The Politics Department offers courses that encompass the traditional subfields of Comparative Politics and International Relations.
Comparative Politics refers to the study of governments, institutions, and policies in a variety of states with the goal of identifying similarities and differences across cases and through time. Typically, Comparative Politics involves the study of political order and change in countries that are located within the same geographic region or share certain political or economic similarities. International Politics studies relations among countries and other global actors around the world. The focus is not on how politics is practiced within individual countries, but on how countries interact with each other in the realm of foreign policy, diplomacy, economic relations, and military security.
At Willamette University, an effort is made to transcend the increasingly artificial divisions between the internal and external politics of countries, and instead make course offerings that might better be characterized as Global Studies. Global Studies encompasses the study of both national and supranational political phenomena, representing a convergence of the traditional Political Science subfields of Comparative Politics and International Relations. Global studies maintains the core concerns of these areas of studies, but also responds to political, economic, and cultural developments in the post-colonial, post-Cold War era. Global studies explicitly focuses on the interrelationships between diverse dynamics of national and international politics.
The Politics Department offers students the opportunity to develop substantial depth in the national and international politics of the Asian, European, and Latin American regions. Beginning students typically take one or more introductory courses, including International Politics (Politics 214), Politics of Advanced Industrial Societies (Politics 216), and Political Change in the Third World (Politics 218). Upper-level courses focus on specific topical issues in the areas of economic development, social movements, democratic transition, trade and foreign aid, war and revolution, military security and national foreign policy, cultural politics, and peace and diplomacy. Students then have the opportunity in the Senior Thesis Seminar (Politics 480) to undertake in-depth investigation in specific areas of interest.