Politics isn’t just about government, politicians and laws, said Prof. Shampa Biswas, chair of the politics department.

“Politics is about power. The government may be one particular node at which power is concentrated, but power exists in many different forms and at different levels. It works in and through different institutions and movements.”

So how does the Whitman’s politics department foster an understanding of power? To begin with, students work closely with an adviser to create a major course of study that best meets their intellectual interests and talents. To learn about power, in other words, students are first empowered.

“Given this broad conceptualization of politics, the department sees its own disciplinary boundaries as rather fuzzy, and we are committed to an interdisciplinary approach to the study of politics that enables the integration of insights from academic areas across the college,” she said. “Hence, it should be no surprise that there is widespread collaboration between politics faculty and colleagues from other departments. This is one of our strengths.”

Politics department faculty members bring to the college a high level of scholarship and a wide array of interests and expertise. In the following pages, read how faculty members teach students about power in innovative ways, how alumni have used their Whitman education in their political careers, and how students are learning to become active participants in political processes and make a difference in our democracy.

The Politics Issue: