Policy Studies

How do public policies (political objectives constituted by government actions, rules and organizations) both create and reflect ideas, norms, culture and political objectives? What roles do interests groups, constituents, political elites, governmental and non-governmental systems play in policy formulation and implementation? What are the consequences of public policy for individuals, societies, norms, culture, and governmental relations?

States, Conflict and Culture

Why do states and nations struggle to develop? How and why does development lead to, or prevent, conflict—or peace?  What causes conflict and how does political science evaluate war morally, strategically, theoretically? What are the mechanisms for achieving peace? How are constructions of identity linked to conflict and development?

Problems in Democracy

What is democracy? What are its various interpretations? If democracy is “rule by the people,” then who are the people and what does it mean to rule? What kinds of political institutions and ideologies promote, hinder or erode democracy and democratization? How do economic and social structures and culture affect the health of democracy?

Institutions & Processes

How do institutions and political processes create and interpret the rules of the game through which politics is played? How and with what kinds of consequences do institutions shape and constrain individual behavior, political action, and public policy? How do ideas and ideologies shape institutions and political processes and what are the consequences for individuals and for government systems? What causes institutions to emerge? How and why do they change, persist and decay?

(In)Equality, Justice and Power

Who gets what, when, where and how? How do social, economic and political inequalities promote or hinder justice? How do political scientists understand power, and how does power constitute politics? How do interpretations of equality and justice shape the struggle for power? How are varied identities—such as race, gender, ethnic or national identity, class, economic position, religion, sexual identity—linked to questions about justice and power in national and international contexts?

Citizenship & Political Engagement

How do individuals, groups and organized interests participate in the political world? Political engagement shapes and is shaped by institutions, cultures, media, law, ideologies and organizations. What are the varied ways people participate—voting, protest, running for office, joining groups—across different contexts and why are some forms of engagement more effective than others?