Political Science (B.A.)
Dr. Allen Pietrobon, Assistant Professor of Global Affairs (program chair)
Dr. Mercedez Callenes, Assistant Professor of Global Affairs
Dr. Erin Carriere-Kretschmer, Visiting Assistant Professor of Political Science
Dr. Kimberly Monroe, Assistant Professor of Global Affairs
Dr. James Stocker, Associate Professor of International Affairs
Dr. Joshua Wright, Associate Professor of Global Affair
The political science program emphasizes both the study of political science as a discipline and the active, practical participation of students in the political process. In addition to course work, students participate in a wide variety of internships and fieldwork classes in Washington, D.C., to learn politics through direct observation and involvement.
The major in political science is designed to help students effectively fulfill their expanding roles in public life. Knowledge of governmental affairs in combination with communication and research skills can open a wide vista of challenging opportunities. Trinity looks to its political science majors to provide the much-needed dedication and leadership qualities aimed at achieving an enriched and more just society.
Political science provides students with grounding in several fields including American government, comparative political systems, international relations, political theory, and field experience afforded by Trinity’s location in the nation’s capital. This resource serves students in two ways: first, through utilization of the city’s political and governmental institutions as learning laboratories and second, by providing students with professional contacts and networking opportunities well before they graduate. In addition, political science majors can combine a thorough grounding in political science theory and methodology with a self-directed focus on selected public policy topics and/or with multidisciplinary course selections through the general education curriculum and complementary courses in other disciplines.
An analysis of the many aspects of leadership as well as the concept itself is woven into every political science course. The political science program is also sensitive to the needs of women not only through gender-specific courses but also through many other courses that address issues and processes of special significance to women. The comparative politics sequence and international relations courses in particular provide an essential resource for the development of multicultural awareness.
The political science program supports a major and minor in the College of Arts and Sciences. Courses in the political science program fall into the following categories: American government and law; international relations and comparative politics; political values; applied skills; elective; and advanced seminar. Each course taken may be counted to fulfill only one distribution requirement for the major, even if the course falls into two categories.
TWO courses in American government & law chosen from:
- POLS 213 Women and PoliticsSurveys the role of women in US government and politics, including in all three branches of government. Students will reflect on the challenges faced by women in paths to power, as well as on the implications of these challenges for women. The course features case studies of important women in politics
General Education Area IV: Leadership
- POLS 272 The Politics of Generational ConflictThis course explores the tension that results from maintaining adequate social programs to support an increasingly aging population in the face of constrained federal budgets. Students will examine the history and effectiveness of Social Security and Medicare to better understand how effectively the programs support economic and health security for all Americans, especially socially marginalized populations.
The course will cover the methods and arguments advanced by supporters and opponents of the programs over the years so that students will be prepared to engage in political advocacy around Social Security and Medicare.
General Education: Civic Knowledge
- POLS 301 Congress and Policy MakingExamines the internal politics of the legislative branch, its relationship to other branches, historical development, and modern theories of decision making. Students may take a related internship. Formerly PSC 325 Congress and Policy Making.
- POLS 305 Public PolicyFocuses on the overall policy-making process including its various stages and actors. Integrates material on the presidency, Congress, political parties, interest groups, courts, and public administration courses into an understanding of the whole policy process. Formerly PSC 352 Public Policy.
- POLS 311 Constitutional LawStudies the United States Supreme Court, including its composition, decisions, and role in the American political process. Students read and brief court opinions involving issues such as racial discrimination, First Amendment rights, and separation of powers among the three branches of national government. Formerly PSC 326 Constitutional Law.
Prerequisite: POLS 201 or POLS 299
TWO courses in international relations and comparative politics chosen from:
- POLS 231 Introduction to Comparative PoliticsOffers an introduction to the major concepts and analytical frameworks of the sub-field. While it is designed as the appropriate first course in comparative politics, its theoretical focus makes it appropriate for more advanced students as well. Formerly PSC 200 Introduction to Comparative Politics.
General Education Curriculum: Knowledge and Inquiry Area
FLC Area V
- POLS 241 Introduction to International RelationsOffers an introduction to the theories, actors, arenas, and techniques of international politics. The course examines case studies on issues of current international importance. Formerly PSC 312 Introduction to International Relations.
General Education Curriculum: Knowledge and Inquiry Area
FLC Area V
- POLS 343 United States Foreign Policy IExamines the processes and content of US foreign policy. Topics include roles of the three branches of government in US foreign policy; the historical background of US foreign policy; major events in US foreign policy; and contemporary US foreign policy towards major regions and global issues.
- POLS 363 US Intelligence and World AffairsExplores the structure and function of diverse intelligence agencies of the United States government, including the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), and the National Security Agency (NSA), in respect to current world affairs.
ONE course in political values chosen from:
- POLS 201 Civil Rights and LibertiesProvides an introduction to legal opinions that focus on the 1st and 14th Amendments to the U.S. Constitution. The cases and the societal issues surrounding them are presented in their historical context. Some specific topics examined in the course are Supreme Court decisions that affect the civil rights movement, free speech, and privacy issues involving Internet communications. Formerly PSC 216 Civil Rights and Liberties.
FLC Area V
General Education Requirements: Knowledge and Inquiry
- POLS 275 Politics and FictionIntroduces students to political themes and concepts in fiction, including the portrayal of political actors, institutions, political values and attitudes, and specific political issues. Formerly PSC 220 Politics and Fiction.
FLC Area V
- POLS 313 Religion, Law and Politics in the United StatesExamines the relationship among religion, law, and politics in the United States constitutional and political systems. The free exercise and establishment clauses of the First Amendment to the Constitution and key Supreme Court opinions involving separation of church and state are studied as well as democratic theory pertaining to this topic. Other topics to be discussed in the class include policy issues involving government aid to faith-based social welfare efforts and empirical studies of public attitudes concerning the interplay among religion, public policy, and political leadership. Formerly PSC 226 Religion, Law, and Politics, in the United States.
General Education: Capstone Seminar
- POLS 471 Politics and The MediaExamines coverage of politics, elections, and related topics. Current events are treated within a theoretical and historical perspective of major communications issues facing the ongoing American democratic experiment. Formerly PSC 420 Politics and the Media.
Methods Course (3 credits)
- SSC 350 Interdisciplinary Research MethodsThis course introduces students to research methods used in a variety of social science and interdisciplinary studies. It is designed for undergraduate students in sociology, political science, international affairs, and other disciplines. Topics of emphasis include crafting research questions, hypothesis formation, quantitative and qualitative research techniques, data collection, and initial/basic data analysis. As part of the course, students will complete a number of mini-projects to practice these skills. (Formerly SSC 250.) Interdisciplinary Social Science Research Methods
Two Mentorship Courses (2 credits)
- GLBL 221 Global Affairs Mentorship IExplores career paths, experiential learning, and professional skills necessary for success in the field of global affairs. Should be taken in the second semester of sophomore year or first semester of junior year.
- GLBL 222 Global Affairs Mentorship IIEngages students in guided preparation for professional and career opportunities outside of the classroom. Taken in second semester of junior year or first semester of senior year.
ONE applied skills courses chosen from:
- POLS 365 Field Work: Political Parties, Campaigns, and ElectionsProvides an introduction to electoral processes and political party politics in the United States. Students learn specific skills and techniques used in political campaigns such as fundraising and targeting. Students work in a political campaign organization to fulfill part of their course requirements. Formerly PSC 330 Field Work: Political Parties, Campaigns, and Elections.
- POLS 367 Field Work: Public Opinion PollingExamines the dynamics of public opinion formation and political socialization as they apply to politically salient attitudes and voting behavior. Students conduct a class poll on a current topic designed to provide them with "hands-on" experience in all stages of the survey research process. Formerly PSC 331 Field Work: Public Opinion Polling.
General Education Curriculum: Applications Area
- POLS 369 Field Work: Political AdvocacyFocuses on the development of skills necessary for effective political advocacy at federal, state and local levels of government. Particular emphasis is placed on political communication, organization and research. Related internships available. Formerly PSC 335 Field Work: Political Advocacy.
- GLBL 411 Model Assembly Org Amer StatesPrepares students for participation in the World Model Organization of American States, a simulation of the proceedings and deliberations of the actual OAS General Assembly. Students learn about the structure and function of the OAS and about diplomatic rules of procedure, while also practicing research, writing and debating skills required for participation in the model assembly. Formerly INAF 411
- GLBL 491 InternshipProvides students in global affairs disciplines (including history and political science) with the opportunity to pursue an internship in the field of international affairs under the direction of a faculty member. Formerly INS 384 Internship in International Studies, INAF 491 Internship, POLS 491 Internship, HIS 491 Internship.
TWO electives chosen from any POLS, GLBL or HIS courses at the 200-level or above not already satisfying another major requirement
Senior Seminar (3 credits; students double majoring in GLBL or POLS need only take senior seminar once)
- GLBL 499 Senior Seminar: Global AffairsProvides an opportunity for seniors in global affairs, history and political science compose their senior theses. Explores contemporary global issues through a wide range of sources and disciplinary perspectives. Formerly INS 481 Senior Seminar: International Studies, POLS 499: Senior Seminar; HIS 466: Senior Seminar.
Pre-requisite: GLBL 201
Students pursuing the minor must complete 18 credits of political science courses at the 200-level or greater.
A score of 4 or 5 on the AP examination is accepted for credit toward the degree. AP credit does not fulfill FLC, Core, major, or minor requirements.
CLEP credit is not accepted to fulfill history major or minor requirements.
Grades in Major and Minor Courses:
Students are required to maintain an average of “C” (2.0) or better in the major and minor. All courses for the major or minor require a “C-“ or better.
With the exception of internships, courses fulfilling a major or minor requirement may not be taken pass/no pass.
To complete their comprehensive examination requirement, students will present their senior project (written during the Senior Seminar) before two professors. Generally, the student will briefly present their research question, arguments, evidence, and conclusions, then will respond to questions from the professors and other students present. In addition, students are highly encouraged to present their research at Research Day and in other public forums, including conferences on undergraduate research. With guidance from Global Affairs faculty, they may also wish to submit their work to undergraduate research journals.
To support their major, students are encouraged to study abroad, preferably in their junior year.
TELL credits may count towards the major if the student is able to document active participation in an event, movement, or issue that has shaped contemporary history.
No more than 15 credits in courses equivalent to those required for the major may be accepted toward the major in political science. No more than nine credits may be accepted toward the minor in political science.