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Our Mission

Aristotle described political science as the overarching science, arguing that it helps us understand who we are as human beings and how we can live happy and productive lives in communities.  The Department of Government at Dartmouth maintains the ancient Greek concern with the nature of order and governance at every level of social interaction.  We study the collective identities, beliefs and institutions that make community possible and that are, in turn, shaped by communities.  We are also attentive to communal failures and to the divisions, conflicts, and wars to which such failures give rise.  We explore these issues from diverse perspectives. Faculty and students analyze texts, conduct surveys, experiments, interviews, and case studies, and collect and analyze quantitative data in their efforts to understand the political world.

 The Department is committed to the proposition that outstanding scholarship and outstanding teaching are complementary and mutually reinforcing. Our faculty’s research addresses enduring problems including, for example, the sources and resolution of international and civil conflicts, the development of representative institutions in new democracies, the justifications for and defense of civil and human rights, the identities (partisan, ethnic, religious, gender, etc.) according to which individuals mobilize politically, the normative desirability of partisanship, gender bias in political campaigns, the persistence of mistaken beliefs in public opinion, the consequences of American power for the future course of international relations, the causes of genocide and prospects for its prevention, the detection of electoral fraud, and the proper level of autonomy for religious communities within liberal states.  These issues attract students to Government classes in large numbers.

 Many of our faculty are prominent researchers and all are expected to maintain active research agendas, to subject their work to peer scrutiny and publish in visible outlets, and to be producers of knowledge within the community of scholars. Dartmouth attracts exceptionally talented students, and an ongoing commitment to creative scholarship is essential for faculty to be able to command their attention and inspire them to excel academically and to become independent, life-long learners.

 The department is committed to providing an outstanding curriculum, and opportunities for students to learn about politics outside the classroom. In addition to our course offerings in American and comparative politics, international relations, and political theory, the department runs off-campus programs in Washington, D.C. and in London. We also sponsor lectures, seminars, and conferences, many in collaboration with the Dickey Center for International Understanding or the Nelson A. Rockefeller Center. Most of these events are open to students, providing opportunities for them to meet and interact with Dartmouth faculty and prominent visitors from other universities, the policy world, and journalism.

 Dartmouth has developed a unique niche as a liberal arts college with a university faculty. The Government Department prides itself on melding the best of these two educational traditions.  We are like a college in that our doors are open to students: there is intensive student-faculty interaction, much of it one-on-one.  We resemble a university because our faculty are research-oriented and as productive and eminent as our colleagues at many research universities. Students profit from both sets of attributes in class, in informal discussions, and in collaborative research with professors.

Last Updated: 11/8/11