Studying Politics at Centre College


The study of Politics (or Political Science, as it is also commonly referred to) is the study of political ideas and institutions, public policies, and the political behavior of individuals and groups. The discipline contains several broad subfields — American politics, political theory, comparative politics, and international relations are the standard areas — and political scientists use a variety of techniques and perspectives in investigating the political world.

The Politics Program is designed to assist students in developing the arts of deliberation, judgment, and critical thinking by which they may understand more fully and participate more effectively in public affairs. Analytical reasoning, effective writing, and proficiency in empirical research techniques are skills cultivated and used throughout the program. In addition to examining the changing details of current political events, we also emphasize the philosophical, historical, and institutional nature of the persistent problems that current issues illustrate. Students can anticipate a rigorous inquiry into political philosophy, American government, comparative government, and international relations. Students are offered a diversity of non-classroom learning experiences. The Politics Program encourages independent study, collaborative research, hands on "experiential learning" activities, internships, and off-campus academic programs.

Why study Politics?

"The science of government — it is my duty to study, more than all other sciences. ... I must study politics and war, that our sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy." - President John Adams, 1780

The Politics Program is part of a liberal arts curriculum, and the discipline is presented to students with this in mind. We strive to awaken students to the importance of public affairs, give them the tools to more effectively understand and evaluate political information, help them to function more effectively as citizens, and give them a perspective that can be used to integrate knowledge and information accumulated in a number of disparate courses.

What about outside the classroom?

Many Politics majors participate in Centre’s programs in China, England, France, Japan, or Mexico. All provide exceptional opportunities to observe politics and government in a different setting. Other possibilities for off-campus study also exist, either sponsored by the College — CentreTerm in Africa, for example — or through other institutions.

In addition, each year invited speakers give public lectures on topics of political importance. Often they also visit classes or meet with students informally.

Students who want to get involved in politics on campus may join Centre College Democrats or Centre College Republicans, two highly active organizations on campus.

Liberty Leading the People by Eugène Delacroix

The painting depicted above commemorates the French revolution of 1830. The woman with the flag represents "Liberty" and fifty years later this painting served as inspiration for the Statue of Liberty.

Pi Sigma Alpha

Students with outstanding records in Politics may be eligible for membership in Pi Sigma Alpha, the national political science honorary society. Centre's Xi Zeta chapter was chartered in 1983.

Want to learn more?

More information can be found on this website through the links at the top of the page. Also, you can check out the Politics Program brochure from the admissions office, or contact Politics Program Chair Dr. Chris Paskewich.