Department of Political Science

Dr. Anna Brown, Chairperson

The Political Science Department offers a major and a minor in Political Science.

Requirements for Political Science Major

Degree of Bachelor of Arts

Political Science majors must complete the following courses, and must maintain a 2.5 GPA in their political science major course of study.

PO-100Perspectives on Politics3
PO-200Research Methods in Political Science3
PO-201American Government3
PO-499Political Science Capstone3
Distribution Courses: choose one course from each of the following designations
PO-Political Science course with American Politics designation (AP)3
PO-Political Science course with Political Theory designation (PT)3
PO-Political Science course with Comparative Politics designation (CP)3
PO-Political Science course with International Relations designation (IR)3
PO-Political Science elective courses: choose four courses from any designation or combination of designations (AP, PT, CP, IR)12
Total Credits36

Special Notes on Major Requirements

Requirements for a Minor in Political Science

PO-100Perspectives on Politics3
PO-200Research Methods in Political Science3
PO-201American Government3
PO- Political Science electives: choose three courses from any designation or combination of designations (AP, PT, CP, or IR)9
Total Credits18

Pi Sigma Alpha, the National Political Science Honor Society

The Department sponsors a chapter of Pi Sigma Alpha, the national political science honor society. Membership in the Theta Chi chapter is open to any student who has completed at least fifteen credits in political science, maintained at least a 3.3 average in those courses, and demonstrates a deep commitment to the ethical-political life and to social justice. Inductions into Pi Sigma Alpha occur annually during the spring semester and applications are available in the Department office.

Internship Experience

Majors are encouraged to obtain valuable internship experience in government or in public advocacy organizations available through either the Department, the Center for Experiential Learning and Career Services, the Washington Center, or the Guarini Institute for Government and Leadership as well as to participate in the Gannon Debate Society and/or the Harvard Model United Nations.

Harvard Model United Nations

A unique and exciting part of the political science curriculum, the Harvard Model United Nations (U.N.) is a component of PO-376, one of the International Politics courses offered annually during the fall semester. Together with delegations of students from colleges and universities from around the world, each representing a different United Nations member nation, a delegation from Saint Peter’s University participates in a four-day mock United Nations session at Harvard University, debating various topics and advancing the official government policy positions of the nation it is assigned. The Model U.N. affords the student the opportunity to gain first-hand experience in the processes of conference diplomacy and negotiation that increasingly characterize the dynamics of international politics. Because the course selected to include the Model U.N. changes every year, interested students are able to participate more than once in this fascinating educational experience.

The Washington Center Internship Program

The Washington Center Internship Program, administered by The Guarini Institute through the Department of Political Science, offers students the distinctive and exciting opportunity to intern in Washington, D.C. and earn Saint Peter’s University academic credit at the same time.  Professor Alain L. Sanders, Liaison to the Program, guides and supervises interested students from all major fields of study through the application process. Students interested in the Program should contact Professor Sanders. For more details about the program, consult the Special Academic Programs section.

For students majoring in Political Science, no more than 9 academic credits earned through the Washington Center Internship Program may count towards the fulfillment of the required political science major course of study. For political science minors, no more than 6 academic credits earned through the Washington Center Internship may count towards the fulfillment of the required political science minor course of study. Students must have these credits approved ahead of time by the Washington Center Internship Program Coordinator.


The Department of Political Science is home to the University’s Pre-Law Advisor. Students desiring to learn about the law school application process, the course of study at law schools, or the professional practice of law should contact the Pre-Law advisor, Political Science Professor Alain L. Sanders. For more information about the Pre-Law Program or Saint Peter’s University’s Joint B.A./J.D. Program with the Seton Hall University School of Law, consult the Pre-Law section.


PO-100. Perspectives on Politics. 3 Credits.

An introductory study of the political values, concepts and institutions that define and span the field political science in the areas of American politics, international affairs, comparative politics, and political theory.

PO-130. Introduction to Nonviolence. 3 Credits.

A study of violence and human nature, the theory and practice of nonviolence, how conflicts - local and global - can be solved nonviolently, and the lives of past and current peacemakers, including Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Dorothy Day and many others.

PO-155. Introduction to Environmental Politics. 3 Credits.

This course will explore how environmental issues - such as climate change, resource extraction and energy use - are shaped by politics and political systems at the international, domestic and local levels. We will also examine the ways in which environmental issues have shaped politics - with concepts such as sustainable development and environmental justice - since the emergence of the environmental movement.

PO-200. Research Methods in Political Science. 3 Credits.

An introduction to political science research methodologies, including quantitative and qualitative techniques, research ethics and culminating in a student research project and term paper. Prerequisites: PO-100.

PO-201. American Government. 3 Credits.

An introductory study of the principles, institutions and power relationships of the American governmental system. Topics include the politics of the American Founding, the federal arrangement between the national and state governments, the operations of the Congress, the president, and the courts, and the roles of elections, political parties and interest groups.

PO-202. Global Citizenship I: Issues, Policy and Decision Making. 3 Credits.

An examination and discussion of what it means to be a "global citizen" in the 21st century. Through the framework of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, students will analyze their role as global citizens. Students may attend colloquia at the United Nations, as well as lectures at Saint Peter's, given by accomplished professionals in various fields. They will then analyze the information they hear and perform their own research into current issues - in class, in writing, and online - in order to learn about the world in which we live and become effective decision makers.

PO-207. The Mass Media and American Politics. 3 Credits.

An in-depth study of the interactions between the American mass media and the U.S. political system, and how these two centers of power influence each other. Topics include media organization and ownership, the legal and political contours of press freedom, the norms and processes of news reporting, the relationships between the media and conduct of the U.S. elections, and the relationships between the media and the operations of the executive, legislative and judicial branches of the government.

PO-215. United States Foreign Policy. 3 Credits.

An examination of the principal historical influences and major institutions involved in the formulation and execution of foreign policy.

PO-250. Introduction to Social Justice. 3 Credits.

An examination of how racism, classism and sexism create barriers to the realization of a more equal and just society, with a particular focus on pressing current social justice issues - such as affordable housing, health care, immigration, the prison system, war and the environment - and the people that are working to build a better world.

PO-275. Introduction to International Relations. 3 Credits.

Examination of the system of nation states, blocs, and rivalries in the world order. Approaches to the explanation of power and security, the use of force and war and international social, economic, and environmental problems.

PO-295. Co-Op. 3 Credits.

PO-301. Ancient and Medieval Political Theory. 3 Credits.

A survey of the classic works of political theory from its inception through the Middle Ages: Plato, Aristotle, Augustine and Aquinas.

PO-303. Early American Political Theory. 3 Credits.

An examination of the formation of the American political consciousness from its beginnings until the end of the Civil War.

PO-304. Recent American Political Theory. 3 Credits.

A survey of the evolution of the American public argument from the reconstruction until the present, with emphasis on today's debate on current issues such as climate change, the uneasy relationship between capitalism and democracy, the privileging of privatization, etc.

PO-310. Feminist Political Theory. 3 Credits.

Historical overview of feminist political activity in the United States and an analysis of feminist theory: liberal feminism, Marxist feminism, radical feminism, and post-modern feminism.

PO-311. Peace and Justice Issues Within Political Theory. 3 Credits.

Historical overview of the peace movement in America and an analysis of contemporary concerns such as war and peace, wealth and poverty, racism and sexism.

PO-312. The American Congress. 3 Credits.

An in-depth examination of the organization and decision-making processes of the U.S. Congress, and the political considerations and forces that influence the work of members of Congress in both the Senate and House of Representatives. Topics include the legislative intentions and designs of the Founders, the representational and lawmaking functions of Congress, the norms, organization and processes of each chamber, the parameters of congressional elections, the roles of political parties and interest groups, and the relationships between Congress and the other two branches of government.

PO-313. The American Presidency. 3 Credits.

An in-depth study of the evolution of the presidency, and its modern functions, decision-making processes, and political influence over American governance. Topics include the contrasting and changing visions of the presidency, the presidential election process, the connections between the president and the public, the institutional organization and operations of the presidency, the relationships between the president and the other two branches of government, and the presidential role in national security and foreign affairs.

PO-314. The American Judicial Process. 3 Credits.

An in-depth examination of the roles, decision-making processes and organization of the state and federal courts, and the impact of the judiciary on American politics. Topics include the function of law, the roles of lawyers and judges, the formal and informal structures and operations of courts, and the elements, procedures and purposes of trials and appeals and of criminal and civil proceedings.

PO-315. American Campaigns and Elections. 3 Credits.

An in-depth exploration of the dynamics, challenges and political parameters of American elections. Topics include the evolving roles of political parties, consultants, interest groups and candidates, the structures and complexities of the primary and general election processes, the resources, organization and strategies of political campaigns, and the behavior of American voters.

PO-327. Environmental Politics and Policies. 3 Credits.

This course explores the shifting political forces that determine environmental policies. Included is an examination of pressures, interest groups, and the media. Prerequisites: EV-100.

PO-365. Introduction to Security Studies. 3 Credits.

An introductory course in the field of security studies that will survey major IR theories and different definitions of conflict, security, stability, peace, war and their significance in both historical and contemporary perspectives. It will explore the causes of mass violence (war) and interstate peace and their gradations in the international state system. The course will also review the basic literature of military strategy and its relation to the onset and evolution of international crises, war, and peace. It will discuss major philosophical works on the notions of conflict, security, violence, war, and peace among state actors.

PO-378. Global Inequality. 3 Credits.

An exploration of the patterns of economic and political inequality that exist between countries and within countries in the contemporary international system.

PO-409. Constitutional Law and Governmental Powers. 3 Credits.

An advanced and case law-focused seminar on the allocation of governmental powers under the U.S. Constitution. Topics are explored through the study of U.S. Supreme Court decisions and include an examination of the separate powers of the national legislative, executive and judicial branches, the checks and balances that channel their operations, the relationship between the national and state governments, and the extensive reach of the national Commerce Clause and Spending Clause powers.

PO-411. Nationalism and Revolution. 3 Credits.

A comparative and analytical study of nationalism and revolutionary movements. Nation-building in contemporary underdeveloped countries.

PO-414. Understanding Global Terrorism. 3 Credits.

This course, drawing on comparative global and historical experiences, exposes the student to the various regional expressions of terrorism (Asia, Latin America, N. America, Europe). Political, economic, nationalist and religious forms of terrorism receive considerable scholarly attention in this course.

PO-417. Constitutional Law and Civil Liberties. 3 Credits.

An advanced and case law-focused seminar on human rights and civil liberties under the U.S. Constitution. Topics are explored through the study of U.S. Supreme Court decisions and include an examination of religious liberty, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, the right to privacy, and the rights of equality and freedom from discrimination.

PO-422. Comparative Politics: Middle East and North Africa. 3 Credits.

Regional and international dimensions of politics in the area. The formation of nation- states nationalism, superpower rivalries, the Arab-Israel conflict and the Palestinian question, the politics of oil, energy, and development, Islamic revival and prospects for stability, change and democracy.

PO-424. Comparative Democratization. 3 Credits.

This course reviews the vast literature concerned with the transition from authoritarianism to democracy in various parts of the world. The concepts of democracy and authoritarianism are thoroughly explored, followed with a comparative review of actual cases of democratic and authoritarian rule that include problems facing newly established democracies. Along with the historical development of democracy and its "requisites," the course then focuses on the "third wave" of democratization, with attention to cases in Southern Europe, South America, East and Central Europe, with secondary review of other cases in Asia or Africa.

PO-477. International Law. 3 Credits.

An introduction to the principles and norms of international law and how they regulate political and economic interactions at the global level. A case oriented emphasis on treaties, the law of war, and dispute settlement. Prerequisites: PO-100.

PO-479. International Political Economy. 3 Credits.

An examination of the dynamics of wealth and power in the global system. Emphasis given to issues of trade, monetary relations and economic interdependence. Regulatory efforts at the national, regional and international levels are analyzed. Prerequisites: PO-100.

PO-480. Development and Disaster Risk Reduction. 3 Credits.

This course investigates the relationship between global development strategies and disaster risk, resiliency and preparedness in international and local perspective. Prerequisites: PO-100.

PO-486. Seminar: Genocide. 3 Credits.

After a thorough conceptualization of genocide, the course will examine case studies of modern genocide, ranging from the 20th and 21st centuries.

PO-492. Seminar in Comparative Politics. 3 Credits.

Examination and discussion of selected issues in comparative politics. Students will have the opportunity to explore a specific issue through faculty-guided research projects. Restricted to juniors and seniors with departmental approval. Prerequisites: PO-100.

PO-498. Seminar: Political Poetry and Music. 3 Credits.

This course considers the relationship between aesthetics and political philosophy. Political themes flowing through poetry and music, analyzed both in terms of their message and medium, use in political activism, etc.

PO-499. Political Science Capstone. 3 Credits.

Comprehensive oral exam of each sub-discipline in political science and general political science knowledge. Prerequisites: PO-100.