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Beginning of the Year Political Science Department Announcements

Posted on December 20, 2013

Happy New Year! There is some news about courses, curriculum, etc. that our students should know. So please excuse a long announcement.

1) Honors

The department has simplified the requirements to earn honors in the major. The rules now will be that a student who earns a 3.3 GPA overall; a 3.7 GPA in political science courses; and an “A” on POSC 396, is awarded honors. Because this standard is less stringent than either of the two previous standards, it supersedes them and applies to everyone.

2) Department Seminars

Students are required to take a department seminar as part of SAGES and the undergraduate general education requirement. This department seminar does not have to be in the student’s major or majors but, to meet the need, we have normally tried to have two department seminars each semester.

Unfortunately we are not able to do that this Spring. The only department seminar being offered is Professor White’s POSC 385, Bureaucratic Politics in the U.S. This is both a course in U.S. politics and a study of one of the basic aspects of politics (or sociology, or economics): how organizations work. The syllabus will be posted on the department website shortly. If you have any questions about the class, please e-mail Professor White

We expect to offer three department seminars in Fall of 2014: Professor Beckwith’s POSC 346, Women and Politics; Professor McMann’s POSC 349, Political Science Research Methods; and Professor Lavelle’s POSC 378, International Relations Theory.

3) Changes to the Masters Program – and so to the Integrated Graduate Studies Program.

We are changing the requirements to earn an M.A. in political science in two ways. These changes will take effect with the 2014-15 academic year – so they will be the rules for any student who begins IGS in Fall 2014.

a) Until now we have only had what the Graduate School calls a “Plan B” option. It required that students show their overall knowledge by taking a six-hour essay exam. The exam covered all three subfields – U.S. Politics, Comparative Politics, and International Relations – allowing two hours for each field. We believe this was too broad, and that expecting students to prepare for three fields in the one year normally expected for an M.A. program was not realistic for many students. So the Plan B exam option will now require that a student pick two out of the three fields. The student will have five hours to answer essay questions about those two fields – so 2.5 hours each.

b) We are also adding a thesis option, what the Graduate School calls “Plan A.” The M.A. Thesis should be a major research paper equivalent to at least six hours of registration. Students will register for a new thesis preparation course, POSC 651. Each thesis will have an instructor and two other readers. Students who do a thesis will defend it orally to the committee and any others who choose to attend.

More detailed explanations of the new Masters Program provisions will be posted on the department website under

4) New Courses in Spring 2014

Please note that three members of the faculty are piloting new courses in the Spring. These courses may go into the permanent rotation both because they involve important aspects of politics that we have not covered in the same way, and because the professors teaching them are doing cutting-edge research on the topics. They are:

POSC 360, Revolts and Revolutions, Professor Moore

POSC 372, International Advocacy, Professor Green

POSC 375, International Politics of Technology, Professor Posner.

If you would like more information about any of these courses, please e-mail its professor.

5) Events During the Spring Semester

We will be trying to arrange more gatherings for faculty and students to chat informally about politics, or for students to hear from and talk with experts from outside the department. These will normally involve food and be promoted only to students, not the wider community. The first will be a lunch at Noon on January 30 in Mather House Room 100. Doug Brattebo, Director of the Center for Engaged Ethics at Hiram College and author of a variety of works on the presidency, will discuss “The Obama Presidency – So Far.”

6) People

Please welcome Jennifer Bochik, our new staff person in Room 111. Jennifer will work with Samantha Hill for not only our department but Classics, International Studies, and assorted smaller programs. Her normal hours will be 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Mondays and Wednesdays through Fridays. The office will normally be open all day from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., except for lunchtime Tuesdays. With occasional exceptions due to meetings, training, etc.

We will, of course, close for university holidays.

Last but by no means least, many of you know that this Spring will be Professor McHale’s last on campus. He has decided to retire after 39 years on faculty, 27 of them as department chair. Vince wants no fuss and doesn’t call it retirement – he has lots of work he will continue doing. But he will be deeply missed by all.

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