War and peace, taxing and spending, dictatorship and democracy — these and a hundred other realities of modern life are played out in the realm of domestic and international politics. In an increasingly complex and interdependent world, public decision-making requires thoughtful discourse, broad-based participation and intelligent, responsive leadership. To that end, the Department of Political Science promotes the systematic and critical analysis of government, politics and public policy. It helps students learn to frame thoughtful questions, conduct imaginative research, marshal convincing evidence, write with clarity, precision and conviction, and engage in lively conversation. Its faculty members conduct research that enriches understanding of political life and public affairs in a global context, not only for other scholars but for decision-makers and citizens as well. The department also seeks to provide and promote responsible and effective leadership within and beyond the St. Olaf community.
The study of politics is an essential part of a liberal arts education and our lives as scholars. The Department of Political Science fosters habits of reflection and analysis, and cultivates knowledgeable, thoughtful, and effective citizens.
Intended Learning Outcomes
Students will demonstrate their:
1. Ability to identify political problems, familiarize themselves with existing scholarly research and discussion of political issues and problems, understand, criticize and apply existing research and design and conduct additional research to further understanding of the causes and/or possible solutions to political problems. Students should be equipped to analyze critically the process by which systematic knowledge is produced as well as the content of that knowledge.
2. Familiarity with diverse perspectives as they are used to identify, understand, and address political issues. By “diverse” we mean both domestic and international differences which may be geographic, ethnic, racial, gender-based, cultural, and even temporal.
3. Ability to write clearly about political issues, including the ability to access and assess the wide range of information sources available and use these appropriately to make assessments and support arguments.
4. Capacity to be knowledgeable, thoughtful and effective citizens. The department wishes to foster students’ active and critical engagement with politics and public policy making, whether as professionals or as citizens. Civic literacy necessarily engages students in questions of private and public values as well as the more empirical issues of governance and decision making.