About the Department


For Aristotle the good of political association embraced all the other goods. Rousseau said simply, “everything is rooted in politics.” It may be, Max Weber thought, “organized domination,” but it is also “independent leadership in action,” a calling that demands “passion and perspective.” Almost every subject of study has a link to the political. This is evident for the allied fields of history and economics or for any of the other social sciences. But as political science honors its own past in the wisdom of great books, its teaching is at once philosophical, literary, and aesthetic and points to these fields, too. Language students find politics a natural supplement: it shows how the speakers of their languages are governed. Managers and executives have gone global and read balance sheets with the eye of the political analyst, ever alert to country risk or regional opportunity. Scientists raise questions, of ethics, of funding, of societal direction, that only statecraft can answer. Teachers have a natural interest in understanding the spirit of American democracy, which is the energy they will draw upon. As for the study of law, the royal road to political office in America, its close intellectual link to political science is illustrated by recalling that teaching politics was once the exclusive province of the law faculty.

Undergraduates come to the subject for varied reasons. Some imagine themselves in the halls of power and seek the fast track of political involvement in parties, candidates, and issues. Others consider politics as spectacle to be analyzed from a distance: the sweep of space and time shows the tragedy of clashing nations and peoples or the comedy sometimes afforded by campaigns and elections. Still others bristle with oppositional energy and are eager to imbibe the skills of the reformer. The study of politics can be approached as one of the humanities, good for sharpening the brain. More typically it is approached as systematic preparation for the law, government service, administration, journalism, teaching, lobbying, non-profit activities, the intelligence services, the military and police, corporate strategy, the organized opposition to some or all of the above, and last, not least, research.

Recent TU political science graduates have been admitted to law school at Harvard, Northwestern Universities, the Universities of Michigan, Texas, Columbia and the University of Chicago, and graduate school at Duke University  the London School of Economics and Cambridge University.