Political Science

Department Chair: Su-Mi Lee , Ph.D.
Email: sumilee@hawaii.edu

Website: hilo.hawaii.edu/depts/politicalsci/


Associate Professor:

Political science is the academic field that systematically studies the activity of making and enforcing rules and the relations of power intrinsic to this process, or, put simply, how we decide “who gets what.” Since politics encompasses a wide range of institutions and human behavior, political science is a far-reaching discipline. Political activities ranging from the behavior of leaders to the public policy aspects of nuclear energy are covered in this field. Virtually every aspect of our lives is affected by politics, whether it be the voting behavior of our elected officials, war in some distant part of the world, the price of gasoline, or what we watch on television.

The mission of the Political Science Department is to promote responsible citizenship, prepare students to be skilled and effective leaders in local, state, and federal government and administration, and qualify our majors for acceptance to top-notch graduate programs and law schools. The Political Science Department provides majors with exposure to a broad range of topics within the disciplines of Political Science, and trains students in the techniques and theories used by scholars and practitioners in these disciplines to explore, describe, and explain political and social phenomena. The UH Hilo Political Science Department prides itself on small classes, personal advising, and quality education with aloha.

Goals for Student Learning in the Major

By graduation, Political Science majors:

  • will be able to identify the major sub-fields of political science and the literature and scholarly contributions in each sub-field of political science;
  • will know the research methods and documentation requirements for conducting and reporting research in political science;
  • will be able to produce research papers in a Chicago format that demonstrate high levels of written communication fluency and information literacy;
  • will be able to communicate political ideas effectively through written and oral communication;
  • will be able to critically analyze political events and phenomena;
  • will be able to employ different statistical tests for the purposes of testing hypotheses and to select the right statistical test for the data at hand.

Prospects for Political Science Graduates

The Political Science Program provides students with a comprehensive political science education that enhances their knowledge of politics, democracy, and citizenship throughout the world, and prepares them for myriad career possibilities in government and the non-profit sector.

Contributions to the UH Hilo General Education Program

Political Science course offerings contribute to fulfilling the College’s educational purpose of preparing students “to meet the demands of both profession and citizenship.”

Special Aspects of the Political Science Program

The Political Science Department sponsors a number of hands-on activities to broaden and deepen the students’ knowledge of political science. Among these are a variety of internships in state and local agencies on Hawaii Island as well as legislative internships in Honolulu and Washington DC. Political Science students who demonstrate mastery of the subject matter, professional competence, and responsibility are eligible to participate in these internship programs. Through the internship programs students gain a unique experience in politics and government that supplements their coursework and may enhance their post-graduation employment prospects.

Political Science students may choose to work with Department faculty to write a senior thesis, a research effort that will be assigned and guided by an individual faculty member. Students will present thesis research and findings to a public audience.

Students in Political Science with strong academic performance may apply to become members of the University of Hawaiʻi at Hilo’s Iota Iota chapter of the National Political Science Honor Society, Pi Sigma Alpha (ΠΣΑ).