I love how appreciative Lewis & Clark students are of their own education. It is always obvious that they want to be here and that they want to learn. I love watching them grow throughout their four years here and getting to know them not just as students, but as people.
What three words would you use to describe Lewis & Clark?
How do you describe the liberal arts?
The liberal arts is a broad-based form of education, providing students with opportunities to engage in intellectual inquiry from multiple perspectives. We challenge students to make connections between diverse fields of study and champion exploration and discovery above any form of more narrow training. A liberal arts education teaches students to learn how to learn, giving you a flexible skill set that can navigate an ever-changing world.
What do you enjoy most about Lewis & Clark students?
I love how appreciative Lewis & Clark students are of their own education. It is always obvious that they want to be here and that they want to learn. I love watching them grow throughout their four years here and getting to know them not just as students, but as people. There isn’t “one” type of Lewis & Clark student, which means I’m now connected to so many diverse and amazing individuals.
How does Lewis & Clark prepare students interested in your field to pursue a career and/or advanced studies after graduation?
Studying politics is studying the way that people make decisions collectively. Understanding how one’s institutional context and individual incentives shape those decisions is invaluable in any professional setting, or even just for navigating your day-to-day life. Students that graduate from our major know how to analyze situations from multiple perspectives and how to both work together and lead.
What sets your department or program apart from other small liberal arts colleges?
Political science at Lewis & Clark has tremendous breadth for being such a small department. We teach students to think quantitatively, analytically, comparatively, and through a humanistic lens. Students will learn about how politics works globally, as well as right here in Portland. We encourage our students to apply what they learn in our classes to the many political or policy-based internship opportunities available in our city.
What should incoming students know about L&C?
Incoming students should know that our curriculum gives you plenty of room to explore majors and take classes that you find interesting, not just that fulfill graduation requirements. You’ll have plenty of opportunities for advising with faculty along the way so that you can really enjoy your education without worrying too much about navigating the system.
What’s your favorite spot on campus?
I love that, year round, I can just step outside my office and see green. The view of Mount Hood from Frank Manor House never gets old and a walk through next-door Tryon Creek State Park is instantaneously rejuvenating.
Describe your involvement with data science. What should incoming students know about this work?
In addition to being a member of the political science department, I am also the director of our data science program. We have a rapidly growing data science minor supported by faculty members across campus. Next year I’m looking forward to bringing in speakers that speak to how data science can be used for the social good. I also enjoy teaching Introduction to Data Science every spring.
Political Science Data Science
- Associate Professor Ellen Seljanwalks you through the courses you can expect to take as a political science major.