Political Science

Chair: John D. Occhipinti, PhD

This major provides students with a comprehensive understanding of Political Science, including American Government, International Relations, Comparative Politics, and Political Philosophy. Political Science supplies students with an ideal academic background for careers in public administration, politics, the law, national security, business, education or academia. The Political Science major also gives students a strong foundation for teaching social studies and can be combined with a major in secondary education. In addition, the Political Science major provides a good basis for graduate study in public policy, international relations, business administration and journalism. For a more detailed description of the program, faculty, facilities, academic and co-curricular opportunities please go to the Political Science website

Students are encouraged to participate in the following experiences that are available through the Political Science Department:

  • Mentoring for careers, graduate programs and law school;
  • Visits to Congress and the Supreme Court;
  • Travel to Europe for EuroSim: international student simulation of the European Union;
  • Internships in Buffalo, Albany and Washington, D.C.;
  • Experiential learning: simulations of the National Security Council (PSC 346), Political Campaigns (PSC 236) and the European Union (PSC 355);
  • Opportunities for students to present their research papers at conferences;
  • Several student clubs connected with American politics, world politics and the law;
  • Membership in Pi Sigma Alpha, the National Political Science Honor Society;
  • Departmental Honors Program;
  • Funding for travel and internships from the Fitzpatrick Institute.

Each year, the department honors its best graduating seniors with two awards:

  • The Pi Sigma Alpha Award is given to the student who best exemplifies academic excellence and the pursuit of knowledge in Political Science.
  • The Woodrow Wilson Award is awarded to the Political Science major who combines academic excellence with a demonstrated commitment to public service.

Qualifications

To complete the Political Science major, student must earn a minimum grade of C in each of the following courses: PSC 103, PSC 104, PSC 111, PSC 140, PSC 150 and PSC 217.  Students must also pass PSC 401. In addition, students must maintain a 2.0 overall average to graduate with a degree in Political Science.

Advisement

All students should have an advisor in the major and should contact the department directly to have an advisor assigned if they do not already have one.  Major advisors are normally assigned in the sophomore year, but may be requested in the freshman year to supplement a student's freshman advisor (their GRIF 101 facilitator). Meetings with academic advisors are required prior to students receiving their PIN for course registration each semester. All majors should work closely with their advisor in discussing career expectations, choosing their major electives, developing their entire academic program and planning their co-curricular or supplemental academic experiences.

Résumé Building

The Political Science Department assists students in finding internships that allow them to gain valuable professional experience and contacts. Positions are available in Washington and Albany, as well as in Western New York with political campaigns, local government, the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate, and the New York State Assembly and Senate.

The major’s required senior capstone course, PSC 401, focuses on professional development and career paths related to the major and is offered with cooperation of career planning experts in the Griff Center.

The college’s many study abroad programs offer exciting opportunities to examine politics in other countries or pursue internships, such as with a Member of Parliament in the British House of Commons. Students may also take a limited number of their major electives while studying abroad.

Students may also participate in EuroSim, an international intercollegiate simulation of the European Union, attended by American and European delegations. In even-numbered years students engage in subsidized travel to Europe related to the simulation, and in odd-numbered years the event is held in the United States.

Opportunity for independent study under the guidance of a faculty member is available for juniors and seniors who wish to explore topics that go beyond the department’s normal course offerings.

Dual Majors

Students who wish to expand their educational opportunities may decide to declare a dual major. The decision may be based on career goals or planned graduate studies. Before a student declares a dual major, it is important to meet with the appropriate academic departments for advisement. Some dual major combinations can be completed within the minimum 120 credit hour degree requirement, but in some cases additional course work may be required. In order to declare a dual major, the student must complete the appropriate dual major request form and get the signature of each department chairperson and the appropriate associate dean.

Most of the best majors in Political Science decide to build their resumes and enhance their post-graduate opportunities by earning dual or triple degrees with other programs. The most popular combinations are with Criminal Justice, European Studies, International Relations and Urban Studies. Other common dual degrees combine Political Science with Communication Studies, Economics, English, History, Modern Language and Sociology.

Political Science and Law

The Political Science major is the most common academic major for prospective law students. The college offers a recommended curriculum for pre-law studies, which can be easily combined with the Political Science major. The Political Science Department is the home for the college’s Raichle Pre-Law Center, which offers students mentoring, scholarship and internships. For further information, students should consult with the chair of the Political Science Department and the director of Pre-Law Center.

Minors

Minors provide students the opportunity to pursue additional interests but generally do not require as many courses as a major.  Minors generally range from five to eight required courses. The minors page provides a complete list of minors and provides links to each minor. Some majors and minors can be completed within the minimum 120 credit hour degree requirement, but in some cases additional coursework may be required. Students must complete the appropriate minor request form.

For Political Science majors considering a career in business and/or a master of business administration (MBA) degree, preparation can be obtained by pursuing a minor in Business Management (18 credits).  Many Political Science students will also benefit by taking macroeconomics and microeconomics (ECO 101 and ECO 102) as free electives.

Department Honors Program

The Political Science Honors Program provides an opportunity for outstanding students in the major to go beyond the usual course offerings. Majors who take part in the program will engage in original research under the close supervision of a faculty member. The research project provides the opportunity for students to do independent study on a topic of their own choosing. Participants in the All-College Honors Program may use their senior thesis to fulfill this requirement, provided that this project is prepared under the direction of a member of the Political Science Department.

Taking part in the Honors program can also make students more competitive after graduation, whether for further schooling or employment. For example, students applying for graduate school or law school in their senior year can refer to the research paper in their application. At the same time, participation on the Departmental Honors Program will enable students’ faculty advisors to write more detailed and enthusiastic letters of recommendation for these applications.

Requirements

  • Students may apply in the spring of their junior year or in their senior year
  • Grade point average overall (to apply for the program and upon graduation): 3.30
  • Grade point average for major courses (to apply for the program and upon graduation): 3.50
  • Honors Research: a lengthy paper involving original research in the field of Political Science under the direction of a member of the Political Science Department

General Education Requirements

All undergraduate students must complete either the Canisius Core Curriculum or the All-College Honors Curriculum.

Free Electives

Free electives are courses in addition to the Core Curriculum or Honors Curriculum and major requirements sufficient to reach the minimum of 120 credit hours required for graduation. Students may graduate with more but not less than 120 credit hours.

Major Requirements

(12 courses)

Required Courses
PSC 103The American Constitution3
PSC 104American Political Process3
PSC 111Western Political Tradition3
PSC 140International Relations3
PSC 150Comparative Government and Politics3
PSC 217Research Methods3
PSC 401Political Science Capstone (see course listings for details)1
Total Credits19

Major Electives (five courses)

Five Political Science courses, including at least two at the 300/400 level. With prior approval, up to two major electives (below the 300 level) may be taken in approved study abroad programs. With prior approval, PSC 499 and All-College Honors thesis directed by faculty members in the Political Science Department may be counted as major electives. Student are encouraged to pursue internships and earn credit for these via PSC 498, but these are pass-fail credits and may not be counted as major electives.

Additional Course Considerations

Aside from the provisions noted above for courses taken abroad, all required and elective courses in the major and minors must be taken at Canisius College. In general, PSC 103, PSC 104, PSC 140, and PSC 150 may be taken in any sequence. It is strongly recommended that these four courses, along with PSC 111 and PSC 217, be completed before the beginning of the junior year.

Recommended Semester Schedule for Major Course Requirements

Freshman
FallSpring
PSC 103PSC 104
PSC 150PSC 140
Sophomore
FallSpring
PSC 111PSC 217
PSC Major ElectivePSC Major Elective (300/400 level)
Junior
FallSpring
PSC Major Elective (300/400 level)PSC Major Elective
Senior
FallSpring
PSC 401PSC Major Elective

Learning Goals & Objectives

Student Learning Goal 1

All successful Political Science majors will develop knowledge of the fields of Political Science and will be able to use and apply that knowledge.

Students will:
  • Objective A: Demonstrate competency with the conceptual frameworks of Political Science generally;
  • Objective B: Demonstrate competency with conceptual frameworks of American Politics and Government;
  • Objective C: Demonstrate competency with conceptual frameworks of Comparative Politics and Government;
  • Objective D: Demonstrate competency with conceptual frameworks of International Relations;
  • Objective E: Demonstrate competency with conceptual frameworks of Political Philosophy;
  • Objective F:  Demonstrate competency with issues regarding social science hypothesis-testing;
  • Objective G: Sustain an argument using the vocabulary and ideas of public and world affairs.

Student Learning Goal 2

All successful Political Science majors will be able to think critically, conduct research and communicate effectively.

Students will:
  • Objective A: Demonstrate the ability to think critically;
  • Objective B: Demonstrate the ability to conduct research;
  • Objective C: Demonstrate competency with issues comprising information literacy;
  • Objective D: Demonstrate the ability to communicate effectively in writing;
  • Objective E: Demonstrate the ability to communicate effectively orally.

Student Learning Goal 3

All successful Political Science majors will be able to articulate issues associated with leadership in public affairs as well as articulate issues associated with ethics in public affairs.

Students will:
  • Objective A: Demonstrate an understanding of leadership qualities;
  • Objective B: Assess the ethical issues associated with decisions in public affairs.

PSC 103 The American Constitution 3 Credits

Provides a thorough grounding in the U.S. Constitution, which is America's founding document, and serves as the basis for its governmental system.

Fulfills College Core: Field 5 (Social Sciences)

Offered: fall & spring.

PSC 104 American Political Process 3 Credits

An introduction to American politics including political socialization, public opinion and ideologies, political participation in electoral systems and mass movements, political parties and interest groups.

Fulfills College Core: Field 5 (Social Sciences)

Offered: fall & spring.

PSC 111 Western Political Tradition 3 Credits

Development of Western political tradition from Machiavelli to present, emphasizing development of liberal, conservative and socialist traditions.

Fulfills College Core: Field 4 (History), Justice

Offered: fall & spring.

PSC 140 International Relations 3 Credits

Introduces basic concepts and paradigms of world politics. International security, political economy, and globalization. Power politics, international organizations, transnational politics, and human rights.

Fulfills College Core: Field 5 (Social Sciences), Global Awareness

Offered: fall & spring.

PSC 150 Comparative Government and Politics 3 Credits

Comparative analysis of foreign countries. Governments, ideologies, parties, elections, political culture, civil society and democracy in industrialized and developing countries.

Fulfills College Core: Field 5 (Social Sciences), Global Awareness

Offered: fall & spring.

PSC 215 National Issues and Public Policy 3 Credits

Selected policy issues and their relationship to the political process including health care, homeland security, welfare and housing.

Offered: fall of-even numbered years.

PSC 217 Research Methods 3 Credits

Basic, non-statistical treatment of current techniques and methodologies which characterize political science research.

Offered: every spring.

PSC 224 Congress and the Legislative Process 3 Credits

Survey of Congressional procedures and practices. Emphasis on recent changes within Congress, and the position of Congress in the U.S. political and governmental system.

Fulfills College Core: Field 5 (Social Sciences), Oral Communication

Offered: fall of even-numbered years.

PSC 225 U.S. Presidency 3 Credits

Survey of the U.S. executive branch of government, including President, Vice President, White House staff, Executive office and the bureaucracy.

Offered: fall of odd-numbered years.

PSC 233 Interest Groups and Public Opinion in America 3 Credits

Development of the notions of opinion and interest, their transmission and their influence on decision-making.

Offered: spring of odd-numbered years.

PSC 236 Political Campaigning 3 Credits

Campaigning resources, techniques, strategies and goals. Practical and theoretical treatment. Field research.

Offered: fall of odd-numbered years.

PSC 237 State and Local Politics 3 Credits

The institutions and policies of state and local governments, with focus on New York State. State and local elections, gubernatorial politics, state legislatures, community politics.

Offered: fall of odd-numbered years.

PSC 241 Human Rights and Globalization 3 Credits

History and evolution of international human rights laws. Explores human rights violations, challenges for enforcing human rights and prosecuting abuses. Analysis of human rights conditions in different world regions.

Fulfills College Core: Field 5 (Social Sciences), Global Awareness

Offered: every fall.

PSC 242 International Organizations 3 Credits

International and transnational. Intergovernmental and non- governmental. Regional and global. Content areas: political, economic and humanitarian.

Fulfills College Core: Advanced Writing-Intensive, Field 5 (Social Sciences), Global Awareness

Offered: fall of odd-numbered years.

PSC 244 War: Causes and Consequences 3 Credits

Investigates the conditions, processes, and events that lead to the outbreak of war, and explores the political, strategic, and human consequences of wars. In-depth analysis of selected wars in history and in contemporary global politics.

Offered: spring of odd-numbered years.

PSC 245 American Foreign Policy 3 Credits

US foreign relations in political perspective, including diplomatic history since 1945, as well as government structure, decision-making processes, and controversial foreign policy issues.

Offered: every fall.

PSC 249 Protest, Politics, & the State 3 Credits

Examines contentious politics in global perspective, with a focus on nonviolent protest and social movements. Foreign, domestic, and transnational protests and their relationship with the state (U.S. and many others).

Offered: spring of even-numbered years.

PSC 250 Politics in Latin America 3 Credits

History of Latin America. Introduces the region's political, economic, and social characteristics. In-depth analysis of issues and countries in the region.

Offered: every spring.

PSC 320 American Constitutional Law I 3 Credits

Development of constitutional law in the U.S. from the founding to present. Use of case-study method with focus on judicial review, the separation of powers and federalism. The growth of executive authority and the emergence of the administrative state.

Fulfills College Core: Field 5 (Social Sciences), Justice

Offered: every fall.

PSC 321 American Constitutional Law II 3 Credits

The historical origin and development of the Bill of Rights.Close examination of Supreme Court decisions interpreting and expanding rights. Freedom of speech and religion, due process and equal protection. Current controversies over the right to privacy, affirmative action and gender equality.

Fulfills College Core: Field 5 (Social Sciences), Justice

Offered: spring of even-numbered years.

PSC 325 Elections and Voting Behavior 3 Credits

The various types of elections and electoral procedures and their relationship to voter turnout and voter choice.

Offered: spring of even-numbered years.

PSC 334 Public Administration 3 Credits

The Federal Bureaucracy: its relationship to the executive and the public. Elements and issues of public-sector management.

Prerequisite: PSC 103 or PSC 104 or permission of instructor.

Offered: every spring.

PSC 335 Political Parties 3 Credits

Development and present conditions of political parties. What they do and why they do it. Parties' past and present roles, as well as their future prospects.

Offered: occasionally, currently scheduled for spring 2018.

PSC 336 Urban Government and Politics 3 Credits

Structure, function, operation and politics of local government. Machine and reform models, power and participation. Significant policy issues to be addressed include schools, finances, land use, planning and crime.

Fulfills College Core: Field 5 (Social Sciences)

Offered: fall of even-numbered years.

PSC 345 Transnational Crime After 9/11 3 Credits

Cross-border organized crime and responses, especially in North America and Europe. Emphasis on drug trafficking, terrorism and irregular immigration. Crime-fighting, counter-terrorism, border management and international police cooperation. Guest speakers and video.

Fulfills College Core: Field 5 (Social Sciences), Global Awareness

Offered: spring of even-numbered years.

PSC 346 National Security Council 3 Credits

Role-play simulation of the National Security Council. Student “policymakers” conduct briefings, develop initiatives and debate policy positions and proposals concerning U.S. national security. Emphasizes strategic, ethical and moral dilemmas in foreign policy decision-making.

Prerequisite: PSC 140 and PSC 245. Juniors and Seniors only. Students must also complete a brief survey by May 1 or they will be dropped from the course.

PSC 355 European Union 3 Credits

History of European integration. Structure, process and politics of EU policies. Optional co-curricular international, intercollegiate simulation of the EU and travel (EuroSim).

Fulfills College Core: Field 5 (Social Sciences), Global Awareness, Oral Communication

Offered: fall of odd-numbered years.

PSC 360 Political Economy of the Developing World 3 Credits

Reviews the main theories on development. Explores the relationship between international and domestic factor in fostering development.

Offered: every spring.

PSC 370 Domestic Conflicts & Peace 3 Credits

Examines the factors that account for domestic conflicts. Explores the different mechanisms for their resolution and the challenges faced by post-conflict societies.

Fulfills College Core: Advanced Writing-Intensive, Field 5 (Social Sciences)

Offered: fall of even numbered years.

PSC 401 Political Science Capstone 1 Credit

Focuses on professional development and career planning related to the major, including law, government, politics, lobbying, security, international affairs, teaching, and business. Classroom sessions and online assignments to prepare students for post-graduate success. Offered with cooperation of career planning experts in the GriffCenter.

Offered: spring 2017 and every fall thereafter.

PSC 420 The Constitution, The War on Terror and Civil Liberties 3 Credits

Civil liberties issues in the war on terrorism. Treatment and rights of detainees, enhanced interrogation, ethnic and racial profiling, use of the war power including drone strikes, data collection, Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act; U.S. citizens as enemy combatants. Military detention and trial of terrorist suspects.

Offered: spring of odd-numbered years.

PSC 436 Seminar in Presidential Campaigning and Advance Work 3 Credits

Political advance work in the context of contemporary American presidential campaigns.

Prerequisite: permission of instructor.

Offered: occasionally, currently scheduled for fall of 2019.

PSC 442 Seminar in International Relations 3 Credits

Theoretically informed perspectives on global affairs explored through selected topics and issues unified by a central theme, such as leaders and leadership in international politics.

Prerequisite: senior International Relations major, or permission of instructor. Restriction: must be an International Relations major or obtain permission of instructor.

Fulfills College Core: Core Capstone

Offered: every spring.

PSC 452 Politics of Identity in Europe 3 Credits

Nationalism, separatism and European identities. Immigrant communities and responses by Europe's governments and political parties. Islam in Europe and challenges for identity and security. Lessons for U.S. public policy.

Restriction: seniors only.

Fulfills College Core: Core Capstone

Offered: spring of odd-numbered years.

PSC 498 Internship 1-12 Credits

A variety of opportunities are available locally, as well as in Washington, DC and Albany. Internships arranged by faculty members in government, law offices and non-profit organizations. Prior to seeking approval, a student must work with a faculty member to develop a syllabus of learning goals, written outputs and deadlines. Pass-Fail. Does not apply as a major elective.

Prerequisite: permission of chair of the political science department & associate dean.

Offered: fall & spring.

PSC 499 Independent Study 1-3 Credits

Research and/or directed reading under direction of faculty members associated with the Political Science department. Prior to seeking approval, a student must work with a faculty member and his/her on-site supervisor to develop a syllabus of learning goals, written outputs and deadlines. Independent studies require an application and approval by the associate dean.

Prerequisite: permission of the instructor, department chair, & associate dean.

Offered: fall & spring.