Politics Major

Program Overview

The Department of Politics offers stimulating classes and a cutting-edge curriculum that engages students in the most pressing issues facing us today, including economic and social policy, campaigns and elections, congress and the presidency, democracy, authoritarianism, the Arab Spring, terrorism, environmental policy, humanitarianism, international security, border politics, gender, class, race, and many other issues. The program 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 important challenges facing governments, international organizations, and communities at home and around the world. Through the study of politics, students gain skill sets and critical thinking abilities that prepare them for a wide array of careers in advocacy, business, consulting, government, international organizations, law, media, non-profits, and teaching, as well as graduate and professional degree programs in many fields.

 

Our Program

The Politics curriculum covers the discipline with foundational and elective courses in American and comparative politics, international relations, and political theory. Students can choose to organize their electives 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 in which they work closely with a faculty member. 

Many Politics courses are also key components of interdisciplinary programs as well as the Core Curriculum. Politics majors can also use their courses to fulfill requirements in American Studies, Asian Studies, Black Studies, Environmental Studies, International Studies, Latin American & Caribbean Studies, and other programs. Popular Politics courses also count toward the Social Science, Interdisciplinary, Social Justice, and Writing components of the undergraduate Core Curriculum. Full descriptions of all politics courses and the programs they also count toward can be found in the University Catalog.

 

Professional Development

Politics courses develop your critical thinking, analytical skills, and oral and written communication abilities. Politics students have many opportunities to engage in professional development and broaden their horizons through experiential learning. This includes a wide variety of internship options as well as courses that involve service-learning, visits by and to local officials, inclusive classroom discussions and debates, and opportunities to master new research methods, gain practical knowledge of public administration, build expertise in humanitarian and disaster response, and acquire other skills. Our broad array of internship options include the Connecticut General Assembly Legislative Internship Program, the Washington Internship Institute program, and a diverse set of opportunities with local government officials and agencies, advocacy organizations, political campaigns, law offices, and many businesses and job shadow programs.   

 

What Our Graduates Do

The Politics curriculum prepares students for careers in law, government, business, media, teaching, international organizations, and non-profits groups. Our graduates often attend top law schools or leading graduate programs in public policy, political science, public administration, business, and international affairs in the United States and abroad. Others go to work for members of Congress, leading businesses, government agencies, consulting or lobbying firms, and non-profit organizations. Some work for the Peace Corps, AmeriCorps, Teach for America, or the Jesuit Volunteer Corps. Some even run for elected office. Our students join the workforce with the analytic and communication skills needed to meet the demands of today’s job market and to navigate it successfully.

 

Requirements

Full descriptions of all Politics course can be found in the University Catalog.

Politics Major (Class of 2022 and later)

Four Foundational Courses

  • PO 101 Introduction to American Politics
  • PO 102 Introduction to Comparative Politics
  • PO 103 Introduction to Political Ideas that Shape the World
  • PO 104 Introduction to International Relations

Four Elective Courses

Four 200-level politics courses including one course in each of the following areas: American Politics; Comparative Politics; International Relations; and Political Theory.

Students have the opportunity to focus these electives within one or more themes: Law and Justice; Power and Political Action; Globalization and Inequality. (See list of elective courses below.)

One Culminating Experience Course: A 300 level Politics course

One Professional Development Course
Choose one of the following:

  • PO 273 Humanitarian and Disaster Response Field Training
  • PO 295 Research Methods
  • PO 296 State Legislature Internship
  • PO 297 Washington Semester Internship
  • PO 298 Internship
  • PO 299 Special Topics (when applicable)
  • SO 221 Statistics: Social and Political Data Analysis
  • SO 222 Methods of Research Design
  • Any 200 or 300 level Politics course specifically designated as a Service Learning course

Politics Minor (Class of 2022 and later)

Three Foundational Courses

Choose three of the following:

  • PO 101 Introduction to American Politics
  • PO 102 Introduction to Comparative Politics
  • PO 103 Introduction to Political Ideas that Shape the World
  • PO 104 Introduction to International Relations

Three Electives – Any three 200 or 300 level Politics courses

Politics Major (Class of 2021 and earlier)

Three Required Courses

  • PO 101 Introduction to American Politics (formerly PO 11)
  • PO 102 Introduction to Comparative Politics (formerly PO 12)
  • PO 103 Introduction to Political Ideas that Shape the World (formerly PO 14)

Seven Elective Courses

Seven Politics courses including one course in each of the following areas: American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations, and Political Theory.

Politics Minor (Class of 2021 and earlier)

Three Required Courses

  • • PO 101 Introduction to American Politics (formerly PO 11)
  • • PO 102 Introduction to Comparative Politics (formerly PO 12)
  • • PO 103 Introduction to Political Ideas that Shape the World (formerly PO 14)

Three Electives – Any three Politics courses

Politics Electives

All Politics Electives – Divided by Subfield

Politics majors must complete at least one course in each of the following areas: American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations, and Political Theory

American Politics

American Politics is the study of political institutions, electoral behavior, political culture, and policy change in the United States and the changing role of the United States in an increasingly global world.

  • PO 201 Introduction to the Study of Peace and Justice
  • PO 202 Urban Politics
  • PO 203 Public Administration
  • PO 204 The American Presidency
  • PO 205 United States Congress
  • PO 206 Supreme Court I
  • PO 207 Supreme Court II
  • PO 208 Political Parties and Interest Groups
  • PO 209 American Public Policy
  • PO 211 Media and Politics
  • PO 212 US Environmental Politics and Policy
  • PO 213 State and Local Politics
  • PO 214 Public Opinion and Polling
  • PO 215 Campaigns and Elections
  • PO 301 Battle over Family Values in 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) as well as scholars who emphasize cross-national comparisons

  • PO 250 European Politics and the European Union
  • PO 251 Islam and Muslim Politics
  • PO 252 African Politics
  • PO 253 Latin American Politics
  • PO 254 Caribbean Politics
  • PO 255 Middle East Politics
  • PO 256 Asian Politics
  • PO 257 Northern Ireland The Politics of War and Peace
  • PO 258 Political Violence
  • PO 259 Development Gap
  • PO 261 Authoritarianism and Film
  • PO 305 Seminar on the Middle East

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 scholars study 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.

  • PO 217 United Nations Security Council Crisis Simulation
  • PO 272 Politics of Humanitarian Action
  • PO 273 Humanitarian and Disaster Response Field Training
  • PO 274 International Environmental Policies
  • PO 275 Climate Change Politics and Policy
  • PO 276 United States Foreign Policy
  • PO 277 Globalization: Who Rules the World?
  • PO 278 International Law
  • PO 279 Threats to Global Security in the 21st Century
  • PO 280 Border Politics
  • PO 281 International Human Rights
  • PO 303 Gender, War and Peace
  • PO 304 Seminar on Global Environmental Politics

Political Theory

Power. Justice. Freedom. Citizenship. Political theory examines these and other ideas that form the foundation of the theory and practice of politics. Students learn more about these and many others ideas and ideals by critically engaging with the work of thinkers such as Plato, Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Thomas Jefferson, Karl Marx, Michel Foucault, Carole Pateman and others in order to better understand the political world in which we live today.

  • PO 231 21st Century Power Politics
  • PO 232 Utopian Politics
  • PO 233 American Political Thought
  • PO 234 Sex, Sexuality and Gender
  • PO 235 Modern Political Ideologies
  • PO 236 Politics of Race, Class, and Gender
  • PO 302 Seminar on Feminist Theory

Other Electives

  • PO 295 Research Methods
  • PO 296 State Legislature Internship
  • PO 297 Washington Semester Internship
  • PO 298 Internship
  • PO 299 Special Topics
  • PO 300 Politics Seminar
  • PO 398 Independent Study

All Politics Electives – Divided by Theme

Politics students have the opportunity to focus and organize their electives within one or more themes: Law and Justice; Power and Political Action; and Globalization and Inequality.

Law and Justice

  • PO 203 Public Administration
  • PO 206 Supreme Court I
  • PO 207 Supreme Court II
  • PO 209 American Public Policy
  • PO 232 Utopian Politics
  • PO 233 American Political Thought
  • PO 250 European Politics and the European Union
  • PO 271 United Nations Security Council Crisis Simulation
  • PO 278 International Law

Power and Political Action

  • PO 201 Introduction to Peace and Justice
  • PO 204 American Presidency
  • PO 205 United States Congress
  • PO 212 US Environmental Politics
  • PO 213 State and Local Politics
  • PO 214 Public Opinion and Polling
  • PO 215 Campaigns and Elections
  • PO 231 21st Century Power Politics
  • PO 235 Modern Political Ideologies
  • PO 236 Politics of Race, Class, & Gender
  • PO 252 African Politics
  • PO 255 Middle Eastern Politics
  • PO 256 Asian Politics
  • PO 257 Northern Ireland: Politics of War and Peace
  • PO 261 Authoritarianism and Film
  • PO 272 Politics of Humanitarian Action
  • PO 273 Humanitarian & Disaster Response Field Training
  • PO 276 United States Foreign Policy
  • PO 280 Border Politics

Globalization and Inequality

  • PO 202 Urban Politics
  • PO 208 Political Parties & Interest Groups
  • PO 211 Media and Politics
  • PO 234 Sex, Sexuality, and Gender
  • PO 251 Islam and Muslim Politics
  • PO 253 Latin American Politics
  • PO 254 Caribbean Politics
  • PO 258 Political Violence
  • PO 259 The Development Gap
  • PO 274 International Environmental Policies
  • PO 275 Climate Change: Politics and Policy
  • PO 277 Globalization: Who Rules the World?
  • PO 279 Threats to Global Security in the 21st Century

Full course descriptions can be found in the University Catalog.

Internships & Study Abroad

Politics students can pursue several different types of off-campus study opportunities. These include study abroad, internship programs with the CT state legislature (PO 296) and in Washington, DC (PO 297), and a variety of other internship offered through the Politics department (PO 298) and the Fairfield University Career Center.

Fairfield University offers a large number of study abroad options around the world. In addition, a number of politics majors have received 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.

PO 296 offers credit for the Connecticut General Assembly Legislative Internship Program. This internship program provides students first-hand experience with the legislative process, training, academic discussions, and direct work with the legislator to whom the student is assigned.

PO 297 offers credit for students interning in Washington DC through the Washington Internship Institute (WII). In this semester-long or summer program, students work four days-a-week in an internship with a member of Congress, Cabinet department, government agency, leading non-profit, or international organization. The program also includes a policy seminar and option for a research paper.

In recent years, Politics students have undertaken internships (PO 298) with members of Congress; Connecticut state legislators; town mayors and other local office holders; government offices in Bridgeport, Fairfield, Hartford and other towns; candidates running for office; law firms; media companies; many different types of local, national and international non-profit and advocacy organizations; and many different businesses. For more information on internship options, contact Edie Cassidy at ecassidy4@fairfield.edu.

Students may count credits for these (and similar) off-campus study opportunties as follows:

  • Study Abroad: Three credit hours for approved study abroad courses can substitute for one 200-level Politics elective course
  • Connecticut State Assembly Internship: Six credit hours total; students may count three credits of PO 296 toward the Politics major or minor and three credit hours toward general graduation credit
  • Washington Internship Institute: Students can earn a maximum of 15 credit hours, six credits of which may count for the politics major or minor. The remaining credits (usually six or nine) can count toward general graduation requirements. Three of the Politics credit hours can count toward the major or minor as politics internship credit. Three other Politics credits are earned as part of a WII policy course and count as a thematic elective in American or International Relations, depending on the focus of WII policy seminar

 

 

Student & Alumni Spotlight

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Nadra Al-Hamwy

'18

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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. 

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Jennifer Amdur

'09

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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.

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Richard Burke

'17

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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. 

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Klevisa Kovaci

'14

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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.

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Enxhi Myslymi

'15

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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. 

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Olivia Tourgee

'16

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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.

 

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Sydney Williams

'19

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Undergrad Degree: Politics; International Studies
Hometown: Spring, Texas
Extracurricular Activities: Magis Scholar, Vice President of Pi Sigma Alpha, Founder and President of Fairfield University’s Black Student Union, Editor for the Fairfield Undergraduate Journal of Global Citizenship, Division I Volleyball Player, Pre-Law Society, International Business/Studies Club Secretary

Why did you choose to attend Fairfield University?

I chose Fairfield University because it felt like an environment that I would thrive in. As a student-athlete, I was recruited for volleyball, but from the moment I had my first visit, I could not imagine myself attending any other university. From the ideal, movie-like campus to the many opportunities I was encouraged to pursue, it just felt like the right fit. Being from Texas, Fairfield, Connecticut was very much out of my comfort zone, but I loved the challenge that being so far from home presented. I was extremely intrigued by the idea of venturing out to see what the East Coast had to offer and developing intellectually.

 

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:

One project that I am extremely proud was in collaboration with Dr. Janie Leatherman for her PO 390 International Human Rights course. It was a class dedicated to the assessment of fundamental human rights principles and institutions in an international context. In this service-learning course, I was introduced to the origins, maturation, and enforcement of international human rights laws and policies. In learning about the procedures used by the international institutions and NGOs to combat human rights violations, I was educated about the dimensions of the international human rights regimes through their advocacy work for Scholars at Risk.

We studied the case of Professor Bekele Gerba, a professor of foreign languages at the University of Addis Ababa and nonviolent activist. When he was arrested, Professor Gerba held the position of First Secretary General of the Oromo Federalist Congress (OFC), an Ethiopian political party. Along with my classmates, I prepared an advocacy report for his case that later helped Scholars at Risk in their work to globally raise awareness about Gerba’s case, ensure the protection of his human rights, and see-through to his release.

My classmates and I planned a week of events both on and off campus to advocate for Professor Gerba at the United Nations and on Capitol Hill. Throughout the semester, we were in constant communication with various Ethiopian civil rights activists, political leaders, and Dr. Gerba’s family members to get updates on his case and the current state of the tensions between the Oromo and Tigrayan people. After word of our advocacy had reached the greater Fairfield community, we were interviewed by local news sources here in Connecticut, and even some international news outlets which allowed us to further raise awareness about Dr. Gerba’s case.

 

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

I was immediately drawn to the department because I admired how much the professors made it a point to build a relationship with their students and see them through to success.

I will never forget my first politics class with Dr. Marcie Patton. It was by far the most intense and challenging academic environment I had ever been in, but it was also one of the most rewarding because I was able to see what I was capable of achieving at Fairfield and beyond. As a politics undergraduate, my thinking is constantly challenged, and I am forced to look at topics in a way that I would not otherwise.

 

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Faculty

Our professors conduct research and teach courses in all areas of political science and also play important roles in many interdisciplinary programs. This reflects the fact that Politics is a hub discipline, a crucial area of study that intersects with important issues in every area of the world. Politics faculty members have won awards for their teaching and advising but also remain deeply connected to current, real-world political issues, working as consultants, analysts, advocates, trainers, and researchers at the local, state, national and international levels. The department provides quality student mentoring and regularly produces top students recognized for their academic excellence, service and leadership.

 

 

Recent Faculty Highlights

11617_ug_aca_cas_politics_Alberda_07272018Dr. Gayle Alberda's  research focuses on elections, campaigns, and public administration. A former campaign professional, she directs the Ready to Run Connecticut program that prepares women to run for office and participate in the political process. Many TV, radio, and print reporters feature comments by Dr. Alberda, including WTNH’s Capitol Report, analyzing current political developments. She is also a co-founder of the Master in Public Administration’s annual summit meeting, which brings together a diverse set of policy makers, business leaders, and the general public to discuss important issues. Dr. Alberda is part of a large national study of polling places in which she involves Fairfield students. This work has produced several publications, including the 2018 article, “Pedagogical Value of Polling-Place Observation by Students.”

 

Dr. Gwendoline Alphonso’s latest book, Polarized Families, Polarized Parties: Contesting Values and Economics in American Politics, published by the University of Pennsylvania Press in July 2018, has received tremendous reviews. The book 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. Her scholarly article “Resurgent Parenthood – Organic Domestic Ideas & the Southern Family Roots of Conservative Ascendancy, 1980-2005” appeared recently in the journal Polity, as part of a symposium showcasing significant scholarship on “Family, State, and American Political Development.” Professor Alphonso analyses of recent Democratic and Republican party politics have also been 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 a book manuscript titled, Beyond the Good Friday Agreement: How Former Enemies are Building Peace and Working Class Power In Northern Ireland. The volume builds on a unique and exciting set of interviews and research Professor Cassidy had undertaken in Northern Ireland for many years.

 

11617_ug_aca_cas_politics_Downie_07272018Dr. David Downie regularly attends global environmental negotiations on policy to control toxic chemicals and reduce mercury emissions. He serves as associate editor 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.  His most recent book, Global Environmental Politics, 7th Edition (Westview Press, 2017) was listed by Amazon as a #1 Hot New Release in Environmental and Natural Resources Law. Professor Downie’s other recent publications include: 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); “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); and "The First Six Years of JESS: Categorizing Authors and Topics." Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences (DOI: 10.1007/s13412-017-0448-3), which he co-authored with four Fairfield University students.

 

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 is currently writing a book on Global Peace Studies. Working with Dr. Kathryn Nantz, an economist at Fairfield University, she recently co-authored, “Engaging Students in Humanitarian Action Using Enduring Questions: A Jesuit Approach,” for the Handbook of Peace and Conflict Studies (Routledge, 2019). In 2017, Dr. Leatherman and Nantz led a pedagogy workshop on humanitarian action at the 2017 JUHAN conference at the College of the Holy Cross. Dr. Leatherman also gave separate presentations and a workshop on advocacy for human rights at the 2017 JUHAN conference as well as at a conference organized by the Oromo’s for Human Rights and Democracy in Washington, DC.

 

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

Mission

To stimulate scholarship and intelligent interest in political science.

Description

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

Fairfield University has an active chapter of the national Politics Honor Society. Each year the department convenes an awards ceremony to recognize Fairfield students inducted into the Society. Held in historic Bellarmine Hall, the event often includes the President of Fairfield University, who is a member of the Politics Department, remarks by a recent, prominent alumnus of the Politics Department, and a reception for the student inductees, their families and friends, and faculty.

Chapter (Name): Kappa Chi

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

Student President, Vice-President, and Treasurer/Secrtary are elected every year

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 

 

Environment

  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

Democracy

  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/ 

Regions

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

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