Areas of Study

Areas of Study

Are you interested in American politics? International affairs? Understanding today's critical issues such as health, the environment or civil rights? Whatever your interest within the study of political science, the program offered at Siena College allows students to explore it in addition to providing a focused, systematic, evidence-based foundation in political phenomena.

American Politics

American Politics studies political institutions, processes, and behaviors at the national and state level. The study of political institutions encompasses both the formal ones (Congress, the Presidency, and the Judiciary) and such important informal institutions as political parties, interest groups, and the media. Examples of political processes are elections and law making. The study of political behavior focuses on political participation, public opinion, and the behavior of political elites (e.g. roll-call behavior). American politics also studies the relationship between national and state governments (federalism) as established in the Constitution, as it has evolved historically, and as it currently stands.

Comparative Politics

Comparative Politics is a subfield within the academic discipline of Political Science. The comparative approach analyzes both similarities and differences among countries by focusing on specific institutions (such as leadership structures, for example) and processes (voting rights or freedom of the press). In a comparative politics class, the emphasis is placed on the study of the politics of various countries. Comparativists believe that it is unreliable to assert evaluative statements about one country unless there is an opportunity to compare the results to another country (What factors do we examine to identify the world's worst dictatorships? Why? How?) It is common to study several countries as case studies within the field of comparative politics.

International Affairs and Global Politics

This sub-field examines the cross-boundary interrelationships among nation-states and among such non-state actors as international governmental organizations, non-governmental organizations, corporations and individual persons. Areas studied are national security, human security, foreign policy, international organizations, international law, and international political economy and issues such as human rights, environment, free trade and fair trade, war, non-violent conflict resolution, terrorism, migration, nation-building, international leadership, and globalization.

Political Theory

Political theory offers conceptual clarification about political phenomena. The concepts that you will explore may include power, freedom, legitimacy, government, the people, individuality, plurality, equality, justice, law, resistance, revolution, toleration, recognition, and punishment. Political theory is a critical enterprise concerned with the meaning and significance of political phenomena particularly as those phenomena are explained as a crisis: of government, of law, of inequality, of violence, of war, of revolution, of intolerance, and so on. Out of these crisis moments great statements of political theory have been and can be made. In your political theory courses, you can expect to read classical or canonical texts of political theory along with more current sources that range from political theory texts and articles, to films, novels, or elements of visual and performance culture. Political theory, like other subfields in Political Science, trains you to be a strong analytic and critical thinker.

Public Law

This subfield involves the study of law governing the relationship between individuals (citizens and companies) and the state. At Siena College this includes the study of constitutional law, civil liberties, criminal law, and international law. The principal focus is upon the interaction of the United States Constitution, National and State laws, State Constitutions, and Treaties with the law making, enforcing, and adjudicating systems of our nation and in the global community.

Public Policy

This subfield of political science studies the different types of policy outputs, the complex political process that produces policies, and the theoretical models that explain the making of such policies. It focuses on the impact of governmental institutions and processes on the various steps of the policymaking process (from the initial identification of a policy issue, to the formulation of policy proposals, their formal enactment and implementation, to policy evaluation). It also studies how the behavior of governmental and nongovernmental political actors influences public policy decisions.

Public Administration

This is a subfield that takes an interdisciplinary approach to understanding how public sector bureaucracies work, and how they influence the implementation of policies. Formal rules and procedures and informal behavior are important determinants of policy implementation. Public administration focuses on the internal characteristics and norms of bureaucratic organizations, on the behavior and policy motivations of public servants, and on the political environment within which public bureaucracies operate.

Department Chair

Daniel Lewis

Daniel Lewis

Associate Professor of Political Science

321 Siena Hall

(518) 783‑2325