Politics and government affect the lives of all of us. What we do, and what we think, is affected by the decisions and actions of state, local and national governmental institutions and political leaders. The objectives and policies of foreign countries also can affect our daily lives, particularly during periods of international tension and war.
Political science is one of the oldest fields of academic inquiry. Social ideals and their realization through law were systematically studied in ancient Greece. In an increasingly interdependent world, the study of politics and government has flourished as the relations between persons, groups and nations have become more complex, and questions of freedom and authority have challenged every citizen. Modern political science is equally concerned with questions of political philosophy and with the pursuit of social scientific research. These concerns are reflected in a broad and diverse curriculum.
The political science faculty is committed to the belief that understanding politics and government is essential to a well-educated person, vital to democratic citizenship, indispensable to effective public service, and critical to the maintenance and ethical progress of a free society.
The political science curriculum prepares students for careers in public service-related occupations in both government and business. Many students majoring in political science go on to law school, graduate school and into the professions; many others who are not majors take political science courses as an essential part of their liberal arts education.
AMIR ABEDI (2003) Chair. Associate Professor. BA, University of Hanover, Germany; MA, PhD, University of British Columbia.
BIDISHA BISWAS (2006) Associate Professor. BA, Hindu College, University of New Delhi; MA, PhD, University of Maryland.
PAUL CHEN (2002) Associate Professor. BA, University of California-Berkeley; JD, Southwestern University School of Law; MA, Biola University; MA, PhD, University of Southern California.
SHIRIN DEYLAMI (2008) Associate Professor BA University of California, Santa Cruz; MA University of North Carolina; PhD University of Minnesota
TODD A. DONOVAN (1991) Professor. BA, California State University, Sacramento; MA, PhD, University of California-Riverside.
CYNTHIA HORNE (2006) Associate Professor. BA, Dartmouth College; MS, Georgetown University; PhD, University of Washington.
VICKI HSUEH (2003) Associate Professor. BA, Williams College; MA, PhD, Johns Hopkins University.
VERNON D. JOHNSON (1986) Professor. BA, Akron University; MA, PhD, Washington State University.
KRISTEN D. PARRIS (1991) Associate Professor. BA, MA, PhD, Indiana University.
DEBRA J. SALAZAR (1990) Professor. BS, University of California-Berkeley; MS, PhD, University of Washington.
SARA SINGLETON (2001) Associate Professor. BA, MA, PhD, University of Washington.
CHRISTOPHER TOWLER (2014) Assistant Professor. BA, University of Colorado; MA, PhD, University of Washington.
SARA J. WEIR (1989) Professor. BA, MA, Ball State University; PhD, University of Washington.
The department’s faculty and staff invite questions about the program and its career potential. Persons seeking more information should visit the department in Arntzen Hall or call 360-650-3469. Written inquiries should be directed to the Department of Political Science, Western Washington University, Bellingham, Washington 98225-9082.
Students are eligible to declare the political science major and any of the majors combined with political science if they have completed any two of the following core courses with an average grade of 2.7 or above: PLSC 250, 261, 271, 291, or the equivalent course(s) at another college or university. Due to high student demand and limited capacity, immediate access to specific courses cannot be guaranteed. Priority is given to seniors and juniors who need courses to graduate. Students who have no transfer credits for political science course work, stop by the political science department office, Arntzen Hall 415, with an unofficial Western Washington University transcript showing the three completed courses from the list above. If you have transfer credits for political science coursework from another institution, also bring an unofficial transcript from that institution showing the political science courses completed.
Other Departmental Information
The political science department offers several curricula leading to the Bachelor of Arts, the Master of Arts, and the Master of Arts option in political science/environmental studies. These curricula are listed below, and their details are set forth following the list of the department faculty.
- Bachelor of Arts
- Majors: political science, political science/economics, politics/philosophy/economics, political science/social studies.
- Minors: political science, Canadian-American studies, East Asian studies
- Master of Arts in Political Science
- Master of Arts in Political Science (Environmental Studies)
To finish the political science major in a timely fashion, students should try, by the end of their sophomore year, to complete the core courses (and necessary prerequisites) needed for the advanced courses in the three fields within the major. The core courses for the three fields are:
Students are encouraged to obtain internships in state, local or national government agencies, political parties and interest groups. Initial contact with the intern coordinator should usually be at least one quarter in advance of registration if the student is interested in a local internship. In the case of state and federal agencies, longer lead times are necessary, and contact with the intern coordinator should be at least two quarters in advance of registration. Credit may be divided over two quarters where the internship placement requires a commitment of more than 10 weeks. No more than 10 credits of internship and independent study, combined, may be counted toward the major.
To qualify for an internship, requirements are:
- Completion of the core field requirements for the political science major (PLSC 250 , PLSC 261 , PLSC 271 or PLSC 291 )
- Completion of at least one advanced course in the field of study to which the internship most closely relates
- Acceptability to the agency
Students wishing to pursue research and directed reading in areas of the discipline where they have had prior course work may apply to do independent study projects. Enrollment is with the consent of the instructor and the chair. No more than 10 credits of independent study and internship, combined, may be counted toward the major.
For concentrations leading to the Master of Arts degree, see the Graduate School section of this catalog.
ProgramsUndergraduate MajorUndergraduate MinorGraduate
Courses numbered X37; X97; 300, 400, 500 are described in the University Academic Policies section of this catalog.