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Political Science Department
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Letter from the Chair

The political science department is comprised of midshipmen, faculty, and staff who actively contribute to meeting the US Naval Academy’s mission “to graduate leaders who are dedicated to a career of naval service and have potential for future development in mind and character, to assume the highest responsibilities of command, citizenship, and government.” We look frequently to other touchstones of our naval heritage and warfighting legacy as additional sources of inspiration. John Paul Jones, a revolutionary war leader of our fledgling US Navy, wrote that a naval officer must not only be a capable mariner, “but also a great deal more. He should be as well a gentleman of liberal education …” The war theorist Carl von Clausewitz, of course, wrote that “War is not merely a political act but a real political instrument, a continuation of political intercourse, a carrying out of the same by other means.” We thus envision our department as a place for the study of politics as the intersection of leadership, citizenship, government, liberal education, and the warrior ethos.

To imbue our approximately 375 political science majors with knowledge of political processes, institutions, and behaviors, we have an absolutely outstanding faculty of civilian and military professors and instructors. Tenured professors of political science hail from top notch Ph.D. programs and have set an exceptionally high bar for scholarship, teaching, and service. Their research into American politics, comparative politics, international relations, political theory, and methodology, as well as their considerable service across the Academy, is the cornerstone of the department. Their tenure is complemented by rotational military faculty who, along with a requisite graduate degree, bring recent operational and leadership experiences to the “poli sci” passageway. The political science department also hosts several distinguished chairs and distinguished visiting professors – endowed teaching positions that infuse the department with experienced practitioners and scholars.

Our midshipmen majors are, however, the soul of our department. Midshipmen choose to pursue a political science degree for a wide range of reasons. Some enter the Naval Academy with a keen interest in a particular aspect of the discipline. Others have their eyes set on a specific career path and believe the major best serves this interest. Many identify with the unique opportunity that the Naval Academy curriculum provides: an opportunity for an intensely technical education formed by their core courses, complemented by a demanding social science major, that prepares them for their diverse roles as leaders in the Navy and Marine Corps . Regardless of what brings them to our major, the diversity of our midshipmen along with their curiosity and their energy, make this a vibrant department on the Yard.

We proudly point to the accomplishments of our graduates. Leaders like General John Allen, USMC, who served as a military instructor in this department and later went on to be the Commander, US Central Command, and Rear Admiral Bill Byrne, USN, a former Naval Academy commandant now serving as Commander, Naval Forces Korea. Midshipmen, however, need look no further than our current faculty and recent graduates to see successful political science majors serving as officers in every warfare community.

I invite you to further explore all that our department has to offer, on the web or in person. Please feel free to contact me or any of the political science faculty with questions.

CAPT Matthew Testerman, USN
Permanent Military Professor and Chair

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