Politics Major

Program Overview

Politics Spring 2017

The Department of Politics offers a stimulating and balanced program delivered through a cutting-edge curriculum. It prepares students to make a difference through leadership and civic engagement in a wide array of professions and teaches them the necessary skills to find solutions to the many challenges that governments, international organizations, and communities face at home and around the globe.


Program of Study

The Politics curriculum covers the main fields of the discipline with foundational courses in American and comparative politics, international relations, and political theory. It also prioritizes experiential learning and professional development. Students choose electives organized thematically under globalization and inequality, law and justice, and power and political action to support their interests and career goals. Majors complete their politics degree with a culminating seminar, working closely with a faculty member to prepare them for professional writing, research, analysis and presentation.


Through the study of politics, students gain skill sets, critical thinking, and integrative learning for a wide array of careers in law, government, media, teaching, consulting, business, non-profits, and international organizations, as well as graduate and professional degree programs in many fields.


Professional Development

Students have many unique opportunities to satisfy the professional development requirement and widen their horizons through experiential learning. These include service-learning, courses on research methods, public administration, and humanitarian and disaster response, in addition to a variety of internship options including the Connecticut General Assembly Legislative Internship Program and the Washington Internship Institute (WII) that offer semester-long and summer immersion experiences.


Program Outcomes

Coursework is designed to develop your critical thinking and analytical skills along with your oral and written communication abilities. Throughout the program you will experience the political process first-hand by actively participating in classroom discussions and debates, internships and research projects. Upon graduation, you will be well versed in the affairs and theories of the contemporary world and have the skills to succeed in the job market or continue on to graduate or law school.



Politics Major Requirements

New Curriculum (Class of 2022 and later)
For a 30-credit major in politics, students must complete the following:

Code Title Credits
Foundational Courses    
PO 0101 Introduction to American Politics 3
PO 0102 Introduction to Comparative Politics 3
PO 0103 Introduction to Political Ideas That Shape the World 3
PO 0104 Introduction to International Relations 3
Professional Development    
Select one course from the following:   3
PO 0273 Humanitarian and Disaster Response Field Training  
PO 0295 Research Methods  
PO 0296 State Legislature Internship  
PO 0297 Washington Semester Internship  
PO 0298 Internship  
PO 0299 Special Topics (Shell) (when applicable)  
Select any 200- or 300-level politics course with a Service Learning designation    
SO 0221 Statistics: Social and Political Data Analysis  
SO 0222 Methods of Research Design  
Thematic Elements   12
Select four 200-level politics courses, including one course in each of the following areas: American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations and Politics Theory. Students may draw these electives from within or across the following themes:    
Globalization and Inequality    
Law and Justice    
Power and Political Action    
Culminating Experience    
Select one 300-level politics course   3
Total Credits   30
Thematic Elements    
Courses may be selected from one or more of the following themes:    
Globalization and Inequality    
PO 0202 Urban Politics 3
PO 0208 Political Parties and Interest Groups 3
PO 0211 Media and Politics 3
PO 0234 Sex, Sexuality, and Gender 3
PO 0251 Islam and Muslim Politics 3
PO 0253 Latin American Politics 3
PO 0254 Caribbean Politics 3
PO 0258 Political Violence 3
PO 0259 The Development Gap 3
PO 0274 International Environmental Policies 3
PO 0275 Climate Change: Politics and Policy 3
PO 0277 Globalization: Who Rules the World? 3
PO 0279 Threats to Global Security in the 21st Century 3
Law and Justice    
PO 0203 Public Administration 3
PO 0206 Supreme Court I 3
PO 0207 Supreme Court II 3
PO 0209 American Public Policy 3
PO 0232 Utopian Politics 3
PO 0233 American Political Thought 3
PO 0250 European Politics and the European Union 3
PO 0271 United Nations Security Council Crisis Simulation 3
PO 0278 International Law 3
Power and Political Action    
PO 0201 Introduction to Peace and Justice 3
PO 0204 American Presidency 3
PO 0205 United States Congress 3
PO 0212 United States Environmental Politics and Policy 3
PO 0213 State and Local Politics 3
PO 0214 Public Opinion and Polling 3
PO 0215 Campaigns and Elections 3
PO 0231 21st Century Power Politics 3
PO 0235 Modern Political Ideologies 3
PO 0236 Politics of Race, Class, and Gender 3
PO 0252 African Politics 3
PO 0255 Middle Eastern Politics 3
PO 0256 Asian Politics 3
PO 0257 Northern Ireland: Politics of War and Peace 3
PO 0261 Authoritarianism and Film 3
PO 0272 Politics of Humanitarian Action 3
PO 0273 Humanitarian and Disaster Response Field Training 3
PO 0276 United States Foreign Policy 3
PO 0280 Border Politics 3
Culminating Experience    
Courses may be selected from the following:    
PO 0300 Politics Seminar 3
PO 0301 The Battle Over Family Values in American Politics 3
PO 0302 Seminar on Feminist Theory 3
PO 0303 Gender, War, and Peace 3
PO 0304 Seminar on Global Environ Politics 3
PO 0305 Seminar on the Middle East 3
PO 0398 Independent Study 3

Previous Curriculum (Class of 2021 and earlier)
For a 30-credit major in Politics, students complete the following:

Code Title Credits
PO 0101 Introduction to American Politics (formerly PO 0011) 3
PO 0102 Introduction to Comparative Politics (formerly PO 0012) 3
PO 0103 Introduction to Political Ideas That Shape the World (formerly PO 0014) 3
Select seven upper-level politics courses, including at least one course in each of the following areas:   21
American Politics    
Comparative Politics    
International Relations    
Political Theory    
Total Credits   30


Politics Minor

New Curriculum (Class of 2022 and later)
For an 18-credit minor in Politics, students complete the following:

Code Title Credits
PO 0101 Introduction to American Politics (formerly PO 0011) 3
PO 0102 Introduction to Comparative Politics (formerly PO 0012) 3
PO 0103 Introduction to Political Ideas That Shape the World (formerly PO 0014) 3
Select three upper-level politics courses taken in any politics subfield or as internships or independent study offered by the department.   9
Total Credits   18


Politics Credit for Off-campus Study and Internship Programs

Politics students may pursue several off-campus study opportunities. These include study abroad and competitive internship programs in state legislature (PO 0296) and in Washington, DC (PO 0297). The PO 0296 offers credit for the Connecticut General Assembly Legislative Internship Program. This internship program provides students first hand experience with the legislative process through training, academic examination, and work with legislators to whom they are assigned. PO 0297 offers credit for students interning in Washington DC through the Washington Internship Institute (WII). It runs as a semester-long program in fall or spring semesters, or as a summer experience. Students work four days-a-week in an internship with a government agency, members of Congress, or other branches of government, or non-profits and international organizations. This program includes a policy seminar and option for a research paper.

Students may count towards their Politics major or minor the following maximum credits for these (and similar) off-campus study opportunities:

  • Study abroad: Three credit hours for approved study abroad courses to substitute for one 200-level Politics thematic elective course
  • Connecticut State Assembly Internship: Six credit hours total, three of which may count as PO 0298 Internship
  • Washington Internship Institute: Maximum 15 credit hours possible, six credits of which may count for the politics major or minor (three credits for a politics internship and three credits for the WII policy course as a thematic elective in American or International Relations, depending on the focus of WII policy seminar).

Course Offerings

See Politics course descriptions from our catalog for more information

All Politics Majors are required to take the following courses:

  • PO 11: Introduction to American Politics
  • PO 12: Introduction to Comparative Politics
  • PO 14: Introduction to Political Theory


Following the required courses, majors complete seven upper-division courses in each of the following areas: political theory, comparative politics, international relations, and American politics.

Comparative Politics

Comparative Politics is the comparative study of political systems and individual nations around the globe. The field includes scholars with expertise in area studies (considerable knowledge of specific geographic locales) and scholars who emphasize cross-national comparisons.

Comparative Courses

  • PO 139: European Politics
  • PO 140: Islam and Muslim Politics
  • PO 141: African Politics
  • PO 142: Latin American Politics
  • PO 143: Caribbean Politics
  • PO 144: Middle East Politics
  • PO 145: Asian Politics
  • PO 146: Three Giants in Asia
  • PO 147: Northern Ireland: The Politics of War and Peace
  • PO 148: Political Violence
  • PO 149: Third World: Common Fate? Common Bond?
  • PO 249: Seminar on Russia
  • PO 344: Seminar on Middle East Politics


International Relations

International relations (IR) is the subfield of political science that seeks to explain patterns of conflict and cooperation between and across political systems. IR studies issues such as war, peace, trade and economic cooperation, terrorism, international organizations, international law, humanitarian intervention, environmental cooperation and many other issues using multiple theories and methods. 

International Relations Courses

  • PO 127: United Nations Security Council Crisis Simulation
  • PO 129: Politics of Humanitarian Action
  • PO 130/IL 51: International Relations: Theories and Challenges
  • PO 131: International Environmental Policy
  • PO 132: Climate Change: Politics and Policy
  • PO 133: United States Foreign Policy
  • PO 134: Globalization: Who Rules the World?
  • PO 135: Introduction to International Law
  • PO 136/IL 151: Gender, War and Peace
  • PO 137: Threats to Global Security in the 21st Century
  • PO 138: Border Politics


American Politics

American Politics is the study of political institutions, electoral behavior, political culture, and policy change in the United States. It also studies the changing role of the United States in an increasingly global world. Faculty research in American Politics includes diverse areas such as: Law and Politics, Party Polarization and Policy Change, Politics of Family, Urban Politics, Interest Groups, and Media and Politics.

American Politics Courses

  • PO 115: Introduction to the Study of Peace and Justice
  • PO 150: Urban Politics
  • PO 155: Public Administration
  • PO 161: The American Presidency
  • PO 162: United States Congress
  • PO 163: Supreme Court
  • PO 165: Political Parties and Interest Groups
  • PO 166: American Public Policy
  • PO 167: Media and Politics
  • PO 169: US Environmental Politics and Policy
  • PO 170: Battle over Family Values in American Politics


Politcal Theory

Power.  Justice.  Freedom.  Citizenship. Political theory courses invite students into the adventure of learning more about these ideas and many others by critically engaging with the work of thinkers such as Plato, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Karl Marx, Michel Foucault, and Carole Pateman in order to better understand the political world in which we live today.

Political Theory Courses

  • PO 112: 21st Century Power Politics
  • PO 116: Utopian Politics
  • PO 118: American Political Thought
  • PO 119: Sex, Sexuality and Gender
  • PO 123: Modern Political Ideologies
  • PO 153: Politics of Race, Class, and Gender
  • PO 220: Seminar on Feminist Theory


Internships, Independent Study, Special Topics 

  • PO 190: Special Topics in Politics
  • PO 296: State Legislature Internship
  • PO 297: Washington Semester Internship
  • PO 298: Politics Internship
  • PO 390: Politics Seminar
  • PO 398: Independent Study/Research


Internships for credit are available with:‌

  • The Connecticut state legislature
  • Local governments
  • Public interest agencies
  • The federal government through a semester-long program of study in Washington, D.C.


Washington, D.C. internships:

  • The White House
  • Cabinet departments
  • Congressional offices
  • Special interest groups


Connecticut internships:

  • Connecticut state legislators in the city offices of Bridgeport
  • First Selectman's office of the Town of Fairfield
  • International Executive Service Corps
  • Save the Children


City of Bridgeport Internship Program:

In 2013, Fairfield University, in partnership with the City of Bridgeport, set up a new internship program to place students with Bridgeport city government agencies. Administrators of the program will work with students to place them in city agencies that match their academic majors and interests such as the Mayer's office, the animal shelter, the environmental science office, the city attorney's office, etc.

For a full list of opportunities and responsibilities, check out the webpage.


Research and Study Abroad 

A number of our majors have been awarded Fulbright scholarships for research and study abroad. In recent years, recipients of Fulbrights have studied in Argentina, Bahrain, Canada, Morocco, El Salvador, Sri Lanka, and Turkey.


Recent Internships 2017-2018:

  • Area Law Offices
  • Bridgeport Planning Office
  • Campaigns for State Representatives
  • City of Bridgeport departments/lawyers offices
  • Congressional Respresentative Jim Himes' OfficeConnecticut State Assembly
  • Homes for the Brave
  • Make a Wish FoundationSave the Children                 
  • Mercy Learning Center
  • Save the Children
  • Washington Internship Institute, Washington D.C.

For more information, contact Edie Cassidy at ecassidy4@fairfield.edu

Alumni Spotlight


Nadra Al-Hamwy


get to know Nadra →

Undergrad Degree: Politics, International Studies
Hometown: Monroe, Connecticut
Extracurricular Activities: Resident Assistant (Service 4 Justice Residential College), New Student Leader, Pi Sigma Alpha (National Political Science Honor Society), Alpha Sigma Nu (National Jesuit Honor Society), Sigma Iota Rho (International Studies Honor Society), Phi Betta Kappa (Academic Honor Society), International Studies/Business Club, Bellarmine Museum of Art, Class Senator (FUSA).

Why did you choose to attend Fairfield University?

I chose Fairfield University for a variety of reasons. When I toured the campus during my senior year of high school, I fell in love with the homey, community feel of Fairfield. I liked the fact that students would be able to have close relationships with their professors because of the small class sizes. I knew that through my faculty, staff, and peers, I would be supported and pushed to grow both personally and professionally through an endless amount of opportunities and experiences.


Describe a project/s done through the politics program or under the supervision of/ in collaboration with politics faculty that you are particularly proud of:

Looking back, the highlight of my Politics education at Fairfield University definitely has to be my internship at the Connecticut Institute for Refugees and Immigrants (CIRI), formerly known as the International Institute of Connecticut (IICONN). CIRI is a statewide nonprofit human services agency that provides services to new immigrants and refugees in Connecticut to help them become self-sufficient, integrated, and contributing members of the community. I collaborated with Professor Edith Cassidy of the Politics Department to secure a position working in the Refugee Replacement & Resettlement branch of the NGO from January to May 2017 in Bridgeport, Connecticut. I've gained life-long friendships through this particular experience and it galvanized my desire to devote my career to humanitarian causes and efforts.


What attributes regarding the faculty did you find particularly helpful/encouraging?

Fairfield University’s Politics faculty is the absolute best. They are SO remarkably knowledgeable, caring, understanding, patient, and engaging. They truly care about the well-being of their students, meaning they really take the time to get to know us inside and outside the classroom. They want to know about our backgrounds, passions, areas of interests, and goals for the future. They encourage us to be curious, think outside the box, question things and be skeptical of the things we unconsciously accept. They challenge us to explore (or think critically about) different perspectives, biases, and paradigms. The topics we explore in the classroom are always timely, relevant, and important. Whether it was in my Intro to Political Theory class, Islam and Muslim Politics course, or even International Environmental Policy seminar, my professors always prompted me to acknowledge and critically think about the impact of politics on the lives of real people. I always felt comfortable asking questions and contributing my thoughts during a class discussion. I'm proud and fulfilled with the education and skills that I have received from my Politics faculty family. Because of their support, I know I will succeed in whichever path I choose to pursue after graduation. 



Jennifer Amdur


get to know Jennifer →

Undergrad Degree: BA in Politics. Minor in Psychology and Peace and Justice
Current Hometown: Fairfield, Connecticut
Name of Employer: The Berkowitz Law Firm LLC  www.theberkowitzlawfirm.com
Job title & brief description of duties: Attorney
I devote 100% of my practice to litigation. My primary area of practice is medical malpractice representing victims of medical negligence, abuse, and neglect. The clients whom I represent have serious, permanent and life-altering injuries for which I am involved in seeking appropriate damages and compensation. As a trial lawyer, I am consistently litigating for fair, equitable, and just compensation for those who have been injured by the negligence of another—either an individual, medical provider, or corporation. My daily job duties are constantly influx depending upon the needs of my clients, as I am involved in my clients’ cases from the first client meeting or phone call up through trial or alternative dispute resolution.

Why did you choose to attend Fairfield University?

I choose to attend Fairfield after a tour of the campus. I fell in love with the energy of the campus and the opportunity I saw in front of me. I also was drawn to the core curriculum as I felt it would prepare me for law school after graduation.


How did you select your major/minor? And how did that contribute to your professional/personal life?

I am a firm believer that politics are everywhere. My politics/political science degree encouraged me to see the world and its actions through the lens of the political world. In everyday life, personal and professional, politics is active and engaged. It is empowering, especially as an attorney, to understand the different political goals and interests of different agencies, opponents, and political systems. Further, politics interests me, thus, spending my time at Fairfield learning and searching for answers through the political lens was gratifying and invigorated me to continue to learn about current political motivations, policies, and practices.


How did you come to work in your current career field and what inspires you about your work?

I obtained a summer associate position during law school at a large firm which specialized in medical malpractice. I was instantly inspired with this area of practice, which at the time was completely foreign to me, as I truly felt I was helping and supporting individuals who were in need of an advocate and would otherwise be unable to assist themselves against the medical institutions. Additionally, many of the clients I work with need both legal support and social/emotional aid or support and it is always inspiring to help an individual obtain the assistance they so require. On a daily basis, I am also inspired by so many of my clients who have done so much in the face of debilitating adversity.


How did Fairfield’s Jesuit education prepare you for your future?

Fairfield University’s Jesuit ideal of “being men and women for others” is present in my daily life. As a social justice message for each person to find a career or an activity which is both personally and socially rewarding is a constant theme at Fairfield. I took that message and have applied it to my life in a variety of ways. Additionally, I was involved in a number of social justice extracurricular activities which were imperative to shaping my personal and professional opinions, activities, and my career choice. Lastly, I was actively involved in the extracurricular activities focused on women and women’s rights. My involvement led me to be the President of my Women’s Law Society and I have been actively involved in the Connecticut Trial Lawyer’s Women’s’ Caucus.



Richard Burke


get to know Richard →

Undergrad Degree: Politics
Hometown: Rockaway Park, NY
Extracurricular Activities: Paper presentations at the Western Political Science Association, Northeastern Political Science Associations, Lawrence Scholars Program, Pi Sigma Alpha Conference, Phi Beta Kappa, Alpha Sigma Nu National Jesuit Honors Society, Resident Assistant, New Student Leader.

Why did you choose to attend Fairfield University?

I chose Fairfield University because I noticed from the beginning that Fairfield’s faculty members were interested in working with students and were concerned with ensuring that every student had an enriching learning experience. This was my hope as a prospective student and has been confirmed over the course of my four years. This desire of the faculty to both know and work with their students has allowed me to develop my longstanding passion for politics in ways that I could not have imagined.


Describe a project/s done through the politics program or under the supervision of/ in collaboration with politics faculty that you are particularly proud of:

Since my sophomore year I have been working with Dr. Gwendoline Alphonso of the Politics Department on several research projects. My first project was a paper entitled, “From Godless Government to the Faith-Based State” which explored the role of religious and economic ideas in shaping George W. Bush’s Office of Faith-Based Initiatives. This paper was presented at the Western Political Science Association 2016 meeting in San Diego, California. My paper was then published by Critique: A Worldwide Student Journal of Politics which is listed with the American Political Science Association and housed at Illinois State University. Since this project, I continue to work on research projects with Dr. Alphonso. I have presented other research at the Northeastern Political Science Conference in Boston and at the Political Science Honors Society’s National Conferences. My research has received significant support and funding from the Lawrence Scholars and Corrigan Scholars program. These experiences were crucial to my acceptance at multiple doctoral programs in political science. Central to my success has been Dr. Alphonso’s patient and insightful mentorship that has allowed me to develop my own scholarly style and interests.


What attributes regarding the faculty did you find particularly helpful/encouraging?

Fairfield University’s Politics faculty remains committed to the “big questions” of the social sciences and this makes the discipline engaging and thought-provoking for an undergraduate. This is due to both the personal qualities and interests of the faculty, as well as the Jesuit mission of Fairfield University which has a strong commitment to social justice. The questions we discuss in the classroom are edifying not just from a scholarly perspective, but from a human perspective. In my experience, questions of justice, the social good, and the impact of politics on the lives of real people has never been excluded from the classroom. This emphasis combined with the faculty’s insistence on dialogue and group discussion has made the classroom a place of profound learning. For this reason, I am deeply satisfied with the education that I have received. 



Klevisa Kovaci


get to know Klevisa →

Undergrad Degree: BA in Politics / International Studies / French
Extracurriculars: (college): Model United Nations, French Club, Politics Research Assistant, French Assistant Teacher, University Orchestra
Name of Employer: United Nations
Job title & brief description of duties: Operations Coordinator of the "Youth Assembly at the United Nations" program.

Why did you choose to attend Fairfield University?

Several features and reasons attracted me to Fairfield University, particularly its academics. As my professional interests are in international affairs, I selected Fairfield University primarily for its extensive curriculum and courses in International Studies and global politics, as well as its practical opportunities in the field, such as study abroad. Additionally, Fairfield University’s Jesuit tradition and reputation of high quality teaching, all nestled in a beautiful, comfortable campus made attending the university desirable for me. Among other reasons, the generous financial aid offered by the university also was of immense help in financing my education there.


How did Fairfield’s Jesuit education prepare you for your future?

A Jesuit education is one of the greatest assets of Fairfield University. It teaches and facilitates a high level of critical thinking and exposure to different disciplines, especially through the liberal arts and sciences. This is crucial for problem solving and producing high quality work in a professional setting. In fact, some of the most mind-opening and thought-provoking courses that I took in my higher education career were in the liberal arts, such as philosophy courses.

Beyond quality of education and teaching, a Jesuit education plays a crucial role in the community and society, that is, through service and ethics. The Jesuit mantra of “men and women for others,” for instance, emphasizes social responsibility to one another for a better world. The Jesuit identity manifests itself in numerous ways at Fairfield University: service learning, service trips, the Center for Faith and Public Life, and more. Through the Jesuit values, Fairfield University prepares graduates to be guided by the highest ethical standards, and to use their experiences and skills to make a positive impact in the world.


How did you select your major/minor? And how did that contribute to your professional/personal life?

I attended Fairfield University, particularly because it was one of few universities that offered a major in my main interest of international studies. After taking some advanced political science courses, I added a major in Politics in order to complement my education with one of the most pertinent and essential disciplines of political science. The variety of courses and sub-specializations in the Politics major allowed me to customize my knowledge in the field. Meanwhile, my minor in Philosophy helped me to further delve into the critical thinking of a liberal arts and Jesuit education.

Afterwards, political science framed my thinking as the principal discipline in which I analyze issues and conduct work. At the same time, the added interdisciplinary nature of International Studies, helped me to link Politics with other fields such as economics and management in graduate school and for professional work. Then, the knowledge and skills learned from my major in Politics (analyzing, critical thinking, research, and more) directly came into use when I worked for the Albanian Mission to the UN, with UN Women in Kosovo, and more. In essence, my majors at Fairfield University trained and further inspired me to work in the career field of international affairs.


What attributes regarding the faculty did you find particularly helpful/encouraging?

I believe that the faculty of Fairfield University is one its greatest facets. The professors and advisors have a strong focus on and commitment to undergraduate students, while simultaneously engaging in the most pressing issues through research and advocacy. The faculty are available for students and involved in their education beyond the classroom, such as through availability during office hours for assistance or discussions, and as advisors of extracurricular clubs. Professors are always informing students and encouraging them to be involved in opportunities like internships and international study programs. This close, individual interaction and communication between faculty and students at Fairfield University is invaluable. Having completed graduate education in the US and abroad, I can attest that the quality of teaching, and the professors’ care and attention to imparting knowledge at Fairfield University stands out among American universities as well international ones.


How did you come to work in your current career field and what inspires you about your work?

Inspired by my experience at Fairfield University, I went on to a dual Master's program in International Affairs and Development at Columbia University and Science Po. Since then, I interned with UN Women in Kosovo, consulted for an NGO in Indonesia, and taught English in China. 

Currently, I work as Operations Coordinator of the "Youth Assembly at the United Nations" program. There, I help to set up conferences for young people from around the world to engage with the UN headquarters in issues of sustainable development and human rights. I enjoy connecting with young people and helping to bring out their potential for social good. 

My biggest motivation in work is to make a difference, while also experiencing the best of the world to its fullest. Broadly, I aim to support mission-driven organizations and groups in contributing to building stronger, fairer, and sustainable societies.



Enxhi Myslymi


get to know Enxhi →

Undergrad Degree: Double Major in Politics and English/Journalism
Hometown: Waterbury, CT  Born: Tirana, Albania
Extracurricular Activities: Present paper at Western Political Science Association (WPSA); Hardiman Scholars Research Grant; Managing Editor of The Mirror; Study Abroad in Aix-en-Provence, France (Jan. 2014-May 2014); Alpha Sigma Nu National Jesuit Honor Society; Pi Sigma Alpha Politics Honor Society; Sigma Tau Delta English Honor Society; Alpha Mu Gamma Foreign Language Honor Society; Investigative Reporters and Editors (IRE) Member

Why did you choose to attend Fairfield University?

Fairfield University has everything and more for prospective students looking for a small, traditional, liberal arts university.


Describe a project/s done through the politics program or under the supervision of/ in collaboration with politics faculty that you are particularly proud of:

During my senior year, I have worked with two wonderful professors, Dr. Jocelyn Boryczka and Dr. Gwendoline Alphonso, on two separate research projects. With Dr. Boryczka I am writing a conference paper based on theories by Michel Foucault, supplemented by Sigmund Freud, Simone de Beauvoir and Cynthia Enloe to further feminist thought in the context of sex, gender and sexuality. I am using shaving culture in the U.S. to discuss social, political, and economic constructions placed on men and women that gender stereotypes. The paper will be presented on a panel with Dr. Boryczka at the Western Political Science Association conference.

With Dr. Alphonso, we are collaborating to highlight the role of the family in 21st century U.S. party politics. Our work also includes placing data analysis of family policy within theoretical frameworks of sectionalism, party polarization and the rightward turn in the late 20th century. We are aiming to submit the paper at Fairfield’s “Celebrating American Politics” conference on campus.


What attributes regarding the faculty did you find particularly helpful/encouraging?

One of Fairfield’s strengths is their academics and the Politics Department is the perfect example. The faculty is encouraging, dedicated and committed to their students, and I cannot count the number of times I have sat in my professors’ offices discussing my future – or just having a cup of coffee. Each faculty member takes an interest in students’ lives, and this fact is what sets Fairfield apart from other universities because the professors truly care about each student. I remember being a freshman in a politics course and being extremely concerned about developing a thesis for my paper, so I went to my professor’s office hours and went over the paper word for word. Politics professors at Fairfield really take the time to improve their students’ academic experiences, and at the end of my four years here, I can wholeheartedly say that the faculty has become a part of my family. 



Olivia Tourgee


get to know Olivia →

Undergrad Degree: History and Politics Major, Philosophy and Management Minor
Hometown: West Greenwich, RI
Extracurricular Activities: FUSA Class of 2016 President, Captain of the Fairfield University Equestrian Team, Women’s Club Soccer Goalkeeper

What attributes regarding the faculty did you find particularly helpful and encouraging?

I found the politics professors to stand out from other departments. They have all been incredibly intelligent in their fields and have real-life experience in the areas in which they are passionate. Moreover, the politics professors I have had have always been extremely personable and down-to-earth. This combination results in engaging, interesting, and educational classes that bring learning beyond the classroom doors. In addition, politics professors are always the most organized and clear with their expectations. The way in which they present information and repeat what is most important is also incredibly beneficial. I enjoy politics classes because of the professors’ teaching styles, which make the courses enjoyable and very educational.


Describe the ways that the university’s Jesuit mission and identity had a positive influence in your academic and personal experience while at Fairfield.

The Magis Jesuit value has really defined my experience at Fairfield University. Magis means "more" and in everything I do I try to fulfill that. For instance, I am always yearning and striving to do and accomplish more. Whether it is academically, socially, or with extracurricular activities, I try to do as much as I can. Giving more is a challenging process that is emotionally, mentally, and physically trying. Yet at the end of the day, the week, the month, the semester, and the year, I am thankful and proud that I decided to give more. Academically and personally, this Jesuit value has had a positive influence on my experience here at Fairfield University.




Our dedicated faculty has interests in all areas of political science, as well as a variety of interdisciplinary programs. This reflects the fact that Politics is a hub discipline, a crucial area of study that links to many other interdisciplinary programs. The Politics faculty members are deeply connected to real-world political issues that face our world, working as consultants, rapporteurs, advocates, trainers, and researchers at the local, state, national and international levels. The Department provides quality student mentoring and advising, and regularly produces top students recognized for academic excellence, and service and leadership on campus, in our local communities and internationally.



Recent Faculty Highlights

11617_ug_aca_cas_politics_Alberda_07272018Dr. Gayle Alberda directs the Ready to Run Connecticut program that prepares women to run for public office and participate in the political process and civic life. She recently appeared on WTNH’s Capitol Report to discuss the importance of campaign and political training program. Dr. Alberda is also a co-founder of the Master in Public Administration’s annual summit meeting and commentator for media on political developments. She is also the co-author of the recent publication “Pedagogical Value of Polling-Place Observation by Students” that was published on May 16, 2018.


Dr. Gwendoline Alphonso’s latest book, Polarized Families, Polarized Parties: Contesting Values and Economics in American Politics was released by University of Pennsylvania Press in July 2018. It portrays a century long battle for the power to define the meaning, function, and purpose of the family—a Manichean struggle that animates the raw and disruptive partisanship of our political time. Professor Alphonso’s article “Resurgent Parenthood – Organic Domestic Ideas & the Southern Family Roots of Conservative Ascendancy, 1980-2004” was also published in the journal Polity, as part of a symposium showcasing significant scholarship on “Family, State, and American Political Development.”  Her analysis of recent Democratic and Republican party politics was also featured in the Hartford Courant.


11617_ug_aca_cas_politics_Boryczka_Zanzibar_07272018Dr. Jocelyn Boryczka has been promoted to full professor and appointed Associate Vice Provost for Scholarly, Creative, and Community Engagement. In this new position, she oversees aspects of the University that contribute to an intellectual and inclusive community. She is also leading efforts to more fully integrate the work of Fairfield University centers and institutes into the University structure, coordinate supports for scholarly work, and promote diversity and inclusion efforts. She has recently given a number of invited talks at the University of Detroit Mercy; San Francisco State University; and Sussex University, Brighton, England to name a few, and continued research for her upcoming book Globalization and Sex (Rowman & Littlefield, 2019) while in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania in May 2018. She is also the editor of New Political Science: A Journal of Politics and Culture.


Dr. Kevin Cassidy is finishing up work on a book manuscript on Beyond the Good Friday Agreement: How Former Enemies are Building Peace and Working Class Power In Northern Ireland.


11617_ug_aca_cas_politics_Downie_07272018Dr. David Downie continues to attend global environmental negotiations on policy to control toxic chemicals and reduce mercury emissions. He serves as associate e ditor of the Journal for Environmental Studies and Sciences and on the Editorial Board of Case Studies in the Environment. In 2018, he co-organized the “Regional Conference on Sustainable Development: Community Forum,” held at Fairfield University and is working towards a similar conference for 2019. Professor Downie’s recent publications include:

“Global Environmental Regimes and the Success of the Global Ozone Policy,” in The Global Environment, 5th Edition, CQ Press (Regina Axelrod and Stacy VanDeveer, eds., forthcoming 2019).

David Downie, Jen Allen, and Jessica Templeton,"Experimenting with Triple COPs: Productive Innovation or Counter-productive Complexity?" International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics (2018).

"The First Six Years of JESS: Categorizing Authors and Topics." Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences (2017) (DOI: 10.1007/s13412-017-0448-3), which he co-authored with four Fairfield University students.

“Still No Time for Complacency: Evaluating the Ongoing Success and Continued Challenge of Global Ozone Policy.” Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences (DOI: 10.1007/s13412-014-0199-3).

Dr. Downie’s most recent book, Global Environmental Politics, 7th Edition, was published in August 2016 and listed by Amazon as the #1 Hot New Release in Environmental and Natural Resources Law. 


Dr. Garcia Iommi’s research focuses on norms in relation to global governance especially in terms of norm diffusion and agency in the Global South, and also on U.S. foreign policy and international law, the subject of an edited volume she is spearheading. She recently published (with co-author Fernando G. Nuñez-Mietz),“Can Transnational Norm Advocacy Undermine Internalization? Norm immunization and LGBT Rights in UgandaInternational Studies Quarterly (2017)


Dr. Janie Leatherman co-authored with Dr. Kathryn Nantz, “Engaging Students in  Humanitarian Action Using Enduring Questions: A Jesuit Approach,” for the Handbook of Peace and Conflict Studies, Routledge (forthcoming 2019). She led a pedagogy workshop on humanitarian action with Professor Nantz at the 2017 JUHAN conference at the College of the Holy Cross. She also gave presentations and a workshop on advocacy for human rights at the 2017 JUHAN Conference and at a conference organized by the Oromo’s for Human Rights and Democracy in Washington, DC. She is working on a book manuscript on Global Peace Studies.


Dr. Marcie Patton carried out fieldwork in Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan during the summer of 2017. She was also awarded the Fairfield University 2017-2018 Faculty Welfare Committee/American Association of University Professors Lifetime Service Award.

Ready to Run™ Connecticut

Ready to Run™ Connecticut is a nonpartisan, women's leadership and campaign training program designed to empower women to become active participants in Connecticut's political process. Modeled after the Center of American Women and Politics (CAWP) national program at Rutgers University, Ready to Run™ Connecticut offers women an all-day workshop series that equips them with the necessary strategies, knowledge and networking tools to effectively pursue leadership positions in state and local government.

Politics Honor Society


To stimulate scholarship and intelligent interest in political science.



Pi Sigma Alpha, the National Political Science Honor Society, is the only honor society for college students of political science and government in the United States. It is open to graduate and upper-level undergraduate students in political science who have achieved the required level of academic excellence. See the website at http://www.pisigmaalpha.org/


Society Information

Pi Sigma Alpha was founded in 1920 at the University of Texas for the purpose of bringing together students and faculty interested in the study of government and politics. The society functions at the national level, sponsoring programs and events of value to the profession and teaching of political science, and at the chapter level. Each chapter is encouraged to provide a framework for enriching ...the exposure of its members and the wider university community to the study of government and issues of public concern. The goals of Pi Sigma Alpha are consistent with the aims of the Association of College Honor Societies (ACHS) as set out in the ACHS Booklet of Information. This material provides a good framework for understanding the meaning and value of a political science honor society and its place on an American campus, and makes worthwhile reading.


Fairfield Chapter of Pi Sigma Alpha:

Chapter (Name): Kappa Chi

Adviser: Dr. Gwendoline Alphonso (galphonso@fairfield.edu)

President: Kaneez Anwar '15

Vice-President: Xhensila Spahiu '15

Treasurer/Secretary: Katherine Rockwell '15

Research Resources

Undergraduate research resources

To learn about the field of Political Science

  1. The American Political Science Association

The best starting point for research is the Fairfield University Library. See “Best Bets For Starting Your Research” on the library website first 


American Politics


State Government Agencies and Policy Institutions

  • The Council of State Governments (links to all 50 state government home pages; the council also has extensive news reports on policy activities within the states)
  • Health and Environmental Agencies of all U.S. and Territories (EPA)
  • National Conference of State Legislatures (conducts extensive research on a wide range of environmental energy and natural resource issues)
  • National Governors Associations (maintains active research programs concerning state environmental protection, natural resource, and energy concerns. The site maintains the database “best practices” which is used to promote diffusion of promising innovation and demonstrate state capacity in federal policy deliberation)


General research sources in current international affairs


Topics in International Relations

Peace and War

  1. Correlates of War: http://www.correlatesofwar.org/
  2. Global Terrorism database: http://www.start.umd.edu/gtd/
  3. Peace Research Institute Oslo: http://www.prio.org/About/ 

International Institutions and International Law

  1. United Nations: http://www.un.org/en/
  2. International Court of Justice: http://www.icj-cij.org/homepage/
  3. International Criminal Court: http://www.icc-cpi.int/Pages/default.aspx
  4. Coalition for the International Criminal Court: http://www.iccnow.org/
  5. European Court of Human Rights: http://www.echr.coe.int/Pages/home.aspx?p=home
  6. European Court of Justice: http://europa.eu/about-eu/institutions-bodies/court-justice/index_en.htm
  7. Inter-American Court of Human Rights: http://www.corteidh.or.cr/index.php/en 
  8. Humanitarian Action Guide: http://librarybestbets.fairfield.edu/humanitarianaction 



  1. LexisNexis Environmental database (Abstracts, News, Journals; Commentary, Codes; Regulations, Case Law; Agency Actions, Waste; Materials) 
  2. CQ Almanac for Energy and Environment
  3. Georgetown Law Library environmental law research guide


Issues in Comparative Politics


  1. Polity IV: http://www.systemicpeace.org/polity/polity4.htm
  2. Freedom house: http://www.freedomhouse.org/
  3. Kellogg Institute Varieties of Democracy Project:  http://kellogg.nd.edu/projects/vdem/ 


Middle East

  1. http://www.jadaliyya.com/
  2. http://www.juancole.com/
  3. http://mondoweiss.net/
  4. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/monkey-cage/
  5. http://www.joshualandis.com/blog/
  6. http://kamilpasha.com/
  7. http://www.aljazeera.com/news/middleeast/
  8. http://electronicintifada.net/
  9. http://www.merip.org
  10. http://muftah.org/  

Latin America

  1. Latin America Public Opinion Project: http://www.vanderbilt.edu/lapop/
  2. World Bank Socio-Economic Dataset for Latin America and the Caribbean: http://data.worldbank.org/data-catalog/sedlac
  3. Inter-American development bank  Statistics and Databases: http://www.iadb.org/en/research-and-data/statistics-and-databases,3161.html
  4. Latin American Databank: http://www.ropercenter.uconn.edu/latin-american/latin-american-databank.html

Search Results