Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Change is Coming


And welcome to Political Science at St. Mike’s, the new blog for the Political Science Department. Here you should find occasional postings of news concerning the Department, its faculty and its students. Our format will be informal, flexible, and if we succeed, informative. Feel free to visit often and forward any questions to members of the Department.

I thought as an opening posting I would address some of the changes in our curriculum that will go into effect next fall, and will govern the next incoming class of political science majors. The College as a whole is adopting a more streamlined Liberal Studies Curriculum (LSC) for courses required of all St. Michael’s students consisting of 10.5 top 12.5 courses. The difference will depend on the proficiency level for a foreign language an incoming student demonstrates. Counting credits as a measure of student progress will go the way of the vacuum tube and 8 track tapes. All full semester courses will be the same, roughly the equivalent of our current 4 credit courses, although with slightly less time spent in class. Students will typically carry four courses per semester, for a total of 32 courses by the end of four years.

The new LSC will look like this:

First Year Seminar (one course)

Foundations in Faith, Values, and Thought:
Fundamental Philosophical Questions (one course)
Study of Christian Traditions and Thought (two courses)
Ethical Decision-Making*

Pathways to Understanding the World (one course in each of the following categories unless otherwise noted):

Global Issues that Impact the Common Good
Historical Studies
Literary Studies
Processes of Scientific Reasoning
Quantitative Reasoning
Second Language (zero to two courses)
Social and Institutional Dimensions of Human Behavior

• Participatory Learning and Competencies:
Artistic Experience (one half-course or full course)
Experiential Learning *
Oral Communication*
Written Communication*

*Fulfilled in the major or within a student’s other curricular or co-curricular activities—not in a separate course.

So then, what will the new political science major look like? We have proposed minimum changes. Of necessity, we will be dropping one course from the total required. Substantively Po 101 Introduction to Politics will no longer be required for majors. The course will still be offered and it will continue to satisfy the Social and Institutional Dimensions of Human Behavior requirement for the LSC. It will also count toward both the political science major and minor but as an elective.

The new Political Science Major will look like this:

PO 120 Introduction to American National Politics
PO 200 Research Methods
PO 245 Introduction to International Relations
PO 261 European Political Thought (formerly Western Political Thought)
PO 285 Introduction to Comparative Politics
PO 410 Senior Seminar

Plus, any four (4) PO electives

Additionally, two (2) courses from among the sibling disciplines of Geography,
History, Psychology, Sociology/Anthropology or Economics.

We are also cutting back by one course for political science minors. The Political Science Minor will look like this:

PO 120 Introduction to American National Politics
PO 261 European Political Thought
Either: PO 245, Introduction to International Relations, or
PO 285, Introduction to Comparative Politics.

Plus any two (2) PO electives

In sum, change is coming, change we can believe in, but not drastic change. One more thing: students who are already enrolled at St. Michael’s College will complete their studies under the old set of requirements, unless they choose to switch to the new curriculum. Some adjustments will be made on a case by case basis to ensure that all students will graduate in timely fashion as we make the transition to the new curriculum. In short, no one will be put on the five year plan because of the change. (You can, of course, still join the five year plan the old fashioned way.)

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