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Political Science

In Reed’s political science program, students engage and analyze many of the most pressing issues of modern social and political life, including questions of race and inequality, climate change, stresses and strains in the American electoral system, rapid developments in digital technology, global populism and the nature of democracy, the relationship between public and private and its implications for questions of sex and gender, the seemingly imminent spread of nuclear weapons, and the apparent dominance of market-oriented or neoliberal ideologies.

Political science majors are expected to develop an understanding of statistical modes of data analysis, to appreciate the challenges and opportunities associated with various qualitative methods (including case study analysis, ethnography, and process tracing), and to pursue fundamental ethical and philosophical questions pertaining to the legitimacy of the state, the bases of political obligation, and the nature of justice.

Recent curricular offerings have included courses on the politics of the human body, the theory and practice of torture in the modern world, social movements in Latin America, the last writings of Michel Foucault, political approaches to natural disaster, environmental politics and policy, the politics of money and finance, the politics of weapons and war, and the political philosophies of Hegel and Marx, among many others. Political science faculty at Reed are, without exception, deeply and enthusiastically dedicated to excellence in undergraduate teaching. At the same time, they bring to their classes serious research credentials.

The faculty currently includes nationally renowned scholars of, among other things, early voting, clientelism in Latin America, the politics of nuclear proliferation, environmental politics and policy, and the politics of marriage and the family. The result is a challenging, rigorous, and unusually exciting program of study. Faculty and students often work in close collaboration on a variety of projects, including the senior thesis. And while many Reed political science majors go on to pursue PhDs and academic careers, many others follow careers in law, journalism, government, business, technology, and the nongovernmental sector.

“In the political science department, I had the incredible opportunity to work one-on-one with some of the most intelligent, attentive, and impressive people I have ever met. The time and care that professors put into working with their students is really second to none.”SETH DUGAN-KNIGHT ’20

Professor profile

Professor Mariela Szwarcberg Daby

Clientelism in Latin American Politics
photo of Professor Mariela Szwarcberg Daby typing on a laptop

Mariela Szwarcberg Daby is an associate professor of Political Science. Her research interests include distributive politics and gender, social movements, and political participation in Latin America. Her previous work has examined the incentives that contribute to the persistence of clientelism in consolidated democracies.

Her first book, Mobilizing Poor Voters: Machine Politics, Clientelism and Social Networks in Argentina (Cambridge University Press, 2015), explains why candidates use clientelistic strategies to mobilize poor voters using network analysis and quantitative and qualitative data. Her articles have appeared in journals such as Comparative Politics, Party Politics, Social Networks, Latin American Research Review, and Latin American Politics and Society. Her forthcoming book is a study of movements for abortion rights in Latin America.

Professor Daby has received fellowships and grants from Reed, the Center for Latin American Studies, the Political Science Department at the University of Chicago, the Kellogg Institute for International Studies at the University of Notre Dame, the Yale Program on Democracy, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Social Science Research Council, and the Fulbright Commission. She received her undergraduate degree from Torcuato Di Tella University in Argentina and her PhD in Political Science from the University of Chicago.

She teaches courses on politics in developing countries, politics and social movements, and human rights and violence in Latin America. Professor Daby also teaches about inequality in the US, Central and South America, and introductory courses to Comparative Politics.

Download Political Science Flyer as a PDF

Opportunities & Resources

  • The Ducey Fellowship and the Corbett and Goldhammer Grants, awards that fund students’ summer research
  • Student Conference on US Affairs (SCUSA), a four-day conference on security issues
  • Reed Public Policy Lecture Series (PPLS), an annual series of invited speakers hosted at Reed
  • Reed Public Policy Workshop, a research laboratory and computer facility for history and social science students

Faculty Publications

The Concept of Political Judgment and The Idea of The State
Professor Peter Steinberger

The Electorate, the Campaign, and the Office
Professor Paul Gronke

Torture and Democracy
Professor Emeritus Darius Rejali

Untying the Knot: Marriage, the State, and the Case for Their Divorce
Professor Tamara Metz

Deep Dive into the Classroom


In Professor Alex Montgomery’s Intro to International Relations course, Reedies learn by doing. His students participate in a three-day simulation in which groups—dressed in business attire—represent 10–12 countries during a diplomatic conference.

Through a series of formal speeches, plenary sessions, and email correspondence, students create a microcosm of international negotiations and try to address problems, like North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction.

What Do Alumni Do?

Associate Analyst
Social & Economic Policy, Abt Associates
Alyssa Andrichik ’21

Chief of Staff
Representative Rob Nosse’s Office
Seth Dugan-Knight ’20

Program Coordinator
National Park Trust
Nick Weig ’20

Research Director
Electing Women Alliance
Grace Haley ’17

Senior Digital Strategist
Kate Hilts ’16

Renewables Program Manager
Bonneville Environmental Foundation (BEF)
Raphaela Hsu-Flanders ’16

Managing Partner and VP of Strategy
Winning Mark
Kasra Shokat ’14

Evergreen Strategy Group
Vas Srivastava ’14

Assistant Professor of Political Science
Johns Hopkins University
Joshua Simon ’05