Political science explores questions about power: what it is, where it comes from, who exercises it, and how it is legitimized and challenged. We work to understand how political institutions and processes developed in history, how they operate today, and how they might change in the future--here in the United States, in other countries around the world, and internationally in the global system. Key topics include democracy and authoritarianism, good governance and corruption, inequality and protest, conflict and cooperation, and war and peace.
In accordance with the mission of Barnard College, the political science department aims to create a community of teachers and students committed to intellectual discovery, rigorous analysis, and independent thought. The department's courses emphasize reflection, discussion, deliberation and intensive interactions between faculty members and students. The Barnard political science department strives to help students think clearly and methodically about the questions and issues that make up political science, equip them with the intellectual and presentational skills necessary to understand and address practical political issues as well as prepare them for a wide range of careers in federal, state and local governments; law; business; international organizations; nonprofit associations and organizations; campaign management and polling; journalism; pre-collegiate education; electoral politics; research and university and college teaching.