Political Science

Department Chair: Sarah Marusek, Ph.D.
Email: marusek@hawaii.edu

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


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, wars 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 discipline of Political Science and trains students in the techniques and theories used by scholars and practitioners in the discipline 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 correctly identify key terminology and concepts in political science as well as key literature and scholarly contributions in political science
  • will be able to utilize 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

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. Many Political Science students go on to graduate programs or secure careers in the fields of political science, public policy and administration, law, security studies, public affairs, and international affairs

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 high-impact practices (HIPs) courses the department offers. Through these courses, students are presented with an opportunity to collaborate with local leaders and organizations to contribute to improving the well-being of the community and the world where they belong. Such experiences not only help students gain a unique experience in politics and civic engagement that supplements their coursework but also 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).