Cornell᾿s Department of Government is devoted to the study of political power and the interaction of citizens and governments. Some faculty members concentrate on theory, and some on applications. Some analyze the great texts of political philosophy, and others examine the behavior of power wielders and publics in the United States and in other societies. The field of government at Cornell is divided into four sub-fields: American politics, comparative politics (the institutions and political processes of other nations), political theory (philosophy), and international relations (transactions between nations).
Entering students often begin taking the introductory course on the government of the United States. Students whose interests are more internationally focused may take Introduction to International Relations or Introduction to Comparative Politics, while those who want to reflect on questions of political philosophy might begin with the introductory course that deals with political theory.
Students who continue their study of government beyond the introductory level can choose from many upper level and seminar-style courses. There are also courses that cover issues in Latin America, Europe (Western, Central and Eastern, including Russia), the Middle East, and East, South and Southeast Asia.
The department offers special opportunities within the major such as the minor in International Relations, the Cornell in Washington program, the Study Abroad program, and the option to do an independent study project of your own design with a faculty member.
A number of government majors participate in the department᾿s honors program. Students in the honors program take an organized seminar in their senior year, and work with an individual faculty member on their senior thesis.
Graduates with a major in government have entered business, law, journalism, government service, politics, teaching, graduate school, and a host of professions. The study of government has one major purpose: to teach how to think and to write rigorously and creatively about issues of public life.