Department Chair: Thomas Kuehls
Location: Social Science Building, Room 280
Telephone Contact: Patricia Burton 801-626-6694
Professors: Robert Fudge, Richard Greene, Gary Johnson, Thomas Kuehls, Leah Murray; Associate Professors: Richard Price, Mary Beth Willard, Stephanie Wolfe; Assistant Professors: Paul Neiman, Janicke Stramer-Smith
Political Science, in the broadest sense, is the study of politics particularly as it relates to governments and people. Political scientists study governments: The origins and preconditions for governments, the growth and evolution of governments, and the decline and conflict among governments. Political scientists also are interested in how governments are structured, how governments make decisions, the policies that result from political decisions and the consequences of these policies, and how governments manage societal and international conflicts. Political scientists also study people: Their values and positions on issues, their preferences among candidates, their support for public officials, and their appraisals of their government. True to their oldest academic traditions, political scientists retain their concern with the fundamental questions of how governments ought to be constituted, and how they can best serve their citizens.
The study of political science has value in several different ways. First, it contributes to a solid liberal arts education and preparation for citizenship. The Greek word “idiot” was used to refer to one who took no interest in the affairs of state. Today, no less than twenty centuries later, it is incumbent upon all useful citizens to learn something about the political system in which they will spend their lives. Educated people ought to know something of the nature of government even if they have no professional interest in political science.
Second, a degree in political science furnishes an excellent background for graduate study in political science, law, administration, business, and international relations. Political science helps students develop reasoning and analytical skills and build competence in oral and written expression. In addition, the department of political science requires students to acquire basic skills in statistical analysis and computer competency.
Third, there are some careers for which an extensive training in political science can be most useful. This is true especially for those planning to seek careers in higher education, the legal profession, state and local government, urban planning, the federal bureaucracy, journalism, the military, law enforcement, teaching, the civil service, or in any of the proliferating organizations that seek to monitor the political processes to influence content of public policy. Further, the training students receive in political science will be useful to students no matter what their ultimate career choices. The comprehensive career guide, Careers and the study of Political Science, is available from the department chair.
Internships are offered through the Political Science program and the Walker Institute of Politics and Public Service to provide students practical understanding of political processes in governmental organizations. Many students have received practical training and gained valuable knowledge by working with United States senators, members of Congress, and Utah State senators and representatives. Moreover, some students work as interns in City and County administrations and in the Utah Legal Services office in Ogden.
The pre-law advisement program is designed to assist students in scheduling courses, in preparing for the law school admissions test, and in obtaining admission at one of the nationally recognized law schools. Data on the placement of graduates in law schools show the success and the immense value of the program to students. (Dr. Richard Price acts as the Pre-Law Advisor.)
The Political Science Department participates in the Asian Studies, Environmental Studies, European Studies, International Politics, Latin American Studies, Legal Studies, and Public Administration Minor Programs and the Urban and Regional Planning Emphasis Program. Students who wish to enroll in one of these programs should indicate their desire to do so with the program coordinator who will help them work out a proper combination of courses to fit their particular needs. (See the Engaged Learning, Honors, and Interdisciplinary Programs section of this catalog.)
The philosophy program offers courses that fall under three general categories: 1) Liberal Education: teaches the ideas of influential past and contemporary thinkers who have sought to understand the world and our experience of it. These ideas concern such topics as the nature of truth and reality, the limits of knowledge, standards of right and wrong, the experience of beauty, and world religions. 2) Methodology: emphasizes methods of sound practical reasoning, deductive logic, and language analysis. 3) Application: critically analyzes non-philosophical disciplines. For example, the philosophy of democracy analyzes the value assumptions behind democratic forms of government, while medical ethics seeks to identify and resolve dilemmas arising from conflicts between medical technology and the quality of life.
Political Science and Philosophy Course Descriptions
ProgramsBachelor of ArtsBachelor of ScienceEmphasis Option for Bachelor of Integrated Studies
BIS emphases are also offered for most programs with a minor.MinorTeaching MinorHonors, Departmental