Learning Goals for Political Science Majors

Political Science is a big tent that covers American Government, International/Global Relations, Comparative Government, Classical and Modern Political Theory, Public Law, Urban Studies, and Race, Ethnic, and Gender studies. The classical Greeks described Politics as the “architectonic science” because it concerns itself with the questions underlying the whole of civic life: What constitutes a just republic?  How do we define a good citizen?  How and for what ends should power be used and resources allocated? What defines the good life?

Students majoring in Political Science should acquire a background in its fundamental principles and core literature –even if they ultimately choose to focus on one or more specialties within the larger discipline. . They should acquire a political imagination –i.e., a lens through which to view and analyze governmental institutions; policy choices; and competing political and philosophical values

The objectives we pursue are both general and specific—general in that our majors should be able to think conceptually, specific in that they should also possess the factual knowledge necessary to understand particular phenomena.

Among the core concepts Political Science majors should understand are the following:  The interactions between institutions and individuals; and between different countries and regions of the world;  how regimes influence  the character and priorities of their citizens; the national and international roles played both by key individuals and large political and natural forces (e.g., famine, revolutions, demographic shifts); the impact of globalization on a state’s institutions, culture, and economic well-being; the influence of nationalism and religious fundamentalism; the tension between liberty and equality; liberty and order; change and continuity.


Particular Learning Goals

Students majoring in Political Science at Rutgers-Newark are expected to acquire the following skills:

1.) Reading and research capabilities; familiarity with major works in the discipline and the ability to locate and understand primary sources; the ability to gather and analyze data using both qualitative and quantitative measures.

2.) The capacity to think critically---i.e., to accept nothing as a given, but, rather, to investigate the source of the information; seek arguments for and against its reliability; determine the extent to which an argument is logical, internally consistent, and supported by evidence; detect the historical, cultural, or personal bias that might influence an argument.

3.) The ability to write clearly, effectively, and persuasively.
We in the Political Science Department make demands on our students, but we do so in order to help them develop civic virtues, a broad understanding of the discipline, and the intellectual and personal qualities necessary to succeed in life on both a professional and personal level.