Political Science defines, describes, explains, and evaluates phenomena such as war and peace, revolution and reform, stability and instability, voting and office holding, and crime and punishment.
However, because many things apparently outside of “politics” can be made quite relevant to politics, political science also covers many other subjects, employs diverse methods, and interests a broad range of students. As a result, political science is one of the most popular majors at Middlebury College. Some students come to political science because they seek careers in politics or academics; others study political science to gain a greater knowledge of this central human concern. Consequently, the curriculum is designed to train students in a discipline, reveal the possibilities of politics, meet the demands of thoughtful citizenship, and prepare those students who intend to pursue further work in either graduate or professional school.
The Department strongly emphasizes teaching excellence and the acquisition of analytic skills. Among its seventeen faculty the Department has a generous contingent of scholars across the comparative, international relations, and political economy fields, and is well represented in American politics and political theory. The faculty’s research interests are diverse, and include such topics as ethnic identity and conflict, state responses to racial, ethnic, and religious violence, democratic transitions, political Islam, rules and compliance, ethics and war, local and international environmental policy, the presidency, American power and foreign policy, international conflict and intervention, constitutional law and American political thought, regional integration, media and democratization, the legal, ethical, and political implications of private military corporations, and political dynamics in many regions of the world.
Given the range of subject matter and the variety of approaches to the study of politics, the Department’s faculty are also involved, formally and informally, in a number of related majors and programs: Classical Studies, Environmental Studies, International Politics and Economics, and International and Global Studies (African Studies, East Asian Studies, European Studies, Latin American Studies, Middle East Studies, Russian and East European Studies, South Asian Studies). We encourage our students to study abroad, especially in a foreign language. Students planning to spend all or part of their junior year abroad should consult with their Department advisor before the second semester of their sophomore year.
Our students also participate in American University’s Washington Semester (refer to the Study Abroad Office's domestic off-campus study page), in the activities of the Pre-Law Club (consult with Professor Murray Dry, Pre-Law Advisor), the Middlebury Model United Nations Club (consult with Professor Mark Williams, Faculty Liaison), and the Rohatyn Center for Global Affairs. Political science majors who are interested in obtaining teaching licensure must notify the Education Studies Program by the middle of their sophomore year.