Political Science (POL)

The Political Science Department offers a BA degree and a minor in Political Science.

Learning Outcomes for Students Earning the BA in Political Science

Intellectual Formation

  1. An active interest in national and world politics.
  2. An understanding of connections across established fields of study.
  3. Experience in investigating diverse value systems, ideologies, and cultures.
  4. Confidence to discuss ideas freely, both with the faculty and with other students.

Analytical and Critical Thinking Skills

  1. Ability to analyze and debate political events in a coherent manner, and form individual conclusions.
  2. Ability to think systematically, and construct logical and normative arguments, about politics.
  3. Ability to critically assess and interpret political data and texts.
  4. Ability to incorporate and apply theoretical insights in analyzing and explaining political problems.

Substantive Content

  1. Knowledge of basic factual information and analytical concepts concerning the American political system.
  2. Comparative knowledge of political systems, with particular regard to political institutions, processes, and ideologies.
  3. Knowledge of political theory and the history of political thought.
  4. Knowledge of essential basic information and concepts relevant to international relations.
  5. Knowledge of important policy problems confronted by political systems at the domestic and international levels.

Transferable skills

  1. General ability to think systematically and construct logical arguments.
  2. Writing skills necessary to write research papers and essays.
  3. Effective verbal communication and public speaking.
  4. Knowledge of general library skills.
  5. Knowledge of basic qualitative and quantitative research methods in political science.
  6. Familiarity with relevant computer programs and with scholarly use of the Internet.
  7. Competency in scholarly use of the Internet.
  8. The ability to effectively coordinate with others on a project.
  9. A sense of civic and social responsibility.
  10. Critical evaluation of media and news sources.

Assessment of Student Learning Outcomes

Currently, learning outcomes are assessed individually in each class, through appropriate measures stated in the course syllabi. In addition, all senior majors are required to enroll in a seminar that provides a capstone experience. Ordinarily the Department offers six or seven each year spread across the two semesters and the subject matter ranges across the four sub-fields. Teaching of the seminars rotates every year among all tenured and tenure-track members of the faculty, with rubrics common across all sections. Enrollment in capstone courses is usually not higher than 15 and this course is four credit hours rather than the normal three, to recognize the additional intensity of the course.

The seminar provides an opportunity for majors to experience something comparable to a graduate seminar. As such, it is conducted more by discussion than by lecture, and enables students to read and reflect upon more advanced scholarly material than is common in other classes (Intellectual Formation, Analytical and Critical Thinking Skills, and Substantive Content learning outcomes. A significant portion of the student’s grade in the senior seminar is based upon the completion of a major research paper of approximately thirty pages (Substantive Content and Transferable Skills learning outcomes). Students are expected to present their research to the class (Transferable Skills learning outcome). Professors teaching the seminars spend considerable out-of-class time working with students individually on these research projects.