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College of Arts, Humanities & Social Sciences

Department of Political Science

Nancy Wadsworth talks election politics with SiriusXM; Spin Alley on Debate Night


American Politics

The political science American politics sub-field explores questions such as:

  • Are there really two Americas—one "red" and one "blue"?
  • Why do our elected officials seem so much more partisan than the people they represent?
  • How much influence do voters have over a president as he decides whether to go to war?
  • Can members of Congress simultaneously represent their districts while serving national interests?
  • Why do campaigns run negative ads even though voters claim to despise them?

These questions and many others are what motivate the professors and students in the American Politics field. The answers can be found by examining the governing institutions, political behavior, and political history of the United States.

The institutional side offers courses on the U.S. Congress, the American presidency, American foreign policy, the judiciary, and state and local government. In these classes, students learn, for example, when presidents are influenced by public opinion, or the historical factors that led to an increase in the use of the filibuster.

If you're interested in political behavior, you may take courses on campaigns and elections, race and politics, and on the structure and behavior of political parties. Here, you can learn about party polarization and the effectiveness of campaign advertisements.

This field also offers courses on American political history and culture, in which students can learn how the Constitution has survived virtually unchanged since the 1780s, despite the massive changes our nation has endured over that time.

Frequently offered courses include:

  • The American Presidency
  • U.S. Congress
  • Political Parties and Interest Groups
  • American Foreign Policy
  • State & Local Politics
  • Religion and American Politics
  • American Political Thought
  • Presidential Primaries, Nominations and Elections
  • Political Participation & Representation