The nature of man is intricate; the objects of society are of the greatest possible complexity; and therefore no simple disposition or direction of power can be suitable either to man’s nature, or to the quality of his affairs.
—Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France, 1790
The study of politics is the study of the use of power in human societies: how it is established, how it changes, and how it may be evaluated.
Political science attempts to understand, to explain and to interpret phenomena such as political upheaval and stability, democracy and dictatorship, economic prosperity and deprivation. It seeks to evaluate the ends for which political power is used and the means through which it is exercised. In short, the study of politics is concerned not only with the way the political world is, but also with how it might be improved.
At Southern Virginia, this study is enhanced and intensified by small class sizes and the resulting personal relationships with professors. Professors help develop the student’s ability to follow arguments, to distinguish the important from the trivial, to grasp new concepts and perspectives, and to see and appreciate other points of view while maintaining one’s own. It emphasizes the fundamental intellectual skills of clear thinking and precise expression, so highly valued in a wide range of occupations.
In Southern Virginia’s politics program, students have the opportunity to contemplate concepts such as justice, authority and freedom with thinkers from Plato and Aristotle to Hobbes and Kant; to consider classic and contemporary views of the American democratic project; and to grapple with central issues in world politics such as the prospects for global democratization, the challenges of economic development, and the causes and consequences of war and political violence.
The politics major and minor are extensions of Southern Virginia's Core liberal arts curriculum. The politics program provides not only job-specific training but also the knowledge and intellectual skills necessary for the responsible exercise of civic freedom. For this reason, the politics program is not just for those who want to pursue a political or legal vocation.