GOVT Major Areas of Focus

Students with a strong interest in a particular area of Government may choose to focus their elective courses around one of five areas of focus, though this is purely optional and students who wish to gain broader training across the discipline may take diverse range of elective courses which pique their interest that do not align with any one area.

Click here to see the list of the courses being offered in Fall 2024 that align with each area of focus.

The five areas of focus are:

  • International Relations, Development, and Diplomacy

  • Law and Policy

  • Representation and Governance

  • Social Justice and Identity

  • Self-Designed theme 

International Relations, Development, and Diplomacy

The International Relations, Development, and Diplomacy area of focus delves into the intricate dynamics between states, international organizations, multinational corporations, and non-state entities. Exploring themes such as conflict and warfare, trade and investment, poverty and development, human rights, terrorism, global health and environmental issues, students gain a comprehensive understanding of global challenges. Additionally, they develop a deep appreciation for diverse cultures across the world.

This area of focus offers a curriculum designed to foster critical thinking, research skills, leadership abilities, negotiation expertise, public speaking, and teamwork—essential competencies highly valued in today’s professional landscape. It integrates experiential learning activities, such as participation in the Diplomacy Lab, Model United Nations, and the Model Organization of American States. Moreover, students have the opportunity to engage in off-campus programs, including summer courses in Europe and internships at prestigious institutions like the Washington Center and the United States Department of State.

Upon completion, graduates who pursue this area of focus are well-equipped to pursue diverse career paths, including roles in foreign service, military, international organizations, international businesses, non-profit organizations, think tanks, and further academic pursuits in graduate school.

Law and Policy

The Law and Policy area of focus is primarily concerned with the substantive outcomes of political processes. Because law and policy are where “the rubber meets the road” in politics, students focusing in this area will gain a comprehensive understanding of how the rules, regulations, and requirements that people in power devise shape the lives of individuals and groups in (un)expected ways.

Law and Policy courses will enhance students’ reading, critical thinking, research, communication, and collaborative skills. The study of law- and policy-making (in democratic state and sometimes in non-democracies, too) is fundamentally a study of teamwork, so Law and Policy students will ultimately understand keenly how to navigate issues within and among groups.

Law and Policy graduates will likely pursue careers in law, law enforcement, policy analysis, interest/lobby groups, advocacy, non-profit work, corporate-government relations, state and local government, Congressional support, urban planning, think tanks, and other institutions. This area of focus prepares graduates well for advanced degrees in political science, law, public affairs, public administration, and management.  

Representation and Governance

The Representation and Governance area of focus explores the who, how, when, where and why of political decision-making. After exploring how individuals and institutions influence government’s effects on society at micro and macro levels, students focusing in this area will be able to critically analyze political decision-making from various perspectives. 

The area of focus offers courses designed to enhance critical thinking, research, communication, and collaborative skills in order to produce competitive graduates. Many courses in this area also emphasize the study of political leadership, which positions students well for future leadership roles in their own lives. Representation and Governance students should strongly consider off-campus study through programs like The Washington Center or international programs in foreign countries with diverse political systems.

Representation and Governance graduates can enter the workforce via a variety of career paths at the state, local, national, and international levels. Focusing in this area also prepares graduates for pursuit of an advanced degree in political science or related field. Career possibilities include law, policy analysis and development, non-profit organizations, think-tanks, and various other sectors.

Social Justice and Identity

The Social Justice and Identity area of focus explores the theme of justice in all aspects of government and politics. Through an exploration of multiple identities and dimensions of government, students critically analyze the profound implications of justice and injustice from both theoretical and practical perspectives.

The curriculum is designed to enhance student consciousness of their positions within the local, national, and international communities and what this means for their own conceptions of justice. 

Graduates focusing in this area are equipped to pursue careers in fields that cater to diverse populations, such as non-profits, foreign service, law, policy development, and various other sectors.