The department of political science at Furman believes the primary objective of a liberal arts education is to help students become informed and concerned citizens of the nation and the world.
The Political Science department offers a broad curriculum designed to cover all the main fields of the discipline, from American politics and government to comparative politics, international relations, public law, and political theory. The faculty includes specialists in the main fields of political science. Their congeniality, dedication to teaching, and concern for students are primary reasons that political science is the most popular major at Furman. Seven political science faculty members have won Furman’s Meritorious Teaching Award, and two have received the university’s Meritorious Advising Award. Faculty members are also active in research that in many cases involves students and often leads to published books, articles in professional journals, or presentations at scholarly conferences.
The department is housed in John E. Johns Hall, equipped with the latest in multimedia and computer technology. The Bailey Simulation Room in Johns Hall was specially designed to allow political science students to play roles in simulated sessions of the U.S. House of Representatives, the European Parliament, and the Organization of African Unity.
At Furman, political science majors can benefit from many opportunities for growth and development by participating in student government, spending a term abroad, and arranging internships with public officials, law firms, or government agencies. These activities help students clarify their career interests and explore job possibilities.
Fourteen of Furman’s eighteen recipients of the prestigious Harry S. Truman Scholarship have been political science majors. Truman winners, who are selected from a national competition, receive $30,000 to support undergraduate and graduate study. Political science majors have also been successful in winning Fulbright Fellowships and Rotary International scholarships to spend a year studying and traveling abroad.
Outside the Classroom
Political science majors at Furman have a number of opportunities to expand and enrich their educational experience outside the classroom.
Study Away from Campus
Many take advantage of the university’s excellent study abroad programs to spend a term in Europe, Russia, the Far East, or Latin America, where they experience first hand the diversity of contemporary cultures and political and economic environments. And each year students have the opportunity to participate in the Spring or Summer Term in Washington, D.C., in which they study and learn about the inner workings of government through internships with many different agencies or organizations, ranging from CNN to the Department of Justice.
Furman’s Washington program is one of the largest offered by any school in the country and has been recognized by the Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars as one of the nation’s finest. Many political science majors have used their experiences in the program to find permanent employment in the nation’s capital.
Internships and Research
For political science majors who plan careers in law, participation on Furman’s award-winning Mock Trial team has become a popular activity. Moreover, many prelaw students work as interns with law firms during the school year or the summer, observing court cases and learning about the judicial processon both the state and federal level. On occasion, students in the Washington Term work for law firms or public legal agencies as part of their internship experience.
In addition, the department offers a State and Local internship program each semester. This program exposes students to the political process at the grassroots.
The department encourages students to experience the joys and trials of research and teaching. Through the Furman Advantage Program, four to six political science majors annually spend their summers working with faculty members as research fellows, studying such topics as European integration, Russian politics, and the media’s influence on Congressional campaigns. Many of these projects have yielded books, published articles, and presentations at professional meetings.
The Riley Institute
The Richard W. Riley Institute of Government, Politics and Political Leadership brings prominent political figures to campus and provides avariety of outstanding learning opportunities for students. Named for Riley, a 1954 Furman graduate who served two terms as governor of South Carolina and later became the nation’s Secretary of Education, the Institute supports conferences on national and international issues; visits by prominent diplomats, legislators or academicians; a scholarship program for political science majors; and an endowment for engaged learning opportunities.
Majors at Furman take at least nine courses in political science. Besides introductory courses in American government, world politics, political thought and political analysis, majors take at least four upper division classes and one engaged learning course that includes an internship or study away. Students may also take a capstone course.
Capstone seminars are designed to broaden and deepen understanding of a particular topic in political science and to simulate the learning process students will encounter if they choose to attend graduate or professional school. Senior honors essays involve directed research and writing on a topic approved by the student’s departmental advisor. Students planning to major in political science should consult with a member of the department’s faculty to select the courses best suited to their individual interests and needs.