Millikin's Department of Political Science is dedicated to developing its students' understanding of the political world at both the domestic and international levels. With an emphasis on theory and practice, students explore their role as active citizens in their community, country, and the world. Through a rigorous curriculum that cultivates competency in both quantitative and qualitative methodologies, we seek to develop the critical thinking and analytical skills essential to our students' long-term professional success. We also seek to instill in our students the responsibilities that civil society demands and are committed to their development as active citizens and leaders of their local, national, and world communities. We are dedicated to the development of the whole student, one who is better able to understand and engage in the development of a more ethical and just society.
Students become life-long learners, active citizens, and leaders, with skills applicable to many career paths. Consequently, our alumni are successful in a wide variety of fields including law, criminal justice, business, advocacy, academia, diplomacy, and electoral politics.
Majors are encouraged to participate in the Washington Semester Program at American University in Washington, D.C.; the programs of the Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars, the United Nations Semester in New York; Study Abroad; and in extracurricular activities such as Model Illinois Government, Model United Nations, Moot Court, and student government.
What can I do with a degree in political science?
- Identify key questions, fundamental concepts, and theoretical frameworks critical to an understanding of the political world.
- Identify the fundamental concepts, characteristics, and theories central to American politics.
- Identify the fundamental concepts, characteristics, and theories central to comparative politics.
- Identify the fundamental concepts, characteristics, and theories central to the area of international relations.
- Solve complex problems by demonstrating a mastery of substantive knowledge in the discipline’s main sub-fields.
- Follow scientific and humanistic methods to design and carry out politically-oriented research projects by utilizing sufficiently advanced social research methods.
- Communicate effectively political knowledge to general audiences as well as colleagues in the field.
The Millikin Political Science Department welcomes you to contact them for details about the department. For more information about admission to the University or Millikin in general, contact the Office of Admission at 800.373.7733. To contact the Political Science Department directly, call 217.424.6386.
Download the Political Science Major advising sheet.
History/Political Science Course Offerings
History Courses (HI) (Credits)
HI100. Introduction to the Modern World (3)
A survey of economic, intellectual, political and social developments in Europe since 1700 as well as
patterns of influence and reaction in America, Latin America and Asia. Topics include capitalism as a
revolutionary system, Marxism, imperialism, fascism, socialism, national revolutions, and the dynamics
of an evolving third world. Appropriate to fulfill historical studies requirement.
HI105, 205, 305. Introductory Topics in History (3)
A variety of courses in different fields at the introductory level are offered. All are offered without
HI201. Rise of Modern Europe, Medieval Period to 1700 (3)
The history of Europe tracing developments of political, economic, social, religious, and cultural
institutions and customs from the middle ages through 1700. Emphasis on developments that have
shaped the modern world.
HI202. Rise of Modern Europe, 1700-present (3)
The enlightenment and democratic revolutions of the European world, the industrial revolution,
the rise of nationalism within the context of the domestic, political, and economic history of the
European states in the 19th century. Study of the main currents in 20th century European history with
emphasis on political, economic, social and intellectual factors.
HI203. U.S. History to 1865 (3)
American history beginning with the early voyages of discovery and colonization, with emphasis on the
Revolution and early national period, the Age of Jackson, westward expansion and the events leading to
the crisis of the Civil War.
HI204. U.S. History since 1865 (3)
The reconstruction era, frontier west, industrialization and the populist movement, America’s rise
to world power, the progressive and New Deal periods, the world wars and post WWII American
political, economic, social and cultural developments.
HI206. Cultural Geography (3)
This course is required of secondary education majors, and introduces students to the field of
geography, emphasizing the relationship between the environment and culture.
HI207. State and Local History (3)
This course introduces students to the history of Illinois since its admission to the union, and emphasizes
the use of primary documents.
HI210, 310. Topics in United States History (3)
Sample offerings in U.S. history have included the following courses: Violence in America, The Age of
Jackson 1815-1850, The American Civil War, Abraham Lincoln, The American Frontier, The Gilded
Age 1865-1900, TR to FDR 1900-1945, U.S. History since 1945, The Sixties in Film and History,
The Vietnam War, World Religions in America.
HI320. Topics in European History (3)
Sample offerings in European history have included the following courses: Hitler and the Third Reich,
The Holocaust, Europe and the Nineteenth Century World.
HI340. Topics in Non-Western History (3)
Sample offerings in non-western history have included the following courses: India Under British Rule
(1730-1947), Modern Japan, Modern China, Introduction to Modern East Asia, Introduction to Modern
Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa.
HI360. Topics in Global History (3)
Sample offerings in global history have included the following courses: The Islamic World, Comparative
Religions, Global Christianity, The History of Aids, The History of Medicine: Five Epidemics that Changed
HI390. Independent Study (1-4) per semester
An independent study arrangement, designed primarily for students with a background in history. The
course of study will be arranged on a tutorial basis with weekly meetings between the instructor and
student. The course subject matter will vary according to individual interest. Pre-requisite: consent of
HI400. Seminar in History (3)
Seminars in the history department are rigorous exercises is critical reading, with a substantial research
and writing component. Recent seminars have dealt with the following topics: The American Civil War,
The Holocaust, WWII.
HI425. Methods of Teaching and Assessment in the Social Studies (3)
This course is designed for the secondary education major and introduces students to the history of
Social Studies education and various teaching techniques for the middle and high school classroom.
HI450. Senior Honors Thesis (3)
In the senior honors thesis the student is expected to produce a substantial original piece of research or
analysis. The student will defend the written work orally before a committee from inside or outside of
the department. Open only to qualified seniors approved by the Department Chair.
HI480. Historiography and Research (3)
This capstone experience is an advanced course in the art and craft of history, designed for the history
major and minor. In conjunction with readings on the theoretical and methodological bases of historical
inquiry, the student engages in significant exercises in historical research and writing. Prerequisite:
junior standing or consent of Department Chair.
Political Science Courses (PO)(Credits)
PO105. The American Political System (3)
This course emphasizes the theoretical underpinnings and practical understanding of the national policy
process and institutions of government. The course also provides students with adequate preparation
for further work in the major by emphasizing the understanding of specific political issues, the manners
through which the process works (and does not), explores the implications of current political events,
and investigates the ways in which political scientists measure and analyze political issues. Taught every
PO220. Current American Foreign Policy (3)
This course is the examination of the objectives, principles, institutions and processes of formulation of
current American foreign policy and programs. Problems of administration of strategic, military,
diplomatic and economic policies toward specific countries and geographic regions will be analyzed.
PO221. Introduction to International Relations (3)
The course will provide the student with a conceptual and empirical overview of international politics.
Realism, the problem of war and its causes, and Non-realist theories of international relations including
complex interdependence will all be examined. Different visions of the New World order will also be
studied. Skills emphasized will include moral and ethical reasoning, strategic thinking, historical analysis,
negotiations, and writing.
PO223. Political Participation and Democratic Citizenship (3)
This course examines political participation and the quality of democratic citizenship in the United
States. Because democracy presupposes an informed, engaged, participatory public, low levels of civic
and political engagement and participation may be indicative of an apathetic citizenry and a cause for
concern. Some citizens, however, may be acting in their rational self-interest by not participating. This
course examines that dilemma and explores the consequences of low levels of participation and its
possible remedies. This course also encourages students to examine the political consequences of
resources, social networks, and mobilization.
PO224. Group Influence in America (3)
The impetus for political change multiplies dramatically as individuals from different cultural
backgrounds in the US band together in groups. This course examines the means by which groups –
organized interests and political parties – attempt to influence public policy outcomes in the American
political system. It reflects on how individuals choose to join groups and how they express collective
preferences. Additionally, this course explores the internal structures and operations of interest groups
and political parties as well as their relations with others in the political system and emphasizes how
these aspects have changed over time and with what consequences.
PO235. Introduction to the Criminal Justice System (3)
Acting as a basic introduction to the legal structure surrounding the American criminal justice system,
this course will walk through the various phases of the trial process. Special attention will be paid to the
various professional roles that are played within the system and the critical issues that have arisen in
PO240. State and Local Government (3)
A course designed to familiarize students with political processes and trends in American state and local
governments. Topics covered include forms of local governments, the place of cities and states in
America's federal system, state and local policy implementation, and important institutions in various
state and local systems. Students will examine their own roles in local and state communities, and will
sharpen their skills in research, writing, and the comparison of cases. Special attention is given to both
the state of Illinois and the city of Decatur.
PO244. Campaigns and Elections (3)
This course will help students learn the science, art, and craft of electoral politics at the national and
state levels. Our focus will be on the American nominating and general election systems in a
comparative context. Mass electoral behavior will be studied and an extensive simulation will allow
students to run their own campaigns, conduct polling, choose advertising, explore issues, and strategize.
Students will enhance their own application, collaboration, and presentation skills as well as prepare to
be more actively engaged citizens.
PO260. Topics in Political Science (1-3)
Course offerings of variable credit on specialized topics.
PO280. Methods of Political Research (4)
This methods course is the introduction to the scope and methods of political science based on how we
create research questions, develop testable methods, and evaluate research. Topics include alternative
concepts of knowledge, modes of study, political ideals and their implications for political analysis. A
brief survey of the political science profession: its history, sub-fields and ethics of research. Special
attention is given to the practical aspects of empirical research: methods of research design, data
collection, electronic data processing and elementary statistical analysis. Prerequisite: PO105.
PO300. Media and Politics (3)
This course explores the vital role mass media play in American politics and democratic process today
and how political actors try to manage the news. The course provides students with a set of scholarly
and analytical tools with which to critically assess the news and other kinds of media content. Emphasis
will be also placed on the interdependent nature of the relationship among managers of the news.
PO301. Political Behavior and Opinion (3)
This course examines the academic literature on individual political behavior and public opinion and the
nature and consequences of people’s understanding of politics, public opinion on various issues, political
participation, and voting. The course focuses on approaches and theories developed by scholars to study
public opinion, and it examines substantive opinions and inter-group differences in opinions and how
they translate into political behavior. Pre-requisite: PO105 or consent of instructor.
PO305. Philosophy of Law (3)
In the first part of the course, we will examine various theories concerning the nature of law. Of
particular interest will be the issue of how these theories view the connection between law and
morality. Is there a connection between law and morality? If there is such a connection, is it a necessary
connection? Theories of law to be examined include legal positivism, natural law, and legal realism
(critical legal studies). We will employ Peter Suber’s fictional work, The Case of the Speluncean
Explorers, to examine how these theoretical issues intersect with legal adjudication. In the second part
of the course, we will focus on issues surrounding theories of judicial interpretation. Of particular
interest will be constitutional interpretation. Questions to be considered include the following: How
should judges interpret the constitution? What role (if any) should moral principles play in their
adjudication? What is the role of judges in relation to democratically elected legislatures? In hard cases,
do judges create law (legislate from the bench) or do they work to discover the correct answer (apply
the law to the case before them)? Interspersed with these more theoretical readings will be excerpts
from actual legal cases. We will be interested in seeing how the theoretical issues identified above get
played out in actual legal decisions. Pre-requisites: PH110, or PH211, or PH310, or consent of instructor.
PO310. Political Philosophy (3)
In this course, we will examine attempts by philosophers within the Western philosophical tradition
toanswer the following three questions. First, what justification (if any) can be given for the existence of
the state? Second, what reason is there (if any) for preferring one kind of state to another? Third, what
justification is there (if any) for placing limits on the power of the state to intervene in the lives of its
citizens? Readings may include Plato, Aristotle, Hobbes, Locke, Mill, Berlin, Taylor, Nozick, Rawls, and
others. Pre-requisites: PO105, or PH110, or PH211, or consent of the instructor.
PO315. Supreme Court in American Politics (3)
This course provides the student with the opportunity to explore the Supreme Court as both a legal and
a political institution. The course will examine the nine justices configured as a court of law whose
historic mission is to adjudicate all controversies – political and otherwise – arising under the
Constitution. Students will also examine the role of the Court in the political system of the United States,
issues of judicial politics, and the evolution of the judiciary’s powers, rights, and duties.
PO320. International Law and Organization (3)
This course analyzes the extent to which the growth of international organizations indicates the
existence of a global international society. Students will learn about the structure and decision-making
process of major international organizations and analyze the extent to which international organizations
influence state behavior, international law and the evolution of universal international rules and norms.
The course will examine the United Nations, the European Union, the World Trade Organization, and
non-governmental organizations such as Amnesty International and Doctors Without Borders. To bring
issues to life, students participate in a simulated crisis within the United Nations Security Council.
PO321. Global Issues (3)
The series of courses under this heading will attempt to explain the dramatic political, social, economic,
and cultural issues which batter our world: terrorism, international crime, economic globalization, etc.
Each semester we will be asking similar questions: can freedom and justice emerge from the current
clash between cold tyranny of the markets and frenetic violence of militant nationalist and religious
movements? Will the coming century repeat the barbarism of the past or usher in a steady progression
towards better life? Our focus will be global and we will engage in moral reasoning, strategic thinking,
negotiations, writing, questioning, and deliberation. Cross-cultural understanding will be a central value.
PO322. Topics in Comparative Politics (3)
The series of courses under this heading will examine the political life of the world from different
theoretical perspectives of comparative politics. Each semester, the regional focus of the course maybe
different, focusing on Eastern or Western Europe, Latin America, Africa, Middle East, or Asia. Within
each of the world regions, we will compare countries, using and evaluating crucial concepts of
comparative politics and international relations. Our focus will be global and will engage in critical
reading and quantitative reasoning. We will also use information technology, collaboration, negotiation,
and formal presentation skills. One of the values of this course is cross-cultural understanding.
PO323. Topics in World Politics (3)
A series of courses under this heading will examine, in seminar format, different topics, issues and sub fields
within the substantive fields of comparative politics and international relations. Students will read
and discuss the most important current literature covering the topics and conduct research and
literature review projects on themes of their choice. This course will focus on the global area, and the
skills fostered will be critical reading and writing, research, reflection, analysis, and scientific method.
The course will foster intellectual curiosity and risk-taking.
PO324. Politics of the Developing World (3)
This course will examine problems associated with the political development of "rapidly changing and
unstable 'developing' nation states." Students will explore the political, economic and social dimensions
of transitional states in South and Central America, Southeast and Central Asia, the Middle East and
Africa. Key questions will include: How do the political systems in transitional countries work - or fail to
work? What is development and how do we explain the failure of some countries to develop? What
strategies are used to escape poverty and underdevelopment (including revolutionary ones)? And to
what extent do major political issues such as globalization, religious and ethnic conflict, the status of
women, environmental devastation, the AIDs epidemic and transnational crime affect the development
of transition states?
PO330. Constitutional Law (3)
This course acts as an introduction to constitutional case law and to the practical effects of our legal
system (courts and judicial politics) on the American political system. The role of the federal judiciary,
focusing on the Supreme Court, in interpreting constitutional and statutory law and in making policy will
be studied. Exploration of the elements of judicial interpretation and the examination of judicial opinion
writing will be major components of this course. Prerequisite: PO105.
PO334. Civil Liberties and the Constitution (3)
Building on the understanding of judicial decision making and opinion writing established in PO330, this
course will concentrate on the current debates and case law found in the area of civil rights and civil
liberties. The First, Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments will be explored, with time spent on the
constitutional rights of the criminally accused. The process of inclusion into the political process and the
constitutional interpretation of the Bill of Rights will be examined. Prerequisite: PO105.
PO340. The American Congress (3)
This course examines the national legislative branch of government with an in-depth look at the modern
lawmaking process. Emphasis placed on the evolution of the process, the importance of the committee
system, the budget process, and the influence of individual Member goals and policy preferences on the
PO348. The American Presidency (3)
Why does the most powerful person on earth feel so limited in the ability to obtain favored outcomes?
This course offers an in-depth examination of the theoretical underpinnings, organization, development,
and powers of the Presidency. Students will acquire a working understanding of the electoral battles,
the development of powers, and how the Presidency interacts with other actors in the political system.
Skills developed will include historical analysis, research, comparing cases, and writing.
PO356. Topics in Public Policy (3)
Program formulation, implementation, and evaluation are all key to understanding how the political
system produces the outcomes that it does. Each time this course is offered, a particular field will be
chosen for intensive study. Students will explore the difficult choices government officials face,
examining why some alternatives are chosen, others rejected, and others never even considered.
Students will enhance their skills in reading critically, quantitative reasoning, information technology,
and making formal presentations. Prerequisite: PO105
PO360. Topics in Political Science (1-3)
Course offerings vary based on specialized topics.
PO361. Washington Internship or Practicum (3-6)
An internship experience, in Washington, DC, is available to students of all majors. This course combines
practical experience and training within an academic framework through a placement in an agency or
organization. Students must complete an internship contract. Student performance is evaluated by a
reflective portfolio and agency supervisor. This course is taught in Washington when students study at
The Washington Center or American University. This course fulfills political science internship
requirement. Pre-requisite: Admission to Washington Center program.
PO362. Washington Experience (3)
This course, taught by a qualified Washington Center instructor with an appropriate – usually terminal–
degree, and university teaching experience, requires a combination of regular attendance, active class
participation, written work (research paper, essays, examinations), and class projects. Topics vary, and
students receive a list of courses from which to choose prior to arrival in Washington. This course is
taught in Washington when students study at The Washington Center. Pre-requisite: Admission to
Washington Center program.
PO363. Washington Leadership Forum (3)
This course encompasses student attendance at the Washington Center’s Congressional Speaker Series,
Presidential Lecture Series, Embassy Visits Program, site visits, tours, briefings, and other activities. The
Leadership Forum enables students to better understand the world of the nation’s capital - its peoples
and institutions, its political processes, the issues debated and the policies forged there - and the
potential impact of these endeavors on the students’ future lives as professionals and citizens. This
course is evaluated by students’ reflective portfolios. This course is taught in Washington when students
study at The Washington Center. Pre-requisite: Admission to Washington Center program.
PO365. Model Illinois Government (1-3)
This course is associated with the Model Illinois Government (MIG) program offered by a consortium of
Illinois universities, colleges, and community colleges dedicated to the teaching of state government.
The major activity of MIG is a student-directed four day simulation each spring at the Capitol Complex in
Springfield. At the simulation, students assume the roles of state legislators, executive branch officials,
lobbyists, journalists, and staffers. Study in preparation for the participation learning activities of this
course will be through lectures, readings, discussions, guided research, and role playing. The
participation learning activities of this course will familiarize students with the operation of Illinois
General Assembly by examination of and involvement in the simulated process of bills becoming laws.
This course is repeatable for a total of twelve credits. This course is taught in the Spring semester.
PO366. Appellate Legal Reasoning-Moot Court (1-3)
This course will rely heavily on a simulation model in which we conduct mock appellate hearings in class.
Students will role-play as both attorneys and judges. This course will employ the closed case
method that is used at most moot court competitions. Each closed case file will include numerous
items, including: a statement of the facts of the case, the rulings by the lower courts, select court case
precedents, and specific federal and/or state statutory and/or constitutional language. This course
involves no research that goes beyond the materials provided in the closed case files. On the basis of
this material and this material only, students will complete a range of assignments designed to engage
students in the central aspects of appellate legal reasoning including legal brief writing, oral
argumentation and judicial opinion writing. This course is taught in the Spring semester.
PO367. Model United Nations (1-3)
This course offers students the opportunity to study the structure and interrelationships of the United
Nations. As a simulations course, all students are expected to participate in the national competition of
American Model United Nations in Chicago. The course as a whole prepares students for presentations
of a country’s perspectives on current international issues. Students will use their knowledge gained
throughout the course to serve on committees and at the end of the semester create resources for
the dissemination of information about their assigned country to the wider community. The course
involves travel to the conference location and preparation in simulation activities. This course is
repeatable for a total of twelve credits. This course is taught in the Fall semester.
PO371, 372. Internship (3) Per Semester
Supervised, practical experience opportunity. Maximum of six credits per student. Prerequisite: consent
of Department Chair.
PO391, 392. Independent Studies in Political Science (3) Per Semester
Directed readings and/or research on topics of mutual interest to the student and the instructor.
Maximum of six credits per student. Prerequisite: consent of instructor and Department Chair.
PO400. Seminar in Political Science (3)
Advanced seminar course in which juniors and seniors examine classic and contemporary original
empirical research with particular emphasis on its substantive findings and underlying theoretical
frameworks. The course provides an opportunity for students to critically evaluate research in the field
and to build on current research by proposing a new project of their own. Topics vary.
PO410. Political Science Professional Development (1)
This class is designed to prepare the political science student for entry into the job market, or further
study at the graduate level. Taught by the political science faculty, this class meets once a week and
addresses issues of relevance to the political science professional. Topics of relevance to postgraduates,
including graduate exams, graduate applications and resume and interview preparation will be
discussed. Students will prepare a career portfolio, individually designed to meet their specific needs, in
which professional and graduate school application materials will be collected. The portfolio will be fully
assessed at the end of the semester.
PO450. Senior Thesis (3)
To complete a senior thesis a student is expected to produce a substantial original piece of research.The
student will defend the written work and present the work at Millikin or in a regional conference. Open
only to advanced juniors and seniors whose paper proposal has been approved by the faculty of the