About the Major

The study of politics and public affairs at Hamilton has three tracks: government, world politics, and public policy. Government majors are grounded in international relations, American politics, comparative politics, and political theory. Many participate in Hamilton’s program in Washington, D.C., where they get a front-line perspective on the U.S. government, including work in a Congressional or executive office. World politics focuses on a region or theme such as poverty and inequality, democratization, or international law. Public policy is interdisciplinary and includes economics and philosophy.

Students Will Learn To:

  • Make reasonable inferences from data and evidence in order to draw logical conclusions about historical and contemporary political phenomena
  • Effectively communicate ideas in clear writing
  • Use foundational principles of political science to plan and carry out independent research
  • Consider alternative perspectives in order to respond to counter-arguments

A Sampling of Courses

Alexander Hamilton's lap desk

The American Founding: Ideals and Reality

An intensive analysis of the philosophical ideals of the Founding Era (1763-1800) and their uneven realization. Social histories of various races, genders and classes will help illuminate the inherent ambiguities, weaknesses, strengths and legacies of the social and political philosophies of late 18th-century America.

Explore these select courses:

This course examines the ways war and processes of militarization impact women in the Global North and the Global South.  Discussion will be accompanied by an analysis of categories such as “women,” “gender” and “sexuality” in relation to the “state” and “nation” during periods of warfare and armed conflict. We will engage with a range of interdisciplinary texts on gender and militarism.  These narratives will be grounded by theoretical readings that explore the ongoing debates and tensions among feminists regarding nationalism, violence, war and militarization.

Analysis of constitutional doctrines through major cases. Function of the Supreme Court as an instrument of government and arbiter of public policy. Doctrines include judicial review, federalism, interstate commerce, due process and questions of individual rights.

Analysis of competing theories of the liberty of expression in the American context. Focuses primarily on contemporary political and legal disputes over such morally divisive issues as "hate speech," campus speech codes, pornography, media and Internet censorship, and the proper role of free speech in a democracy. Examination of the evolution of American constitutional law concerning freedom of expression.

What is the relationship between capitalism and democracy? Do the claims of democracy extend into the workplace? This course examines the development of a market society, the division of labor, and contemporary working conditions, exploring the challenges and possibilities each presents democratic life. It emphasizes critical reading of historical, empirical, and normative texts in order to define and assess the mutual obligations between democratic societies and their citizens and workers. Readings include Adam Smith, Max Weber, Hannah Arendt, C. Wright Mills, and Karl Polanyi.

Analysis of the representation of interests in American national government. The history of the role of lobbyists in the Washington community and the contemporary profession of government relations in legislative, regulatory and political contexts. Strategies of lobbying Congress and the executive branch. Issues of reform, including ethics rules and campaign finance. Emphasis on exploring theories and practice of lobbying/government relations through use of academic research, case studies and engagement of the class in practical "real world" lobbying exercises.

Meet Our Faculty

Robert Martin

Chair, Walcott-Bartlett Professor of Government


American political thought, democratic theory, early modern political thought, philosophy of social science, and constitutional law

Frank Anechiarico

Maynard-Knox Professor of Law, Director of Public Policy


Public administration, public ethics, and law and society

Alan Cafruny

Henry Platt Bristol Professor of International Relations


International political economy, European politics, U.S. foreign policy

Environmental political theory; republican political thought; environmental politics; land-use politics; political geography; climate change

Alexsia Chan

Associate Professor of Government


Comparative politics; authoritarian politics; political economy of development; Chinese politics

Erica De Bruin

Associate Professor of Government


International security; civil-military relations; coups d'état; international conflict; civil war

Ashley Gorham

Assistant Professor of Government


Democratic theory, modern political thought, and politics of technology

Kira Jumet

Associate Professor of Government, Director of Middle East/Islamicate Worlds Studies


comparative politics, international relations, and Middle East politics

Philip Klinkner

James S. Sherman Professor of Government


American politics, political parties, campaigns and elections, race and American politics

Kenneth Leonardo

Postdoctoral Fellow and Visiting Assistant Professor of Government


History of political thought (Western and non-Western), American political thought and development, Native and Indigenous thought

Ngonidzashe Munemo

Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty, Professor of Government


African politics and development; democratization, especially in Africa; civil society and issues of diversity in democracies

David Rivera

Associate Professor by Special Appointment


The international politics of Eurasia, post-communist democratization, and the composition of the Russian elite

Sharon Werning Rivera

Sidney Wertimer Professor for Excellence in Advising and Mentoring, Associate Chair and Professor of Government; Director of Russian Studies


Post-communist democratization, the composition of the Russian elite, elite survey research, and the diffusion of ideas

Heather Sullivan

Associate Professor of Government


Comparative politics, Latin American politics, protest and social movements, political violence, and state capacity

Joel Winkelman

Visiting Assistant Professor of Government


History of political thought, American political thought, work and labor, and the Progressive Era

International law

Pedram Maghsoud-Nia

Visiting Instructor in Government


Bill Wright ’71

Sol Linowitz Lecturer in American Government


Molecular biology

Careers After Hamilton

Hamilton graduates who concentrated in government are pursuing careers in a variety of fields, including:

  • Program Analyst, Department of Homeland Security
  • Strategic Marketing Coordinator, NBC Universal Media
  • Writer, Comedy Central
  • Coordinator for Communications & Outreach, U.S. Department of State
  • Orthopedic Surgeon
  • Advisor & Associate Counsel, Republican National Committee
  • Maynard-Knox Professor of Government, Hamilton College
  • Founder/Executive Director/President, New England Center for Children
  • Director, Foreign Exchange Distribution, UBS Securities LLC
  • President & CEO, Texas International Education Consortium
  • Senior Public Affairs Officer, U.S. Department of the Interior

Explore Hamilton Stories

Christian Hernández Barragán ’24

How Two Distinct Disciplines Meshed in a Senior Thesis

Discovering the intersections between two disciplines miles apart is no easy path to take — but it is a rewarding one. Christian Hernández Barragán ’24, a government and theatre major, shares how he meshed his two favorite departments in his senior theses and in off-campus adventures in London and Washington, D.C.

Sharon Rivera

Sharon Rivera Presents at MPSA Conference

Sharon Werning Rivera, the Sidney Wertimer Professor of Government, recently presented a paper at the 81st Annual Conference of the Midwest Political Science Association (MPSA) in Chicago.

2024 Gilman Scholars

Six Awarded Gilman Scholarships

Six Hamilton students — Lara Barreira ’25, Nikki Conlogue 25, Miranda Gregory ’25, Kelvin Nunez ’24, Christina Stoll ’25, and Mimosa Van ’26 — are studying abroad this semester, thanks to assistance from Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarships.


Department Name

Government Department

Contact Name

Rob Martin, Chair

Office Location
198 College Hill Road
Clinton, NY 13323

Help us provide an accessible education, offer innovative resources and programs, and foster intellectual exploration.

Site Search