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Political Science

Department of History and Political Science

The College of Arts and Sciences


John E. Moser, Professor of History 

Director, Ashbrook Center

Jeffrey Sikkenga, Professor of Political Science

Director, Political Economy

Robert Wyllie, Assistant Professor of Political Science


Christopher Burkett, Associate Professor of Political Science

Joseph Griffith, Assistant Professor of Political Science

Gregory McBrayer, Associate Professor of Political Science

René Paddags, Associate Professor of Political Science

Jason Stevens, Assistant Professor of Political Science

Robert Wyllie, Assistant Professor of Political Science

Degrees Offered

Bachelor of Arts

Bachelor of Science in Education


The political science program studies the great political thinkers, the institutions and practices of government, and selected statesmen with the intention of helping students think more clearly about politics, American government, and international relations. The program does not aim to train specialists in a particular skill, but to enliven students with the capacity to think seriously about themselves as human beings and to consider prudently the important social and political questions they will face as citizens. We believe that the study of politics is an important part of a liberal education, and that it contributes to learning how to read carefully, follow arguments closely, write clearly, and speak thoughtfully.

Student Learning Outcomes

Students who successfully complete the major in political science will be able to:

  1. Identify, compare, and evaluate concepts, texts, and persons in political philosophy

  2. Identify, compare, and evaluate concepts, texts, persons, and events in American government

  3. Identify, compare, and evaluate concepts, texts, persons, and events in International politics

  4. Discuss, interpret, and analyze political problems

Student Honor Society

Pi Sigma Alpha, Rho Omega chapter, is the national political science honor society. Membership is open to students who have completed a minimum of 15 credit hours in political science and have a cumulative GPA of 3.3.

Ashbrook Center for Public Affairs

The Ashbrook Center for Public Affairs is an academic forum for the study, research, and discussion of the principles and practices of American constitutional government and politics. The Ashbrook Center sponsors the Ashbrook Scholar program, hosts a series of campus lectures and conferences, and provides internship opportunities for students interested in careers related to public affairs.

Description of Major

Political science is the study of how and why human beings live together in society. This study is centered on the great questions animating political life: What is justice? Who should rule? What is the best kind of society?

As history shows, there are different kinds of political societies with distinct characters or regimes. For example, modern societies have democratic institutions and a way of life based on ideas of equality and freedom. The difference between political societies naturally leads to the comparative question of which one is best. This question–What is the best regime? –is the highest theme of political science; for it is only with knowledge of the best society that we can understand and adequately evaluate the variety of actual societies and ways of life. To pursue that question, we must identify and describe the forces, needs, and desires which bring human beings together and then explain how these things account for all the various regimes and forms of political life such as the city, the nation-state, or the empire. One fundamental way is to study the works of the greatest political thinkers like Plato, Aristotle, Locke, or The Federalist.

At the same time, we also must study the world of political action: laws, governing institutions, relations between countries, and the words and deeds of statesmen who practice political art at its highest, like George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, or Winston Churchill. This combined study of political philosophy, political institutions, and statesmanship makes up political science in all aspects.

Degree Requirements

Assessment – As part of the department's assessment process, majors in political science and international political studies will be asked to complete a test during their freshman year and again during their senior year.

Political Science Courses and Descriptions

See Course Descriptions section of catalog.