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Home >  Academics >  Political Science Department

Political Science Department

What is political science?

At its most basic level, politics is the struggle of "who gets what, when, how." This struggle may be as modest as competing interest groups fighting over control of a municipal budget in Small Town, U.S.A., or as overwhelming as a military stand-off between international superpowers. Political scientists study such struggles, both small and large, in an effort to develop general principles or theories about the way the world of politics works. The diverse structure of political science reflects the diverse kinds of problems the discipline attempts to analyze and explain. In fact, political science includes at least eight major sub-fields:

  • American politics examines political behavior and institutions in the United States.
  • Comparative politics analyzes and compares political systems within and across different geographic regions.
  • International relations investigates relations among nation states and the activities of international. organizations such as the United Nations, the World Bank, and NATO as well as international actors such as terrorists, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and multi-national corporations (MNCs).
  • Political theory analyzes fundamental political concepts such as power and democracy and fundamental questions such as, "How should the individual and the state relate?".
  • Political methodology deals with the ways that political scientists ask and investigate political science questions.
  • Public policy examines the process by which governments make public decisions.
  • Public administration studies the ways that government polices are implemented.
  • Public law focuses on the role of law and courts in the political process.