Is Political Science Liberal Arts? Discover The Truth Here!

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Political science and liberal arts are two terms that have been heard by most students while selecting their majors in college. However, the question remains: is political science really a part of liberal arts? This issue has been debated for years as it relates to different academic perspectives and definitions.

There may be confusion surrounding this topic, but fear not, we will clarify things with proper information and facts that leave no room for uncertainty. In this post, you will discover what defines liberal arts, and how political science fits into it if it does at all.

“The study of politics is intrinsically connected with human society; therefore, it’s natural to assume that it could fit within the broad spectrum of liberal arts.”

Many people argue that political science is a part of social sciences, not liberal arts. On the other hand, some people think that liberal arts incorporate social sciences such as history, economics, anthropology, and political science. There isn’t an easy answer since both sides present valid arguments. That´s why we are here today, to give our best interpretation of the true nature of Political Science in relation to Liberal Arts.

You’re about to dive deeper into the world of political science and liberal arts. Buckle up, grab your favorite drink and get ready to explore the truth behind these subjects!

Defining Political Science

Political science is the study of politics, government, and public policies. It encompasses a wide range of topics, including political institutions, international relations, comparative politics, political theory, and public administration. By studying political science, scholars aim to understand how governments function, how power is exercised, and how decisions are made that affect society.

The field of political science is interdisciplinary, borrowing from other subjects such as economics, sociology, history, philosophy, and psychology. This multidisciplinary approach allows political scientists to examine complex issues from different perspectives, leading to a deeper understanding of political phenomena.

The Origin of Political Science

The origins of political science can be traced back to ancient Greece, where philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle analyzed the workings of democracy and political structures. However, it wasn’t until the 19th century that political science emerged as a separate academic field, with the establishment of the first political science department in the United States at Columbia University in 1880.

Since then, political science has continued to evolve and expand its scope, particularly in response to major world events such as World War II, the Cold War, and globalization. Today, political science is widely recognized as an essential discipline for understanding contemporary societal challenges.

The Scope of Political Science

The scope of political science is broad, encompassing many areas of inquiry. Some of these include:

  • Political systems: Studying the political institutions, processes, and behavior of various political systems around the world, such as democracies, authoritarian regimes, and socialist states.
  • International relations: Examining the interactions between nations on issues such as trade, security, and human rights.
  • Public policy: Analyzing how policies are made and implemented by governments, including assessing their effectiveness and impact on society.
  • Political theory: Exploring various political ideologies and theories about what constitutes good government and a just society.

This broad scope allows political scientists to address critical questions such as how democratic institutions can be strengthened, how to promote peace and security in international relations, and how social welfare measures can be improved.

The Importance of Political Science

Political science is essential for advancing our understanding of political phenomena and the mechanisms that underlie them. This understanding is critical in shaping public policy decisions and informing citizens’ judgments regarding political issues.

In addition, political science contributes to informed civic engagement by providing people with an awareness of domestic and international politics. By studying political science, individuals become better equipped to participate effectively in the democratic process, including voting, lobbying, and running for office themselves.

“The study of politics is not just a scholarly pursuit; it has real-world implications for how we govern ourselves.” – U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy

The Relevance of Political Science Today

Today, political science faces new challenges brought about by fast-paced technological changes, globalization, and increased partisanship in many countries. Understanding these challenges from a multi-disciplinary perspective and tackling them with evidence-based research is crucial to finding effective solutions.

Some areas where political science is particularly relevant today include:

  • Climate change: Developing environmental policies at local, national, and global levels requires input from political science scholars and experts working closely with policymakers.
  • Social inequality: Understanding the causes and effects of inequalities across different demographics, such as race, gender, and socio-economic status, is important for crafting inclusive, just, and equitable policies.
  • International relations: The growing influence of non-state actors in international relations, such as transnational corporations and non-governmental organizations, is an area that political scientists continue to study extensively.

Political science remains a vital discipline for understanding how politics shapes our lives. By studying this field, scholars and students can gain insights into the functioning of government, influence public policy, and contribute to building a better society.

Understanding Liberal Arts

The Definition of Liberal Arts

Liberal arts is a comprehensive approach to education that values critical thinking, creativity, and communication. It encompasses various academic disciplines such as humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, mathematics, and fine arts.

The core principle of liberal arts is to provide students with a broad education that develops their intellectual abilities, irrespective of their future career choices. The focus is on learning how to learn and think critically rather than specializing in a particular field.

“A liberal arts education prepares students for lifelong learning, which is increasingly important given the rapid pace of technological change and the need for new skills in the workforce.” – Madeleine Albright

The Benefits of a Liberal Arts Education

A liberal arts education provides numerous benefits to students, including:

  • Breadth of Knowledge: Students get exposure to diverse subjects like literature, history, economics, psychology, biology, physics, etc., giving them a more holistic understanding of the world.
  • Critical Thinking Skills: Students are encouraged to question assumptions, evaluate evidence, analyze complex ideas, and form independent judgments, promoting high-level cognitive skills.
  • Communication Skills: Students receive ample opportunities to write, speak, and present information effectively, honing their communication skills essential for success in any profession.
  • Problem Solving Abilities: Students develop problem-solving skills through analytical reasoning, experimentation, and creative improvisation. Such skills set them up for success in an ever-changing job market.
  • Global Perspectives: A liberal arts education emphasizes global awareness, encouraging students to understand cultural diversity, international issues, and interconnectedness. Such perspectives enhance their ability to collaborate with people from diverse backgrounds.

Liberal arts education provides a solid foundation for students who wish to pursue various careers, including business, law, medicine, government, and education. Graduates of liberal arts colleges hold executive positions in many Fortune 500 companies, top-tier law schools, medical schools, and other prestigious institutions worldwide.

“A liberal-arts education is supposed to provide you with a breadth of capacities, all of which are associated with leadership. It’s not just one narrow thing after another but showing curiosity, being interested in other things so that when the world changes, as it inevitably does, you’re able to adapt.” – Ruth Simmons

Some may argue that political science, which falls under social sciences, may not be considered part of liberal arts. Political science focuses on subjects like state politics, election systems, social policies, global affairs, etc. Its curriculum shapes students’ understanding of the political process, power dynamics, and public policy formulation. Yet, given its interdisciplinary nature and emphasis on critical thinking, communication skills, and problem-solving abilities in a social context, political science can indeed align well with the principles of liberal arts.

Liberal arts education equips students with vital intellectual skills that enable them to learn continuously throughout their lives. The benefits of such an approach have been recognized globally by educationalists, policymakers, and employers alike. Disciplines such as political science, while specialized in content, embrace these broader values of liberal arts and consequently prepare graduates for continued success in shifting job markets.

Political Science Vs. Liberal Arts

The Differences Between Political Science and Liberal Arts

It is a common misconception that political science falls under the branch of liberal arts, but this is not entirely true. While both academic fields share certain similarities, there are some notable differences.

One fundamental difference between political science and liberal arts is their focus. Political science centers its study on politics as an institution, government systems, public policies, and international relations. On the other hand, liberal arts emphasizes human culture and values, which include literature, philosophy, history, fine art, and social sciences such as anthropology and psychology.

Another distinction is their approach to knowledge acquisition. Political science relies heavily on empirical evidence from research studies to form conclusions about various aspects of political institutions and dynamics. Conversely, liberal arts place more emphasis on subjective interpretation and analysis of the world’s phenomena and how they relate to people’s experiences.

“The key difference has been whether students were studying something particular or simply exploring ideas – pursuing knowledge for knowledge’s sake.” -Ralph Wilcox

The Similarities Between Political Science and Liberal Arts

Although there are differences in the two disciplines, some significant overlaps underscore their similarities. Both aim at fostering critical thinking skills and intellectual curiosity among students.

In terms of methodology, both incorporate similar techniques like qualitative and quantitative research methods in gathering data. Both also emphasize individual reflection alongside collaborative exchange of information to arrive at well-rounded analyses.

Lastly, both fields require extensive reading and writing skills to articulate complex ideas effectively. The ability to persuade others, build persuasive arguments and provide depth and perspective in analytical reporting is essential for any student taking part in either course.

“Liberal arts education represents a broad exposure to conventional subjects — natural and social sciences, literature, history, philosophy — without the tight focus of the narrow specializations that have come to dominate undergraduate majors in recent decades.” -The Harvard Crimson

While political science and liberal arts share some similarities, they differ significantly in their approach to knowledge acquisition and subject matter. Political science leans toward research-based critical thinking to explore institutional systems, dynamics, policies and international relations. Conversely, liberal arts foster comprehensive learning on human culture, values, subjective interpretation, and analysis skills. Presented with these differences, it is clear that political science cannot be entirely considered a branch under liberal arts.

Skills Acquired in Political Science

Political science is a field that deals with the study of political systems, governments and laws. The interdisciplinary nature of this subject incorporates fields such as history, economics, sociology, law and philosophy. Many people question whether political science belongs to liberal arts or social sciences category, but most universities classify it under the former due to its complex theoretical and analytical nature.

Analytical Thinking Skills

In the study of political science, students are exposed to different theories and concepts about political ideologies and structures. To evaluate these ideas critically, one needs to employ systematic analysis by logically breaking down the parts and understanding their interconnectedness. They also need to utilize critical thinking skills to identify patterns, assumptions, and biases in arguments presented within political science literature.

“Analyzing what you haven’t got as well as what you have is a necessary ingredient of a career.” -Kevin Ayers

Additionally, studying politics gives an excellent opportunity for sharpening decision-making skills based on relevant facts (such as polling data) and interpreting policies as they relate to specific outcomes.

Effective Communication Skills

The ability to communicate effectively both verbally and written is critical in the field of political science. Students are trained to organize their thoughts coherently, articulate them clearly and persuasively, often expressing themselves precisely and succinctly. This skill comes in handy when preparing reports, presentations, and policy papers. Clear writing and oral discussion aptitudes are essential traits that enable budding political analysts to enact meaningful reforms after leaving academia.

“To be persuasive, we must be believable; to be believable, we must be credible; to be credible, we must be truthful.” -Edward R. Murrow

Political science requires the ‘art of debate’ skills, persuading people to support different positions. As such, students must learn how to express their viewpoints without disregarding others’ perspectives.

Research Skills

Since political scientists study movements, policies and decision-making processes in politics, they often have to conduct extensive research on various topics related to politics. In this field, students learn various research methodologies that help them carry out investigations independently or as part of a team. Whether its employing qualitative means of collecting data (like interviews) or analyzing quantitative sources (such as polls), scholars use various analytical techniques to ensure rigorous scrutiny and care when interpreting complex information.

“Validated learning about customers is the most important thing any business can do.” -Eric Ries

Furthermore, knowledge gained through research helps the budding analysts to conceptualize new theories, validating existing hypotheses or discrediting those which are not tenable based on empirical evidence collected from social phenomena.

Leadership Skills

Political science successfully tackles modern-day questions with no clear solutions – hence great preparation for leadership roles. Studying successful politicians and policy-makers prepare students to lead teams effectively while working towards ethical resolutions to some of society’s gravest challenges. With communication and analytical thinking “mastered,” leaders can balance competing priorities, collaborating across professions and convictions to manage legislative actions adhering to citizens’ needs.

“He who has never learned to obey cannot be a good commander.” -Aristotle

In sum, political science teaches students the importance of steering democracy, ethics, and legal rules into cohesive action through leadership. It also underscores the relevance of lifelong learning, encouraging graduates to explore ways to better societies outside academia.

Career Opportunities in Political Science

Government Jobs

Political science is a social science that deals with government institutions, political behavior, and public policies. Therefore, it is not surprising that many career opportunities for political science majors are available in the government sector.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), there were approximately 6.5 million people employed in local, state, and federal government jobs in 2019. This means that nearly 20% of all employed Americans work in some form of the government.

Political science graduates can find jobs at different levels of government, depending on their area of interest or specialization. Some possible government job titles include:

  • Policy Analyst
  • Public Affairs Specialist
  • Diplomat/Foreign Service Officer
  • Lobbyist
  • Legislative Assistant/Analyst
“Politics is supposed to be the second-oldest profession. I have come to realize that it bears a very close resemblance to the first.” -Ronald Reagan

Non-profit Jobs

In addition to government jobs, another potential career path for political science majors lies in the non-profit sector. Non-profits often advocate for certain causes or issues, such as human rights, environmental protection, or community development.

According to data from Giving USA Foundation, individuals, foundations, bequests, and corporations gave an estimated $449.64 billion to U.S. charities in 2019. This indicates that non-profit organizations play a significant role in American society.

Some examples of non-profit job titles for political science graduates include:

  • Advocacy Coordinator
  • Community Organizer
  • Action Fund Director
  • Grant Writer
  • Social Justice Educator
“Be the change you want to see in the world.” -Mahatma Gandhi

Private Sector Jobs

Although government and non-profit jobs may seem like the most likely career choices for political science majors, there are also opportunities available in the private sector.

The BLS reports that approximately 83% of all employed Americans work in the private sector. Private companies need employees with skills related to politics and policy-making to help them navigate complex regulations and laws.

Some examples of private sector job titles for political science graduates include:

  • Public Relations Manager
  • Business Development Analyst
  • Regulatory Affairs Specialist
  • Risk Management Consultant
  • Market Research Analyst
“Politics is not a bad profession. If you succeed, there are many rewards; if you disgrace yourself, you can always write a book.” -Ronald Reagan

Academic Jobs

Last but not least, political science majors who choose to pursue advanced degrees can find academic jobs in colleges and universities around the United States. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), there were over 1.5 million faculty members employed by degree-granting institutions in fall 2019.

Political science professors teach courses on topics such as American government, international relations, political theory, and public policy. They conduct research and publish scholarly articles and books in their area of expertise.

In addition, some political science majors may choose to become high school social studies teachers, allowing them to share their knowledge and passion for politics with the next generation.

“The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character – that is the goal of true education.” -Martin Luther King Jr.

Political science is a versatile field that opens up many career possibilities for graduates in both the public and private sectors. Whether you are interested in government, non-profits, business, or academia, there is likely a job out there that can help you make an impact in your community and beyond.

The Debate Around Political Science and Liberal Arts

Political science is the study of politics, government, and public policies. On the other hand, liberal arts education refers to an educational program that covers a wide range of subjects, including literature, history, mathematics, and social sciences. The debate around political science’s classification under liberal arts stems from various factors.

The Criticism of Liberal Arts Education

Some critics argue that liberal arts education focuses on general knowledge rather than practical skills necessary in the modern workforce. They claim that students who graduate with degrees in liberal arts are typically unprepared for employment positions requiring specific technical skills.

“If we aren’t careful, we will produce generations of kids who have never learned to solve problems or think critically.” -Jacob Weisberg

In addition, some people believe that this type of education does not align with economic demands and career needs, making it impractical in today’s society. Critics also contend that liberal arts graduates may lack adequate job opportunities since they do not specialize in specific fields like engineering, law, or medicine.

The Defense of Liberal Arts Education

Proponents of liberal arts education contend that graduates’ critical thinking and communication skills make them adaptable to different job markets. They assert that employers seek recent hires who can be taught company-specific skills quickly and demonstrate excellent problem-solving abilities.

“The humanities teach us how to think creatively and analytically about complex ideas—for instance, how cultures have interacted across time and space, what justice requires in race relations, how propaganda works, why humans disagree over moral values, and where our ethical obligations lie regarding climate change.” -Martha Nussbaum

Furthermore, supporters maintain that liberal arts programs foster civic responsibility and cultivate informed citizens essential for functioning in a democracy. They argue that humanities and social sciences promote essential skills such as analytical thinking, communication, and ethical reasoning necessary for engagement in public life.

Regarding political science’s classification under liberal arts education, it is generally categorized as part of the social sciences division. However, this status does not prevent students from pursuing careers in the field since many political science graduates work in government agencies, international organizations, non-profits, law firms, or private corporations.

“Political science encompasses exploring government power structures, studying relationships between nations, looking at how political decisions affect our daily lives, and providing insights into navigating institutions and solving complex problems.” -Jan Leighley

Whether political science falls under liberal arts education depends on the individual institution and its approach to the subject matter. While some may claim that liberal arts programs are outdated, others insist they provide an excellent foundation for growth throughout one’s career and personal development.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Political Science considered a Liberal Arts subject?

Yes, Political Science is considered a Liberal Arts subject. It falls under the social sciences division of Liberal Arts, which focuses on the study of the social and cultural aspects of human society. Political Science is concerned with the study of government, political systems, and political behavior. It explores the nature of power, authority, and governance, and how these concepts shape society. As a Liberal Arts subject, Political Science emphasizes critical thinking, problem-solving, and communication skills, which are essential for students pursuing careers in law, public service, and academia.

What are some similarities between Political Science and other Liberal Arts disciplines?

Political Science shares many similarities with other Liberal Arts disciplines. For instance, it emphasizes critical thinking, problem-solving, and communication skills, which are essential for students pursuing careers in various fields. It also fosters interdisciplinary approaches to learning, encouraging students to draw upon different perspectives and methodologies to analyze complex issues. Additionally, it emphasizes the importance of research and empirical evidence, encouraging students to engage in original research projects to deepen their understanding of the subject matter. Finally, Political Science, like other Liberal Arts disciplines, focuses on fostering a sense of civic engagement and social responsibility, encouraging students to become active and informed citizens.

What distinguishes Political Science from other Liberal Arts subjects?

Political Science is distinguished from other Liberal Arts subjects by its focus on the study of government, political systems, and political behavior. It explores the nature of power, authority, and governance, and how these concepts shape society. Political Science also emphasizes the importance of understanding the political process and the role of institutions in shaping public policy. Finally, Political Science is unique in its focus on the intersection of politics and power, which makes it a valuable discipline for students pursuing careers in law, public service, and academia.

Why is Political Science often included in Liberal Arts curriculums?

Political Science is often included in Liberal Arts curriculums because it provides students with a foundation in critical thinking, problem-solving, and communication skills, which are essential for success in various fields. Additionally, Political Science fosters interdisciplinary approaches to learning, encouraging students to draw upon different perspectives and methodologies to analyze complex issues. Finally, Political Science emphasizes the importance of civic engagement and social responsibility, encouraging students to become active and informed citizens. As such, it is a valuable addition to any Liberal Arts curriculum, providing students with a broad understanding of the social, cultural, and political aspects of human society.

Does Political Science have a place in both Liberal Arts and non-Liberal Arts institutions?

Yes, Political Science has a place in both Liberal Arts and non-Liberal Arts institutions. While Political Science is traditionally considered a Liberal Arts subject, it is also a valuable discipline for students pursuing careers in law, public service, and academia. As such, it is often included in non-Liberal Arts curriculums, such as those offered by professional schools and colleges. Additionally, Political Science is a highly interdisciplinary subject, drawing upon methodologies and perspectives from a range of fields. This makes it a valuable addition to any curriculum, regardless of whether it is housed within a Liberal Arts or non-Liberal Arts institution.

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