Kelly-Woessner (Chair), Kopko, Matteo, McClellan, McDonald, Ozkanca, G. Ricci, Silberstein
For more information, please visit the Department’s website or check course syllabi, which are available through the course instructor or at the High Library.
The Department of Politics, Philosophy, and Legal Studies is a joint venture made up of the programs of political science and philosophy. While each program retains its independent majors and minors, the department has been formed in dedication to the interdisciplinary study of social, political, and ethical dilemmas, both at a national and global level. While traditional liberal arts departments are often defined by narrow disciplinary approaches, we believe that complex problems require complex solutions. The Department of Politics, Philosophy, and Legal Studies emphasizes the integration of theoretical concepts, applied learning, and problem solving strategies to prepare our students for leadership roles in an evolving, global society. The Department promotes student and faculty research on how political, social, and legal institutions shape global values and public policies. This interdisciplinary collaboration prepares students to bring multiple perspectives and approaches to the study of contemporary issues, such as human rights, peacekeeping, economic development, immigration, globalization, environmental regulation, and science policy.
The department offers three majors: Legal Studies, Philosophy, and Political Science. All three majors are grounded in the liberal arts and develop skills, knowledge, and competencies that prepare students for a variety of careers, advanced degree programs, and life experiences. The Department is committed to fostering analytical reasoning, critical thinking, and effective communication skills. The department promotes student research, real-world learning, and close faculty-student relationships.
The Department offers majors in Political Science , Philosophy (with three possible tracks), and Legal Studies . It also contributes to the interdisciplinary program Social Studies Certification .
The Legal Studies major is an interdisciplinary course of study that examines the origins, development and theoretical foundations of Western political philosophy and law. Combining courses from political science, philosophy and other liberal arts disciplines, students explore issues such as justice, order, rights, the human condition, and ethical assumptions undergirding the competing concepts of human nature and society. The Legal Studies major especially is recommended for students who are considering careers in law, higher education or public service.
The Philosophy major is designed to explore fundamental issues of knowledge, value and meaning. The program promotes critical inquiry into basic questions in epistemology, ethics, science, religion, aesthetics and metaphysics. The members of the Department are dedicated to an interdisciplinary approach to philosophical questions that transcend the confines of narrowly drawn disciplinary boundaries. A major in Philosophy is an excellent preparation for those going on to graduate school and for those planning professional vocations such as law. It will prove valuable in any occupation which demands clear thinking, effective communication and the ability to understand and harmonize divergent points of view.
The Political Science major exposes students to the principal subfields of the discipline – American government, comparative government, international relations, political theory, public administration, public policy and research methods – and develops writing, oral expression, and analytical and critical thinking skills. A major in Political Science prepares students for careers in law, public administration, public policy, management, campaigns and elections, issue advocacy, communications, the diplomatic corps and many other exciting fields in the public, private and nonprofit sectors. Beyond its worth in career terms, the study of politics and government can lead to more effective pursuit of a person’s political interests as a civic responsibility or as an avocation.
The Department offers minors in Political Science and Philosophy . It also contributes to several interdisciplinary minors, including International Studies , Cognitive Science and Women and Gender Studies .
Honors in the Discipline
The Department participates in the College Honors in the Discipline Program. For guidelines, students should consult with Dr. April Kelly-Woessner, Department Honors Coordinator.