The goal of the Government Department is to engage students in discussion pertaining to the political dynamics of human life through research and intensive writing. Students emerge prepared to shape, analyze, and fully participate in civic life.
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
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.
The Kirner-Johnson Building, also known as KJ, houses the offices for faculty members in government. The building features an atrium, team rooms for working on group projects, and five case-method classrooms with the latest technology to support teaching and learning.
National and regional news organizations regularly interview Hamilton faculty, staff, and students for their expertise and perspectives on current events, and to feature programs and activities on campus. March’s news highlights ranged from commentary on the politics of China to Federal Reserve decisions.
Associate Professor of Government Kira Jumet has been selected as a New York Six (NY6) Mellon Academic Leadership Fellow and will have opportunities to engage across the six-member consortium and access to mentors who will be a resource for their professional and leadership development.
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
Advisor & Associate Counsel, Republican National Committee
Maynard-Knox Professor of Government, Hamilton College
Founder/Executive Director/President, New England Center for Children