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Why Study Politics at Moravian University?

Students studying outside

Why Study Politics at Moravian University?

The areas of study in virtually every political department fall into four broad categories:  American politics, political theory, comparative, and international politics. At Moravian University we go further. Naturally we prepare students for careers after Moravian University, whether in government, law, teaching, corporate, non-profit sector and beyond. But we seek to transform students in a way that prepares them both for leadership in their chosen field and for moral and political engagement in the world.

The more privilege you have, the more opportunity you have, the more opportunity you have, the more responsibility you have.

—Noam Chomsky

Plato of Athens, the founder of one of the first colleges, taught that the indispensable mission of liberal learning was to ask questions on behalf of getting at the origin, the root of problems. For him this meant a radical approach, the word radical being derived from the Latin word radix or root. We expect our students and ourselves to be radical learners.

Critical inquiry into the momentous and controversial issues of the time has been the abiding hallmark within our political science classrooms. We demand that students examine all received political wisdom even when that’s personally challenging and at times, uncomfortable. As the feminist and journalist Gloria Steinem once said, “The truth will set you free. But first it will piss you off.”  In that sense we make no apologies about our dedication to learning more about global peace and justice within an explicitly interdisciplinary approach. As such, the department concurs with the late South African president Nelson Mandela's declaration that "Massive poverty and obscene inequality are such terrible scourges of our times...they have to rank among slavery and apartheid. Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity, it is a act of justice. It the protection of a fundamental human right—the right to dignity and a decent life.

Politics is not just what goes on in the electoral system, or in Washington. Politics is any power relationship in our daily lives. Anytime one human being is habitually powerful over another, or one group over another, not because of talent or experiences, but just because of race, or sex, or class, that's politics.

—Gloria Steinem

Each member of the department routinely draws upon and exposes students to areas of expertise beyond catalogue course descriptions.  This is yet another advantage of attending a small liberal arts college where narrow, esoteric specialization among faculty is discouraged. For example, our China specialist “does China” but is equally at ease with feminism, ecology and anthropology. Another member teaches political theory but is comfortably conversant with German literature, women’s health issues, history and literature. Four teachers in the department grew up in France, Japan, Iran and Germany and weave a welcome cosmopolitan dimension into their courses and out-of-class contacts with our students.

Our majors leave college not only more personally and politically aware but with a sense of moral engagement, an informed commitment to taking on the world. Unquestionably, studying politics is a highly respected academic discipline and a gratifying way of understanding how the world works. We want students to understand what governments do (and for whom) but it’s essential to grasp how their lives intersect with politics in a much larger and deeper sense. When understood in this way, we believe that one’s “politics” are an essential part of one’s core identity.