Political science is the study of power. Specifically who has the power to make binding decisions on society as a whole, the source of that power, and the extent to which that power is limited. This means that political science explores the process by which people acquire and use power, largely within the context of government, to make decisions about our daily lives. Political science asks a range of foundational questions about life in an organized society. These questions range from the role of human nature in the search for the most ethical ways to govern all the way to the function and distribution of power in the international system.
There are many fields of study within political science. At MCC, you can take classes in four key fields of study: American government, international relations, comparative politics, and political theory.
American government focuses on the historical development of American political institutions as well as the political behavior of individuals and groups within the American political system. When you study American government, you might find you are most interested in the history and development of American political institutions, including how they were designed versus how they work today. You might find you are most interested in how individuals and groups shape, or are shaped by, various social and political forces in relation to government. Are you interested in learning about the electoral college, or understanding the role of race or gender in politics and government, then maybe American politics is for you!
International Relations focuses on the interactions between individuals and groups, countries, and organizations that are part of international life. This means studying politics at an international level. What complicates international politics is the absence of a central authority. This makes it difficult to address issues and solve problems related to a broad range of topics like war and peace, human rights, economics, global health, or the environment. At the heart of international relations is trying to get a group of individuals and groups, countries, and organizations with different agendas and interests to work together. This is no easy task. What are you most passionate about? No matter the topic, it is probably relevant to international relations and needs you to help discover a workable solution!
Comparative Politics focuses on studying political systems in general. This means learning about political systems in Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America, and North America. Ever wonder about the role that culture plays in shaping politics? Ever wonder why the U.S. has a two-party system when other countries have multi-party systems? Ever wonder just what nationalism is, or about the different ways economies are managed by government? Well, the answer to these questions can be found in comparative politics!
Political Theory focuses on philosophy. Studying political theory means studying political philosophy. This is where you get to discuss ideas about the most ethical ways to organize and govern a society. The foundation for most of what is studied in political science can be traced directly to political philosophy. It is always relevant!