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College of Arts and Sciences

Mission Statement

department of political science

Every community, even the smallest tribe or hamlet, has established practices by which it conducts its collective affairs and resolves external and internal conflicts. Indeed, according to the ancients, only within a well-ordered political community can human beings live the good life and reach their highest aspirations. Political scientists use multiple methods and approaches to engage in the thoughtful study of political life in all its dimensions, both theoretical and practical.

The objectives of the department of Political Science at Boston College include:

  • To foster scholarly inquiry into the multiple aspects of political life in the United States and abroad on the local, national, and international levels;
  • To disseminate the results of scholarly investigations in major academic forums;
  • To guide students toward an informed understanding of public life and major national and global political issues through rigorous courses, the supervision of independent study and research, and thoughtful advising;
  • To familiarize students with a variety of methods and approaches to the study of politics around the world;
  • To support the intellectual formation of students by encouraging them to think, read and write clearly, cogently, and critically about issues that matter;
  • To prepare graduate students for their future responsibilities as professional political scientists in the academy, public service, and other appropriate venues;
  • To build bridges across disciplines through interdisciplinary study and participation in interdisciplinary programs;
  • To cultivate the civic formation of all students—whether or not majors in political science—helping them to become responsible and effective members of their own political communities;
  • To promote informed discussion of public issues among all members and leaders of the Boston College community by sponsoring lectures, panels, conferences, and other public events;
  • To encourage civil discussion of public issues more broadly by disseminating the results of scholarship in public venues, acting as commentators on public affairs in the media, and taking part in public events about political matters.

In sum, we seek to advance the science of politics through research, publishing, and teaching, while contributing to the general goals of liberal education and addressing the broader needs and civic aspirations of the student as a “whole person.”

The Department’s courses are organized into “subfields”: American Politics; Comparative Politics; International Politics; and Political Theory. Courses in these subfields are identified by numbers: courses in the 300 range are American Politics courses; courses in the 400 range are Comparative Politics courses; courses in the 500 range are International Politics courses; and courses in the 600 range are Political Theory courses. Courses numbered 7000 and above are graduate courses; courses beginning with “10” are Introductory courses; and courses in the 200 range are special courses that count as electives in the major, but do not fulfill any of the subfield requirements.