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See course descriptions for this department or program
Chair, Associate Professor Joseph Reisert
The Department of Government offers a wide range of courses in American government, comparative politics, international relations, political theory, and environmental politics. Departmental goals include exposing students to a variety of forms of governments and intergovernmental activities and to the means for studying governments and their actions.
Requirements for the Major in Government
Fulfillment of the government major requires successful completion of 10 courses in government, including: Government 111, 131, 171; one “gateway” and one “thematic” course in comparative government; and a 400-level senior seminar. A writing project meeting the department’s guidelines is also required. The "gateway" courses offered in 2009-2010 include Government 251, 252, 253, 256, and 259; the "thematic" courses include Government 333, 353, 357, 398A, and 398C. Government majors should complete all of the 100-level courses by the end of their sophomore year. Students with a score of 5 on the AP examination in U.S. Government and Politics may elect to substitute a 200- or 300-level course in American Politics for Government 111.
Among the courses counted toward the government major, all of the required, introductory 100-level courses, the two comparative government courses, the 400-level course, and the writing assignment must be taken at Colby, and at least two 200- or 300-level courses (not including independent studies) must be taken at Colby. Students with AP credit who place out of Government 111 must take at least four 200- or 300-level courses at Colby. Courses transferred from other institutions can count (up to a maximum of two) in the 10-course requirement. For transfer students, the department will count up to five courses from the previous institution with the permission of the department chair, excluding the seminar and writing assignment. Students taking government courses abroad must secure provisional approval for each course prior to leaving; upon return to Colby, brief descriptions of work completed must be submitted to the department for final approval.
To satisfy the departmental writing requirement, students must complete a major original research project of 20 pages or more. It can be a major research paper assigned as part of a course or a freestanding independent study.
No government major may take any government course satisfactory/unsatisfactory. No requirement for the government major may be waived without written permission of the department chair.
The Senior Thesis and Honors in Government
For those students who intend to pursue the study of government in more depth, the department offers a senior thesis program that emphasizes substantial independent research under the close guidance of one or two members of the faculty. Students majoring in government must apply during their junior year for admission to the senior thesis program. Students whose theses are judged worthy of honors by the department faculty will graduate "With Honors in Government." Further information is available from the department chair.
Government 100-level courses are normally limited to 50 students, 200- and 300-level courses to 30 students, and 400-level courses to 12 students.
Internships are encouraged so that students can experience the practical as well as the more theoretical aspects of the field.