Academic Programs

Division of Social Studies

Political Studies


Politics can be understood in many ways: as a struggle for power over other people, groups, and nations; as a social process that determines who has what kinds of authority and how this affects particular communities; as a series of conversations or disputations about what counts as a "public problem" and how to address public problems; or as an art or science of institutional design, especially the design of governments and international institutions. However it is defined, politics matters. Political outcomes shape the choices we can make as individuals, and the fates of communities, nations, and states.

The Political Studies Program at Bard welcomes students who care about politics and want to reason critically about political outcomes and debates at the local, national, and international levels. The program intends to inform responsible participation in American and global public affairs. It also prepares students for work and/or further study in political science, international affairs, public policy, law, cultural studies, and related fields.

Areas of Study

At Bard, six broad clusters of political studies are identified: political theory, American politics, comparative politics, political economy, public law, and international relations. The clusters necessarily overlap one another and other fields. Students are encouraged to combine courses in political studies with relevant courses in other disciplines, such as history, economics, sociology, and literature.


Prior to Moderation a student ordinarily should have taken at least four courses in the program, including two of the program's required core courses. Depending on a student's focus or interest, one course from another program may be counted toward this requirement. The courses in political studies must fall into at least two of the subfields.

In the junior year the student takes at least one 300-level course designed as preparation for the independent research and writing of a Senior Project. Students take at least two other courses in the program in the Upper College.

Recent Senior Projects in Political Studies

  • "Improvisatory Citizen: Jazz, Freedom, and the Rethinking of American Democracy"
  • "Political Warming: Environmentalist and Evangelical Liaisons in the Climate-Change Debate"
  • "Them That Bless Israel: Christian Zionism and the Forging of the U.S.-Israel Alliance"
  • "Who's Kerry Edwards? A Comparison of Youth Protest in the Vietnam and Iraqi War Periods"


In addition to the courses described below, the following tutorials have been offered in recent years: Globalization and the Environment, Heidegger and the Law, Historical Roots of Islamic Nationalism, Intelligence and American Politics, Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil, Reading Marx, Texts and Pretexts in American War Rationales, and Women and the Law.