Political Studies seeks to understand what happens when individuals and groups struggle with one another to achieve their different goals.
The members of our department are actively engaged in research on various topics including Winnipeg, Manitoban and Canadian politics, electoral behaviour and public opinion, Canadian foreign policy, strategic studies, political economy, the politics of foreign nations such as Britain, Asia, the Middle East and countries of the former Soviet Union, medieval political thought and political metaphors.
Students may concentrate their studies in: Political Theory/Methodology, Canadian Studies, Comparative Politics and Area Studies, International Relations, and Public Administration.
The Subdivisions of Political Studies
Political Studies is a diverse field and students benefit from the choice of several subdivisions as well as different techniques of study. Here we offer a brief description of the main subdivisions to acquaint you with what Political Studies involves and what might interest you.
Political Theory, the oldest subdivision of the discipline, tackles the eternal questions of politics: speculation about human nature; analysis of the sources of human conflict; examination of the basis of authority within society, and; evaluation of different political values, forms of government, and social and economic recommendations. Students become acquainted with the basic ideas of Western political thought through great thinkers such as Plato, Machiavelli, Locke, Rousseau, Marx, and J.S. Mill. Courses in contemporary political theory are also available to address such topics as democratic theory, feminist political theory, self-identity and politics, and the ideas associated with particular movements such as fascism.
Canadian Politics courses deal with the structure of Canadian government, the constitution and the judicial process, and the issues which have had a substantial impact upon the way in which the federal and provincial governments operate. Attention is given both to the historical elements of Canadian politics and the contemporary process of policy formulation and conflict resolution. Current debates in the field include the quality of Canadian democracy given the current electoral system, the nature of social capital and its implications for Canadian politics as well as Aboriginal Peoples within the Canadian political system. The nature of Canadian political culture, the evolving character of federalism and the on-going process of constitutional review are examined, as are the roles of elections, political parties, ideologies, pressure groups and public opinion within the political system.
International Relations is concerned with the study of international or global phenomena, structures and processes. Its focus--and one of the major sources of its attractiveness to both students and practitioners--consists in asking, and attempting to answer, questions which are laden with implications for the continued existence, security and prosperity of humanity. Questions of war and peace, order and justice, and ultimately life and death have traditionally constituted the major preoccupations of those in the field. In recent years, however, a growing awareness that global or international processes can affect political and economic life in a variety of different ways has produced a substantial expansion and diversification of the field. Major sub-disciplines now include international political economy, feminist approaches to international relations, and a revival of the study of international law and organisation, as well as the more traditional fields of strategic studies, foreign policy analysis and international relations theory. The Department offers courses that deal with all of these fields, as well as more specific topics such as the European Union in world sub-politics, international conflict resolution, and Canadian foreign and defence policy. Throughout the curriculum, attention is paid to both the historical and theoretical elements of international relations.
Comparative Politics and Area Studies is a title frequently given to a series of courses concerned with the constitutions and political processes of individual nation states or groups of states. Courses are available on Canadian and comparative European political systems, the political systems of developing areas such as the Middle East, and American government and politics. Most of these courses combine some attention to the formal legal structures of government with a great deal of analysis of the actual political process, including such phenomena as political leadership, parties, voting, the role of the military, and the general political culture.
Public Administration is concerned with the application of the laws, regulations and policies of governments and the performance of the various public services which government provides. From an earlier stress on the scientific principles of management, emphasis has shifted to an interest in the informal relationships within the administrative process. The political and policy-making aspects of administration are also stressed.
Training in Political Studies is valuable no matter what career you eventually pursue since politics is as pervasive within society as the air we breathe. A Political Studies background will also enhance your competence and skill for political participation. Greater awareness of the political process will mean a greater sense of personal involvement and more willingness to accept the responsibilities of democratic citizenship.
Political studies will improve your knowledge, your research and analytical skills, and your ability to express your ideas orally and in writing. These are valuable assets for many jobs. Many worthwhile careers are open to a Political Studies graduate, though it should be stated that further training is often required.
Specialization in Canadian government and politics would be a good preparation for a career in the public service at the federal, provincial or municipal level. Students who wish to prepare for a career within the Department of External Affairs or the United Nations and its agencies would specialize in international relations.
An academic or teaching career is another option. High schools are beginning to offer politics courses, and community college training in political studies has grown in recent years. In order to teach at the university level you would need a graduate degree.
Other career possibilities include law, where familiarity with the legislative process and government structures would be valuable; journalism; certain posts in private industries; and executive assistant posts to practicing politicians.