Mar 05, 2024  
2018-2019 Undergraduate Catalog 
2018-2019 Undergraduate Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Political Science

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Rose Ernst, PhD, Chair


Politics is how we make decisions that affect us all collectively. Politicians, political parties, institutions and laws come to mind when we refer to politics, but politics is much more than these. Politics takes place in Congress, in the workplace, in the classroom, at home, on the street - in a word, anywhere. It is about agreement and disagreement over interests and values, cooperation and conflict between collectives, and access to a society’s resources and denial to access. It is as much about collective decision making and the quest for a more just society as it is about power.

Political science is the study of the fundamental values, interests, processes, tools and actors that play a role in making decisions. Political scientists explore ideas fundamental to the human condition such as power, justice, equality, and legitimacy; examine how laws and policies are enacted and enforced in the United States and elsewhere; compare and contrast the political institutions, policy processes and policy outcomes across nations; investigate how countries cooperate and compete in the international system; and uncover the ways in which power differentials between individuals, social groups, countries and geographies shape the world we are living in. Any issue that touches human lives is the subject matter of political science. 

In the Political Science Department at Seattle University we offer courses on political philosophy; U.S. politics; law and legal studies; comparative politics; international relations; political economy; and studies of race, gender, sexuality, and class.

We prepare students for career success, leadership and social responsibility. Many students attend law school or graduate school after graduation. Our network of alumni works at local and national government institutions, non-governmental organizations, law firms and other legal entities, and a range of other public and private jobs.

Subfields of Political Science at Seattle University:

Comparative Politics

Comparative politics refers to the systematic comparison of institutions, policies, processes, and actors from around the world. Comparing/contrasting the political systems and policies of different countries is at the heart of comparative politics, but it is also possible to conduct research on subnational entities, like federal states or municipalities, and international entities, like multinational organizations and regional groupings. In short, comparativists study any topic that is of relevance to societies, using a variety of methods and approaches. Students will develop a deeper understanding of politics around the world, and learn about a variety of theoretical debates on political institutions, political economy, conflict and peace, human rights, nationalism, gender politics, and a number of other subjects. The curriculum includes: Comparative Politics; Politics of Development; Chinese Politics; Latin American Politics; Middle East Politics; the Political Economy of Africa; East Asian Political Economy; Indigenous Movements in Latin America; Transitional Justice; Civil Wars; and Comparative Law, Politics & Society.

International Politics

International politics explores cooperation and conflict between countries. Trade and other economic interactions, security cooperation, international law, and war between countries are the key areas of study. In addition to state actors and their foreign policy elites, in today’s world an increasing number of international organizations (like the United Nations), financial organizations (like the IMF), regional organizations (like the African Union and the European Union), civil society organizations, social movements, and multinational corporations are studied under the International Politics subfield. The curriculum includes: U.S. Foreign Policy; Global Governance; North-South Relations; U.S. - Latin America Relations; East Asian Security; Comparative Foreign Policy; World Economic Order & Justice; Global Conflict and Cooperation; Transitional Justice; and East Asian Political Economy.

Law and Political Theory

Professors in this subfield focus on two broad areas. The first, public law, includes the study of legal and constitutional doctrine and theory, as well as an analysis of the actual behavior or legal decision-makers and the behavior of citizens in relation to law.  This subfield develops an understanding the of the role of law, legal theory, and legal practice in the political process.  Students will develop a knowledge of American Constitutional law, its political ramifications, and theoretical dimensions. In addition to a number of special topics courses, the curriculum includes: Law, Politics & Society; Constitutional Law; Civil Liberties; Race and the Law; Law and Gender; Comparative Law; and Law, Politics & Justice.

The second area, political theory, is an exploration of the values and visions associated with ideas like justice, freedom, equality, democracy, and power.  This has two dimensions: first, an exploration of the historical development of these values and visions and their philosophical underpinnings in different historical periods and cultural contexts; and second, an exploration of the meaning, significance, and moral or ethical implications of theoretical values and visions. These courses include: Introduction to Political Theory; Modern Political Thought; Contemporary Political Thought; American Political Thought; and Special Topics in Political Philosophy.

Legal Studies Specialization

The political science legal studies specialization addresses student interest in legal reasoning; the role of law in politics, society, and the economy; and the legal basics of modern democracy and theories of justice. It is most broadly concerned with the legal foundations of modern society and politics, and it addresses questions of justice, power, and order from the perspective of the liberal arts. It is intended to prepare students for many possible careers and future courses of study.

U.S. Politics

Professors in this subfield focus in two broad areas, in addition to teaching the foundational Introduction to U.S. Politics course. In the first area of political institutions, we study how the rules and norms of the U.S. political system structures and shapes the behavior and incentives of candidates, parties, legislators, and presidents. These courses include: Congress; Interests, Parties & Elections, and The Presidency. In the second area of interpretive and critical research, we study domination and resistance with attention to the role of systems, institutions and ideologies. These courses include: Dismantling White Supremacy; The Politics of White Womanhood; Qualitative Inquiry in Political Science and Social Movements in the United States.

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