The mission of the Department of Philosophy and Political Science is to develop educated students who are responsible for recognizing and respecting diverse worldviews, capable of evaluating systems of thought, oppression and power in communities, and motivated to engage in personal and social action.
The department supports programs in philosophy and political science: each provides a balanced offering of courses that offer both a broad overview of each discipline and the opportunity to focus more specifically in special topic areas. The department also is committed to experiential learning, and offers opportunities to study both philosophy and political science topics in ways that allow for a personal engagement with the topic area through study abroad, seminars in Washington, D.C., service learning courses and internship opportunities, and close collaboration with the Albert Schweitzer Institute at Quinnipiac.
The major in political science fulfills the department's mission by providing courses that balance social scientific analysis with a focus on the politics and values of community. Through their course work and activities, students develop foundational knowledge regarding the causes and consequences of socioeconomic inequalities in the United States and around the world; the rise of the U.S. as a global power and how that power is used; the major environmental, political and socioeconomic threats facing the global community; and the historical development of American democracy and its application to contemporary political challenges.
Political science students also develop the ability to engage in normative and empirical forms of inquiry: they can explain how different subfields in the discipline approach the study of politics scientifically, and they can critically analyze the justifications for individual political actions and governmental policies using normative and ethical reasoning. Students complete the major with a senior seminar in which they engage major questions in political science and develop a sustained, independently conceived contribution to these questions in the form of a senior thesis. Upon graduation, political science majors have the tools necessary for active, informed and sustained engagement with the political process.
Within the political science major, a student may choose to pursue a focus on public policy and leadership or global affairs. The track in public policy and leadership provides students with the opportunity to undertake an academic and experiential program that will develop the intellectual tools for leadership and public service in government and nongovernmental organizations. Courses and experiential programs within this concentration emphasize the study of civic engagement, leadership skills, institutional design, the policymaking process and the ethical responsibilities of leadership within an increasingly diverse community. This track is distinctive in how it combines the study of public policy with analysis of the increasingly important ethical dilemmas of public leadership in issues of gender, race and ethnicity. The department strongly advises students as they design their academic and professional development outside the political science major. Extracurricular leadership activities, courses in diversity, and a background in statistics and economics are encouraged as ways to support learning in the public policy and leadership track.
The global affairs track provides students with the experience and intellectual tools for service and leadership in governmental and nongovernmental organizations that operate in the international/global realm. The program of study emphasizes an interdisciplinary approach to the study of politics and organization at the international level; in addition to work in political science, a student following this track is encouraged to pursue upper-level courses in anthropology, sociology, history, economics, language and management. Students may choose to further specialize with a geographic region of focus based around the study of comparative politics or an institutional focus based around the study of international law and organizations.
Philosophy is an ancient project, but one that continues to evolve as humans attempt to respond ethically to challenges in the coming century: peace, environmental sustainability, globalization, technology, needs for health and security, and yearning for love and justice. The philosophy major is structured to equip students with the conceptual tools and techniques of inquiry necessary to arrive at thoughtful responses to the world's challenges through their knowledge of different eras, themes and figures in the history of philosophy, both inside and outside the Western tradition.
Students learn to reflect critically, ethically and holistically on the significance of these tools and techniques to their own lives and to the world they are about to inherit. Students develop analytical and research skills in philosophical inquiry as they explore the history of philosophy and the current status of the main problems in epistemology, metaphysics and ethics.
The student who majors in philosophy develops competence in reasoning techniques, and will appraise the validity (and invalidity) of arguments, expose hidden assumptions, recognize fallacies and make a precise and coherent case in support of their own views. Philosophy graduates will be skilled in combining and synthesizing information from a wide range of sources, and in reflecting on their own thinking and experience. Students complete the major with a senior seminar in which they isolate and define a specific philosophical question that they explore in a senior thesis.
The department offers minors in philosophy and political science that are tailored to complement a student's major field of study and support a variety of multidisciplinary minor programs including women's studies, international studies and Middle Eastern Studies.