Political Science & International Studies
The Political Science and International Studies department prepares students for exciting careers in national and international politics, political organizations, institutions, and academic environments. We believe that the study of the science and art of politics is to examine and understand human behavior in a governmental context. The major in Political Science and International Studies provides knowledge about governmental systems in general, and of American government and politics, and international affairs in particular. McDaniel's location relative to cities such as Washington, D. C. and Baltimore gives students wonderful opportunities to seek out relevant internship and career opportunities.
Dr. Christianna N. Leahy
Majors & Minors
- Political Science and International Studies – Specialization in International Studies
- Political Science and International Studies Major
- International Studies Minor
- Political Science and International Studies with Education Minor
- Political Science Minor
“I decided on Political Science and International Studies because I'm interested in the world. I wanted to learn a new language and McDaniel offered Arabic, so I decided to try it and I really like it. The Arabic professor is great here and she really wants to see her students succeed.”—Political Science Major Emily Schaffer '13
“I decided on my major because I enjoy politics. It's a very interesting mix of history, sociology and philosophy that is widely applicable. It keeps me abreast of current events and allows me to use my analytical ability in real time on events that actually matter. The strength of the political science department at McDaniel is most certainly the professors.”—Political Science Major Noah Patton '13
Professor and department chair Christianna Nichols Leahy
(Ph.D., Georgetown University), teaches such wide-ranging topics as Comparative Politics of Europe, Peacemaking and Peacekeeping in the Post 9/11 World, and Revolutions from 1789 to Occupy Wall Street. She is a human rights activist who has served on the boards of several prominent international organizations, and has expertise in International Humanitarian Law. Every year she takes students to a Model European Union.
Assistant Professor Anouar Boukhars
(Ph.D., Old Dominion University), teaches seminars in security issues in the Middle East, comparative politics, political philosophy and international relations theory and international law and international organizations. Dr. Boukhars is viewed as a leading scholar of moderate Islam. Students join him at D.C.-conferences on the Arab Spring and receive career mentoring from key policymakers. He has been a non-resident scholar in the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace's Middle East Program. He is the author of Politics in Morocco: Executive Monarchy and Enlightened Authoritarianism.
Associate Professor Debora Johnson-Ross
(Ph.D., University of South Carolina), is known as an expert on Cameroon politics. She was a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Buea (Cameroon 2006-2007), a Fulbright Ambassador, and teaches a range of courses including Contemporary African Politics, Politics of Global Feminisms, The Politics of Ethnicity and Nationalism, and Coffee, Tea and Chocolate: Oppression and Liberation in the African Diaspora. She leads January Term trips to Cameroon and Zimbabwe and helped to establish the partnership between Africa University and McDaniel. Dr. Johnson-Ross’ most recent publication is "A Promise for the Future?: Student Crisis at the University of Buea" with MOLEM Christopher Sama in Elavie Ndura- Ouédraogo, Matt Meyer, and Judith Atiri, editors, Seeds Bearing Fruit: Pan African Peace Action for the 21st Century, Africa World Press, 2010.
Dr. Johnson-Ross has served the College as Associate Dean of Academic Affairs, Co-Chair of the Middle States Accreditation Steering Committee, Director of the First Year Seminars, and Co-Coordinator of the Sophomore Interdisciplinary Studies Program.
Professor Charles E. Neal
(Ph.D., University of Minnesota), is an expert in political theory, American political behavior and the judicial process and advises students who annually participate in the Model UN program held at Harvard. Since 1983, Dr. Neal has also served as the pre-law advisor. In addition, he has been an officer on the board of the National Pre-Law Association and over the years worked closely with students helping to get them into the top law schools in the country.
Professor Herbert C. Smith
(Ph.D.,The Johns Hopkins University), teaches contemporary politics in an impartial and balanced fashion, serving as faculty advisor to the McDaniel College Democrats. In courses like “Campaigns and Elections” students get first-hand experience by fulfilling Dr. Smith’s assignment to volunteer in a campaign of their choice and design and conduct original survey research. His book on Maryland Politics and Government: Democratic Dominance written with former Secretary of State of Maryland, John Willis, is said to have "set the standard for understanding the politics of the Free State."
Recent graduates have gone on to graduate schools, law schools, careers in government, development work with non-governmental organizations, advocacy groups, and private firms. Others have chosen careers in local, state, national, and international politics, law, journalism, academia, nonprofit agencies, and other exciting arenas in the political sphere. Several have careers in government agencies (on the federal and state level), several are lobbyists, and many are with prestigious law firms or in private practice.
Of those who have obtained Ph.D.s in the field, most are already tenured professors. A graduate is serving in a high level capacity at the Department of Homeland Security working on Counter-terrorism. Many work for the National Security Agency (having been recipients of the NSA Scholarship while at McDaniel). Several have gone abroad for graduate studies at The University of London’s School of African and Oriental Studies, the London School of Economics, and the Sorbonne in France. Some of our graduates from Budapest are in similar governmental positions in Hungary. We have had students work with the Mayor of Budapest, several involved in national politics, and many choose graduate programs in Hungary as well.
In addition to internships, simulations, and service learning opportunities, many of our students study abroad in exciting places (Hungary, Spain, Morocco, South Africa, and Belgium to name a few). While abroad many interned for international organizations, United Nations agencies, and European Union institutions. They bring their first-hand experiences into the classroom when they return with real life examples of concepts that are relevant in class.
The Political Science Department offers many off-campus opportunities for students to expand their educational experiences at McDaniel. From local, national, and international internships to simulations such as the Harvard Model United Nations, Maryland Student Legislature, and the Model European Union, our students get practical, hands-on experience to excel in a global environment. These include:
The political science internship program gives students the opportunity to apply research skills, learn about various career opportunities, and discover the correlation between academic political science and real world government
Harvard Model United Nations Simulation
Students selected for McDaniel College's Harvard Model United Nations Team will be required to take a mini-course to prepare them for competition. Over 3,000 students from all over the world attend, with each participating school representing a country within simulations of all branches of the UN. The McDaniel delegation is mainly comprised of Political Science students, but also involves students in other fields. Participants majoring in Economics are often delegates to finance committees, and Biology majors may represent McDaniel in the World Health Organization. McDaniel's award-winning Model UN teams have participated in the Harvard Simulation for 30 years.
The Model European Union
Each fall semester 12-15 students have the opportunity to attend a Model European Union simulation in Washington, D.C. This conference is supported by the European Union itself, and each group of students from participating schools traditionally visits the embassy of the country they will represent to get first-hand information from the Ambassador and other officials. Over three days, delegates debate and alter a piece of legislation written for the conference, acting as an EU member country, which helps participants understand the structure and mindset of European countries in their negotiations.
Maryland Student Legislature
Each year majors participate in the Maryland Student Legislature Simulation. Students draft, debate, and pass legislation that is of relevance to the actual Maryland State Legislature. McDaniel College has a number of graduates who are members of the Maryland legislature.
Maryland State Legislature
Several students are selected to work in the Maryland State Legislature each year. Their work begins in the January term and might continue during second semester. Students regularly work with legislators and/or legislative committees and receive as many as six credits. A 10-page research paper and personal journal is required upon return.
The goal of college mock trial is to facilitate the growth of the individual student as a person able to work with and support others, as a knowledgeable citizen acquainted with the legal system, and as a community leader working for the betterment of humanity. The students selected for participation write briefs and present an oral to defend their client in a hypothetical case.
Students attend a full semester in one of American Universities Washington Semester Programs, and have an internship in any one of the many organizations of government & non-government establishments in D.C. Programs also have travel components to Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.
Washington Center Programs
The Washington Center sponsors yearly programs on such subjects as the presidency, Congress, executive leadership, political campaigns, the legal system, and more. These usually last two to three weeks and are held in Washington, D.C.
News from recent grads:
Shea Beitler-Akman’s ’11 Environmental Policy and Science and Political Science majors will be just the foundation he’ll need while studying for a career in international environmental law at the University of Maryland Law School. He’ll remember always the incredible experience of the McDaniel community supporting Egypt and “someone else’s idea of freedom” when Red Square became Tahrir Square for a day.
California native Jennifer Shriver ’11 spent four years as an MP in the Marine Corps assigned to the squadron of Marine One helicopters that transport the President of the United States. During the first month of their training at Quantico, Va., she met her husband, Ron, an Exercise Science major at McDaniel. Jennifer graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa with a double major in Economics and Political Science and International Studies. She will pursue a master’s degree in resource economics in the oil- and mineral-rich state of Alaska, where she has been awarded a teaching assistantship at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks.
Colin Miller ’11, a Political Science and International Studies major and talented photographer, was commissioned as a second lieutenant with the Army National Guard branched as an engineer. He attended the Basic Officer Leadership Course in July, followed by SAPPER School, an intense engineer-training course, as well as airborne school. He hopes to work for a think tank, a research and advocacy group. His favorite memories – most of which are captured in photos – include “traveling through Europe on a shoestring” during his semester of study in Budapest.