Why Study Politics?

Political Studies examines the dynamics of human interaction in which individuals and groups compete to achieve their goals.  The study of politics involves a consideration of the interactions between

  • the individual
  • the state
  • government
  • public affairs
  • public policy

Political Studies examines the dynamics of these interactions in the context of

  • competing visions
  • values and interests

particularly in the pursuit of varying public goals, including the quest for political power and the control of government.  Politics is thus both a study of conflict among competing interests and a "study of how these competing interests achieve compromise and cooperation".

Though you might be attracted to the study of politics by current events, you will soon realize that the most pressing problems are an aspect of that human activity known as politics.  Desires, requests, and demands form the raw material of political action among people.  Naturally, if everyone shared similar values on all subjects, there would be no need for politics or the study of politics.  But of course they do not.  People have different ideas concerning such things as

  • civil liberties
  • sustainable development
  • distributive justice

Consequently they divide into various groups

  • nations
  • political parties
  • trade unions
  • business associations
  • environmental organizations
  • other interest groups

Where does the study of politics enter into all this?  Political Studies seeks to understand what happens when individuals and groups struggle with one another to achieve their different goals.  Within states there are mechanisms called governments to oversee and guide political struggle, and studying politics can help us better appreciate why various types of government behave the way they do.

What makes politics so fascinating is that it is a source of conflict in the world as well as a mode of activity seeking to resolve strife and create better societies.  The student of politics is more than a detached observer; he or she feels involvement and a commitment to explore the conditions promoting more just societies.

Career Opportunities

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.