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Courses of Study
The Department of Government is a community of teachers and students dedicated to the study of politics, defined as the contest for and exercise of power.
At the conclusion of their course of study, majors in government should know (a) the major theoretical arguments about the nature and purpose of political communities, (b) the salient features and the strengths and weaknesses of various political systems and the reasons for those strengths and weaknesses, and (c) the principal theoretical frameworks for understanding the causes of international cooperation and conflict.
Our graduates will demonstrate the ability (a) to think critically and creatively, (b) to conduct political science research systematically, identifying and evaluating different sources of information and evidence, and (c) to communicate effectively the results of that research.
Requirements for the Major in Government
Fulfillment of the government major requires successful completion of 10 courses in government, including: Government 111, 131, 171; at least one “regional gateway” and one “thematic” course in comparative politics; and a 400-level senior seminar. The regional gateway courses include Government 251, 252, 253, 256, and 259; the thematic courses include Government 243, 263 (taught as 398C in 2010), 344 (taught as 398A in 2010), 354, 357, and 359. A writing project meeting the department’s guidelines is also required.
Government majors should complete all of the required 100-level courses by the end of their sophomore year. Note that beginning with the Class of 2014 the only 100-level government courses that may be counted for the major are the required introductory courses. Students with a score of 5 on the Advanced Placement 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 400-level course, and the writing assignment must be taken at Colby, and at least three 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 or make a contribution to a group research project judged by the supervising faculty member to be equivalent to a conventional 20-page research paper. The writing project can be a major research paper assigned as part of a course or the product of a freestanding independent study.
No government major may take any government course satisfactory/unsatisfactory; only courses in which a grade of C- or better is received may be counted as part of the major. 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 considering the thesis program are strongly encouraged to enroll in Government 281 during their sophomore or junior year. Students seeking admission to the senior thesis program are expected to seek approval of a sponsor and the department chair before the conclusion of their junior year. 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 and on the department’s website.
Introductory courses at the 100-level are normally limited to 50 students, 200- and 300-level courses to 25 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.
Colby College reserves the right in its sole judgement to make changes of any nature in its program, calendar, academic schedule, fees, deposits, or any other matters in this catalogue.