Political Science, in the broadest sense, is the study of politics particularly as it relates to governments and people. Political scientists study governments: The origins and preconditions for governments, the growth and evolution of governments, and the decline and conflict among governments. Political scientists also are interested in how governments are structured, how governments make decisions, the policies that result from political decisions and the consequences of these policies, and how governments manage societal and international conflicts. Political scientists also study people: Their values and positions on issues, their preferences among candidates, their support for public officials, and their appraisals of their government. True to their oldest academic traditions, political scientists retain their concern with the fundamental questions of how governments ought to be constituted, and how they can best serve their citizens.
The study of political science has value in several different ways. First, it contributes to a solid liberal arts education and preparation for citizenship. The Greek word "idiot" was used to refer to one who took no interest in the affairs of state. Today, no less than twenty centuries later, it is incumbent upon all useful citizens to learn something about the political system in which they will spend their lives. Educated people ought to know something of the nature of government even if they have no professional interest in political science.
Second, a degree in political science furnishes an excellent background for graduate study in political science, law, administration, business, and international relations. Political science helps students develop reasoning and analytical skills and build competence in oral and written expression. In addition, the department of political science requires students to acquire basic skills in statistical analysis and computer competency.
Third, there are some careers for which an extensive training in political science can be most useful. This is true especially for those planning to seek careers in higher education, the legal profession, state and local government, urban planning, the federal bureaucracy, journalism, the military, law enforcement, teaching, the civil service, or in any of the proliferating organizations that seek to monitor the political processes to influence content of public policy. Further, the training students receive in political science will be useful to students no matter what their ultimate career choices.
Dr. Nancy Haanstad
Weber State University
1203 University Circle
Ogden, UT 84408-1203
Social Science Bldg, Rm 280
Current for the 2012/13 Academic Year