The political science program is designed to introduce students to the basic theoretical and philosophical tenets of politics; to provide the opportunities to gain practical research experience using contemporary techniques of political analysis (both through quantitative and qualitative methods); to help the students gain a better perspective of the political systems in the US and throughout the world; and to provide background training for such professional fields as law, policy research, teaching, journalism, management, and government service.
The political science program provides students with an understanding of the great issues of politics in a rapidly changing international environment. Employing historical, comparative, philosophical, legal, and experiential approaches to the study of politics, the department places heavy emphasis on student mastery of factual information, critical thinking skills, and effective writing and speaking skills. Within the department students can choose between a Political Science and an International Relations major/minor.
Opportunities in Political Science
A sample of the things you will learn:
- The purpose of government
- The power and dangers of nationalism
- Why revolutions occur
- The balance of freedom and equality
- The causes of war
- How campaigns and elections function
- Theories concerning the structure of international politics
- How our identities (racial, gender, class, etc.) influence political institutions
- Types of political institutions in the US and around the World
- Political rights
- How justice can be structured within a society
"The Political Science department is teaching me how to engage the world outside of academia while employing the skills I have learned within it."
"The Austin College Political Science Department has provided me with not only a better understanding of global politics, but has encouraged me to explore and think critically about political issues."
"Model UN is a class where you have the opportunity to meet people from all over the world, and a class that helps develop efficient writing and speaking skills."
"Through the Austin College’s Political Science Department and its knowledgeable professors, I was able to attend American University in Washington, D.C. to see what it was like to work on The Hill."
"Through the debating of interesting topics in this course, I learned to love political science. Its diversity of ideas, studies of different political cultures, and complex discussions excited me."
The Washington Post, Washington D.C. | October 27, 2017
Lydia Bean '02, executive director of Faith in Texas and author of "The Politics of Evangelic Identity," writes about how voters are learning to make their faith suit their partisanship.
Faculty and Their Teaching & Research Interests
Dr. Nathan Bigelow - Associate Professor of Political Science; Political Science Department Chair
Teaching and Research Interests: American government with a focus on institutions including Congress, the Presidency, and State and local government, campaigns and elections, public policy, and quantitative methods.
“My favorite part of working at Austin College is the ability to truly know and be able to work with enthusiastic students.”
Dr. Marat Akopian - Visiting Assistant Professor of Political Science
Teaching and Research Interests: International Relations (Causes of War, Theories of Foreign Policy, International Organizations), Comparative Politics (Electoral Systems & Electoral Reform, Political Ideologies, National Identities, Russian and European Politics), Research Design and Qualitative Research Methods
“I find teaching at a private liberal-arts college like Austin College much more rewarding psychologically and professionally than at big public schools. It is a very welcoming and supportive small community of teachers-scholars and students. Great campus, supportive colleagues and inquisitive, intellectually curious students!”
Dr. Audrey Flemming - Assistant Professor of Political Science
Teaching and Research Interests: Democratic Studies, Cuban Film and Politics, Identity Politics, Social Movements, Latin American Politics, Model United Nations, Politics of Empire, European Union, Political Theory, Spanish Politics, Introduction to International Relations and Comparative Politics
“As a first-generation graduate of a small liberal arts college, I really valued the opportunity to get to know and work closely with my professors. Since that experience, I knew that I wanted to teach at a similar institution. Getting the chance to work at Austin College has fulfilled that dream and allowed me the chance to be on the other side of that relationship---supporting & working with incredible students and amazing colleagues.”
Dr. Frank Rohmer - Associate Professor of Political Science; The John D. Moseley Chair in Government and Public Policy
Teaching and Research Interests: Political theory (especially the contrasts and continuities of ancient, medieval, and modern western political theory, with Plato, Montesquieu, and the American founders being the greatest interests), American constitutional law (focus on the jurisprudence of Marshall and Taney in the first half of the 19th century and that of Holmes and Cardozo in the late 19th and early 20th centuries), and public administration (with extra attention paid to understanding how public law and political culture—how distinctive publics—modify administration).
“Austin College has provided me in the course of my 30-year career a community of faculty, students, and alumni boldly but politely engaged in a dialogue about the great issues of human life. For me in a professional and personal sense, the Austin College community includes not only our current faculty and students but also our emeriti faculty, our alumni, and professional and governmental leaders in Texas and beyond. Within this supportive and highly personal community my faculty colleagues and I are supported in our professional commitment to teaching and advising each student as an individual to help that student understand the place of political science and international relations within a broader liberal arts education and to help that student find not just a job but a vocation in life.”
Did you graduate from Austin College with a degree in Political Science or International Relations? Let us know what you've been doing by filling out the Alumni Information Update form.
A few years after graduation I went on to earn my master’s degree in social work and currently work for a foster/adoption agency in Houston. While it might not seem like a natural progression, my undergraduate degree in political science has significantly enhanced my career as a social worker. Coursework through the political science department… [Read More]
My studies in International Relations at Austin College taught me how to be critical of the different perspectives and agendas within the international structure. Though my research and class debates, I gained essential communication skills, qualitative analytical skills, and critical thinking skills which are essential to my current studies in international development.
The professors in the political science made sure to provide a concrete path for students. Above all, they helped me translate what I was learning in the classroom, into a career path. They had the uncanny ability to predict the skills I needed to work on so that I would be a better candidate for… [Read More]
My International Relations and Political Science classes discussed issues such as development within the context of environmental and self-sustainability which I am able to directly apply in my job as a Community Economic Volunteer in the Peace Corps.
My time at Austin College taught me how to be a dedicated student, as well as a conscious citizen. The political science faculty became some of my most trusted mentors and supporters as I applied to graduate schools and figured out my next steps should be after graduation.
After I graduated, I pursued a career in nonprofit work, and every line of experience I had on my resume came from a connection made by an Austin College Political Science professor. Now, I am at Indiana University pursuing a Master’s of Public Affairs degree with a concentration in Nonprofit Management. Each day of class… [Read More]
My International Relations and EALC majors have prepared me for the workforce by giving me the resources to have successful communication, analytic, and research skills. The professors are amazing and will make sure they do everything they can to help you succeed and think outside the box.
Studying Political Science enabled me to pursue my academic passions, eventually leading to a master’s degree at Johns Hopkins SAIS Europe, one of the premier graduate programs for International Relations. The outstanding faculty in the Political Science department not only encouraged and pushed me onto this achievement, but also prepared me to handle the academic… [Read More]
Conducting and presenting research with a faculty mentor, along with the program’s emphasis on writing, research design, and statistics, helped me prepare for pursuing a PhD in political science.
My four years as a student in Austin College’s Political Science Department include some of the most formative experiences of my adult life. For example, my experience of spending a month in Cuba as a Scarbrough Fellow conducting political science research and studying Spanish, coupled with my subsequent Honors Thesis, were instrumental not only in… [Read More]
Skills Generated within Our Program
- Quantitative research methods (able to analyze others’ data and methods as well as able to employ one’s own)
- Qualitative research methods (able to analyze others’ data and methods as well as able to employ one’s own)
- Constructing and writing a research design
- Grant writing skills
- Public speaking
- Historical analysis
- Facilitating discussion and cooperation between different institutions