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Political Science is about ...

photo: young protester against the World Bank in Jakarta, Indonesia

Powerful International Institutions
such as the World Bank have a significant effect on national policies and the shape the possibilities of development. Their efforts are often sharply criticized.  Political scientists contribute to these debates over the role institutions and how they might better address issues of development.  Prof. Michael Allen is interested in these issues and teaches courses concerning the international organizations. Photo: World Bank protester, Jakarta, Indonesia, 2004. Photo by Jonathan McIntosh, 2004. Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 License.

photo: text of the European Union's constitution
New Forms of Politics
The European Union is a new form of political organization, a supranational framework made by the member states which have consented to surrender some of their sovereignty to achieve common goals. Born from dreams, bureaucratic negotiation and compromise, the EU has revolutionized not only European politics but transformed the possibilities of individual rights in Europe. Prof. Carol Hager is interested in the EU and teaches courses on modern European politics. Photo: European Union Parliament, Brussels.  Photo copyright Carola Hein, all rights reserved.
Meg Whitman image

Women in Politics
Meg Whitman, running as a Republican for the governorship of California in November 2010, brought business expertise (eBay) and personal wealth into the race.  She was one of many women and many Republican women who ran for office and marked the U.S. interim elections as the Year of the Woman in Politics for many observors. Prof. Marissa Golden is particularly interested in women in politics and in U.S. politics and teaches several courses on these themes. Image: whiteafrican (Eric Hersman) Creative Commons Attribution 2.0..

photo: demonstrators

Identity, Globalized
The politics of identity gains new salience when political actors use the global public space to make their claims. Prof. Marc Ross and Prof. Clark McCauley Jr. are concerned with the politics of culture, ethnicity and conflict. Photo: Kurdish demonstrators in London, 2003, showing their support for the PKK, or Kurdistan Workers Party, an organization of Turkish Kurds that has been labeled by the Turkey and the U.S. as a terrorist organization. By Francis Tyler, GNU Free Documentation License.

fragment of ancient papyrus

Bestsellers
Plato's writings from 400 BC are still in print. They deal with justice, power, the good life, death and desire, anger, and democracy. In his ancient and still living work, the unfamiliar becomes familiar, and the familiar unfamiliar. Prof. Stephen Salkever teaches courses on Greek philosophy, including Plato and Aristotle. Photo Fragment of Plato's Republic, about 3rd century BC and still in print. Papyrus fragment, Papirus Oxyhynchus, 3rd century C.E, containing part of Wikipedia Commons, public domain

image from frontispiece of a 1651 edition of Leviathan by Thomas Hobbes, depicting a king made up of his subjects

From the Consent of Many to a Fearsome Power:
Hobbes's Leviathan takes the enduring questions of freedom and coercion; the power of the state and the rights of individuals; sovereignty and language and crafts a practical theory of power. Prof. Stephen Salkever's is interested in ancient and modern political philosophy, including the work of Thomas Hobbes. Image: Frontispiece from Thomas Hobbes' Leviathan, 1651.  Wikipedia Commons, public domain.

protesters dressed as Guantanamo Bay detainees demonstrate in fron t of the U.S. Supreme Court

The U.S. Constitution as a Living Source of Law
The U.S. Constitution is central to struggles between the Administration and its opponents over the Constitutional obligations of the President in time of war, and the basic protections offered to prisoners under U.S. and international law.  Important Supreme Court decisions have confirmed the relationship between U.S. law and international law and refused to accept barriers to some forms of legal oversight.  In Fall 2008, Alan Garfield is teaching a course on Constitutional Law.  Prof. Jeremy Elkins's courses in public law, including Constitutional Law, and Administrative Jurisprudence, explore, in the context of particular legal controversies, broad themes of democratic theory—including the problem of how political regimes should treat various kinds of differences and various kinds of hierarchies, the relation of law and politics, and the nature of rights in the modern state. Photo: Demonstrators at the U.S. Supreme Court mark the sixth anniversary of the arrival of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. By Keith Ivey.

Photo: Iraqis voting

What Makes Stable Democracy Possible?
Is it a matter of the right history; get it right in the 17th century or suffer? Or can policy makers and power holders make better or worse decisions? Can outsiders help? How does the structure of elections matter? Professor Carol Hager considers these basic questions of democracy and mantionalism in POLS 131 (Intro to Comparative Politics). Photo: Iraqis voting, Janury 2005. U.S. Marines and Iraqi forces providing security for polling sites in Nasarwasalam. 050130-M-7981G-058 Nasarwasalam, Iraq (Jan. 30, 2005) - Iraqi citizens come out in masses to vote. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Trevor Gift, public domain.

Photo: Iraqis voting 

How should war crimes be investigated or prosecuted?
Will the truth contribute to a better future and the potential of reconciliation, or will demands for prosecution expand mistrust? These are not abstract issues but burning questions for societies after national traumas. Transitional Justice is a major concern of Peace & Conflict Studies. Photo: Cynthia Ngewa testifying during the South African Truth and Reconciliation hearings, from the 2000 documentary Long Night’s Journey into Day, ©Iris Films

Afghan women receiving aid

Humanitarian Law
An Afghan woman receives aid from combined U.S. and Afghan forces as part of a humanitarian aid project aimed at women.  Humanitarian Law insists on the duty of occupying forces to address the needs of the entire population, a demand at tension with military goals to seek support from the civilian population.  Peter Hoffman teaches courses on the politics of humanitarian aid.  Image: Isafmedia, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.

Tea Party protesters

Election 2010
In the interim U.S. elections of 2010, Republicans gained control of the House of Representatives. Part of this story was the political consequences of the Tea Party Movement, which challenged the Democratic party as well as Republicans seen as too establishment.  While the Tea Party had considerable effects on the elections, its members had diverse views, goals, and styles, meriting the description of a "movement."  These images come from taxpayer protests in Washington and a tea party demonstration in Nashville. Professor Carol Hager is interested in social movements and Professor Marissa Golden focuses on American politics.  Images: Protestors in Washington, by dbking, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic. 

G8 World Leaders

Powerful Institutions
The G8 group of leaders from powerful nations discuss issues of common concern.  Represented here are Great Britian, Russia, Japan, Italy, the United States, Spain, Germany, France, and also the European Union.  Without an administrative structure or permanent staff, the more G8 arrangement allows the leaders of these nations to discuss issues of political and economic concern more informally.  Professor Michael Allen is interested in International Political Economy.  Image: G8 summit in Ontario in June 2010.  Official White House Photo by Pete Souza, public domain.

Iranian students' protest

New Media
These Iranian university students are protesting the results of Iran's 2009 presidential elections; cell phones and internet postings enabled protesters to coordinate with each other and also to reach a global audience.  Interest in the effects of new media, including social media, on politics today led Political Science faculty Carol Hager to coordinate with Nathan Wright (Sociology) and Sharon Ullman (History) to bring a series of speakers to campus to discuss different aspects of this enormous and important new field.  The first speaker Professor Phillip Howard of the University of Washington, spoke on "Political Islam and Digital Media," and argued that new media is increasing democratic pressure in Muslim majority countries. Image: Protest of demonostration against 2009 Iranian election results. Wikipedia Commons, public domain.