The political science department introduced this quarter a new political science minor that is flexible, open to all students and accommodates a wide range of interests.
After “huge” interest from students, Cal Poly is now offering a political science minor to help students expand their knowledge about politics and broaden their overall education.
The political science department noticed they were the only California State University campus that offered a major but lacked a minor in that subject field. A survey of 800 students was conducted, questioning whether there would be interest in a minor and if students would be likely to take it, political science professor Matthew Moore said.
“The response was huge,” he said. “Many more students than we could possibly accommodate expressed, on paper, that they would be interested in taking the minor.”
The minor’s “breadth” distinguishes it from others on campus, Moore said. While other minors encourage students to focus more narrowly, the political science minor does not force students to focus on any one thing, Moore said.
“Our expectation is that once (students) have had a chance to get a broad introduction, they will narrow down based on their own choice and interest,” he said.
The idea of having a broad background is emphasized within the minor. The minor can be very helpful in stimulating interest for internships and also opportunities to participate in government areas, political science professor Allen Settle said.
“The employers might look upon this as helpful to have a political policy background,” he said. “People can modify the minor to fit nicely with their major field of study.”
Additionally, students have flexibility in the number of courses they can take and focus their attention, Settle said.
“It is meant to make it possible for students to get a cross connection. Interdisciplinary connection is the big objective,” he said. “They should not be focused just on one subject area.”
As far as future challenges are concerned, the department does not foresee any difficulties arising, according to Jean Williams, chair of the political science department.
“We did do research to make sure that we could accommodate more students,” Williams said.
Political science junior and Vice President of the Political Science Club Anthony Wong recommends students to take the minor. Students will develop analytic skills that would be highly beneficial, he said.
“What people would most benefit from taking this minor is developing understanding that there is something that connects these (political) events,” Wong said. “You are trained to look for more, not just seeing things as face value.”
Students within any major would improve by understanding how politics affects their major area of expertise, Michael Latner, a political science professor who was part of the curriculum committee, said.
“The minor is also helping us provide one of our obligations to the university which is to enhance citizenship,” he said. “By taking the minor you are enhancing your knowledge of how politics works and about what difference you can make as a citizen.”