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Program Overview


The Department of Politics offers a stimulating and cutting-edge curriculum that engages students with critical economic, security, environmental and social policy debates, campaigns and elections, congress and the presidency, democracy, authoritarianism, terrorism, humanitarian action, 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 Politics, International Relations, Comparative Politics, and Political Theory. If they choose, students can organize their electives thematically under topics such as 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 many interdisciplinary programs as well as the Core Curriculum. Politics majors can use their courses to fulfill requirements in American Studies, Asian Studies, Black Studies, Catholic Studies, Environmental Studies, Humanitarian Action, International Studies, Irish Studies, Italian Studies, Latin American & Caribbean Studies, Peace and Justice Studies, and other programs. Many 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 critical thinking, analytical skills, and oral and written communication abilities. Politics students enjoy 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 government officials, inclusive classroom discussions and debates, and opportunities to acquire skills, master new research methods, gain practical knowledge, and build expertise in public policy, campaigns, public administration, humanitarian and disaster response, and other issues. Our broad array of internship options include the Connecticut General Assembly Legislative Internship Program, the Washington Internship Institute program, and a large and diverse set of opportunities with local government officials and agencies, advocacy organizations, political campaigns, law offices, businesses and job shadow programs.


What Our Graduates Do

The Politics curriculum prepares students for careers in advocacy organizations, business, consulting, government, international organizations, law, media, non-profits groups, teaching, and other fields. Our graduates often attend leading law schools or 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.


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

Politics Major (Class of 2022 and later)

Four Foundational Courses

  • POLI 1101 Introduction to American Politics
  • POLI 1102 Introduction to Comparative Politics
  • POLI 1103 Introduction to Political Ideas that Shape the World
  • POLI 1104 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:

  • POLI 2473 Humanitarian and Disaster Response Field Training
  • POLI 2501 Research Methods
  • POLI 3981 State Legislature Internship
  • POLI 3982 Washington Semester Internship
  • POLI 3980 Internship
  • POLI 2900 Special Topics (when applicable)
  • SOCI 3610 Statistics: Social and Political Data Analysis
  • SOCI 3600 Methods of Research Design
  • Any 2000 or 3000 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:

  • POLI 1101 Introduction to American Politics
  • POLI 1102 Introduction to Comparative Politics
  • POLI 1103 Introduction to Political Ideas that Shape the World
  • POLI 1104 Introduction to International Relations

Three Electives – Any three 2000 or 3000 level Politics courses

Politics Major (Class of 2021 and earlier)

Three Required Courses

  • POLI 1101 Introduction to American Politics (formerly PO 101)
  • POLI 1102 Introduction to Comparative Politics (formerly PO 102)
  • POLI 1103 Introduction to Political Ideas that Shape the World (formerly PO 104)

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

  • POLI 1101 Introduction to American Politics (formerly PO 101)
  • POLI 1102 Introduction to Comparative Politics (formerly PO 102)
  • POLI 1103 Introduction to Political Ideas that Shape the World (formerly PO 104)

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.

  • POLI 2102 Urban Politics
  • POLI 2103 Public Administration
  • POLI 2104 The American Presidency
  • POLI 205 United States Congress
  • POLI 2106 Supreme Court I
  • POLI 2107 Supreme Court II
  • POLI 2108 Political Parties and Interest Groups
  • POLI 2109 American Public Policy
  • POLI 2111 Media and Politics
  • POLI 2112 US Environmental Politics and Policy
  • POLI 2113 State and Local Politics
  • POLI 2114 Public Opinion and Polling
  • POLI 2115 Campaigns and Elections
  • POLI 4301 Battle over Family Values in American Politics
  • POLI 4310 War on Voting: Election Laws and Administration in the US

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

  • POLI 2250 European Politics and the European Union
  • POLI 2251 Islam and Muslim Politics
  • POLI 2252 African Politics
  • POLI 2253 Latin American Politics
  • POLI 2254 Caribbean Politics
  • POLI 2255 Middle East Politics
  • POLI 2256 Asian Politics
  • POLI 2257 Northern Ireland The Politics of War and Peace
  • POLI 2258 Political Violence
  • POLI 2259 Development Gap
  • POLI 2261 Authoritarianism and Film
  • POLI 4305 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.

  • POLI 2471 United Nations Security Council Crisis Simulation
  • POLI 2472 Politics of Humanitarian Action
  • POLI 2473 Humanitarian and Disaster Response Field Training
  • POLI 2474 International Environmental Policies
  • POLI 2475 Climate Change Politics and Policy
  • POLI 2476 United States Foreign Policy
  • POLI 2477 Globalization: Who Rules the World?
  • POLI 2478 International Law
  • POLI 2479 Threats to Global Security in the 21st Century
  • POLI 2480 Border Politics
  • POLI 2481 International Human Rights
  • POLI 4303 Gender, War and Peace
  • POLI 4304 Seminar on Global Environmental Politics
  • POLI 4314 International Perspectives on World 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.

  • POLI 2331 Introduction to the Study of Peace and Justice
  • POLI 2332 Utopian Politics
  • POLI 2333 American Political Thought
  • POLI 2334 Sex, Sexuality and Gender
  • POLI 2335 Modern Political Ideologies
  • POLI 2336 Politics of Race, Class, and Gender
  • POLI 4302 Seminar on Feminist Theory

Other Electives

  • POLI 2501 Research Methods
  • POLI 2900 Special Topics
  • POLI 3980 Internship
  • POLI 3981 State Legislature Internship
  • POLI 3982 Washington Semester Internship
  • POLI 3990 Independent Study
  • POLI 4320 Politics Seminar

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

  • POLI 2103 Public Administration
  • POLI 2106 Supreme Court I
  • POLI 2107 Supreme Court II
  • POLI 2109 American Public Policy
  • POLI 2250 European Politics and the European Union
  • POLI 2332 Utopian Politics
  • POLI 2333 American Political Thought
  • POLI 2471 United Nations Security Council Crisis Simulation
  • POLI 2478 International Law

Power and Political Action

  • POLI 2104 American Presidency
  • POLI 2105 United States Congress
  • POLI 2112 US Environmental Politics and Policy
  • POLI 2113 State and Local Politics
  • POLI 2114 Public Opinion and Polling
  • POLI 2115 Campaigns and Elections
  • POLI 2331 Introduction to Peace and Justice
  • POLI 2335 Modern Political Ideologies
  • POLI 2336 Politics of Race, Class, & Gender
  • POLI 2252 African Politics
  • POLI 2255 Middle Eastern Politics
  • POLI 2256 Asian Politics
  • POLI 2257 Northern Ireland: Politics of War and Peace
  • POLI 2261 Authoritarianism and Film
  • POLI 2472 Politics of Humanitarian Action
  • POLI 2473 Humanitarian & Disaster Response Field Training
  • POLI 2476 United States Foreign Policy
  • POLI 2480 Border Politics

Globalization and Inequality

  • POLI 2102 Urban Politics
  • POLI 2108 Political Parties & Interest Groups
  • POLI 2111 Media and Politics
  • POLI 2251 Islam and Muslim Politics
  • POLI 2253 Latin American Politics
  • POLI 2254 Caribbean Politics
  • POLI 2258 Political Violence
  • POLI 2259 The Development Gap
  • POLI 2334 Sex, Sexuality, and Gender
  • POLI 2474 International Environmental Policies
  • POLI 2475 Climate Change: Politics and Policy
  • POLI 2477 Globalization
  • POLI 2479 Threats to Global Security in the 21st Century
  • POLI 4304 Seminar on Global Environmental Politics

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


The Department of Politics presents two prestigious awards each year. Students receiving these honors participate in the annual College of Arts and Sciences Awards Ceremony and receive additional printed recognition in the Commencement Program, which is distributed during graduation.

  • The Passarelli-Guinta Award for Excellence in Political Science is presented annually to the graduating senior who has achieved the highest academic performance in classes taken toward their politics major.
  • The John Orman Award for Political Activism is presented annually to a graduating politics major who has combined outstanding academic performance with a demonstrated and productive commitment to political activism.

The Politics Department also inducts outstanding students into Pi Sigma Alpha, the only national Honor Society for college students of political science, politics and government in the United States. Each year, the Politics Department holds an awards ceremony to recognize Fairfield students inducted into the society. Held in historic Bellarmine Hall, the event often includes University President and Politic Professor Mark R. Nemec, PhD, remarks by a prominent alumnus of the Politics Department, and a reception for the student inductees, their families friends, and faculty.

In addition to our departmental awards, politics students are also eligible for, and in many cases receive, University-wide awards, fellowships, and scholarships that are open to all Fairfield undergraduates. These include:

  • The St. Ignatius Loyola Medal, which is given annually to a senior who has shown commitment to high academic standards and substantial involvement in community service and/or extracurricular activities.
  • The William J. Kramer ’60 Humanitarian Award, which recognizes a senior who has shown a commitment to volunteerism and service to an external community activity that best exemplifies the Ignatian tradition of being men and women for and with others.
  • Student Achievement Awards, which recognize seniors who have shown exceptional dedication to and enhancement of a specific Fairfield University program, activity, organization, or project.
  • The Fairfield University Honors Program, which invites highly accomplished and motivated students, including eligible politics majors, to participate in an engaging and enriching series of special courses in which intensive academic activities are connected to meaningful experiential learning.
  • The national Alpha Sigma Nu Honor Society, the Honor Society of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, which recognizes individual students who distinguish themselves in scholarship, loyalty and service.
  • Phi Beta Kappa, the oldest and most widely recognized national academic honor society in the United States.
  • The Bellarmine Scholars program, which provides a unique opportunity for Fairfield sophomores to study in Florence, Italy.
  • Campus Sustainability Committee Grants, three of which are awarded each year to students and faculty who submit winning proposals for projects that will positively affect environmental and sustainability issues on campus.
  • A large number of prestigious Student-Faculty Research Grants, including: The E. Gerald Corrigan Endowed Scholars Fund; Hardiman Scholars Fund; Lawrence Family Faculty Student Mentor Program; Mancini Family Faculty Student Research Fund; Kathleen McGuiness Mentorship Program; Emil and Daniel Brennan Endowed Fund; Faculty Student Collaborative Research Fund; Thomas Hulseman Fund for Student Global Experiential Learning; and the College of Arts and Sciences Faculty-Student Research Endowment.

Finally, many politics majors also complete a second major or a minor in one of Fairfield's outstanding interdisciplinary programs. Consequently, politics students have also won awards given by other programs or been inducted into their discipline's honors societies, including American Studies, Black Studies, Catholic Studies, Economics, Environmental Studies, French, International Studies, Irish Studies, Digital Journalism, and Peace and Justice Studies, among others.

Extra-Curricular Activities

Many politics students participate, and in many cases play leadership roles, in a wide variety of extra-curricular campus activities. The full list is vast, but as a representative sample, in recent years this has included:

  • Fairfield University Student Association (FUSA), the University’s student government association
  • "Lets Talk Politics," the Politics Department speaker series
  • "Across the Aisle," a student organized discussion forum
  • College Democrats
  • College Republicans
  • Model United Nations
  • Pre-Law Society
  • Leaders for Environmental Action at Fairfield
  • Lean In
  • New Student Leaders
  • The Mirror, Fairfield’s student newspaper
  • WVOF, the student radio station
  • Performing for Change
  • Operation Smile
  • Outdoors Club
  • Random Acts of Kindness
  • Colleges Against Cancer
  • Relay for Life
  • Economics Club
  • Entrepreneurship Club
  • Proactive Investment Club
  • French Club, German Club, and Spanish Club
  • International Business/Studies Club
  • Stags Give Back
  • Student United Way
  • Students 4 Social Justice
  • Fairfield Christian Fellowship
  • Asian Students Association
  • Spanish-American & Latino Student Association
  • South Asian Student Association
  • Division 1 Varsity Athletics

Student & Alumni Spotlight

Nadra Al-Hamwy

Class of '18

The Gambia Intern

Get to Know Nadra

Undergraduate 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).

"I wish you could enter my brain and see what I experienced at this moment; tons and tons of men standing next to each other, in synchronized motion of prayer, all going down and up together, absolute silence or the echoing effect of hundreds of people saying "Allah Abakar" or "Ameen." And oh my goodness, all the colors and patterns of everyone's new Koriteh outfits. Truly mesmerizing."

– Nadra Al-Hamway '18 about her internship in The Gambia

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

Class of '09

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

Class of '17

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 ’14

Youth Assembly, United Nations
Learn More About Klevisa

Klevisa is an international development consultant and currently working for Youth Assembly at the United Nations, a program of Friendship Ambassadors Foundation. She has engaged in international organizations and work in France, Indonesia, India and China. She worked in UN Women in Kosovo and the Permanent Mission of Albania to the UN. Her specializations include democratization, gender and sustainable development. Klevisa has dual Master's degrees from Columbia University and Sciences Po Paris in International Affairs and Development. She graduated from Fairfield University, majoring in International Studies, Politics and French.

Enxhi Myslymi

Class of '15

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

Class of '16

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.


Sydney Williams

Class of '19

Get to Know Sydney

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.


Recent Faculty Highlights

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 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 interview Dr. Alberda, including WTNH’s Capitol Report, and include her comments analyzing current political developments. She also teaches in Faifield’s Master in Public Administration (MPA) program and co-founded  the MPA’s popular, annual summit meeting which brings together a diverse set of policy makers, business leaders, and the general public to discuss important issues. In addition to other research, 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, (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2018), has received tremendous reviews. The book and podcast portray 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, who also directs Fairfield University’s Pre-Law program, has written analyses of recent Democratic and Republican party politics which have been featured in serveral publications, including the Hartford Courant.


11617_ug_aca_cas_politics_Boryczka_Zanzibar_07272018Dr. Jocelyn Boryczka has been 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's research focuses on global environmental policy, and he regularly attends international negotiations on policy to control toxic chemicals, reduce mercury emissions, and protect the ozone layer. He currently serves the chair of the Politics Department, the director of Environmental Studies, associate editor of the Journal for Environmental Studies and Sciences, and on the editorial board of Case Studies in the Environment. His most recent publications include: Global Environmental Politics, 8th Edition (forthcoming, 2020), written with Professor Pamela Chasek; "Experimenting with Triple COPs: Productive Innovation or Counter-productive Complexity?" which appeared in  International Environmental Agreements: Politics, Law and Economics, and was written with Jen Allen and Jessica Templeton; “Still No Time for Complacency: Evaluating the Ongoing Success and Continued Challenge of Global Ozone Policy,” Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences; “Case Studies in the Environment: An Analysis of Author, Editor, and Case Characteristics,” Case Studies in the Environment; and "The First Six Years of JESS: Categorizing Authors and Topics," Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences, which he co-authored with four Fairfield University students.


Dr. Adam Howe has recently published two journal articles on political violence in Southeast Asia. “Discourses of Exclusion: The Societal Securitization of Burma’s Rohingya” and “A Long Way to Peace: Identities, Genocide and State Preservation in Burma” examine elite-driven violence perpetrated against ethno-religious minorities in Burma/Myanmar. In 2019, Dr. Howe presented his research at the American Political Science Association and Midwest Political Science Association annual meetings.

Dr. Lucrecia Garcia Iommi’s research on international relations focuses on norms in relation to global governance especially in terms of norm change and agency in the Global South, as well as U.S. foreign policy and international law, which is the subject of a forthcoming volume she is co-editing for The University of Michigan Press. Her recent publications include, “Whose Justice? The ICC Africa Problem” International Relations (2019).


Dr. Janie Leatherman recently published “Engaging Students in Humanitarian Action Using Enduring Questions,” in the Routledge Companion to Peace and Conflict Studies (Sean Byrne, et al., eds), which she co-authored with Dr. Kathryn Nantz, a Professor of Economics at Fairfield. Dr. Leatherman recently led a university-wide effort that resulted in a major grant from the Davis Educational Foundation on “Civic Education through the Promise of Democracy,” an initiative which she will direct. It will provide funding for faculty learning communities, the development of new courses and course modules, student development, training for faculty and students on difficult dialogue as well as the development of resources to support these efforts. Dr. Leatherman also serves as director of the Humanitarian Action program, which won a Curricular Innovation Grant Award to explore the possibilities of developing a Humanitarian Action Professional Certificate Program. She is currently working on a book project on Global Peace Studies.

University President and Professor of Politics Dr. Mark R. Nemec visited Capitol Hill as part of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities annual meeting. He spoke with several members of Congress, including Senator Chris Murphy and Representatives Jim Himes (CT 4th District) and Rosa DeLauro (CT 3rd District), about student access to higher education, key factors for enhancing their success, and the pending reauthorization of the Higher Education Act. Dr. Nemec also recently traveled to Hartford to testify before CT state lawmakers on the Higher Education and Employment Enhancement Committee, highlighting the strength of Fairfield’s processes for assessing and approving educational programs. He argued that the current state procedure, which was the subject of a bill before the committee and allows certain exemptions from the state approval process, was “essential to Fairfield’s ability to provide students and the greater community with innovative programs and necessary skills to create positive change.” President Nemec was also recently elected Secretary of the Board of Directors of the Connecticut Conference of Independent Colleges.


Dr. Marcie Patton continues to carry out fieldwork, including conducting research travel to Turkey, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan in recent years. She contributed a chapter on Turkey to the 3rd edition of Politics & Society in the Contemporary Middle East, edited by Michele Penner Angrist (Lynne Rienner, 2019). She was recently awarded the Fairfield University Faculty Welfare Committee/American Association of University Professors Lifetime Service Award.


Dr. Aaron Weinstein recently presented a Tedx talk at Tufts University titled “Rediscovering Civil Religion in America,” that is currently available on Youtube. In his talk, he discusses the significance of Civil Religion in American history and politics and reminds listeners of our individual roles in maintaining this unique system.

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

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


  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

Search Results