The contemporary world presents us with longstanding and novel challenges. Political Scientists understand that solving our energy, environmental, health, conflict, economic, education, and community problems requires not only technical but also political solutions. The Department of Political Science at the University of Rhode Island seeks students interested in understanding the domestic and international political environment in which these challenges reside.
We invite you to explore our website to learn more about our professors' exciting research activities. Read about the pursuits and successes of our alumni as well as our current students. If you are considering Political Science as an undergraduate major, then visit our curriculum pages or read about why Political Science is among the most popular majors at URI. Prospective graduate students can read about our two degree programs (MA & MPA).
Come back frequently to get updates about our events and lectures.
International Scholar Dr. Hamed El-Said
To Visit URI in September
Political Science and Philosophy Department faculty member Katrin Jomaa has the honor of hosting one of the University's Distinguished Visiting International Scholars for 2014. Dr. Hamed El-Said is Chair and Professor of International Business and Political Economy at the Manchester Metropolitan University Business School (UK), advisor to the United Nations Counter Terrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF), and to the Arab Thought Forum.
During his visit Dr. Hamed El-Said will provide a variety of presentations for students, faculty and the community. Dr. Hamed El-Said is excited to spend time in Rhode Island! Please mark your calendars for some of the scheduled events.
Monday, September 15th
4:00-5:30 PM Public Lecture "The Rise of Political Islam in the Arab World"
Reception with light fare to follow
Location: The URI University Club
This lecture focuses on the rise of political Islam to power in several Arab States, particularly following the eruption of Arab Spring in late 2010. The emergence of political Islam in the region is linked to and facilitated by caveats in the economic globalization process itself and to the way it (globalization) encroached on the Arab World. On the one hand, international finance to the region has been determined by geopolitical factors, not economic need. On the other hand, the terms of these financial transactions have commonly resulted in a decline in state provision of social welfare, stagnant growth and increased inequalities. Finally, this model of economic globalization has been challenged by Islamic groups that have moved to fill the welfare gap created by the withdrawal of the state from welfare provision. Geopolitical determinants of international transactions and the rollback of the state simultaneously strengthened the Islamists hand and undermined the regimes legitimacy.
* Registration is required as space is limited. Please register now.
Thursday, September 19th
7:00 PM Public Lecture "New Approaches to Countering Global Terrorism"
6:00 -7:00pm Reception with light fare
Introduction (video) US Senator Jack Reed
Presentation: Dr. El-Said
Commentary: Dr. Mark Genest
Area Study Coordinator for the Insurgency and Terrorism electives program
Strategy & Policy, The United States Naval War College
Discussion and question and answer period
8:30pm Candlelight Vigil in recognition of The UN International Day of Peace
Location: Swan Hall - Agnes Doody Auditorium
This lecture sheds light on the emergence of new, 'soft' approaches to countering global terrorism. Although emerged initially in some Muslim majority states, several western states in Europe, North America and Asia have been experimenting with similar, 'soft' approaches. After first discussing the components of the new approach, the speaker will then shift the focus to the conditions conducive to success/failure of such approaches. Such conditions can provide the basis for a global peace building.
All are welcome to join the candlelight vigil following the presentation.
Shanna Pearson-Merkowitz's recent article in Pacific Standard notes that in all of the debate and punditry over the extent of polarization in American politics today and the abhorrence with which voters view Congress and many of their governors, one factor seems to be missing from the discussion: How little input the American people currently have into their choices of candidates. Every American registered with a political party, and in some states even those who are not, has the ability to weigh in on whom the nominees for the general election will be -but few people actually do. One major reason is that few voters even know when the primary election will take place.
Hutch of All Trades
Professor Marc Hutchison is a familiar face to any student lucky enough to
take Political Science 116: Introduction to International Politics. His
enthusiastic attitude towards international politics has swayed many
freshmen to further study Political Science. He conducts research on
international conflict and its causes and societal and individual
consequences. He directs both the MA program in Political Science and the
Naval War College internship that is open to undergraduates. I had the
pleasure to sit down with Professor Hutchison and discuss his research, why
he chose to study politics, and even his favorite class to teach.
What brought you to URI?
I went from working in corporate America, to graduate school,
and then I taught at the University of Kentucky, with all but my
dissertation completed. While I was working on my dissertation, I
interviewed with URI. I had applied to 80 different schools. I was invited
to interview here and they liked my work.
What is different about URI's Political Science department compared to the
University of Kentucky?
It's smaller, more student-focused, and there are lots of differences. URI
is a collegial department with, I think, more plurality in approaches to
What's your favorite class you teach?
It's 116, Introduction to International Politics. I love it for many
reasons. There's such a diversity of students who take the class because it
is a general education course. This class is often the first time students
put everything together, I see a lot of ah-ha moments. That's why you teach,
for me, if you can get that moment and you see it in their faces. I love the
e-clickers, student interaction, new students, and the energy from a diverse
crowd. I geek out about that stuff!
You conduct research on international relations and international conflict,
how do you relate your research to what you teach students in your class?
I've never really taught a class assigning my research, but that doesn't
mean I don't use it constantly. Having deep knowledge of the literature from
my research allows me to bring those insights into the class. I'll give an
example of how my research informs my teaching: Most of the time we think of
war as having lots of material conflict, people die, land transfer, lots of
economic activity and disruption. What we don't consider are the
psychological effects rendered on society, how are people changed and what
will that mean for the future prospects of internal and external peace. What
I've found is that certain types of conflict trigger people to become less
tolerant, less trustworthy of government, but they do often participate more
Why did you decide to study and teach political science?
When I was 15 I lived in a house with one TV. My father controlled the
remote and he made me watch a Ken Burns' Civil War documentary and I watched
that first night basically against my will. I ended up being totally
captivated. I remember saying to my dad, "we're going to watch this
." And I became obsessed with the Civil War. I read every book that
I could and that just spread and there were other wars and events to learn
about. I loved studying History, so I double majored in History and
As a junior in college I took a class with Leonard Gambrell. The class put
everything I loved about History and Politics together and it was just a
magical class. I was a Political Science minor at the time and decided I
wanted to be a major. He inspired me to become a professor. I remember
thinking, "I want to be him; I want to be that guy."
Why should students pick Political Science as their major?
Because Political Science is amazing! The study of Political Science gives
you deep insight into how the world works. It is a fantastic liberal arts
degree. But from a practical stand point I think Political Science also
really puts a heavy emphasis on skills that are portable and will prepare
students to handle a diversity of challenges in the workplace.
Interview conducted by Sara Shapiro.
Life in the Ukraine
Nicolai N. Petro, a professor of political science at the University of Rhode Island, has received a Fulbright research grant to study in Ukraine.
Professor Petro recently Skyped from Ukraine with a URI International Political Economy undergraduate course about his views on the Ukrainian protests, the role of Europe, the US and Russia in Ukrainian politics, and the prospects for reconciliation and unity.
He has not only been actively engaged in discussions with Ukrainian politicians, religious leaders and academics, but Professor Petro has also written widely about the situation.
While in Ukraine, Professor Petro has provided commentary on current events to media outlets around the world, including O Globo (Brazilian TV), Democracy Now!, The Real News Network, BTB.tv (Ukraine), RT News (Russia), Voice of America, Voice of Russia, Radio New Zealand, Radio Popolare (Italy), Korean Radio, BBC 5 and BBC World Service, South Africa Live, Global Journalist Radio (KBIA), Uptown Radio (Columbia University), Pacifica Radio (KPFA), National Public Radio, the New York Times, The Nation, and The National Interest.
Links to his commentary can be found on his web page.
Bikes not Bombs
A class of URI Poltical Science students were able to organize, recruit, and ultimately obtain 80 bikes that will be sent to support development projects (access to health care) in Uganda and (a bicycle cooperative for the physically disabled) in Ghana. This was a huge organizational effort, executed under the leadership of Associate Professor Kristin Johnson and MA student Lizzie Dore.
Below is the URI news release about the effort.
Meet Hannah Tickle