Areas of Study
AREAS OF STUDY IN
POLITICAL SCIENCE AT NORTHEASTERN
American Politics and
American Government The course offerings in the area of American
Government give the student a grasp of the basics of the system of government
under which they live. At the same time, they provide the student with a broad
introduction to the concepts needed for analysis of American governmental
institutions and processes. Emphasis is on the constitutional development and
basic organization of American government, and how Congress, the executive, the
courts, political parties, interest groups, public opinion, and electoral
behavior interact in the formation and execution of public policy. Also
presented are classical and contemporary models of democracy and an analysis of
the adequacy and viability of contemporary American institutions. Various
analytic techniques are introduced to evaluate the functioning of elements of
the political system at all levels. The historical roots of basic political
assumptions are explored, with reference to their relevance for understanding
and analyzing contemporary events and issues.
Public Administration Public Administration is an area of inquiry
that has primarily to do with public policy in a bureaucratic setting. As such,
it focuses on a very powerful branch of government at different levels-the
executive branch in the national, state, and local governments. In selecting
courses in this area, it is strongly urged that students begin with the basic
course, PSCI 341-Public
Administration. That course is a prerequisite for most of the other public administration
The Department offers a minor in Public
Administration. This minor may also be
interest to students in other areas of study who would like to add some courses
to broaden the employment opportunities available to them after graduation.
Urban Government and Politics The field of Urban Politics includes urban
political systems, municipal law, and the structure of urban government. It is
also interested in contemporary political issues in urban settings, public and
group demands for services and the response of governments to those demands,
the impact of policies of other levels of government on urban areas, and the
specific issues of governmental organization and functioning in large
metropolitan areas. Students with developed or developing interests in
specialized areas of inquiry that are not covered by the Department's course
offerings are encouraged to discuss the possibility of independent study
projects or special readings with an appropriate faculty member.
International Relations and Comparative Politics
International Relations Traditionally, international relations focuses or relations between independent
nations such as war and peace, the exchange of diplomatic affairs, the
establishment of alliances and their on-going relations, and imperialism.
Regional and international organizations, non-governmental organizations,
international law, and the problems of contemporary international society-such
as economic and environmental problems-are also covered. Courses in this area
help students understand the complex and interconnected world in which they
live and prepare students for careers with a recognition of the needs and problems of our global society.
Comparative Politics The field of comparative politics involves the study of governmental
institutions on a cross cultural basis. Courses may deal with one or more
governments, with comparisons taking place as they are studied individually, or
courses may be organized to cover one or more political topics, such as
political culture, socialization, interest groups and political parties
discussed from a cross-national perspective. PSCI 251 Comparative Political Systems is an introduction to comparative politics and
also serves as an introductory course for the Major and Minor in political
science at Northeastern.
Courses in political theory range from an
examination of the ancient political theory of Plato and Aristotle to the
modern political theory of John Rawls and Hannah Arendt. Normative political
theory emphasizes human values and the relationship of politics and political
institutions to the implementation of a good life and a just society.
Contemporary political theory is interested in increasing the understanding of
the political realm through key concepts such as political obligation, law,
authority, justice liberty, equality, and representation. Such concepts are
central in understanding legal systems, the organization of governments, and the
distribution of valued goods and services.