POLITICAL SCIENCE (Div. II)
Chair, Professor MICHAEL D. MACDONALD
Professors: COOK, JACOBSOHN, MACDONALD, MARCUS, A. WILLINGHAM. Associate Professors: CRANE, MAHON***, REINHARDT*. Assistant Professors: C. JOHNSON, MCALLISTER, MUIRHEAD, SHANKS*. Lecturer: BOOTH. Adjunct Professor: LEE. Visiting Assistant Professors: BARKIN, MAGAÑA, SABL.
Teaching and learning about politics at Williams are guided by a basic characteristic of the late twentieth century: the realms of the political are expanding, the ways of knowing politics are changing. Understanding these changes requires us to tap into traditional theories of politics as well as to consider new methods of learning.
The political science major is structured in a way that allows students to develop their own focus. We actively maintain and teach the established subfields of international relations, comparative politics, American politics, and political philosophy. But they do not exhaust the range of topics in our program. The major encourages students to focus their study on any of a wide range of topics limited only by the imagination of the student and the resources of the department. Area studies, global politics, political economy, legal studies, particular public policies, race and ethnic politics, and gender and politics are potential areas of concentration a student might develop in the political science major. A major can concentrate on the conduct of grass-roots movements, specific regimes, or global political economic interactions. Of course students may also concentrate in the established subfields. The intent of the major is to encourage the student to articulate a coherent program of study, for the junior and senior years, drawing on the wide range of formats offered by Williams including lectures, seminars, independent studies, and tutorials. Students consult with faculty advisors who assist them in defining a specific plan of study.
The study of the political involves the study of power, participation, and authority as they influence the structures and workings of governments, political conflict, and public policy. The political science major equips students to develop skills that will allow them to examine diverse areas of politics. The expertise of the department covers many areas, including constitutional law and politics, empirical analysis of election behavior and opinions, the study of politics within and between nations, as well as political philosophy. Our existing courses deal with such politics in the United States, politics in other countries including Mexico, China, Egypt, and South Africa, and central issues in international affairs.
(a) INTRODUCTION. Two of the following, preferably by the end of sophomore year:
110 Power, Politics, and Democracy in America
120 World Politics: An Introduction to International Relations
130 Politics and Freedom: An Introduction to Political Theory
140 Other Peoples' Politics: An Introduction to the Comparative Study of Political Life
(b) CONCENTRATION. A cluster of Four courses, centered on a theme developed by individual students in conjunction with faculty advisors.
(c) ELECTIVES. Two courses to be selected by the student.
(d) SENIOR SEMINAR or INDIVIDUAL PROJECT (495-W032 or W032-496). The department offers at least four Senior Seminars. Majors must take either one seminar or, with the approval of the faculty advisor, may substitute an Individual Project for the Senior Seminar. Room permitting, Senior Seminars are open to juniors and students may take more than one Senior Seminar. (Independent Study (PSCI 397, 398) does not replace the Senior Seminar.)
When a student chooses to major in Political Science (usually at the end of the sophomore year), he or she may register with any political science faculty member at the designated times and places. The registering faculty member will ask for preferences for a permanent faculty advisor and will assist undecided students in finding an advisor whose interests match theirs. In all cases students will be paired by the end of their sophomore year with an advisor who will continue with them through graduation.
Working with their advisor, new majors will formulate a curricular plan that sets forth the conceptual coherence of their major program of study. Each plan will specify a set of four (4) related courses that constitutes their concentration and an additional two (2) elective courses. (These selections may of course be revised and adjusted as students carry out their plans.) For some students, the coherence of their course of study will reside in traditional definitions of a concentration (international relations, comparative politics, American politics or political theory). For others, it will reflect thematic interests that bridge these subfields. For example, a concentration in feminist politics might include both domestic and transnational feminist movements, studied from both empirical and theoretical perspectives.
The role of the faculty advisor may vary in this educational process of defining a concentration. For students who come to the department with a clear conception of a major concentration, the advisor may act simply as a resource, identifying faculty who share that interest and courses that directly or indirectly reflect it. For other students, the advisor may more actively collaborate in the search for such a focus, providing models of concentrations in areas in which students are interested or suggesting other faculty members who might be helpful in identifying and refining an appropriate concentration. In all cases, the faculty advisor will encourage student initiative, while providing the precise degree of support required for a particular student to achieve the educational goal of a coherent and personally meaningful concentration in political science.
The course numbering used by the Political Science Department reflects the format and specialization of a course more than its level of difficulty. The 100-level courses are designed to serve both as introductions to the discipline of Political Science and individually as introductions to each of the four subfields. 200-level courses provide general overviews of political processes, problems and philosophies in a way generally accessible without prerequisites. 300-level courses are more specialized and usually require prerequisites. 400-level courses are senior seminars offered for students in the major.
WINTER STUDY PROJECT
The Department welcomes relevant WSP 99 proposals that can make important contributions to the students' understanding of public affairs and politics. Majors, seniors, and students without previous WSP 99 experience have preference.
THE JUNIOR YEAR ABROAD
A major in Political Science can be readily and usefully combined with study in a foreign country. Normally, no more than two semester courses taken abroad in a program approved by the College may be counted toward the requirements for a degree in Political Science.
THE DEGREE WITH HONORS IN POLITICAL SCIENCE
The Political Science Department grants Honors to candidates who, 1) complete the Senior Seminar, 2) receive at least a grade of 3.50 on either a Senior Essay (491-W030 or W030-492: Honors Route One) or a Senior thesis (493-W031-494: Honors Route Two), and 3) have a minimum G.P.A. of 3.4 in Political Science.
To become a candidate for Honors, 1) the student must apply in the second semester of junior year, 2) the research proposal must be acceptable to the Department's Honors Committee, and 3) the applicant's G.P.A. in Political Science courses for the first six semesters must be at least 3.4.
ADVANCED STUDY IN AMERICAN POLITICS
The Department of Political Science provides the opportunity for an unusually gifted student to engage in an entire year's advanced research in American politics under singularly favorable conditions. Supported by income derived from an endowment fund, the student, designated the Sentinels of the Republic Scholar (after the name of the fund), receives a substantial research stipend to cover costs associated with the proposed project.
This unique research course (Political Science 481-W033-482) is designed to encourage the pursuit of excellence among the most talented Williams students of Political Science. Admission to it is awarded to the most distinguished candidate on the basis of demonstrated capacity for outstanding work and of the project's promise for creative contributions to the understanding of American politics, political institutions and thought.