Bard College at Simon's Rock: the Early College
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Political Studies

At the heart of this concentration lie questions about the nature and meaning of politics and power; the actions of, and relations among and between, individuals, groups, and institutions; systems, structures, societies, and the conflicts that beset and vitalize them.

The concentration raises questions about the origins and intersections of various systems of power and subjectivity. It explores the philosophies, theories, and enactments of law and governance, and makes central the struggles between ideals and human actions to attain them. The concentration seeks to politicize the very question of epistemology and method, and thus encourages a plurality of approaches to social and political inquiry and action.

In order to moderate into the political studies concentration, students will devise a multidisciplinary program of study that addresses their interests and proclivities with suggested courses and/or desired areas of coverage, and also furnishes multiple and global perspectives. Exposure to at least two subfields of political science from among political theory, law, American politics, and international comparative politics is necessary. In determining particular emphases of their BA program in the political studies concentration, students will opt for one of two streams: Law, Policy, Society; or Politics, Ethics, Aesthetics. General requirements, along with specific areas of inquiry and their suggested aggregations are discussed below. Since the range of courses applicable to the core and elective areas of inquiry is wide and varied, the faculty contact shall advise on which courses fulfill the requirements of the various areas of inquiry.

Related career paths

Students with a concentration in political studies may enter into fields such as education, law, non-profit administration, activism, and political analysis. 


At least seven courses for a minimum of 24 credits are required; at least three of these courses must be at the 300-level. No more than four courses may be in one discipline.

The core areas of inquiry correspond to the disciplinary sub-divisions of political science. Students are advised that core courses be taken from among our politics offerings.

The elective areas of inquiry pertaining to the two streams delineated below constellate questions that have broad interdisciplinary reach, allowing courses from various disciplines and divisions to count toward the concentration conceived as a whole. Students are required to take courses to satisfy the listed categories and areas of study. As long as students cover the required area(s), they must not limit themselves to the examples of course listed below, or those solely in the politics curriculum. This necessitates that students and faculty collaborate substantially in determining programs of study. 

Course Spotlight

Asma Abbas teaches Political Studies.

Politics 328: The Democratic Imagination

This seminar will survey some of the major currents and problems in the history of modern democratic thought. Is democracy an ideal, an ethos, a system? A judgment, a tool, or a mechanism—and what determines this? We will address how democracy and its supposed associates, such as freedom, equality, justice, and self-government, are shaped in relation to each other in various historical and geographic contexts, and how these appear in different models of democracy.

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