Political Science


William D. Rose, chair and associate professor.
B.A., 1981, J.D., 1987, University of Toledo; Ph.D., 1999, University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Appointed 2001.

Elizabeth Ben-Ishai, assistant professor.
B.A., 2003, University of Toronto; M.A., 2005, Ph.D., 2008, University of Michigan. Appointed 2008.

Carrie Booth Walling, visiting assistant professor.
B.A., 1997, Michigan State University; MSc.Econ., 1999, University of Wales Aberystwyth (UK); M.A., 2006, Ph.D., 2008, University of Minnesota.

Dyron K. Dabney, assistant professor.
B.A., 1989, University of Virginia; Ph.D., 2008, University of Michigan. Appointed 2003.

Andrew D. Grossman, associate professor and Royal G. Hall Professor of Social Sciences.
B.A., 1980, Monmouth University; M.A., 1990, Ph.D., 1996, New School for Social Research. Appointed 1996.


The department offers students the opportunity to pursue either a major or a minor in political science. In relatively small, discussion-oriented classes, students engage with questions fundamental to the academic study of politics. For example, how does a critical engagement with politics and political thought help us to understand power in contemporary and historical terms? What sorts of power relationships do we see at work in modern institutions such as states, global capital, and the media? And, how do subordinate groups and individuals resist and transform systems of power?

In our department, we explore these questions and more, by exposing students to multiple perspectives on the most consequential, often controversial, issues of our times. Such issues may include questions of war and peace, democracy, the environment, the delicate balance between security and freedom, and the evolving conception of what it means to be a citizen. Whatever the issue before us, the goal of the department is to cultivate in its students an ability to critically examine political questions from a variety of perspectives, and enable them to better interpret their own experience of the world. As measures of our success in meeting these goals, we expect students to: demonstrate knowledge of the interconnections of political institutions, movements, concepts, and events from multiple intersecting vantage points; identify important contested assumptions, ideas, and intellectual debates in the relevant scholarly literature; and pose critical questions about power relations as they investigate key political questions in a globalizing world.  

Many of our students seek to translate what they have learned in the classroom to ‘real world’ experiences beyond the campus gates, in the form of internships and service-learning activities. Upon graduation, some of our students choose to pursue graduate study in political science and related disciplines. A significant number of our graduates opt for law school. Our graduates have been uniquely successful in obtaining admission to some of the finest law schools in the United States. Finally, many of our students seek out immediate employment upon graduation, pursuing careers in teaching, public policy, business, and government-related activities.  


Political Science Department Web site

Career Opportunities

An undergraduate major in political science is used by many students as a background for graduate study--and eventually employment--in such fields as law, public policy, public administration, business administration and international relations. Other fields which may be directly open to graduates are public opinion and market research, social work, municipal management, secondary school teaching, TV and radio, journalism, lobbying, criminal justice, campaign management and legislative staff work.

Department Policy for Advanced Placement Credit

Students who earn a 4 or 5 on the Advanced Placement (AP) exam in American government will receive one unit of credit as Political Science 190. This unit does not count toward the political science major but does count toward the graduation requirement of 32 units.

Majors and Minors

Requirements for Major

  • A minimum of eight units in political science, including 105 and at least one unit in each of the four subfields in the department: American government and politics, international relations, comparative politics, and political theory. In addition, students are required to take and pass Political Science 201: Scope and Methods of Political Science. It is expected that six of the eight units in political science will be taken at Albion College. Other arrangements can be made for bona fide transfer students and students in approved off-campus programs. Exceptions are at the discretion of the department chair after consultation with other faculty members in the department.
  • No more than one unit of 391 or 392 (internships) may be counted toward a major.
  • All courses for the major must be taken for a numerical grade, except those offered only on a credit/no credit basis. In order for a course to count for the political science major, the student must earn at least a 2.0 in the course.
  • Political science majors are strongly encouraged to achieve basic competency in statistics (Mathematics 109 or Mathematics 210 are appropriate) and at least one foreign language.

Note: Freshmen may enroll in 300-level courses only with permission of the instructor.

Requirements for Minor

  • Six units in political science, including: 101, one additional unit in the area of American politics (including law-related courses), one unit in political theory, one unit of any course that qualifies as comparative (305, 319, 352, or any 289 that the chair qualifies as comparative), and two electives in any subfield.

Requirements for Major with Secondary Education Certification

  • A minimum of eight units in political science, including: 101, 105, 216, 323, 336, 356.
  • Two elective one-unit political science courses, one that is 200-level or higher and one that is 300-level or higher.
  • History 131.
  • No more than one unit of 391 or 392 (internships) may be counted toward a major.
  • All courses for the major must be taken for a numerical grade, except those offered only on a credit/no credit basis. In order for a course to count for the political science major, the student must earn at least a 2.0 in the course.
  • Political science majors are strongly encouraged to achieve basic competency in statistics (Mathematics 109 or Mathematics 210 are appropriate) and at least one foreign language.
  • Completion of all other requirements for teacher certification.

It is expected that six of the eight units in political science will be taken at Albion College. Other arrangements can be made for bona fide transfer students and students in approved off-campus programs. Exceptions are at the discretion of the department chair after consultation with other faculty members in the department.

Requirements for Minor with Secondary Education Certification

  • Five units in political science, including: 101, 216, 323, 336, 356.
  • History 131.
  • Completion of all other requirements for teacher certification.

Requirements for Social Studies Major with Elementary or Secondary Education Certification

Students interested in pursuing elementary or secondary education certification in social studies may choose to major in social studies. The detailed requirements for the major with elementary certification and secondary certification are provided in this catalog or are available from the Education Department.

Political Science Courses

American Government and Politics

101 Politics of American Democracy (1)
An overview of the dynamics and structure of the American political system: the Constitution, civil liberties, Congress, the Presidency, bureaucracy, interest groups, political parties, and voting behavior. Contrasts the principles of democratic action with a behind-the-scenes examination of how public policy is actually made. Dabney, Grossman, Rose.

214 Congress and the Presidency (1)
An examination of the changing roles and responsibilities of Congress and the presidency with a focus on the changing political environment and the potential for leadership. Grossman.

216 Public Policy Analysis (1)
Prerequisite: Sophomore standing. An examination as to how government decides to address problems. The stages of the policy-making process. Special attention is paid to the methods of program evaluation. Substantive policy areas are discussed, with an emphasis on social welfare, health, education, urban, and environmental protection policies. First-year students are not allowed to enroll in this course. Grossman, Staff.

220 Interest Groups and Political Action (1)
An examination of the increasing power of interest groups in the governmental process, including case studies of successful and unsuccessful efforts by business, labor, women's groups, ideological groups and various citizens' groups to influence public opinion and public policy. Offered in alternate years. Staff.

225 American Citizenship in Theory and Practice (1)
Focuses on the ways in which the concept of American citizenship has changed over time in response to various historical events such as the founding of the American republic, the abolition of slavery, the expansion of suffrage rights, the waves of immigration from Europe and Asia, and other circumstances. Grossman, Rose.

229 Film Images of World War II (1)
The history of the Second World War and world films made about the war from 1939 to the present. (Film fee.) Offered in alternate years. Same as History 229. Cocks, Grossman.

312 American Political Development (1)
Considers rotating topics: war, race, and organizational and institutional changes in historical context. Seminar themes include: the periodization of American history, national state formation, the political economy of industrialization and urbanization, and the social dynamics of continuity and change in the American political system. Grossman.

315 Presidential Campaigns and Elections (1)
The continuing evolution of both the presidential nominating process and the fall general election campaign. A look at the role played by political parties, candidate-centered organizations, money, issues, images and the mass media in the presidential selection process. Offered in those years when the presidential election campaign is at its peak! Dabney, Staff.

317 Political Parties in the United States (1)
Examines the evolution of the party system in the U.S. and roles political parties play in contemporary American politics. Looks at party realignments, third party movements and advancements, party infighting and bipartisan cooperation. Addresses the question of party decline and the rise of alternative institutions of interest articulation. Dabney.

319 Political and Social Movements (1)
Examines movements in historical and comparative perspective, focusing on 20th-century movements in the U.S., Latin America, and Eastern Europe. Considers why movements arise, and why some are successful, while others fail. Staff.

322 Crime, Politics and Punishment (1)
Whom a society punishes and how it punishes are key political questions as well as indicators of the character of the people in whose name it acts. This course examines connections between punishment and politics with particular reference to the contemporary American situation. Rose.

323 Introduction to Constitutional Law (1)
Methods of legal reasoning and analysis are taught through the study of the United States Supreme Court and basic cases in constitutional law. The writing and arguing of case briefs are required. Rose.

324 Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (1)
The same approach is employed as an Introduction to Constitutional Law, but the cases covered are the leading ones in the development of American civil liberties. Rose.

368 Liberals and Conservatives (1)
Examines the development of American political thought from the early twentieth century to the present. Special areas of emphasis include transformations in the American understanding of liberalism and the emergence of modern American conservatism in the post-World War II context. Explores the constitutive connections and interplay between political ideas and the concrete world of political action. Rose.

International Relations and Comparative Politics

235 American Foreign Policy (1)
Exploration of the history of American foreign policy, covering leading theories that explain its shifting style, goals, and outcomes. Grossman.

262 Pottery and Politics: Examining the Art and Politics of Tea Culture in Japan (1)
Explores the aesthetic traditions and political history of the Japanese tea ceremony and pottery-making. Emphasizes the artistic and meditative execution of tea making with wares of art for tea making and tea consumption, in addition to the study of the practicality of tea as a vehicle for political negotiation, deliberation and social interaction in Japan. Same as Art 262. Dabney, Chytilo.

305 Government and Politics of Japan (1)
Prerequisites: Declared political science major, senior or second-semester junior standing, permission of instructor.
An examination of Japan's postwar political system: the decision-making institutions, political players and public policy processes. Also surveys political parties, political economy, political participation, culture and society in Japan. Dabney.

336 International Relations (1)
A study of the behavior of nations, including topics such as: national power, balance of power, deterrence, diplomacy, collective security, international law, international organization and disarmament. Grossman.

338 International Political Economy (1)
An introduction to the study of political economy, i.e., the reciprocal relationship between political and economic activities and institutions, through an examination of the pursuit of wealth and power in the international system. Considers the strengths and weaknesses of different theoretical, analytical and ideological approaches to understanding the international political economy in both historical and contemporary settings. Specific issues include trade, international finance, foreign investment, economic development, structural adjustments and globalization. Staff.

352 The Comparative Politics of Developing Nations (1)
A survey of the principal arguments about global inequality and the developmental paths of countries outside the industrialized West. Includes an examination of the roles major powers and international and non-governmental organizations have played in the political and economic histories of developing countries. Staff.

356 Human Rights in the Modern World (1)
Introduces the key concepts and theoretical tools for understanding human rights and human rights policy in the context of the modern world. Examines human rights in a global comparative context with emphases on all the major world regions. Draws on the central theories and concepts of comparative politics and international relations to explain how and why governments protect (or fail to) human rights and to examine the intersection among citizens, governments, and non-governmental organizations that work to investigate and protect against human rights abuses. Rose.

405 National Security Policy (1)
Prerequisites: Two political sciences courses, international studies courses, law, justice and society courses, or permission of instructor.
Explores the new security challenges facing the United States and other nations in the post-Cold War period. Introduces security studies, looking at the issue of nuclear weapons and its integration into strategic policy planning. Considers alternative ways to comprehend the concept of security and security studies in light of economic globalization, asymmetrical warfare, terrorism, democratization, the changing character of sovereignty, and the problem of weapons (conventional and non-conventional) proliferation. Grossman.

Political Theory

105 Introduction to Political Thought (1) 
Offers an introduction to political theory. Explores major debates within the field, both in contemporary and canonical work. Proceeds both thematically, examining such themes as liberty, justice, democracy, political resistance, and power, and historically, situating theorists' writings within the historical context in which they were written and read. Also considers the relationship between political theory, political practice and the other subfields of political science. Ben-Ishai, Rose.

205 Theories of Democracy and Difference (1)
Draws on the work of contemporary political theorists to explore how democracies simultaneously uphold their commitment to equality and liberty while allowing for the inclusion of people with sometimes very different values and beliefs. To what extent should the state accommodate citizens' differences? What should states' responses be to cultural minorities whose customs may run counter to the majority's democratic values? What modes of communication best facilitate political participation by diverse community members? Is there room for accommodation of difference in the context of the legal system? Ben-Ishai.

206 Contemporary Political Thought (1)
Prerequisite: Political Science 105 recommended.
Examines twentieth- and twenty-first-century political thought using a range of texts and analytical methods. Topics include liberalism, conservatism, communitarianism, libertarianism, feminism, post-structuralism, critical race theory, multiculturalism, power, class and others. Explores how political theorists have applied these theories to contemporary political debates. Also considers the ways in which the category of "the political" has shifted in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Ben-Ishai, Rose.

351 Modern Political Thought (1)
Prerequisite: Political Science 105.
Critical examination of the work of modern writers on enduring themes of political life. Covers such thinkers as Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Hegel and Marx, through careful reading of the texts. Explores topics such as equality, democracy, women's rights and contending definitions of freedom. Ben-Ishai.

355 Key Problems in Political Thought (1)
The political philosophy of selected great classics from Plato to the present. Ben-Ishai.

367 American Political Thought (1)
Explores the history of American political ideas, and how those ideas continue to inform contemporary political thinking. Focuses on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, with principal attention given to the Transcendental Movement and the emergence and development of pragmatism. Examines this dominant thread of American thought against the backdrop of liberalism and within the context of four related themes: individualism, equality, community and democracy. Rose.

369 Feminist Political Theory (1)
Prerequisite: One political theory course or permission of instructor.
Investigates how feminist political theorists have challenged, modified and expanded our understandings of fundamental political concepts. Considers the "ways of knowing" or methods that are central to feminist political theory, as well as the relationship between feminist political theory and feminist political practice. Covers key concepts in political theory that feminist theorists have challenged, such as: citizenship, agency, the state, equality, etc., and explores debates within feminist theory, including those emerging out of global feminism, queer theory and critical race theory.

Political Research

201 Scope and Methods of Political Science (1)
Examines the history of the discipline, and surveys principal approaches to describing and explaining political phenomena, including qualitative and quantitative analysis and moving from the behavioralism of the late 1940s, to critical theories, interpretive approaches, and rational choice models of later generations, and on to postmodern critiques challenging the idea that political science can be a science. Grossman, Rose, Staff.

Special Studies

187, 188, 189 Selected Topics (1/4, 1/2, 1)
An examination of subjects or areas not included in other courses. Staff.

287, 288, 289 Selected Topics (1/4, 1/2, 1)
An examination of subjects or areas not included in other courses. Staff.

387, 388, 389 Selected Topics (1/4, 1/2, 1)
An examination of subjects or areas not included in other courses. Staff.

391, 392 Internship (1/2, 1)
Prerequisite: Permission of department.
Offered on a credit/no credit basis. Staff.

401, 402 Seminar (1/2, 1)
Individual research within context of small group discussion and analysis of a common topic of politics. Staff.

411, 412 Directed Study (1/2, 1)
Individual research on a senior thesis under tutorial direction of the faculty. (Students must have a grade point average of 3.0 to take a directed study in political science.) Staff.