AU students studying political science in the School of Public Affairs will now be able to choose from six areas of specialization as part of the restructuring of the political science major, according to department of government adviser Nat Williamson.
The six areas of concentration are Policy; American Government; Comparative Politics; Law and Politics; Political Theory; and Race, Gender and Politics. If students are not interested in any of these areas, they can chose a non-concentration political science major that is similar to the previous political science major.
Students will take one class each in five of the concentration areas and will take four additional classes in the area they choose to be their specialization, Williamson said.
It will not change the number of classes students must take to graduate. Instead, the restructuring condenses the introductory courses and allows students to focus on the area in which they have the most interest, he said.
“The initial interest in restructuring was brought up by me and my advising colleagues based on feedback we received from students in our advising sessions,” Williamson said, noting many students were interested in studying a certain area of political science, such as policy or theory.
The new options will make political science majors similar to international relations majors in AU’s School of International Service, where students may also choose an area of concentration.
Williamson said the restructuring process took a year-and-a-half, during which the department kept track of the number of students choosing specializations on their own before pitching the idea to then-department chair Paul Newman and eventually to the entire faculty.
“All of the information we were able to collect ... and the review of other programs ... lead us to believe concentrations/specializations were what the students wanted,” Williamson said.
Williamson said the changes went into effect this fall, but the changes will only directly affect the current freshman class and all incoming students. However, upperclassmen can elect to follow the new requirements if they choose.
“Students admitted prior to the fall of 2006 have the option to select this structure, but they would need to meet with their counselor” to make sure they meet all the requirements in order to graduate, Williamson said.
Some sophomores and juniors have been very interested in participating in the new restructuring, and overall reaction has been positive, he said.
Some students, such as Kenneth Hammitt, a sophomore in both SPA and the College of Arts and Sciences, said they were unaware the restructuring process took place.
“I wish the government department would have informed all political science majors of the exact changes, but I have yet to find out what those changes are,” Hammitt said. “AU has done such a terrible job on informing people about the changes that I’m still in the dark on this issue.”