Welcome to the Political Science Department

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About Political Science and the Department

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  • How does American politics work? Do some benefit more than others? Can this be changed?
  • What causes war? Is war the failure of politics?
  • How does the international political system operate? Who has power in this system and why?
  • What is the nature of politics? What is the nature of democracy and how is it linked to human freedom?
  • How do other countries govern their citizens? Who has power and why?

Through innovative teaching by our faculty, including debates, simulations, and dynamic discussions, our students have the opportunity to address these and many other fundamental questions about politics and public policy, in the US, other countries and the international system.

Politics is principally about human beings coming together to collectively advance their common interest. In its best form, it is democracy whereby citizens have relatively equal influence over the decisions that affect the whole community, including themselves. In essence, politics is about human freedom. The political science department is committed to these core values in its teaching and in its curriculum.

We live in a time of incredibly rapid change and upheaval, presenting us with enormous challenges and opportunities to understand the political processes and structures that determine how we deal with such important issues as national security, rising inequality, civil liberties, the environment, and the economy. Our goal in the Political Science Department is to help our students gain an understanding of politics, power and social justice so that they can become critical thinkers and politically engaged citizens. We accomplish this in part, by offering a diverse curriculum where students acquire the writing, research and analytical skills necessary to navigate our increasingly complex world.

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Real World Experience

Our internship program offers students hands-on opportunity to learn about politics, policy and the law in many different settings including legislative offices, non-profit organizations, lobby firms, interest groups, political campaigns, non-government organizations (NGOs), foreign embassies, and law practices. Our close proximity to both the state capital in Annapolis and the nation’s capital in Washington DC, allow students to take advantage of two of our most rewarding and exciting internship programs - the Maryland General Assembly Internship and the Washington D.C. Internship Program. Whether interning locally, in the capital, or abroad, students gain practical skills and knowledge and often make professional contacts, all of which helps them tremendously when they graduate in their pursuit of a job, or acceptance to law or graduate school.

We also work very closely with the university’s Institute for Public Affairs and Civic Engagement (PACE), to further our goal of cultivating students who think critically and creatively about the political world, and who become actively engaged in local, national, and international life. PACE was founded in 1999 by Professor Emeritus Dr. Harry Basehart, who also founded our Political Science Department. Basehart served as Director until his retirement in 2007. Dr. Adam Hoffman, the current chair of the POSC Department, served as co-director and then director of PACE from 2009 through 2013. Currently, Dr. Sarah Surak, Assistant Professor of POSC and ENVR, serves as the Co-Director with Dr. Alexander (Sandy) Pope, Assistant Professor in Teacher Education. We have found that our majors who study and become well versed in political science are able to play a significant role in helping their fellow students understand politics and ultimately become more engaged in participating in how we are governed. Fortunately, through its numerous events throughout the year, including high profile public speakers, candidate debates and policy forums, PACE helps us to accomplish this and much more. Click here for information about PACE.

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Broad Curriculum and Global Pursuits

Our faculty’s expertise in four broad areas of political science allow students to take courses in American Politics, Political Theory, Comparative Politics and International Politics/Foreign Policy. For those students contemplating law school, they will find several courses on the judiciary within American Politics. In addition, students who are interested in Comparative Politics and International Politics/Foreign Policy, they may choose to pursue a double major, a minor or a separate major in International Studies (which is housed within the Political Science Department).

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What Can I do with a POSC Degree?

For those students who are contemplating graduate study after SU, the political science major prepares them quite well for law school (JD degree), public policy graduate school (MPA or MPP degree), and Masters or Ph.D. programs in International Relations and Political Science. The law schools that our graduates have attended include University of Maryland, University of Baltimore, Widener Law School, and American University. For students attending graduate school other than law school, our graduates have attended Johns Hopkins University, American University, and The London School of Economics.

When it comes to jobs, students who graduate our program with a BA in political science can be found at the highest levels of government, in politics and law, and across the business world. A number of our graduates have been elected to the Maryland State Legislature including Delegate Talmadge Branch (D-45), Senator Justin Ready (R-5) and Jeannie Haddaway-Riccio (R-37B). Many are working in federal, state, county and local government legislatures and agencies throughout Maryland, while others have cultivated successful careers in journalism and business. A degree in political science can lead to a career in:

  • Government as a policy analyst
  • Polling agencies as a Pollster
  • Nongovernmental Organizations (NGO) as a researcher or analyst
  • Public relations as a fundraising manager
  • Community organizing
  • Lobbying
  • City and town administration as a City manager
  • Journalism
  • Education as a Social Studies teacher
  • Campaign organizations as a campaign director
  • The labor movement as a union organizer
  • Nonprofit organizations as an administrator or manager
  • Budget analysis as an analyst
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