The Federal Government may often have trouble getting things done, but the Department of Political Science on the Summerville Campus is picking up the pace. The political science faculty does more than teach students the basics; they get the students involved on multiple levels.
“We have an active Model United Nations Program that takes trips to New York, internships at the state’s and nation’s capitals,an active study abroad program, and a very active local Center for Public Service,” said Dr. Sudha Ratan, Chairwoman of the department. “Getting the students involved outside of the classroom gets them excited about learning.”
The department also offers majors in political science, with concentrations in international and legal studies , and has a Master of Public Administration degree program.
“We are a small department, but we have a variety of experts in a variety of topics,” she said. “And that gives the students a lot of different perspectives to learn about, and learn from.”
The Model U.N. Program, has had significant growth in its four years and is now taking approximately 20 students each year to New York for the national conference.
“We are very proud of our Model U.N. students,” Ratan said. “Over 1,500 schools attend the national conference, and our team has always placed; they bring back multiple awards for their work. They do incredibly well, and they are often going up against much larger schools.”
For students interested in domestic issues, the department has developed internships in Washington, D.C., and in Atlanta, offering students the opportunity to obtain first-hand government experience.
“We have been working closely with the GRU Government Relations Department, and they have been very helpful in working with us to develop internship opportunities,” she said. “We just had three students who went to D.C., and they were very excited about the opportunity. When they got back, they couldn’t wait to go back up and get a job.
Ratan hopes these internships will lead to jobs for the students which would allow the department to have an even larger footprint in the nation’s capital for future opportunities.
The students are also afforded opportunities with the department’s Center for Public Service and Research. The center provides services such as polling, data collection, statistical analysis, economic forecasting, producing reports, and more for the city of Augusta.
“We often have contracts with local and federal government to conduct studies,” Ratan said. “And it’s a great experience for the students, to get involved in real research that has a real-world purpose, not just an exercise out of a book. And it’s also great for the community, as there aren’t a lot of programs that do this kind of work here.
The department also has a strong Political Science Club that is student run and well-attended. It’s not just open to political science majors, but to all students on campus who have an interest in politics.
“The club holds brown bag events and forums on hot-button issues like Syria, and they are often casual but informative,” Ratan said. “They are very well-attended and even the non-political science students really seem to enjoy them.”
The club also performs public services, such as voter drives, and invites area candidates in to speak during election cycles.
The department has much planned for the future, as political science faculty are working on developing a new master’s program in security studies with a focus on the Middle East. The program has a built-in demand with Fort Gordon soldiers requesting the degree.
The department is currently working on a joint degree for public health and public administration.
“The consolidation opened up this option for us with the public health section of the Health Sciences Campus,” Ratan said. “There are several schools that already offer this degree, and there is a high demand for it.”