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Area of Focus

Faculty in the Department of Political Science at Georgia State University have nationally- and internationally-recognized expertise that spans the discipline. Our faculty conduct research and engage in teaching in four major fields--American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations, and Political Theory. While maintaining its status as a comprehensive Department, Political Science at GSU has made conscious, strategic efforts to build strong research clusters in three core areas:

Public Law and Political Behavior

The field of American Politics encompasses a wide array of sub-fields, including--but not limited to--national institutions, political thought and development, federalism and intergovernmental relations, public policy, bureaucratic politics, political behavior (public opinion and voting), and judicial politics. While covering most American Politics sub-fields, the Georgia State faculty also boasts a critical mass of accomplished scholars working in the areas of political behavior and judicial politics. The study of American political behavior captures such themes as electoral and interest group behavior, public opinion, political psychology, and socialization. Under that broad umbrella, the Department currently has no fewer than seven faculty members working. What is also special at Georgia State is the presence of an additional cohort of faculty members working from the behavioralist tradition and focusing specifically on the political factors that influence judicial behavior (not just on legal principles, precedents, and procedures). This niche of judicial behavior recognizes that values, opinions and attitudes held by judges can be powerful explanations of their reasoning and bench decisions. Judicial behavior research is readily recognized in the discipline as a clear growth area, offering increasing opportunities to place Ph.D. graduates in tenure-track positions and to attract undergraduates interested in preparation for law school. The Department has a highly popular pre-law concentration, sponsors a successful Pre-Law Club, and fields a competitive Mock Trial Team. The proximity of Georgia State’s Law School also offers possible synergies and possibilities for collaboration.

 

Comparative Democracy and Democratization

The field of Comparative Politics is the most expansive in all of Political Science. Scholars and students address issues of development, political economy, institutional variation and performance, culture, bureaucracy, behavior, public policy, administration, and area studies. While the Department remains committed to being able to offer students courses that span the globe, it is also convinced that building a sustainable program of distinction requires strategic narrowing and refinement. As such, the Department is capitalizing on existing strengths in comparative democracy and democratization. A critical mass of faculty (no fewer than eight) already gain acclaim for their work in democratic development across political systems old and new. Georgia State political scientists are recognized for expertise in post-conflict elections and party system development, human rights and rule of law institutionalization, tolerance and containment of political extremism, and legislative capacity building. The Department has a popular undergraduate concentration in international and comparative politics, attracts more than half of its graduate students from among those seeking to study comparative and international politics, houses the new Center for Human Rights and Democracy, has close ties to democracy projects at institutes such as the Carter Center, and enjoys extensive research connections to governments and funding agencies across the globe.

 

International Governance

A subfield connecting international and supranational governance at global and regional levels, this niche emerges logically and directly from existing departmental strengths in international law, institutions, organizations, norms, and peace-building. As an area of research and study, international governance addresses the role of various types of public and private actors (such as states, international organizations, regional blocs, NGOs, multinational corporations, business associations, transgovernmental networks) across different international issue areas (such as finance, trade, development, environmental protection, and human rights). Importantly, it also assesses the effectiveness, accountability, and legitimacy of those governance arrangements. Cultivating this niche helps distinguish Georgia State University’s Department of Political Science from other programs in the region and across the country. The Department already has an attractive undergraduate concentration in international affairs, has successful Model United Nations and Model Arab League teams, offers a Certificate Program in European Union Studies, and attracts graduate students wishing to specialize in the area.