Political science is the study of power, justice, liberty, and order, whether at the local community level, 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

POS100 • 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.

POS202U • 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; GES130 (may be taken concurrently) or GES244 (may be taken concurrently). Offered: Fall, spring

POS205 • 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.

POS211 • 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

POS216L • 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: GES130 and GES160 (may be taken concurrently) or GES244 (may be taken concurrently). ; one completed PHI course recommended. Offered: Occasionally interim. Offered: Spring. Special Notes: Carries cross-credit in history.

POS219L • 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: GES130 and GES160 (may be taken concurrently) or GES244 (may be taken concurrently). Offered: Occasionally

POS221L • 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: GES130 and GES160 (may be taken concurrently) or GES244 (may be taken concurrently). Offered: Occasionally interim. Offered: Fall

POS230L • 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: [GES130 and GES160] or GES244 (may be taken concurrently). Offered: Interim. Special Notes: Carries cross-credit in religious studies.

POS241L • 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: GES130 and GES160 (may be taken concurrently) or GES244 (may be taken concurrently). Offered: Interim. Special Notes: Carries cross-credit in history.

POS250 • 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, studentes 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 expereinces. PR: One POS course; consent of the Department of Political Science; Major in International Relations, Business and Political Sciences, Political Science, or minor in Political Science.
Offered: Spring. Special Notes: Graded on an S/U basis.

POS304 • Political Parties and Elections. 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; POS100 recommended. Offered: Fall, even # years.

POS305G • 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: [GES130; GES160; Contemporary Western Life and Thought (L) course; World Cultures (U) course] or [GES244; World Cultures (U) course]. Offered: Spring, odd # years. Special Notes: Carries cross-credit in history.

POS306 • 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. POS100 recommended. Offered: Spring. Special Notes: Carries cross-credit in business.

POS310 • 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. POS100 or POS202U recommended. Offered: Fall, even # years

POS313G • The Politics of Globalization: Diplomacy, Trade and Organization. 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: [GES130; GES160; Contemporary Western Life and Thought (L) course; World Cultures (U) course] or [GES244; World Cultures (U) course] POS202U or POS310 recommended. Offered: Spring, even # years

POS315 • 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: POS202U. Offered: Spring, odd # years

POS317 • 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.

POS321 • 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 POS100 or POS211 before enrolling in this course.

POS324G • 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: [GES130; GES160; Contemporary Western Life and Thought (L) course; World Cultures (U) course] or [GES244; World Cultures (U) course]. Offered: Spring, even # years. Special Notes: Carries cross-credit in history.

POS325 • 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, POS100, or consent of instructor. Offered: Occasionally interim. Special Notes: Carries cross-credit in communication studies.

POS329 • 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: POS202U or POS205 recommended. Carries cross-credit in history.

POS330K • 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.

POS340 • 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: POS100 or consent of instructor. Offered: Fall, even # years

POS342 • 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: POS100 or consent of instructor. Offered: Spring, even # years

POS345 • 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

POS356 • 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.

POS360 • 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.

POS410 • 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

POS481 • 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

POS499 • Senior Seminar. 4 Credits.

Advanced research and analysis in selected problems and value questions in political science.
Prerequisites: POS211; 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 and advisor in the Department of Political Science.