Political Science is the study of power, justice, liberty, and order, whether locally, nationally, or internationally. How can we best organize our common life together? How, in fact, do we, and with what results? How should we, and according to what standards or values? Americans are still working out the answers to such questions, whether in terms of the president’s latest foreign policy move, a decision by the local board of education to close a neighborhood school, efforts to alleviate world hunger, or the more abstract questions of political philosophy.

Political science courses are concerned with such topics as Christian political values; the place of the individual in relation to larger organizations; the ways governments make and administer policies; comparative government, foreign policy, and international relations; and contemporary political ideologies. The aim throughout is to enable students to function more effectively within the complexities of the modern world by providing a broad competence in terms of knowledge and how to use it, and by giving careful attention to the spiritual values implicit in most political choices. Political science courses stress developing the operational, analytic, and imaginative skills required for success in virtually all areas of modern society, including business, law, government, education, and ministry, and for responsible Christian citizenship in today’s world.

Special Study Opportunities

All students are strongly encouraged to take advantage of at least one special study opportunity as part of their major or minor, such as:

  • American Studies Program in Washington, D.C.
  • Guatemala Term
  • Latin American Studies Program
  • Spain Term
  • Internships (Minnesota State Legislature, local government, political campaigns, or interest groups)
  • Foreign study (full year, one semester, or interim)
  • Directed study

Majors in Political Science

Minor in Political Science

POS 100 • American Politics and Government. 3 Credits.

Structure and workings of major parts of the United States national government, such as the Constitution, the presidency, Congress, the courts, the electoral process, and others. How these institutions help Americans deal with significant current issues.
Offered: Fall, spring.

POS 202U • Introduction to International Relations. 3 Credits.

How governments interact to further their different political, military, and economic interests; basic factors affecting international cooperation and conflict; topics such as summit meetings, terrorism, arms control, and food and energy resources distribution; one or more international crisis simulation exercises.
Prerequisites: Second-semester freshman standing or higher; GES 130 (may be taken concurrently) or GES 244 (may be taken concurrently). Offered: Fall, spring

POS 205 • Introduction to Comparative Politics. 3 Credits.

An introduction to the subfield of Comparative Politics with special emphasis on the nature, history, and development of political regimes. Systems to be covered include Western democracies, communist and post-communist states, military dictatorships, and politically developing states.
Offered: Fall.

POS 211 • The Political Quest. 3 Credits.

Major problems of politics and international relations, such as the proper goals of political life, the nature of justice, and the role of the state. Methods of inquiry. Development of the student’s personal political stance and its relation to his or her maturing faith.
Prerequisites: One political science course. Offered: Fall, odd # years, spring

POS 216L • American Constitutional History. 3 Credits.

Examination of the origins and development of American constitutional ideas and institutions from the colonial period to the present. Particular attention paid to the historical connections between major constitutional cases and broader social, political, economic, and cultural trends.
Prerequisites: GES 130 and GES 160 (may be taken concurrently) or GES 244 (may be taken concurrently). ; one completed PHI course recommended. Offered: Occasionally interim. Offered: Spring. Special Notes: Carries cross-credit in history.

POS 219L • Public Leadership. 3 Credits.

Principles of public leadership and challenges for leaders to meet in the modern age; American experiences with leaders in various roles.
Prerequisites: GES 130 and GES 160 (may be taken concurrently) or GES 244 (may be taken concurrently). Offered: Occasionally

POS 221L • American Political Ideologies. 3 Credits.

Major modern American ideologies. Liberalism, conservatism, democratic socialism, anarchism, liberation theology, fascism, and gender and ethnic politics. Christian interfaces with various political theories.
Prerequisites: GES 130 and GES 160 (may be taken concurrently) or GES 244 (may be taken concurrently). Offered: Occasionally interim. Offered: Fall

POS 230L • Politics and Religion in the United States. 3 Credits.

Examines the historical and contemporary relationship between religion and politics in the United States. Divisions and political affiliations of various religious communities are considered alongside discussion of secularism, pluralism, and civil religion in America.
Prerequisites: [GES 130 and GES 160] or GES 244 (may be taken concurrently). Offered: Interim. Special Notes: Carries cross-credit in religious studies.

POS 241L • Revolution and Political Development. 3 Credits.

Theory and process of modernization, with special emphasis on the Anglo-American historical experience; examinations of U.S. efforts to promote democracy internationally in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East since World War II.
Prerequisites: GES 130 and GES 160 (may be taken concurrently) or GES 244 (may be taken concurrently). Offered: Interim. Special Notes: Carries cross-credit in history.

POS 250 • Political Science Practicum. 1 Credit.

In consultation with the Political Science Department, students will select an off campus program of academic study. After the off campus study, students will create a presentation and share their experiences in a colloquium with other International Relations, Political Science, and Business and Political Science majors. The purpose of this course is to integrate off campus experiences with curricular learning experiences..
Prerequisites: One POS course; consent of the Political Science department; Major in International Relations, Business and Political Sciences, Political Science, or minor in Political Science. Special Notes: Graded on an S/U basis. Offered: Spring.

POS 304 • Political Parties. 3 Credits.

Examines the role of political parties and elections in democratic political systems with a particular focus on the electoral process, political parties, voting behavior, and citizen participation. Begins with the American case as the first large-scale democratic system and uses that case as a basis for comparison in examining a number of other different electoral systems from both the developed and developing worlds.
Prerequisites: Open to sophomores with consent of instructor; POS 100 recommended. Offered: Fall, even # years.

POS 305G • The Cold War. 3 Credits.

The Cold War as an event in international history, studied from the perspective of the United States, the Soviet Union, China, Europe, and the Third World. Introduces students to ongoing historical debates and to the sources historians use in those debates (including declassified documents available online).
Prerequisites: [GES 130; GES 160; Contemporary Western Life and Thought (L) course; World Cultures (U) course] or [GES 244; World Cultures (U) course]. Offered: Spring, odd # years. Special Notes: Carries cross-credit in history.

POS 306 • Public Administration. 3 Credits.

How public policy is put into effect through the administrative agencies of government and the problems in management of such agencies and their relations with the public.
Prerequisites: Sophomore standing. POS 100 recommended. Offered: Spring. Special Notes: Carries cross-credit in business.

POS 310 • American Foreign Relations. 3 Credits.

Development of United States foreign policy since the Nixon administration, with particular attention paid to contemporary issues, long-range historical trends, and the ways in which foreign policy is formulated and carried out. Independent study on specific topics and issues.
Prerequisites: Sophomore standing with consent of instructor. POS 100 or POS 202U recommended. Offered: Fall, even # years

POS 313G • International Cooperation. 3 Credits.

Examination of the processes, institutions, relationships, and dynamic trends in the international system. Attention is given to the creation or maintenance of international economic systems and international organizations as they address emerging or enduring problems of world politics. Key international institutions, such as the World Trade Organization or the United Nations, are used as case studies.
Prerequisites: [GES 130; GES 160; Contemporary Western Life and Thought (L) course; World Cultures (U) course] or [GES 244; World Cultures (U) course] POS 202U or POS 310 recommended. Offered: Spring, even # years

POS 315 • The Politics of Terrorism and Counterterrorism. 3 Credits.

Analysis of terror and terrorism, both historically and contemporarily, through study of the political psychology of terrorists and terrorist groups, the tactics of terror, and the complex relationship between terror and states. Special attention paid to the motivations for terror and the effect of religion on terrorism as a political strategy.
Prerequisites: POS 202U. Offered: Spring, odd # years

POS 317 • Political Psychology. 3 Credits.

Political psychology is concerned with the causes, dynamics, and consequences of human thinking and action in the context of politics. This field survey covers the psychology of decision making, political attitude formation, public opinion, personality and emotions, intergroup relations, ideology, and the role of mass media in politics.
Prerequisites: One political science course. Offered: Fall, odd # years. Special Notes: Carries cross-credit in psychology.

POS 321 • Contemporary Democracies. 3 Credits.

The meaning of democracy in theory and practice throughout history and in the modern political systems of Great Britain, Japan, and Mexico. Independent research in other democratic systems.
Offered: Fall, odd # years. Special Notes: Students are recommended to take POS 100 or POS 211 before enrolling in this course.

POS 324G • Human Rights in International History. 3 Credits.

International and comparative exploration of how human rights have been defined, violated, and protected. Discussion of historical topics (e.g., the abolition of the slave trade, social reform and Christian missions, the genocides of the 20th century) as well as contemporary issues. Includes a service-learning project completed at Bethel or with a local organization.
Prerequisites: [GES 130; GES 160; Contemporary Western Life and Thought (L) course; World Cultures (U) course] or [GES 244; World Cultures (U) course]. Special Notes: Carries cross-credit in history. Offered: Occasionally.

POS 325 • Political Communication. 3 Credits.

Analysis of the theoretical background behind political communication from a public speaking and media perspective. Attention to decision-making skills required in political campaigns. Discussion of advanced persuasive campaign theory.
Prerequisites: COM110N, POS 100, or consent of instructor. Offered: Occasionally interim. Special Notes: Carries cross-credit in communication studies.

POS 329 • African Politics. 3 Credits.

Consideration of political development in Africa from the pre-colonial era through the present, focusing on changes in political regimes through time, the nature of economic struggles, and sources of violent conflict. Specific case studies and shared African experiences and challenges will be examined.
Offered: Spring. Special Notes: POS 202U or POS 205 recommended. Carries cross-credit in history.

POS 330K • Science, Values, and the Making of Environmental Policy. 3 Credits.

What role do citizens and experts play in the public policy process? Do people approach scientific evidence with competing value perspectives? These questions are examined in order to understand the interplay among key people, institutions, values, and power that is present in a series of environmental policy case studies.
Prerequisites: Laboratory Science (D) course; Mathematics (M) course. Offered: Fall, even # years. Special Notes: Carries cross-credit in environmental science.

POS 340 • American Political Institutions. 3 Credits.

Examination of the U.S. Congress, Supreme Court, and presidency, with attention to the ­effects of institutions on the democratic and policy processes. Consideration of political science research on political institutions and contemporary issues facing them.
Prerequisites: POS 100 or consent of instructor. Offered: Fall, even # years

POS 342 • American Public Policy. 3 Credits.

Examination of public policy—the result of government action—through consideration of the policy process, policy design, and current status of American public policy. Special attention devoted to social policy with student investigation and research in public policy.
Prerequisites: POS 100 or consent of instructor. Offered: Spring, even # years

POS 345 • Modern Political Thought. 3 Credits.

Examination and consideration of selected political thinkers of the 19th and 20th centuries, including Freud, Nietzsche, Kuyper, Arendt, Rawls, Berlin, Yoder, Foucault, Mouw, and others. Concentrates on primary sources and Christian responses to the “end of political theory” in the 20th century.
Prerequisites: One course in political science, philosophy, or Western history, or consent of instructor. Offered: Spring, odd # years

POS 356 • Modern Middle East. 4 Credits.

Political, social, religious, economic, and cultural history of the Middle East since 1800. Particular attention is paid to colonialism, globalization, war, gender roles revolution, and reform. Controversies such as the Arab/Israeli conflict, the Islamic Revolution in Iran, Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, and the U.S. war on terror are discussed.
Prerequisites: Sophomore standing. Offered: Fall. Special Notes: Carries cross-credit in history.

POS 360 • Classics in Western Political Philosophy. 4 Credits.

Selected political theorists. Writers such as Plato, Aristotle, early Christian writers, Machiavelli, Luther, Calvin, Locke, Marx, and Niebuhr. Concentrates on primary sources.
Prerequisites: One course in political science, philosophy, or European history. Offered: Spring, even # years. Special Notes: Carries cross-credit in philosophy and history.

POS 410 • Topics in Political Science. 3 Credits.

Intensive study of a specialized topic in political science. The topic to be studied and the subfield of the course are announced prior to the relevant registration period.
Prerequisites: Junior standing; two courses in political science. Repeatable course: Students may repeat the course for credit provided a different topic is covered. Offered: Occasionally

POS 481 • Internship in Political Science. 1-4 Credits.

An off-campus working experience in a government agency or political organization under appropriate supervision. Placement is individually arranged with the Department of Political Science.
Prerequisites: Consent of department chairperson. Offered: Fall, spring

POS 499 • Senior Seminar. 4 Credits.

Advanced research and analysis in selected problems and value questions in political science.
Prerequisites: POS 211; senior standing or consent of instructor. Offered: Fall, spring

Washington D.C., Experience

Firsthand experience in Washington, D.C., for academic credit is available through the American Studies Program of the Council for Christian Colleges and Universities. See advisor in the Department of Political Science.