Political Science Department Plans to Implement Nine New Courses in Overhaul of Program

The 200 and 300 level classes will implement new topics related to law, immigration, justice and politics.

Loyola will be offering nine new political science courses after the appointment of six new department members following their previous members retirement, beginning in the Fall 2023. 

All of these hires are new to Loyola and haven’t taught permanently at the university before, according to Political Science Department Chair Alexandru Grigorescu.  

With new specialities and experiences including backgrounds from working in Washington D.C. to specializations in comparative and asian politics on the board, the courses are based on the particular interests of their new members, according to Grigorescu.  

The 200 and 300 level classes will implement new topics related to law, immigration, justice and politics, according to Grigorescu. Political Science Department’s Administrative Assistant Nora Rybarczyk sent out an email to political science students April 13 with an attachment for students to enroll in for the 2023 fall semester, including the new offered courses.  

“We have four subfields in political science — American politics, comparative politics, political theory and international relations,” Grigorescu said. “So all of us when we come in, are prepared to teach the introductory course in our subfield.” 

As these courses are required in the major’s curriculum, professors within the department are required to teach an introductory course for their speciality area, according to Grigorescu. 

During the hiring process of new department members, an important part of it is being able to teach those introductory courses within each member’s specialty, according to Grisgorescu. 

“For example, we have colleagues right now who focus on Asian politics,” Grigorescu said. “Actually, that’s one of the reasons we really wanted when we were hiring, to have somebody do that. We hired somebody both in comparative politics, who focuses on Asia, but also somebody in international relations, who focuses on Asia more recently.” 

If a professor feels a course they taught for a semester had an impact on students and did well, they will take it to the department for it to be considered a permanent course, according to Grigorescu. 

These offered classes typically start off as “Special Topics” classes and once the course has been taught for a semester, if students still want to enroll and the instructor still wants to teach it, the department files the paperwork to make it a permanent course, according to Political Science Undergraduate Program Director David Doherty.

Some of the thought that goes into these new classes within this particular major is the influence of current events, according to Grigorescu. 

“A lot of our interests shifted with the interests in society right now, ” Grigorescu said. Questions about race, questions about democracy, questions about other underrepresented minorities,” he said. 

An important part of changing the political science courses is discussing how to implement these topics and conversations into every category that the major requires, according to Grigorescu. 

“I think having more courses about current issues would be really helpful,” Jylian Martin, a first-year majoring in political science said. “I think that’s something that we need in the school because I think that’s important for political science majors to talk about things that are really happening in this world right now.” she said. 

“Our approach to these processes in the political science department has been driven by our sense that students get the most out of classes that faculty are excited to teach,” Doherty wrote in an email to The Phoenix. “Thus, when we offer new courses, it is almost always because a faculty member wants to teach them and thinks they will generate a lot of student interest.”

Along with new courses, the department also created a new minor beginning in Fall 2022, titled Law and Politics. The minor was introduced as a result of political science students showing interest in attending law school or pursuing a career in law, according to Grigorescu. 

The minor is made of only political science courses and requires students to take one course in international law, one in American context law, one introduction to law course and one of the four introduction to politics courses, according to Grigorescu. In addition to these courses, students are required to take one experiential learning program course which consist of internships and mock trials offered through Loyola. 

“I think for a lot of political science classes that I’ve seen, they do a lot of talking at other people in debates, especially in my American Politics class in particular, we’ve debated certain topics and brought everyone’s opinion in and I think for a someone looking to go to law school that’s really important because it’s the basis of what you do as a career,” Martin said.  

The law based classes and experience from professors under the political science department is very guided towards how many students studying political science plan on attending law school, according to Grigorescu. 

“I think what they’re doing, trying to build more interdisciplinary bridges will be super beneficial to students,” Kate Stewart, a senior political science major, said about the new minor. 

The new nine-course law and politics minor available for students this upcoming semester will allow political science students to gain understanding and expand their political knowledge in both national and international spheres, according to Grigorescu.  

“The fact that so many of my colleagues who had been around for many years retired with the VTIP program was a loss,” Doherty wrote in an email to The Phoenix. “However, we have been able to replace them with a pool of wonderful young scholars and teachers who are doing fascinating work and who bring new energy into the classroom.”

Featured image by Holden Green | The Phoenix

Anna Waldron

Anna Waldron