Academics

Political Science

Overview

Political Science addresses some of the fundamental problems facing human society. Questions concerning government policies aimed at achieving economic stability and growth, the gap between the rich and poor, the role of NGOs to affect social and political change, the relations between countries, the crisis of our democratic institutions, and the path to world peace are all on the research agenda of contemporary political scientists.

We address these and other similarly important issues in a multidisciplinary way, and, simultaneously, train you to think critically and reason analytically about the constantly evolving political landscape in Asia as compared to the rest of the world.

In addition to the knowledge you gain from the major, iCLA can also prepare you for graduate studies, and for a rich and rewarding career. iCLA’s Political Science graduates are well equipped for professions both in Asia and globally in the fields of international relations and diplomacy, public administration and government service, non-government organizations and community building, and research and business.

“Studying Political Science has sharpened my critical thinking skills and ability to comprehend others’ individual backgrounds. I believe that a nation is a mirror of its citizens, and that learning about a country’s socio-political composition and history is the first stage in getting to know people who have spent their time there. 

Being a political science student means discussing sensitive topics such as affirmative action in response to racial discrimination, economic inequality, and territorial issues. I have come to learn that people often base their opinions on these matters off a biased selection of information relative to their personal background and upbringing. As a result of my studies, I am more able to think logically and take people’s backgrounds into account when estimating their possible reactions to scenarios and world events. 

After graduating from iCLA I plan to complete a master’s degree, then go into the private sector. The knowledge I have gained here will be necessary in a variety of industries, especially in foreign trade. Being able to comprehend an individual’s background is highly effective in business as it aids you in building better relationships with people. My ultimate goal is to return to academia as a professor of Political Science.”

Political Science major Takaaki

Takaaki

Japan

Why study Political Science?

Political Science is the study of relations between people and institutions as well as among institutions. It differentiates itself from disciplines such as Sociology or Anthropology which focus primarily on the relations among people in society or Psychology that investigates the individual.

It is a social science which contributes and, at the same time, borrows ideas from other disciplines such as Economics, Sociology, Social Psychology, and History.

In studying these relations, political scientists focus on the concept of power/power relations and how this power is used to design, shape or control policies. Examples of policies that we study are: welfare policies, environmental policies, labor, health, etc. So, we are concerned about issues such as poverty, environmental sustainability, employment, health and social care, etc. In this regard, we often analyze the relations between public, private and nongovernmental sectors in our societies. Therefore, we explore how these sectors work together and how their behaviors affect the formulation of new policies. 

Political science also investigates the power relations among countries, what is usually known as international relations. Included in this sub-field are the diplomatic relations between governments, for example, China-Japan; or North and South Korea; or Russia and the USA to mention a few. 

Another aspect that Political Science investigates is the overall structures of government within countries and in doing so it compares their party systems, electoral systems, forms of governments such as democratic versus authoritarian or totalitarian, and we do this often in a historical perspective by referring to political thinkers of the past and the ideologies those inspired with their writings. Political Science also focuses on understanding people’s electoral behaviors. For example, one of our concerns is to understand why so many young people are not interested in voting for politicians around the globe? What are the facts behind such political apathy, and where will this change in political behavior bring our societies to? If you wish to change the world for the better by working on pressing social and political issues, believe that the system as it is, it is no longer sustainable, wish to pursue a career as lawyer, journalist, political analyst, public official, social worker, care worker, community organizer, politician or diplomat, and wish to be equipped with high level written and communication skills as well as critical and problem-solving skills and the empathic ability to interact effectively with other people in society, then this is the major for you.

What will I study?

Students who choose the major will take political science courses taught in the social science tradition. Because some of these courses require quantitative skills, students in the major are recommended to take courses in economics, mathematics, statistics and research methods. These courses are then supplemented by electives from our other majors or subject areas such as Data Science, Quantitative Reasoning, Psychology or Sociology.

Course structure

  • Academic Reading Across Disciplines

  • Composition 1

  • Composition 2

  • Expository Research Writing

  • Omnibus Themes (Spring) or (Fall)

  • World History

  • Elementary Japanese 1

  • Elementary Japanese 2

  • Elementary Japanese 3

  • Internship (optional)

  • Career Design 1

  • Introduction to Political Science

  • Statistics

  • Methods of Social Research

  • Comparative Politics

  • International Relations

  • Introduction to Public Administration

  • History of Japan's International Relations

  • Public Policy and Service

  • International Relations in the Asian Pacific Region

  • Japanese Politics and Diplomacy

  • Nonprofit/Social Enterprise Management

  • Workshop: Political Simulation Game

  • Global Politics

  • Seminar (Political Science)

  • Graduate Research Project

  • Microeconomics

  • Macroeconomics

  • Japanese Society and Culture

  • Introduction to Psychology

  • Game Theory

  • Modern Japanese Society and Culture through Literature

  • International Trade & Economics of Globalization

  • Contemporary Literature, Politics, and Economy

  • Public Economics

*Each student should complete the compulsory courses of the common curriculum within their first year and a half of studies, and can take major courses simultaneously. In addition to the courses listed above, iCLA students can choose from a wide variety of electives from the other majors, or from our courses in Data Science, Quantitative Reasoning, Psychology and Sociology, Japanese Language and Health and Physical Education.

Students will need to pass Elementary Japanese 3 or pass an exemption test demonstrating equivalent Japanese language ability in order to graduate.

Study Abroad Partners

All students are eligible to apply for either one or two semesters of study abroad at one of iCLA’s 70+ partner universities. The study abroad program does not extend the length of your degree as most credits earned can be transferred towards your graduation requirement. All of our exchange partnerships are based on mutual tuition fee waiver. Below are some of the partners most suited to our Political Science major students.

What can I do next?

By nature, Political Science majors make great employees in any field because of their ability to communicate effectively, think critically, and solve complex problems in an empathetic fashion. These timeless skills make them attractive to employers in all walks of society.

Political Science majors who graduate from iCLA can pursue careers in both Asia and globally such as: Public Administrators, Diplomats/Experts in International Relations, Nonprofits / Non-Governmental Organization Leaders, Journalists, Law Enforcement, Political Consultants, Community Organizers, and Research Analysts. The Political Science major at iCLA also prepares students for a smooth admission into graduate schools in fields such as: Political Science, Public Administration, Law, and Journalism.

Our Political Science Faculty

Message from the Program Director, Professor Ross Laratta:

Japan’s interests, identities, and institutions have both been shaped by and played a significant role in shaping the global order. As one of the most attractive, safe, and peaceful places to study, Japan can improve students’ employability, help them to see the world from different perspectives, and appreciate other cultures. The political science major in our liberal arts college equips students with the written and communication skills, critical thinking ability and informed judgement that lead to a broad understanding of the human condition. These are the necessary skills students need to develop as competent and responsible citizens. In this major, students study domestic and global policy and politics. This often means that they understand best practices in Japan and evaluate critically how they could be replicated in other parts of the world. They also learn of the challenges facing Japan, often ahead of other countries, and learn what domestic and international policies the Japanese Government is putting in place in order to confront them. Discussing politics inside and outside the classroom with other students from different cultures and making friends from all over the world are also important parts of maturing as a person at iCLA.”

Political Science and Social Policy