The purpose of our undergraduate curriculum is to educate students by emphasizing broad preparation, diversity and flexibility for a lifetime of learning. With an education in political science, students obtain the vital intellectual skills that qualify them to be employed in a great number of occupations as well as to be informed and active citizens. With this foundation, our students possess the tools to educate themselves continually, throughout their lives.
Additionally political science majors learn to understand political power in a variety of settings that reflect the world today. Our students must choose upper level courses in each field of political science: American government, international relations, comparative politics and political theory. In our courses, students not only learn about the ethical aspects of politics, they also gain knowledge of the use of power in a variety of governmental settings, as well as in other societal settings as well. All societal structures, functions and processes include aspects of politics, not just those traditionally understood as part of the government. Within this broad preparation, students can choose to emphasize a particular field or geographical area. They thus combine their developed intellectual tools with broad preparation in political science and some degree of specialization in a particular topic or area study.
We have structured our curriculum to challenge students intellectually. Upon completing a degree in political science, students should be able to conceptualize problems in order to analyze their most critical aspects, while at the same time understanding the issue in a the larger context. Further, in our effort to ensure their success in the business, political, professional and academic worlds, our curriculum teaches students how to formulate and articulate their ideas and conclusions clearly and concisely, both in written and oral forms. Written assignments are part of all upper division courses.
Our political science courses are offered at three levels. The first is our 100 level course, which is primarily for non-majors. The second level of courses includes those at the 300 level. These courses which are taken both by majors and non-majors, provide students the basic building blocks of political science: U.S. politics, international relations, comparative politics and political thought. Additionally, majors are required to take Polsc 400, Political Inquiry and Analysis, a research methods course which helps them understand the quantitative side of political science.
The third level includes courses beyond the 300 level. Classes are both smaller, permitting the instructor to devote more time to each student, and more specialized, allowing an in-depth consideration and analysis of the important issues within a topic. For political science majors and for non-majors, these courses offer an intense educational experience, challenging students to hone their intellectual skills of analysis and communication while they gain knowledge of the world of politics.
We have had five courses accepted for the General Education Program: US Politics, Honors US Politics, Comparative Politics, World Politics and Political Thought. Individual instructors may come up with other upper division classes provided they get departmental and college approval. Furthermore, we are in constant dialogue with other schools and departments concerning our service courses. For example, several of our faculty participated in the School of Education's recent re-accreditation program (Education requires a number of our courses). We continue to participate in interdisciplinary programs such as Women's Studies, International Studies and Latin American Studies.
Our curriculum committee has three people, who are responsible for all changes in undergraduate curriculum as they impact on this department. Our statement on curriculum matters, for example, was put together by this committee, which then presented its findings to the Department as a whole for approval. In addition, our curriculum committee just completed a thorough review of our course catalogue and updated course descriptions. Based on the work of this committee, the department is improving its curriculum by requiring all majors to take POLSC 400, Political Inquiry and Analysis, as noted above.
Our MPA program was accredited in 1990 and was reaccredited in 1997. In that context, we have worked closely with the National Association of Schools of Public Affairs and Administration to ensure that our curriculum meets NASPAA's accreditation requirements. Our MPA director has shaped the curricular requirements, including the interdisciplinary areas of specialization.
The program is set-up to train students for a career in a wide range of environments. Graduates are trained for employment with public sector agencies at the federal, state, and local level and with non-profit organizations.
The program serves both pre- and in-service students. Pre-service students without prior administrative experience can obtain both valuable internships while pursuing the degree and challenging employment upon graduation. We have a 100% placement rate for graduates of our pre-service program. For in-service students, the "after hours" program provides important training that enhances the seasoned employee's present position, as well as offering the opportunity for career advancement.
The program of study requires a total of 42 semester hours of graduate work. It is designed to be both flexible and interdisciplinary and to prepare students for a wide range of career options. Students are required to take 18 hours of a core curriculum including courses in personnel, organization theory, public budgeting, public policy analysis and research methods. Students then choose to specialize in one of the following: personnel administration, public budgeting and finance, and planning.
Students in the Department of Political Science have two options when it comes to the MA program. They may decide to work on a traditional M.A., one that trains them for a number of options. They may decide to go on for a Ph.D., or use the MA as a terminal degree. In the latter case, we have found the degree useful for those who work in education, as well as individuals who are in government or business in instances where an M.A. is required. Students may decide to emphasize areas such as political theory, American politics, comparative politics, or international relations.
The second option is our M.A. with a certificate in international service. This program is unique because of its flexibility. Students may not only emphasize more traditional fields such as diplomacy or area studies, they may also focus on areas such as international agriculture, international business, and international planning. The program requires students to pass a language examination similar to that given by the US Department of State, and to complete an internship. Many times students do this abroad, which gives them the opportunity to enhance their credentials and to improve their language skills.
All students in the M.A. program are required to take five core courses, in the areas of political theory, American politics, comparative politics, international relations, and methodology. The other courses are generally electives, and often interdisciplinary, in order to prepare students for a wide range of careers in the public and private sectors, or to provide students with the tools to pursue a Ph.D. Students are required to write a thesis or a report and to take a comprehensive written examination.
Our traditional M.A. degree requires 30 semester units. The Certificate in International Service requires courses in international law, international organizations, diplomacy, history, and economics; and an additional 12 semester units in an area of specialization such as agriculture, business, planning.
In 1999, we hired a new director, and have placed an emphasis on recruitment and outreach.
Specific Components of Student Education. to help students achieve the goals outlined above, our curriculum, especially in our upper division and graduate courses, stresses the following factors:
A serious effort is made by all political science instructors to engage students in a rigorous conversation on the important issues included in the course. Members of our faculty ask questions dealing both with the reading assignments and with issues raised formally and informally in class. In some cases this takes the form of a simple discussion format. In other cases, it may involve individual or joint student presentations.
All advanced courses in political science as well as all graduate courses require the student to complete at least one written assignment; many require students to complete several written assignments. While the format varies from the standard term paper to a rigorous analysis of data, to a critical analysis of reading assignments, students learn to present their ideas clearly and persuasively.
The department maintains an active internship program at both the graduate and undergraduate level, which provides students with opportunities for practical experience. Students do readings and reports on those readings, which are relevant to their internship and write an analytical paper reflecting on their experience and what they have learned about the agency/branch of government with which they worked. A maximum of three hours of internship credit may be applied toward the major. Students have done internships locally, in Topeka with the state legislature and the Governor's office, in Washington including the White House and offices of Senators and Representatives, and abroad (Britain and Spain most recently). Dr. Linda Richter coordinates the undergraduate internships and ensures that each internship is a meaningful learning experience. The graduate internships are coordinated by the MA and the MPA directors respectively.
In each of the above areas, a premium is placed on our student's ability to conceptualize problems, to investigate various approaches to those problems, to analyze them carefully, and to present reasonable conclusions in a clear and measured fashion. These have been suspended since they over-lapped considerably with those done by the university. Currently, we are discussing alternative approaches to assessing outcomes. However, it should be noted that the criteria stated are used to judge students' work in every course already and they are graded according.
Employers also know from experience that most important positions require the applicant to possess these skills. Employers also know that the specific tasks required for many positions can be easily learned on the job, if the applicant has gained the ability to use these basic intellectual tools. Given the likelihood that economies and technologies around the world will continue to change rapidly, graduates from Kansas State who can demonstrate their proficiency in these basic intellectual skills will be best prepared to succeed.
Political Science students have won more prestigious national awards and have competed as nominees for more such awards in the past three years than any other social science department in the college. For example, recently our students won a Marshall, a Truman and a Fulbright. Insofar as the 1999-200 competition is concerned, we had two of four Truman scholar finalists, three of four Marshall nominees and three of four Rhodes nominees. Additionally, when the Governor's Fellows program has been funded in Kansas, our MPA candidates have won more of these awards than any other program in the state. Our MPA program has also competed successfully for several Presidential Management Internships.
- Faculty Strengths
The Political Science Department's dedicated and professional faculty have established strong records of teaching, research, and service.
- Instruction: The department's commitment to maintaining a strong instructional program
is demonstrated in the outstanding performance of Political Science students (see
below, paragraph 2.b). Quality is also revealed in the consistently high evaluations
which faculty receive. All of the faculty utilize student evaluations to assess and
improve teaching performance. Last year one faculty member won a Stamey Award for
outstanding undergraduate teaching, a feat that was repeated again this year by another
Advising is also a departmental strength. All faculty serve as advisors, not only on course enrollment, but also on career planning, scholarships and other matters. Last year one of our faculty members won the university's outstanding advising award. An effective computerized records system assists in the advising and retention of departmental majors. The department sponsors three national honorary chapters (Pi Sigma Alpha, Sigma Iota Rho and Pi Alpha Alpha) and two undergraduate student organizations, one to provide students with opportunities for exploration of political issues.
- Research: The Department of Political Science includes one Distinguished University Professor and several faculty who are nationally or internationally known for their research. All of the department's tenured faculty have graduate faculty status.
Much of the departmental research relates directly to university goals and priorities. Recent articles and books on state economic development policies, tourism, agricultural policies, administrative ethics, and poverty relate to the university's commitment to strengthen economic development. Recent research on Arab-Americans, international tourism development, international trade, and ageing contribute to understanding of diversity. Publications on India, Pakistan, the Middle East, Russia, Germany, Africa, and Latin America, international tourism, and other topics enhance the university's international role.
- Service: Departmental faculty service may be divided into four categories: (i) Professionally (academic field), departmental faculty serve on editorial boards, participate in professional associations, and are frequently interviewed by the media for their expertise on specific public issues. (ii) Within the University, members of the department play, or have recently played leadership roles in Faculty Senate, Graduate Council, Dean's Advisory Council, and other governance bodies. (iii) Community, State, and National service includes faculty publication in popular media (e.g., op-ed pieces), public lectures, legislative and congressional testimony, consulting, and other activities. (iv) Finally, International service includes public lecturing and consulting abroad, which at least a quarter of our faculty have done.
- Extension is not normally a part of the Department of Political Science's mission.
- Instruction: The department's commitment to maintaining a strong instructional program is demonstrated in the outstanding performance of Political Science students (see below, paragraph 2.b). Quality is also revealed in the consistently high evaluations which faculty receive. All of the faculty utilize student evaluations to assess and improve teaching performance. Last year one faculty member won a Stamey Award for outstanding undergraduate teaching, a feat that was repeated again this year by another faculty member.
- Quality of Students and Strength of Student Demand
- Student Demand and Growth in Enrollments and Majors: All three of the department's
degree programs have grown significantly over the past decade. Numbers of undergraduate
majors have almost doubled, from fewer than 100 in 1985 to approximately 171 in 2000
(both numbers include dual majors). Students have requested expansion of internship
opportunities. As far as our graduate programs are concerned, the number of MPA students
has risen from 20 in 1996 to 31 in 2000. MA students are also on the rise. While we
graduated one in 1996, we graduated 5 in 1999. There are currently 12 students in
the MA program.
- Quality: K-State Political Science students have contributed more than its share to the university's outstanding record in nation-wide scholarship competitions. approximately three-fourths of Kansas State's record number of Truman Scholars have been Political Science majors, and our students have also been awarded Rhodes, Marshall, Fulbright, and other highly competitive and prestigious scholarships. At the graduate level, K-State public administration students have been awarded more Governor's Fellowships than any other Kansas institution and more Presidential Management Internships than all of the rest of the Kansas and Big Twelve institutions combined. The numbers of departmental scholarships have tripled since 1984, yet the numbers of qualified applicants have expanded much more greatly, making competition for even small scholarships highly competitive. Political science students have been members of K-State's national champion debate team and continue to represent the university with distinction in debate and forensics.