Welcome to the Politics Department!

The Politics Department at Ithaca College challenges students to grapple with complex issues through questions such as:

  • Are political parties still relevant?
  • Why do wars happen? Is there anything that can be done to prevent them?
  • What does it mean to be "conservative" or "liberal?"
  • Is "gangsta rap" political?
  • Is peace possible in the Middle East?
  • Should the United States have pulled out of the Global Warming Treaty?
  • Is the "right to a home" a fundamental human right?
  • How and why do males become men and females become women?
  • What does it mean to be a "citizen" in the 21st century?
  • Why is there so much poverty in the third world?
  • Why do democracy and capitalism take different forms in different countries?
  • What political lessons can Americans learn from Nigerian films?
  • Is the United States an expanding "empire?" Is that good or bad?


Our goal is to get students to think critically, to understand all sides of issues, to be aware of their own positions and world views, and to recognize the nature and content of political competition.

Courses cover topics such as the role of law in society; the dynamics of politics in the United States, Latin America, Africa, Russia, the Middle East, and Europe; the intersection of music and politics; the role of global migration in politics around the world; the causes and consequences of ethnic and religious conflict; the effect of race, gender, and class on our perceptions of the world.

Most politics classes are small and discussion-based. Students have the chance to share their ideas and debate them with their classmates and professors. Written assignments tend to be essays and papers in which students integrate what they've read and discussed in class with their own thinking.

Global Focus

Politics doesn't happen only in the United States, and it doesn't happen only within countries. It's a transnational, global process. Our curriculum reflects this fact, with a commitment that is reflected in our requirement that majors gain a basic proficiency in a foreign language. Our courses on the United States also incorporate a global focus.

International Studies Concentration for Politics Majors. Politics majors can declare a Concentration in International Studies, focusing their coursework on global topics.  In addition, students with other majors can declare a Minor in International Politics. 

Off-Campus Offerings and Internships

Politics majors can earn credit through internships in Ithaca, Albany, Washington, London, or any place in the world. Politics majors have interned in the New York State Assembly, the U.S. Congress, and the British House of Commons, as well as in other governmental and nongovernmental institutions. Many of our students also study at universities outside the United States, including in Ivory Coast, Ghana, France, the Czech Republic, and Australia.

Cross-Campus Connections

Our faculty make crucial contributions to many interdisciplinary programs on campus, including environmental studies, legal studies, women's studies, culture and communication, and first-year Ithaca Seminars. These programs involve not only politics majors but students from many different disciplines and programs. This kind of interdisciplinary experience is part of what makes our classes exciting and challenging.

Faculty Research

Faculty research interests currently range from memory in South Africa to the homeless in U.S. cities; from democracy assistance in the Balkans to the role of unions in U.S. political party strategies; from the connection between militarism and gender to the effects of the "war on terror" on upstate New York; from the role of Native Americans in the birth of international relations theory to the role of women in Islam; from the deportation of undocumented aliens from New York City to the question of tolerance in liberal democracies. Faculty members have published numerous books and articles and regularly present at major national and international conferences.

Our research contributes in crucial ways to both the topics of the courses we teach and the way we teach them.

New! Student Grants for Socially Engaged Research and Activism

The Politics Department is pleased to announce Student Grants for Socially Engaged Research and Activism, open to all Politics majors and minors. 

Politics Student Projects

“Shooting the Messenger/ اطلاق النار على صاحب رسالة” is a student documentary film created by Katie Zimmerman, Kaitlyn Rich and Amy Born, students in Prof. Beth Harris's seminar “Witnessing War, Displacement, Occupation.” 


Internship Testimonial:
Anna Levy (Politics '11)

Paper published: "Recent University of Puerto Rico Protests Raises Critique of Colonization", Alyssa Figueroa (Politics, Journalism '12)

Internship Testimonial: Kiera Lewis (Politics '11)

Contact the Department of Politics

309 Muller Center

Patricia Rodriguez, Professor and Chair
Kenesha Chatman, Administrative Assistant