Undergraduate Program

Why do Hindus and Muslims live in harmony in one city and fight bitterly in another just a few miles away? Why is the United States the only industrialized nation without a complete national health insurance? What is the legacy of slavery in the United States? Why are there so few women in Congress? How is radicalism in the Middle East changing? Why and how does democracy flourish? Just what is democracy? How do emotions shape our political behavior? What do war movies tell us about the USA? Would less government lead to more social justice? What is social justice? How does smuggling (of drugs, guns, and people) reshape international relations? How do immigrants see the American Dream? What is the American dream?

Political science is about questions like these. You can grapple with every one of them –and many more— in the classrooms of the Brown political science department. We study how people –nations, regions, cities, communities— live their common lives. How people solve (or duck) their common problems. How people govern themselves. How they think, talk, argue, fight, and vote. 

Traditionally, political science includes four subfields: (1) the study of politics in the United States (American politics); (2) the comparative study of different political systems and individual nations around the globe (comparative politics); (3) the study of relations among states and peoples (international relations); and (4) the philosophical study of political ideas (political theory). To provide a wider range of course offerings, the undergrad program combines the comparative politics subfield with the international relations subfield into a single subfield called international and comparative politics (ICP).

What particularly moves us at Brown are the big questions about political life – both at home and around the world. We engage these questions in a wide range of different political contexts, often in ways that cross between the traditional subfields. We also pay particular attention to how our analyses touch the real world of people and politics. You’ll find us involved all around the campus: At the Taubman Center for Public Policy and American Institutions, the Watson Institute for International Studies, the Political Theory Project, Development Studies, Middle East Studies, the India Initiative, and the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Politics, among others. 

The department graduates approximately 75 undergraduate concentrators annually, making it one of the largest concentrations at Brown, but most of our classes are small. We have a robust Honors Program in which students work closely with faculty advisors to write a senior thesis, a year-long original research project. Political science concentrators follow a wide range of post-graduation paths including law school and graduate school in political science or public policy; active political engagement at the local, state, national, or international level; and a wide range of other professional and business careers. Political science at Brown is a dynamic community of scholars and students investigating things that really matter to political life at home and around the world. We invite you to join us!