Department of Political Science

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MISSION STATEMENT

The Muhlenberg Political Science Department takes seriously the mission of a liberal arts education: cultivating thoughtful, articulate, active, and responsible citizens. By introducing students to the tools of the discipline -- its theories, concepts and research methods – political science enables students to explore the power relationships, institutional arrangements, social-economic conditions and ideological commitments that shape public policy, political action and public argument in a diverse and globally interdependent society. The Department offers courses and independent and collaborative research experiences emphasizing the development of writing skills, critical thinking, and active and intelligent engagement with issues affecting contemporary public life.

 

DEPARTMENT PROGRAM GOALS AND OUTCOMES
(adopted 2008)

Knowledge:

1. Students have a basic knowledge of the institutions, political culture, and processes of American politics. Political science graduates:

Know and understand the relationships between the major institutions of American government at the national, state, and local levels;

  • Are informed about and can meaningfully discuss contemporary political, social, and economic issues;
  • Are familiar with the competing ideological and philosophical traditions that have nourished contemporary American political thought and the understanding of the rights and responsibilities of American citizenship;
  • Understand the US policy making process, including the role of institutions, interest groups, political parties, media, and the public;
  • Are knowledgeable about and can assess the institutions and processes that link individual citizens to their government, including social groups, political parties, public policy, elections and the media;
  • Are acquainted with and can identify key national events, historical and contemporary political figures, social movements, individuals and groups that have shaped American political history.

2. Students understand the common questions and methods that animate the study of political science as a discipline. Political Science graduates:

Can identify and discuss the major subfields in the and are familiar with the central topics and major debates within those subfields;

  • Know how politics both shapes and is shaped by social, cultural and economic forces, and by elites and institutional arrangements;
  • Know key political scientists and how their theoretical arguments and approaches have contributed to the development of the discipline; and
  • Are familiar with the leading journals in the discipline and with the American Political Science Association, its resources, standards of scholarship and purposes in the professional development of political scientists.

3. Students know major factors contributing to globalization, its impact on international relations, and how different actors interpret, promote, and resist these changes. Political Science graduates:

Recognize and apply the major theoretical and analytic frameworks for interpreting international relations;
Understand and evaluate critical events within and between other countries;
Know how political systems and sub-systems are connected through varying forms of asymmetric interdependencies;
Interpret globalization as an uneven and unequal process;
Know how international relations are mediated through international organizations and institutional arrangements; and
Recognize the role of dominant powers, including the U.S., in shaping international institutions, norms, and regimes.

4. Students know how power is organized and exercised across political systems, and understand how political phenomena (including institutions, behavior, and ideas) vary across and within countries. Political Science graduates:

Recognize and apply the major theoretical and analytic frameworks for conducting comparative political analysis;
Understand how institutional formats vary within and across political systems;
Understand how varying formal and informal institutional structures and public policies produce different sets of winners and losers.
Understand that other political systems may have solutions to public policy problems facing the United States.

5. Students recognize and describe the major Western political ideas that shape political institutions, political movements, and policy debates. Political Science graduates:

Identify major authors and texts that have shaped the Western tradition of political discourse;
Identify the basic ideas and values of major modern ideologies;
Describe how political ideas and worldviews shape, and are shaped by, economic and cultural values; and
Understand and articulate the basic principles and ideas underlying different conceptions of modern democracy.

Skills:

1. Students can write and speak clearly, thoughtfully, critically, & persuasively about political, social, cultural, and economic phenomena.

2. Students can understand, interpret, analyze and synthesize information about political, social, cultural, and economic phenomena. Political Science graduates:

Understand basic qualitative and quantitative research methods in the discipline, and their appropriate use in explaining political life;
Can identify, interpret, and use a variety of theoretical approaches and methods used to explain political life;
Can analyze and draw conclusions about political life based on sound reasoning, empirical research, scientific inquiry, primary and secondary analyses, and other approaches in the discipline; and
Know how to design research projects, to use appropriate citation methods, and to evaluate the uses and limits of different methods in research design.

3. Students exhibit sound reasoning and deliberative skills in discourse; they are judicious in their evaluations of others’ arguments. Political Science graduates:

Can discriminate between reasoned debate and punditry and recognize the relative value of each;
Know how to formulate reasoned arguments (oral and written) arguments about politics, supported by evidence; and
Can evaluate the merits of various sources of information underlying political arguments.

4. Students can read diverse texts (legal, philosophical, polemical, and scholarly) critically and meaningfully.

5. Students are competent and efficacious in navigating the institutions and procedures of government.

Values and Commitments

1. Political science students are committed to engaged democratic citizenship. Political science graduates:

Appreciate the diverse ways citizens practice democratic politics;
Value the rights and obligations of citizenship in a democracy;
Are interested in articulating and deepening the meaning of democracy’s core values, including equality and liberty;
Respect political and partisan differences and appreciate the value of provocative debate;
Contribute to the ongoing debates regarding the meaning of democratic principles and practices, both in and outside the U.S.

2. Students value diversity and difference as crucial to democratic life. Political science graduates:

Understand the value of learning about, interacting with, and respecting diverse cultures and traditions;
Promote tolerance and respect for differences in public life.

3. Students are committed to academic integrity and uphold standards of professional conduct.

4. Students value social scientific modes of inquiry.