Political science students to have more control with new curriculum

John Milligan

Change in curriculum:

  • Instead of seven prerequisites, students only have to take four
  • Instead of 21 credit hours, students only have to take 12
  • Students can move more quickly into American Politics, Public Policy or International Relations/Comparative Politics classes

The political science department has changed its curriculum to include fewer required courses and more electives. The change came after the political science faculty and the undergraduate studies committee decided that students deserve more choice and control over their courses.

The original curriculum required students to take seven prerequisite classes before moving on to their electives. The new plan requires students to complete four prerequisite classes before taking a more elective-heavy course load.

Students also have a choice of what required courses they take, with the exception of Political Methods.

Steven Hook, chair of the political science department, said the curriculum shift is a big change designed to give students more choice and control over their academic path.

“Students expect and demand to have choice,” Hook said. “We feel that it’s reasonable that they have a choice of what classes they take in the political science major.”

The change allows students to choose elective classes in specialized areas like American Politics, Public Policy and International Relations/Comparative Politics.

Hook said the program allows students to learn more about a chosen specialized field instead of general information.

“Instead of knowing a little bit about a lot, now they’ll know a lot about the area that is most interesting to them,” he said.

Hook said the curriculum change has been very popular with students, receiving overwhelmingly positive reviews.

“When you’re taking more specialized classes that are matched with your interests, students are more motivated and kind of more excited about what they’re learning,” he said.

The change also helps students graduate on time, allowing them to take their electives concurrently instead of waiting to finish prerequisite courses.

Joseph Brown, a sophomore political science major, said the curriculum change is most beneficial for underclassmen.

“I am probably going to change to it,” Brown said. “There will be some classes I won’t have to take so that will help me graduate on time.”

Brown said he recommends other departments make similar curriculum changes, especially departments in the College of Arts and Sciences.

“It seems like a nice shift for the incoming freshmen,” he said. “It also gives you the benefit of choosing between taking Political Thought and Political Economy.”

Hook said the curriculum shift has made the political science department more appealing to current and incoming students, resulting in an enrollment boom for the department.

Brown also said he thinks the curriculum shift is good for the department.

“Maybe it will help to bring people to the major,” he said. “People are always afraid because they don’t understand the major but maybe breaking it down will make it easier for people to come into the program.”

Contact John Milligan at [email protected].