By Leah Ching, Staff Writer.
Tell someone you’re a Political Science major, and the mental image they hold might just be one of a future politician in an overpriced three piece suit. Political Science majors are growing in number, and the program continues to be a popular choice for a multitude of reasons. A cross between the arts and social sciences, Political Science is current, relevant, dynamic, and opens a lot of career opportunities for graduates.
“Who Gets What? And Says Whom?” These are the two central questions of politics according to Professor Charles Jones, who holds a PhD from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and teaches Political Science at Western University. Jones’s studies focus on contemporary political theory and the history of political thought with an emphasis on global justice, human rights, freedom, and equality.
Jones, who often starts his classes off by blasting Toxic by Britney Spears and other unexpected tunes, is an eccentric educator who balances teaching students about the nature of power, politics, and the state, with a heavy dose of humour, often at his own expense.
Jones explained in great detail why Political Science is such a great area of study for undergraduate students. “There are three types of questions involved in political issues. Descriptive: What is the world like? Explanatory: how does the world work? And finally, the Normative question: How are things aught to be?”
Jones continued by explaining that these three questions converge to create an understanding of the world shaped by politics. “To understand how things ought to be, you must understand how they are, and why they are the way they are. Political science involves all three questions; you must know how and why things work. But mainly, politics causes us to consider the question ‘Is this right?’”
The merits of a political science education are not solely career based, but can be looked at for their merit in developing a student’s way of reasoning about the world around them. Jones explained this idea by saying, “You don’t truly understand a belief unless you can give a reason why you can believe it.”
“It is about better and worse arguments, not right or wrong answers” says Jones, “You should be able to give reasons why you believe something, find out the strongest arguments on the other side and investigate the reasoning behind every argument.” Graduating with a Political Science degree trains a student to be a well-seasoned argument analyst and thinker.
Jones’s focus on social justice largely affects his outlook on why a degree in Political Science is so useful. Why is political science important? He says “Politics matters. Decisions are made that affect you. Laws assign rights and rules, laws impose duties on you and decisions are enforced. Penalties are imposed. This affects how you live your life, whether you take an interest in it, it affects you, so you ought to care.”
If you have a passion for social justice, Political science may be for you. Career choices include working in advocacy for a nonprofit or NGO like Greenpeace, PETA, UNICEF, or whatever causes you may hold near. From helping kids to fixing the environment, non-profits need a lot of help behind the scenes, including getting political support for their cause. (A great job for the politically inclined.) Another option includes working for the government in the non-profit sector. If government relations interest you, you can mix this with a passion for social justice by working for a government program in the field of advocacy.
Research, reading, and writing galore. By the time you’ve graduated, you’ll have read Plato’s Republic front to back about a thousand times, and you’ll be a writing whiz. Let these skills carry you to a job writing for a magazine, newspaper, or politically based website.
Finally, there’s the legal and political career path explored by many Political Science graduates. Dustin Fuller, a law student from Lethbridge, AB graduated with a bachelor’s degree in political science and now is in his second year of Law School at the Bora Laskin Faculty of Law in Thunder Bay.
In discussion with the Argus, he stressed the importance of reading and research skills that you develop with a Poli-Sci degree, but also offered insight about alternative routes to law. “Although, my own degree was Poli-Sci, interestingly, one of the best degrees to have going into law can be music! Reading wise, reading music is very conducive to reading the law and enhances greater understanding.” For many students graduating with a Political Science degree, law is not the only option, just as political science is not the only route to law. Whatever you chose to do with your political science degree, whether you chose to lawyer up or not, you’ll come out with a penchant for arguing, and the confidence that you look great in a blazer.