American Politics includes the study of American national institutions, political behavior, and sub-national politics. American national institutions include the constitutionally specified institutions (the presidency, Congress, and the courts) and the interactions among institutions such as the president and Congress; constitutional, statutory, and administrative law; and extra-constitutional institutions such as political parties. (Students interested primarily in bureaucratic institutions should see the public administration/public policy field statement.) Political behavior is concerned with mass political behavior (public opinion, voting behavior, and general political participation), the relationship between mass behavior and political institutions such as in representation, and organized behaviors represented by interest groups and the mass media. Sub-national politics includes the study of political institutions and mass political behavior at the state and local levels and the federal relationships between sub-national governments and the national government.
The Texas A&M University Political Science faculty has considerable expertise in all aspects of American politics and offers a wide range of courses. The predominant orientation of the American politics faculty is to produce theory-driven research on important substantive questions. As a consequence, students selecting American politics as a major field must develop methodological skills sufficient to pursue mainstream empirical research in the field. The Program in American Politics regularly brings prominent scholars to campus as individual speakers or as part of department-sponsored conferences.
Comparative Politics covers the study of political experience within more than one nation-state for the purpose of making systematic comparisons. Within comparative politics, there are two main approaches, the cross-national approach and the area studies approach. The cross-national approach involves the simultaneous study of a large number of nation-states to address particular theoretical questions of broad applicability, and the tools normally involve quantitative analysis of empirical data. The area studies approach emphasizes in-depth analysis within a particular country or region of the world, and the necessary tools normally involve immersion in the language and culture of the geographical region being studied. Although the comparative politics faculty of the department includes experts on the politics of several specific countries and geographical regions of the world, the approach emphasized in this program is cross-national study, usually involving quantitative analysis. Hence, although some courses deal with the particular features of political experience in a given country or region, the greater emphasis in the graduate curriculum is upon topically-oriented courses and research projects, and all students are prepared in quantitative methods.
Students choosing comparative politics as a major or supporting field will become familiar with the broad-ranging literature of the field, with its methods and tools of research, and with available data sources covering a broad range of countries and topics. A student in this program is likely to concentrate his or her studies in a topical area such as comparative governmental institutions, comparative political organizations, comparative political economies, or comparative political behavior. Within those broader areas, students may focus upon such topics as executive cabinets, legislatures, decentralization/federalism, democratization, political parties, politics of national/ethnic identity, and voting behavior. Students may, within these contexts, also develop area expertise in European or Latin American Politics.
Work and visibility of faculty and graduate students in comparative politics are enhanced by projects of the Program in the Cross-National Study of Politics, including annual workshops on topics of special interest.
International Relations deals with the study of all aspects of the relations between nation-states, including political, diplomatic, military, economic, and environmental relations, among others. It also deals with the relations between non-state actors across national boundaries, and with international organizations that facilitate relations between countries. The International Relations faculty at Texas A&M have considerable expertise in several major subfields of International Relations, including International Conflict, International Political Economy, and Foreign Policy Decision-making. The predominant orientation of the International Relations faculty is to contribute to the accumulation of social scientific knowledge on international relations by using cutting-edge formal, statistical, and/or experimental methods to produce rigorous theoretical and empirical research on important substantive questions. As a consequence, students selecting International Relations as a major field must develop methodological skills sufficient to pursue rigorous mainstream theoretical and empirical research in the field.
The Program on International Conflict and Cooperation (PICC) organizes and sponsors internal and external speakers, workshops, and theme conferences. It also provides research support for faculty and graduate student members.
Political Theory offers students opportunities to engage in the rational scrutiny and moral assessment of political behavior, expectations, and experience from a broad variety of perspectives. Faculty members have teaching and research strengths in global and comparative political theory, the history of political thought, democratic theory, feminist theory, the philosophy of social science, contemporary political philosophy, the history and theory of tolerance, and the enlightenment. They offer an exciting array of seminars covering historical, topical, and interdisciplinary approaches to political theory, and they encourage students to develop both an expertise in their areas of specialization and a broad understanding of the practice of the discipline of political science. As graduate research assistants, our students work with faculty on books and articles for conference presentation and publication as early as their first year of study.
Political theory students and faculty, colleagues from other subfields, and members of many other departments attend regular meetings of the Theory Convocation, an informal setting for the presentation of work in progress by local and visiting scholars. The Theory program also sponsors an annual conference on topics in political theory, and is presently the administrative home of the Texas Chapter of the Conference for the Study of Political Thought. The work of students of political theory receives assistance not only from the Department of Political Science, but also from the Center for Humanities Research, the College of Liberal Arts, and other related departments and research groups.
PUBLIC POLICY AND ADMINISTRATION
Public Policy/Public Administration is the scientific study of the politics of institutions, structures and organizations. The study of public policy focuses on the analysis and explanation of government and non-government responses to public problems. It seeks to explain how institutions, organizations, and the public interact within various governance structures to develop the policies that they do. It is also concerned with the evaluation and impact of these policies on citizens, governing institutions, and organized interests. Public administration is concerned with the organization, activities, and behavior of administrative agencies and officials in the conduct of government. Public administration includes the study of how bureaucracies interact with other political institutions, the political and legal context of administration, and how organization structures and governance structures affect the actions of government. Both Public Policy and Public Administration cut across the traditional fields of American politics and comparative politics.
The public policy and public administration faculty at Texas A&M seeks to train scholars for positions at research oriented universities. As such the program stresses theory and appropriate methods for investigating major questions in the area.
RACE AND ETHNIC POLITICS (Minor only)
The program in Race and Ethnic Politics cuts across all other substantive subfields of political science. It has relevance for the study of American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations, Political Theory, and Public Administration/Public Policy. Accordingly, the race and politics subfield minor requires students to take courses on race and ethnicity in a minimum of two of the above five subfields.
Among the topics that might be examined within the program on Race and Ethnic Politics are political mobilization of ethnic communities, racial/ethnic differences in political behavior, public opinion among different racial and ethnic communities, political incorporation and representation of racial/ethnic minorities, the interface of political institutions and racial/ethnic groups, ethnic conflict, ethnic nationalism, policy impacts on racial/ethnic groups, theories of race and ethnicity, and racial/ethnic identity politics.
Current faculty in Race and Ethnic Politics have expertise in African-American politics, Latino politics, campaigns and elections, political behavior, religion and politics, political participation, public opinion, group conflict, comparative policy and ethnic groups, health policy, mass media, affirmative action, social policy, urban politics, workforce diversity, public management, and education policy.
RESEARCH METHODS – ADVANCED (Minor only)
Political methodology training at Texas A&M covers the diverse scientific methods used in Political Science. The methods faculty of Texas A&M is nationally acclaimed, and active in developing, publishing, and teaching cutting edge techniques of political analysis. Besides the various special topics courses in methods offered by the Department, faculty are regularly asked to teach at the University of Essex and University of Michigan Summer Programs. The breadth of methods covered by the faculty is wide, including traditional econometric and time series analysis, limited dependent variables, maximum likelihood, mathematical modeling, game theory, experimental design, and Bayesian analysis. We require students who take methods as a minor field to demonstrate an understanding of statistical and formal approaches to research questions, but we allow students to specialize in the particular areas most appropriate for the student’s substantive interests. In particular, we aim to give students the ability to integrate theory, measurement, and estimation using the most appropriate techniques for each step in the research process. In the recent past our students have taken courses in maximum-likelihood estimation, game theory, mathematical modeling, time series, hierarchical modeling, experimental methods, and Bayesian estimation. The political science discipline widely expects that graduate students coming from the Texas A&M program will have had strong methods training.