Political Science (PLSC)

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Faculty: Leonardo Figueroa-Helland, Michael Zarkin

Program Goals

  • To develop effective verbal and written communication skills.
  • To engage students in critical, analytical, and integrative thinking.
  • To help students become effective researchers.
  • To improve collaborative problem solving and leadership skills.
  • To enhance global consciousness, a sense of social responsibility and ethical awareness.

Objectives

Political Science offers an interdisciplinary Bachelor of Arts academic major. With political science as its core focus, the major includes relevant courses from a number of disciplines. The curriculum stresses student mastery of a variety of allied subjects to enhance understanding of the global and domestic contexts of politics. The major prepares students for further study in law or graduate school; to enter public service careers in government; to work in the private sector, the policy arena, and/or the political/legislative process; or to conduct research.

The Political Science minor offers non-majors a flexible academic program for exploring politics in both the domestic and global contexts.  The curriculum can be designed to fit the needs of students pursuing a variety of careers including public service,  law, , business, education and mass communication. Students should work with their minor advisor to choose appropriate coursework.

Program Requirements

The Political Science academic major requires completion of 36 credit hours selected from a common core of required political science courses and one of the major emphasis fields, all of which are discussed below. Students must maintain a cumulative 2.5 GPA in courses required to complete any one of the major emphases. Additional recommended coursework may be taken in a number of disciplines, depending upon approved student interests. It is strongly recommended that students take MATH 150 (Elementary Statistics); and 16 hours (two full years, four semesters, or equivalent preparation) of a foreign language, eight of which are required.

Students choosing a double major or minor in any of the fields included within the political science major may not apply a course to more than one major or minor. A course may not count toward both the Political Science core and the student’s chosen emphasis.

The courses listed below are required of all political science majors, regardless of their chosen emphasis.
Students must meet the college-wide graduation requirements in addition to the Political Science major:

  • 124 total hours
  • 30 upper division hours
  • Liberal education distribution

Academic Major

  Credit Hours Prerequisites
Liberal Education Courses
The following course, which fulfills an LE requirement, is required for the Political Science major.
PLSC 101 Introduction to Political Science, LE (4)
Requirement Description
Credit Hours Prerequisites
I. Foreign Language Requirement 8
Political Studies majors must complete eight credit hours in a single foreign language.
II. Lower Division Political Science Courses 4
PLSC 101 Introduction to Political Science, LE (4)
PLSC 121 American National Government, LE (4)
III. Upper Division Political Science Courses 32
PLSC 355 Constitutional Law: Civil Liberties (4)
PLSC 367 Contemporary Political Philosophy (4)
PLSC 390 Research Methods (4)
PLSC 490 Senior Capstone (4)
Additional upper division PLSC coursework (16)
IV. Emphasis 15-16
Students will complete 15 to 16 hours from one of three emphasis options: Global Politics, Pre-Law, or Customized (see below). Political Science courses taken toward completion of sections II and III of the major requirements will not count toward completion of an emphasis

GLOBAL POLITICS EMPHASIS

Students are required to take the following 2 classes:
PLSC 315 Global Politics I (4)
PLSC 415 Global Politics II (4)
Students may  choose two of the following:
ANTH 388 Anthropology of Globalization (4)
ENVI 351  The Global Environment (4)
JUST 344 Environmental Justice (4)
PLSC 306 Comparative Political Systems (4)
PUBH 250 Global Health (4)
Or additional courses approved by the student’s academic advisor (4)
Pre-Law Emphasis
COMM 310 Professional Writing (4)
ENGL 371 Advanced Expository Writing (3)
JUST 310 Law and Society (4)
MATH 150 Elementary Statistics, LE (4)
PHIL 102 Critical Thinking, LE (4)
PHIL 303 Formal Logic (4)
PHIL 312 Applied Ethics (4)
PLSC 327 Environmental Politics and Policy (4)
SOC 305 Contemporary Issues (4)
SOC 372 Race, Ethnicity, and Class (4)
TOTAL HOURS FOR THE ACADEMIC MAJOR 59–60

Recommended Plan of Study for Political Science Major

Fall Semester Spring Semester
Freshman Year PLSC 101
Language I


PLSC 101 (if not taken in Fall)
Language II


Sophomore Year PLSC 367
(4) hours in emphasis


PLSC 355
(4) hours in emphasis


Junior Year (4) hours in emphasis
(4-8) hours of upper-division PLSC


PLSC 390
(4-8) hours of upper-division PLSC


Senior Year PLSC 490
(4) hours in emphasis
(4) hours of upper-division PLSC

The courses listed below are those from which a student can select the remaining 16 hours needed to complete one of the political science major emphases.

Customized Emphasis

Students may work with their major advisor to select sixteen hours of Political Science or Political Science-related electives from fields such as Anthropology, Economics, History, Justice Studies, Philosophy, Psychology, or Sociology.

By the junior year, students would need to declare this emphasis with a specialization title to ensure completion on time for graduation.


Academic Minor

Students must maintain a cumulative 2.5 GPA in courses required for the political science minor. Students choosing a double major or minor may not apply a class to more than one major or minor except in the case of core requirements.

For course prerequisites, please refer to the course description.

Requirement Description
Credit Hours Prerequisites
I. Required Courses 4
PLSC 101 Introduction to Political Science, LE (4)
II. Elective Courses 12
Eight hours of upper division PLSC coursework (8) Four hours of additional political science coursework or coursework in a related field approved by political science faculty (4)
TOTAL HOURS FOR THE ACADEMIC MINOR 16

 Recommended Plan of Study for Political Science Minor

Fall Semester Spring Semester
Freshman Year  –


PLSC 101, LE


Sophomore Year Four (4) hours upper-division PLSC coursework


 –


Junior Year Four (4) hours upper-division PLSC coursework


Four (4) hours upper-division PLSC coursework


Senior Year Four (4) hours upper-division PLSC coursework

Pre-Law Emphasis

The term “Pre-Law” does not designate a specific major or preferred undergraduate program at Westminster College as law schools do not favor one major over another. While it is possible to prepare for law school while fulfilling the requirements for any academic major, it is important to take courses that are intellectually demanding and substantive.

Students planning to enter the legal profession should obtain a broad liberal arts foundation. Law schools today are adopting entrance requirements which emphasize the ability to think and write clearly and to read and speak the English language proficiently. Students also need to develop the capacity to think analytically and creatively as well as to understand human values and institutions.

Most students are best advised to pursue a rigorous program that will be challenging and demanding as well as interesting. A double major or a major and minor are recommended. The career plans of some students can affect their choice of major and minor. Preparation for tax law, for example, would be facilitated by an accounting background. Students planning to practice in criminal or family law should concentrate on class work in the social sciences. International law students should master one or more foreign languages. Those interested in corporate law could major in business or management.

During the first semester after admission to Westminster, pre-law students are responsible for requesting from the law school(s) of their choice a list of courses required for admission so they may plan their programs accordingly with the pre-law director in the Social Science Program.

Students who intend to apply for admission to law school should consider the courses listed below to develop skills in areas important for law school success.

Education for Comprehension and Expression in Words
Recommended Courses
The purpose here is to gain both perception and skill in the English language. Language is the lawyer’s working tool. In the drafting of legal instruments, students must be able to convey meaning clearly and effectively.

In oral and written advocacy, students must also be capable of communicating ideas convincingly and concisely. In reception no less than in expression, language is fundamental as the lawyer’s medium of communication.

COMM 310 Professional Writing (4)
ENGL 230 Introduction to Creative Writing (3)
ENGL 320 Creative Writing: Fiction (3)
ENGL 371 Advanced Expository Writing (3)
PSYC 330 Interpersonal Communication Skills, LE (3)
SPCH 111 Public Presentations, LE (3)
SPCH 205 Business and Professional Communication (2)

 

Education for Critical Understanding of Human Institutions and Values
Recommended Courses
The purpose here is to develop insight into, rather than merely provide information about, the institutions and values with which man is concerned. Students pursuing a legal career encounter all sorts of these institutions under circumstances in which their conduct
necessarily affects the conduct of others in their value choices.MGMT 325 Business and Employment Law (4)
PHIL 206/206D Introduction to Ethics, LE (3)
PLSC 121 American National Government, LE (4)
PLSC 327 Environmental Politics and Policy (4)
PLSC 355 Constitutional Law: Civil Liberties (4)
PSYC 105 Introduction to Psychology, LE (4)
PSYC 216 Social Psychology (4)
SOC 105 Introduction to Sociology, LE (4)
SOC 313 Social Theory (4)
SOC 372 Race, Ethnicity, and Class (4)

 

Education for Clear and Creative Thinking
Recommended Courses
The purpose here is to develop a power to think clearly, carefully, and independently. A large part of the work law-trained people are called upon to do calls for problem solving and sound judgment. This is true regardless of whether they devote their lives to the practice of law, to governmental administration, or to some other endeavor.

ACCT 213 Accounting Principles (4)
ACCT 374 Managerial and Cost Accounting (4)
MATH 120 Quantitative Reasoning, LE (4)
MATH 150 Elementary Statistics, LE (4)
PHIL 102 Critical Thinking, LE (4)
PHIL 303 Formal Logic (3)
PSYC 390 Research Methods (4)