Political science majors: are you concentrating?

Three concentrations are being offered for new and current political science majors.

Lydia Hansen, Report

Curriculum changes are ahead for the Political Science department as they launch new concentrations this semester.

The three new concentrations, which are Public Service, Law and Leadership; Political Change and Advocacy; and International and Regional Security, will become the new normal for political science majors going forward.

The change, Department Chair Binnur Ozkececi-Taner said, is a response to a growing interest among students to follow specialized studies instead of the standard track offered in the major.

“As a department we talked about these issues and we said, ‘Maybe it’s time for us to change our curriculum so that we can offer the same or similar courses but make sure that students are concentrating in areas that they really have an interest in,’” Ozkececi-Taner said.

Ozkececi-Taner stressed that the introduction of the concentrations has not changed the basic requirements of the major much. Instead, existing courses have been organized into three categories to help students choose classes that build toward the concentration they are interested in.

“We are basically asking our students to make sure that the courses that they pick and choose are relevant to the concentration they are pursuing,” Ozkececi-Taner said.

One addition to the program has been made in a new 1000-level political theory course called Great Questions of Modern Politics.

“We piloted it last year and students who took it really enjoyed the class,” Ozkececi-Taner said. “We did some assessment work, and it looks like it’s going to be the gateway course for political science majors.”

Any further changes to the program will be determined based on how the new curriculum serves students.

“It’s possible that we would develop some additional new courses that would maybe fit better into these three concentrations,” Political Science professor Joseph Peschek said. “This is not set in stone for the next decade.”

While the concentrations replace the standard track for any students declaring Political Science as a major this semester, students currently in the major also have the option to declare for one of the new concentrations if they meet certain requirements, which will be determined by their expected graduation date.

Students expecting to graduate by May 2019 do not have to take the Great Questions course or any additional courses to earn a concentration as long as their previously completed courses correspond with that concentration’s focus.

Political science students graduating later than May 2019 may need to take the Great Questions class or another political theory class to receive a concentration. Those interested should meet with their advisor to see how their completed classes fit into the concentrations and what specific requirements they would have to meet.

Senior David Hanson, a Political Science major and Legal Studies minor, said he’s interested in looking at how the new concentrations might connect to his completed courses.

“It would basically depend on what classes I’ve already taken because I have like two classes left,” Hanson said. “It would be nice to have that to add to a resume.”

Currently enrolled political science majors can also choose to stick to the standard track originally offered when they first declared the major, as long as they declared before the start of the fall semester.