have established a unique set of learning outcomes that are extended across our curriculum:
- Learn to think politically. Comprehending that all social, economic, and cultural processes are also political is a crucial learning outcome. That comprehension creates knowledgeable citizenry capable of action on policy decisions and conduct. Students learn that the disciplinary boundaries that inform our comprehension of social phenomena, while useful in engendering and accumulating knowledge, can also obscure the systemic connections at work across the societal networks and processes. How these connections are structured as well as preserved is a function of politics. Politics organizes and conditions life possibilities and choices for citizens. That no knowledge is innocent, but that all knowledge has consequences is key to the cognition of this learning outcome.
- Make a good argument. Both political phenomena and scholarship generally require the capacity to reason well. To make a good political argument students need to learn to identify an argument, to distinguish strong and weak ways of making arguments, to analyze the arguments of others and to offer their own. Through the careful reading of important texts, scrutiny of available evidence, and teaching methods that exemplify good arguments and that engage students in the creation and testing of their own knowledge, the department emphasizes forms of expression key to academic excellence, participation in the public sphere, and lifelong learning.
- Become critical of power. The study of power is a common interest across the discipline of political science. It is critical to the development of active citizens and lifelong learners. We expect our students to learn to identify the workings of power in various forms, including power in language, in institutions, and in daily life. The ability to analyze power effectively, to ask critical questions about authority and legitimacy, are central to a robust understanding of politics.
- Communicate effectively in public settings. Learning to make a good argument and to think critically about power are key resources for effective public communication. Effective communication encompasses many types of media, including oral or written forms, electronic forms, visual or musical forms of expression. Our students will learn to speak and write clearly and effectively in a variety of social settings, including classrooms, informal groups, formal public presentations, published essays, fiction, letters to the editor, electronic discussions, and others.
- Develop knowledge of fundamentals in political science. For the aforementioned Student Learning Outcomes to be cultivated and achieved, our students are systematically exposed to a range of seminal knowledge fundamental to political science. While all subfields, such as political theory and International relations, have their historically accumulated core knowledge base, they also rely on and transmit literatures common to their endeavor. The Department espouses a "critical disposition" which acquires it a depth and breadth along with or in the company of, such knowledges. Its contributions to political science flows from a commitment to equipping undergraduate students with the knowledge regarding the discipline across history and geography.