About Political Science
"Power corresponds to the human ability not just to act but to act in concert."
Hannah Arendt, 1969
Political scientists study power, politics, and a variety of kinds of political processes, systems, and behavior. Politics can be understood broadly as the process by which groups of people make decisions about how they will live and act together. As such, political action is the essential underpinning of all human communities and social life.
Political science is divided into four main subfields: American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations, and Political Thought.
Students of American politics examine the characteristics and roles of American political institutions, including political campaigns, elections, partisanship, the justice system, and the Constitution. They may also study public policies like welfare, education or tax policy.
Students of comparative politics examine political behavior and institutions in all parts of the world. Courses in comparative politics might examine the politics of a particular region or broader processes like ethnic conflict, economic development, or political change.
International relations exposes students to a broad spectrum of issues in an increasingly complex and interrelated world. Topics include the balance of power between countries, globalization, international institutions, and political economy. Students learn about national and international security challenges, including threats posed by nuclear weapons, terrorism, poverty, climate change, and pollution.
Political theorists study the nature of liberty, justice, politics, community, law, rights, and other fundamental questions about politics. They may ask what makes a government legitimate or what would constitute a good society. Political thought classes rely heavily on the analysis of texts.