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Political Science

Department Overview

Quite a lot, actually. One of the most common misconceptions is that political science is a great major for students who want to go on to law school, but not for people who wish to go on to other careers. In reality, we’ve designed our major to provide a rigorous and broad-based education that promotes the following goals:

  • critical thinking and analytical reasoning
  • excellent writing skills
  • the ability to speak persuasively
  • an understanding and appreciation of diverse intellectual and cultural perspectives
  • an understanding of quantitative research and methodology

These skills are important in almost any profession, so it’s not surprising that our graduates pursue careers in politics, law, education, journalism, business and finance, as well as going on to advanced graduate work.

Don’t get us wrong—if you are interested in going on to law school, our department has a great track record, having placed graduates at the top law schools in the country (including Stanford, Columbia, New York University, and Georgetown). But our graduates also have gone on positions such as a member of the U.S. House of Representatives, the manager of the Benson Hotel, a public relations manager for Nike, and the U.S. Ambassador to Mongolia. Many have taken jobs overseas.

Check out these brief profiles from some of our alumni to see the wide range of career possibilities one can enjoy with a political science degree. And if you ever have any questions, just come talk to us in person.

Alumni profiles
Ashley Morgan, Class of 2010 — Studying Public Administration at the City University of New York

The analytical, writing and speaking skills I gained from LC’s Political Science Department helped open up academic and job opportunities for me in Washington D.C. and New York City. I’m in the middle of finishing my graduate degree, transferring from George Mason University’s School of Public Policy to CUNY’s School of Public Administration. My training in Lewis & Clark’s law and thesis courses not only put me in line with the competition in graduate school, but more importantly, instilled a desire in me to constantly analyze public policy issues from as many perspectives as possible—a trait I plan to bring to CUNY and elsewhere.

Maya Gold, Class of 2014 — Climate Change and Clean Energy Associate at Environment North Carolina, Raleigh, NC

I’m a campaign organizer—or, if I’m feeling pretentious, the Climate Change and Clean Energy Associate—with Environment North Carolina, a grassroots environmental advocacy group. I’m currently working on North Carolina’s efforts to pass the Clean Power Plan, an EPA proposal that would decrease carbon emissions from stationary power plants by 30% by 2030. It’s a job that has a lot of different hats. I work to build up our coalitions, talking with business leaders and local electeds to get them to sign on in support of the bill. I do quite a bit of media work, writing Letters to the Editor, Facebook posts, and op eds. I organize and hold events, up to and including press conferences. And, of course, I train a small fleet of interns to do the same. Lewis & Clark’s Political Science department was invaluable in preparing me for this job. Its diversity of academic offers has taught me to balance a lot of different skills and thought patterns; its rigor has taught me to time manage a seemingly unworkable workload; and its departmental love for debate and sound logic has taught me to argue and reason with the best of them!

Charlie Patterson, Class of 2014 – Fulbright Research Fellow, Xi’an, People’s Republic of China 

I’m currently in China via a Fulbright fellowship to continue studying Mandarin and to conduct research on eldercare and urbanization in China. After finishing advanced Mandarin study at the Inter-University Program for Chinese Language Studies, an intensive language program at Tsinghua University in Beijing, I will relocate to Xi’an in Shaanxi Province to carry out my research. Based out of Xi’an Jiaotong University, I’ll work with a Professor Liu in the Population Studies department to investigate how the Chinese government’s recently announced urbanization plan will effect the living standards, mental well-being, and healthcare access of the rural elderly in Shaanxi. The skills I learned during my time in the Political Science department at Lewis and Clark college will be invaluable as I analyze and synthesize Chinese academic thought on aging policy and as I learn how to conduct political science/ public health field work. The professors in the department worked tirelessly to help me hone my writing skills. Through their patient instruction, I learned how to better organize and expand my thoughts as well as frame them within current academic thinking. Moreover, my studies in the department helped me more fully realize the ways in which interests shape human behavior at the individual and organizational levels. My time at LC has helped set me down a path I couldn’t be more excited about!

Barbara Nellor, Class of 2010—Operations Associate at M Financial Asset Management, Portland, OR

As an operations professional in the financial services industry, I am responsible for the day to day functions of investment advisory accounts. I work closely with financial advisers and analysts to meet the strict regulatory and reporting requirements that the industry is subject to as we perform the day to day client needs of trading and movement of assets. Being a political science major at LC prepared me to work in an industry full of stressful time deadlines; complex and ever-changing regulations; and type-A personalities. The department encouraged me to be a critical thinker and question rather than blindly follow directions.  Most importantly, the program taught me the necessary skills to be a clear and thoughtful communicator.

Dexter Pearce, Class of 2013—1L at Duke University School of Law

I am currently a 1L (first year student) at Duke University School of Law. Unlike some of my peers here, who took multiple years off to work as a paralegal, manage campaigns, or just had a history in contracts, I went straight from undergrad to law school. Despite my lack of “real world” experience, the political science department prepared me to be as competitive, if not more so, than many of my peers right from the beginning. The benefit of knowing how to read and brief cases allowed me to manage the reading load early on and to be prepared for the notorious “cold-call.” The department also taught me how to see and argue both sides, which is a necessary skill in legal writing and it taught me to be clear and concise. The learning curve is still steep, but the value in the transfer of skills from Political Science to Law is immeasurable.

Samantha Robinson, Class of 2008—Founder and Directer of aptART, Mozambique, Africa

I am the founder and director of aptART, an international organization of artists and activists working with conflict affected youth to give them a voice. Through the creation of street art we help children and their communities build awareness about issues affecting their lives. As the director of an international organization I deal with a myriad of cultures and ethical standards different to my own. The Political Science department taught us never to dismiss an idea outright, rather to think critically about everything presented and create diplomatic and well-argued approaches. This approach resonates strongest in the Middle East where one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. I am often presented with difficult situations that demand personal initiative and ingenuity. The professors at Lewis and Clark prepared us by holding high expectations and encouraging self-reliance while supporting creativity and freethinking.

Political Science

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