Political science courses offer broad education

Matthew Moss

Staff Writer

Why should a student take political science? It’s a question one Parkland professor can answer with ease.

“Political science is one of the fastest growing majors in the country,” said Willie Fowler, the instructor in charge of setting up political science courses at Parkland. “There are some 72 sub-fields of political science.”

Parkland’s core curriculum requires each student to take and pass at least three social and behavioral science courses to graduate. Political science is grouped under this category.

The political science courses offered at Parkland can not only teach the essence of politics and how the political system operates, but introduce students to different ways of thinking.

Fowler says political science courses teach students the important knowledge of the operations of their government and how to hold their government leaders accountable, as well as understanding how to effectively participate in politics.

“A student can gain a greater knowledge of … how to access the system, how to get their voice heard in the system,” Fowler says.

There are four different political science courses a Parkland student can take. These are introduction to political science, American national government, state and local government, and international relations.

Political science is part of the social sciences and human services department. Aside from political science, the department also offers courses on anthropology, education, economics, psychology, sociology, and many other fields of study.

Fowler says that political science itself incorporates many other aspects discussed in other social and behavioral science courses and can be a good segue into other classes.

“Political science is a good mix of history, there is some geography … there is some sociology, there’s a little bit of everything,” Fowler said.

Terry Harshbarger, a history professor at Parkland, minored in political science and found interest in analyzing how governments are formed and operate in different parts of the world and different points throughout history.

“The foundations of governments are what political science is about,” said Harshbarger. “If you go around the world, there are various ways in which to construct or erect those foundations.”

Joseph Walwik, head of the social sciences and human services department, says that politics is an important aspect of society and is a topic everyone should learn before being thrust into the world and left to their own devices.

“Politics is the art of what we do,” Walwik said. “It’s the art of compromise; it’s the art of getting things done.”

Walwik says there is a prevailing belief that the focus of political science is on political parties, a topic that can be rather divisive. He insists that while political parties are brought up in political science as an unavoidable element of politics, the focus of these courses is on studying how politics operates and how the people who take part in it interact.

“These are about human interactions and from different perspectives,” Walwik said. “Learning about how humans have interacted and continue to interact can only help you to navigate the world you’re going in to.”

Walwik urges students to look into taking not just political science courses, but other social science and human services courses. He says the social and behavioral sciences help to mold a student into a true “Renaissance man.”

“All these courses end up fitting together in a way that it produces a well-rounded person,” Walwik said. “Take political science, take history, take sociology.”