Welcome to PoliSci at Williams

Political science is above all the study of power:
how it is created, exercised, justified, and challenged.

As a social science, political science focuses on group power, the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of collective decision-making. Hence it leads us to consider the ethics of power, which in turn involves conceptions of community, identity, justice and citizenship. Under the banner of political science we gather the study of democracy, war, law, rights, wealth, and authority, as well as the institutions that shape and secure them.

Power may be used wisely or foolishly, rightly or cruelly, but it is always there. The contests over power and the values that should animate it give politics its drama and pathos. Naturally, then, the effort to understand politics aims not only to describe and explain, but also to improve collective life. To this end, the Political Science Department strives to cultivate in its students the habits and skills of clear thought, rigorous analysis, and effective argumentation in writing and speech.