The discipline of political science examines the relations of people and organizations as they seek to order their world. Special attention is paid to the development of explanations of the political process and to the effects of politics on social life and social values.
At Saint Mary’s College the study of political science emphasizes two concerns: the basic characteristics of politics and the theories and methods for the rigorous analysis of political phenomena. To satisfy these concerns the departmental program provides a wide variety of courses in the traditional subfields of political science: American politics and law, comparative politics, international politics, and political theory. Students are also encouraged to experience politics directly in the world’s “laboratory” of political activity. Opportunities for experiential learning exist in certain courses, in the Washington Semester program, and through the department’s internship program.
Graduates of the department enter a wide variety of careers. Majors routinely enter law schools and paralegal programs, business schools, and graduate schools in public administration, international politics, and political science. They begin careers as legislative aides, public administrators, teachers, journalists, or managers in the private sector.
Saint Mary’s has a long history of providing quality international programs as an essential part of our educational mission—forming women leaders who will make a difference in the world. As this world becomes increasingly interdependent, the College offers an expanding range of semester, year, semester break, and summer study and service programs in a wide variety of countries, and encourages students to take advantage of them. Learn more about the various Study Abroad opportunities.
The Political Science Department in conjunction with the Education Department offers courses leading to state licensing for History/Social Studies.
The department participates in a program designed to let students spend a semester in Washington, D.C. studying the operations of the national government. The program, a cooperative arrangement between over 100 colleges and the American University, features seminars, an internship, and a supervised research project. Acceptance in the program is restricted to political science majors with at least a 2.5 cumulative GPA. Completion of POSC 201 American Politics (and, for Foreign Policy, Peace, and Conflict Resolution, and International Law and Organization programs, POSC 206 International Politics) is required for candidacy. Selection is based on the quality of the student’s work in the department and the soundness of the proposed research project. The department makes the final determination concerning acceptance into the program. Completion of the program fulfills two of the elective courses in the major, and the research project can fulfill the senior thesis requirement.
Students may elect to attend other international study programs with institutional approval. The department reserves the right to approve international study courses that students wish to apply to major or minor requirements, up to a maximum of six hours.
263 E Spes Unica Hall
M. Belanger, A. Cavender, S. Savage, S. Virgin
The following survey courses are offered regularly for students who are fulfilling General Education requirements or initiating the study of politics.
An analysis of various political ideas, systems, issues, and/or phenomena designed to introduce students to political thinking.
This course will introduce students to some of the most important contemporary global political issues such as the impact of economic globalization on politics and culture, the sources of war and political conflict, gender inequality, poverty, United States foreign policy, and the role of international institutions.
All of the following courses are required for majors in political science, and are open to students in other majors. The courses are offered every other semester.
This course serves as an introductory survey of the major principles, institutions, processes, functions, and behavioral patterns of the American political system. It helps students to develop a broad, diverse, and articulate base of knowledge and understanding of American politics and government.
The evolution of Western political theories surveyed through a discussion of leading political thinkers and their values.
An introduction to the theories which attempt to explain the ways nations interact with each other, and an application of these theories to selected problems of the contemporary international scene.
An introduction to the use of theory, analytic concepts, and evidence to compare political history, processes, institutions, and outcomes in select nation-states.
An introduction to the principle research methods used by political scientists. You will learn and understand the key terms used in the scientific method and how they are applied to both quantitative and qualitative political analysis.
The elective courses are grouped by subfield, but students are free to select any course in any subfield if prerequisites are fulfilled. Normally these courses are taught every other year.
A study of American law examining the Common Law tradition, federal and state court systems, criminal and civil law and procedure, and current legal issues. Prerequisites: junior or senior standing.
A study of the nature and development of public opinion focusing on the socializing role of the family, school, and the workplace. Special attention is given to the mass media and new media as a socializing agents. Prerequisite: POSC 201.
A study of various forms of political participation, their causes, and their impact on democratic rule in the United States. Differences between elections and related conventional participation and other unconventional methods of participation are discussed. Prerequisite: POSC 201.
An examination of the structure and behavior of American parties and interest groups and their impact on public policy. Prerequisite: POSC 201.
An analysis of the structure, processes, and behavior of the United States Congress as a representative institution. Prerequisite: POSC 201.
The course focuses on the role of the American president in the political system, including the expectations of the Constitution and public about the role of the president, presidential selection, presidential achievements, and uses of power. Prerequisite: junior or senior standing.
A study of the interpretation of the Constitution by the U.S. Supreme Court, with emphasis on the judicial interpretation of presidential and congressional powers, judicial review, federalism, the role of government in the economy, and a broad survey of individual rights. Prerequisite: junior or senior standing.
A study of how certain American political eras introduced new political ideas, movements, policies, and institutional changes, such as the 1930s, 1960s, and 1980s. Prerequisite: Junior or senior standing. May be repeated with a different instructor.
A study of bureaucratic behavior in the United States including the origins of bureaucracy, organization theory, problems of agency management, personnel and budgeting, and the interaction of bureaus with other political institutions. Prerequisites: junior/senior standing.
A study of politics and political institutions in selected Latin American states with special attention to problems of development and institution-building.
This course will examine the political uses of race as a social and political idea through comparative study of selected case studies from the around the world. The course will emphasize the diverse ways race has been used to build political power.
This course will combine theoretical and empirical analysis of gender as a political issue. Case studies will permit comparative analysis of the diverse ways in which gender emerges as a political issue within distinct social, economic, cultural, and political contexts. The course will also assess the value of gender analysis in the field of political science. This course may be repeated with a different instructor.
This course will use a wide range of case studies to analyze the complex factors shaping the formation and consolidation of democratic governments within diverse political, cultural, and historical conditions. Special attention will be paid to the issues of gender and globalization. Prerequisite: POSC 207 or permission of instructor.
A study of the nature and scope of international law; the various types of international organizations, their goals and functions; and international regimes. Prerequisite: POSC 206.
This course will examine the historical roots of the inequality between the Global North and Global South as well as some of the principle theories and policies which have been put forward to address it over the past century. We will analyze competing conceptions of “development” present in academic writings as well as the policies of national governments, international lending institutions, and non-governmental organizations carrying out development projects. With this historical and theoretical foundation, we will look more closely at several major policy issues facing the Global South today, including economic development, poverty, gender justice, and the environment.
This course introduces students to major global environmental problems and to the negotiations, treaties, and diplomacy regarding attempts to solve them. Topics we will focus on include social pressure groups, population pressures, biodiversity, climate change, epistemic communities, regimes, global and regional environmental governance, trade and the environment, sustainable development, environmental refugees, bio-safety, and energy.
In this course, we will discuss feminist analyses of gender, colonialism, and economic globalization. The first part of this course will consider a variety of feminist theoretical perspectives on the gendered, classed, and racialized dynamics of colonialism and globalization. Next, we will examine the particularities of women's lives globally and their different histories and social histories. Finally, we will look at some of the feminist transnational activism and mobilization around issues of conflict, environment, capitalism, and labor. Some of the questions we will consider are: How does globalization impact existing (gender) inequalities? How does globalization trouble the "North-South" divide? What political, social, and economic ramifications does the outsourcing of reproductive labor have?
An analysis of the internal and external factors which influence the formulation and execution of the foreign policy of the United States. Major concepts, issues, and case studies of foreign policy are discussed. Prerequisite: junior or senior standing.
This course discusses the history of conceptions of rights. It also looks at the strategies involved in political debates about rights (also listed as JUST 301).
This course engages students in thinking critically about the relationship between religion and politics in the U.S. and in selected other countries. How religion and politics ought to relate, and how they relate in actual practice will be considered.
This course is a survey of American political thought that takes a historical approach, considering representative writings from each of the major periods in the history of political thought in the United States.
A survey of Catholic political thought that considers the work of authors ranging from St. Augustine to John Courtney Murray and that examines issues such as the relationship between reason and revelation, the proper relationship between religious and civil authority, the dignity of the human person, and the necessary political implications of that dignity. Prerequisite: POSC 204. RLST 225 and 232 recommended.
In Politics and Film, students will learn how to identify, understand, analyze, and communicate political ideas as portrayed and presented in films. While most of the films, readings, and class discussions focus on American politics, some content will pertain to the political science fields of political theory, international relations, and comparative politics.
This course is designed to provide an introduction to the structure, activities and procedures of the United Nations, as well some of the central features and challenges of international law and diplomacy. Student will represent a UN member at the American Model UN Conference. May be repeated for credit.
The presentation of selected subjects of special relevance not included in regular departmental offerings. Prerequisite determined by instructor. May be repeated with a different topic.
Tutorial provided on the writing of the senior thesis. Graded S/U.
Tutorial provided on the writing of the senior thesis. Graded S/U.
Specialized research supervised in a tutorial setting. No more than six hours of independent study in any one department may be used to meet graduation requirements. Independent study does not fulfill elective requirements for majors or minors. May be repeated.
Supervised field work in an agency of government. Open only to junior or senior majors who have completed POSC 201 and two elective courses in the department. It does not fulfill elective requirements for majors or minors. Graded S/U. May be repeated.