The program in political science is designed to provide a comprehensive introduction to the discipline, viewed as a set of specific strategies for understanding political life. These strategies— which include conceptual, historical, structural, institutional, and behavioral approaches—are considered in the light of their theoretical presuppositions and in terms of their respective research approaches. The emphasis is less on learning the facts of politics than on being able to recognize, evaluate, and use intelligently the intellectual tools of the discipline.
Specifically, the curriculum is designed to provide:
- A basic understanding of basic modes of inquiry in political science: normative, empirical, and comparative analysis. The department's distribution requirements and the structure of the introductory course sequence reflect a strong and continuing commitment to this goal. All majors are required to take three of the five basic introductory courses: Introduction to Political Behavior, Introduction to Comparative Politics, Introduction to Political Theory, Introduction to International Relations, and Introduction to Public Policy.
- Research opportunities. Students are encouraged to explore quantitative and qualitative techniques of data collection and analysis. These efforts may be facilitated by the college's excellent computer resources and by our access to the vast data archives of the Inter-University Consortium for Social and Political Research. The department's public policy workshop (PPW) has Windows and Macintosh computers and a variety of software and is available to students and faculty members for research.
- Specialized knowledge in one or more particular facets of politics. This is provided by the department's upper-level course offerings and by the senior thesis experience. Students have found that Reed's political science program prepares them for careers in academia, government, law, nonprofit and non-governmental organizations, and other fields. Further information is available in Reed's career services office.