The political science department introduces 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 - 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. 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.”
Ruchan Kaya - Assistant Professor of Political Science
Teaching and Research Interests: Democratization, regime change, qualities of elections, natural resource politics with a focus on Eastern Europe, Eurasia, and Central Asia, as well as political economy and research methodology.
“Diversity, the community, my colleagues, and the wonderful students are the reasons why I am working at Austin College.”
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.
Upon earning her summa cum laude degree from Austin College with majors in Psychology and Political Science and a minor in Leadership Studies, Samantha Fawcett ’20 was well-positioned to enroll in Duke University School of Law in fall 2020. She recently wrote Austin College Pre-Law Advisor Frank Rohmer to tell him how much she loved… [Read More]
I graduated from Austin College in 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in Political Science. After working in Austin for the Legislature for several years, I am back in North Texas working for the regional agency that operates the Dallas North Tollway. Austin College provided academic gifts beyond measure – a classical education in a small… [Read More]
I graduated from Austin College in 2015 with a degree in International Relations. In 2017, I received my Masters in Public Policy from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs in Minneapolis, Minnesota. I’m working as an Analyst for the Office of Performance & Innovation, an internal consulting firm, at the City of Minneapolis. Our work… [Read More]
After returning to El Paso after graduating with a major in Environmental Studies and Political Science and a minor in French, I worked with Texas Senator Jose Rodriguez in his district office as a legislative intern. I then did one year of AmeriCorps VISTA service with the City of El Paso Resilience and Sustainability Department.… [Read More]
After graduating from AC in 1998, I moved to Washington, DC, and worked in the Federal Government for 13 years on Capitol Hill, at the White House, and at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. From 2011-14, I earned a Master of Divinity from Yale Divinity School as well as an Anglican Diploma and a… [Read More]
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 studies in international development. After graduating with my… [Read More]
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 faculty became some of my most trusted mentors and supporters as I applied to graduate schools and figured out my next steps after graduation. My experiences at Austin College not only taught me about the… [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