What is Political Science?
Political Science is what we do in our department and programs. Our field is fascinating and inherently interdisciplinary because everything in our societies is affected by government policies or is political. If you have had “Government” in high school or “Educación Cívica” in your preparatoria, you already have some familiarity with political science. Your secondary education probably emphasized descriptions of institutions and citizenship training. Building this important foundation, Political Science is deeper and broader at the college level - and more interesting.
With regard to depth, we strive to explain, analyze and interpret political phenomena. For example, do democracies go to war against other democracies? What are the causes and effects of regional integration schemes, such as NAFTA? How do Latinos, our largest and fastest growing minority, affect the U.S. political system? How do the courts operate, interpret, and affect the law, and thus our liberties, rights, and functioning of society? In studying diverse political phenomena, most fields in our discipline emphasize the scientific method and empirical data and analysis; hence, the name “Political Science.” Drawing on their expertise, many political scientists also advocate changes when they believe that current institutions, processes or policies can be improved. Our UTEP Department of Political Science offers courses in six subfields, recognized by the American Political Science Association:
* American Political Behavior and Institutions
* Law and Politics
* International Relations (i.e. politics among nation-states and other international actors
* Comparative Politics (i.e. politics within other nation-states in the world)
* Political Thought and Theory (also called Political Philosophy)
* Public Administration
We also study the interdisciplinary topics of Border Politics and Transnational Processes that fit partly into International Relations and Comparative Politics. Elsewhere on this website you can learn more about the flexibility of our program, our faculty’s commitment to mentoring students, and the careers that can be pursued with a political science degree.