Political Science

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The Department of Political Science administers programs in Politics, American Politics, and International Relations, offering the rigor and depth of disciplinary training along with an interdisciplinary breadth firmly grounded in the liberal arts tradition.

Political Science has eight full-time faculty whose areas of specialization include the American Presidency, the U.S. Congress, judicial politics, state and local politics, political behavior, public opinion, housing policy, community development and economic policy, environmental policy, political parties and interest groups, election law and electoral systems, democratization, human rights, global health, migration and immigration, international law, international political economy, American foreign policy, international security, East Asian politics, European and post-Soviet politics, religion and politics, gender and politics, American and Western political theory, and empirical research methods.

Faculty honors include outstanding teaching awards, an outstanding mentor award, Stalnaker Lecturers, Centennial Scholars, an award for campus engagement, and named professorships. Faculty also frequently provide interviews and opinion pieces within their areas of specialization for the media, podcasts, and blogs; see here for examples of recent public engagement.

Students have the opportunity to conduct their own research on political topics and publish in the Drake University Social Science Journal (DUSSJ) and Drake Political Review.

In addition to our courses on campus, the department has offered J-term travel seminars to Washington D.C. and also works with programs in Washington D.C. to help students plan entire semesters in our nation’s capital. Students in all majors can study abroad, either for a semester or through Drake-led travel seminars in January or May.

Students have many opportunities to integrate experiential learning with their academic coursework. Drake University’s location in Des Moines, Iowa’s capital city, provides students with internship opportunities with the state legislature, the Governor’s office, various state agencies, nonprofits, political parties, offices of U.S. Senators and Representatives, interest groups, and lobbying firms. Once every four years, Des Moines is at the center of the Iowa caucuses, providing unparalleled opportunities for engaging in political activity and making connections with candidates, campaigns, and media organizations. Over the past five election cycles, Drake has hosted five nationally-televised live debates (with CBS, ABC, and CNN; three Democratic and two Republican debates). Many students have the opportunity to do a paid short-term internship with national production staff or receive tickets to the events.

Internships related to international or multicultural affairs are also available.

On-campus internships are available with the Harkin Institute and Vote Smart. The Ron and Jane Olson Institute for Public Democracy is an interdisciplinary home to programs that encourage, celebrate, and strengthen the tools for a vibrant democracy, recognizing that these take many and varied forms. Democratic practice is at the core of the Institute’s mission, and Drake welcomes a cohort of Institute for Public Democracy Scholars every year to participate in unique programming and hands-on experiential learning; scholars can also apply for financial support for student internships, travel seminars, and other professional development opportunities.

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