Democracy, Development, and International Studies

Are authoritarian meritocracies more successful in developing their countries than those that adopt a Western model of democracy? Could the Chinese blackmail the United States by threatening to dump billions of US Dollars they hold in reserve? Why would European states agree to relinquish many of their sovereign rights in exchange for a unified Europe? How does one barter cattle for computer chips?

The Political Science Department offers an entire range of courses at both the graduate and undergraduate levels on international relations and comparative politics, from international organizations, international security, and U.S. Foreign Policy to international political economy, international law, international conflict, international organizations, and the Arab-Israeli Conflict; from courses on development administration, the developing world, Chinese, Latin American, and European Politics, to comparative democratization, revolution, terrorism, and more.

“Democracy Studies,” a cornerstone of the discipline of Political Science, call on all aspects of the teaching and research of its department faculty: issues of democracy not only within the American context but also on a comparative basis relevant to other advanced industrial states and emerging nations. As students learn, institutionalizing democratic values in a stable state can be difficult. Knowledge of the evolution of the democratic state, its cultural and historic roots, its structure and the forces in a society that challenge or support its operation, is critical to appreciating and promoting its longevity.

But what makes the study of democracy, development, and international studies special at Northeastern University are the ample opportunities provided for student involvement in the very heart of these issues. Political Science students can go on faculty-led “dialogues of civilization” that offer 8 credits and last for half of the summer term in countries throughout the world. Some dialogue programs are theme-based, such as providing health care delivery in an African country;  others focus on setting up a “non-governmental organization” in a country such as Thailand; or studying and even working in some part of the United Nations, such as in Geneva, Switzerland; or studying urban planning in Brazil, or the political and economic system in China. Other dialogues include intensive  language instruction; but all give students an unforgettable international learning experience.

Students learn about the internal workings of democracy by taking internships in the European, Irish or British Parliaments. They learn about development, conflict, and negotiation by doing internships in the United Nations and other international organizations, as well as in international non-governmental organizations. They can immerse themselves in a local culture by working in an international co-op job in more than 60 countries, or by doing a semester of study abroad in one of more than 40 countries. Still others participate in Northeastern University’s highly successful and competitive Model  UN, Model NATO, or Model Arab League in order to understand how countries think and how it affects diplomacy and negotiation.  Students involved in the models travel to Washington D.C. and elsewhere to engage in these models, and regularly win some of the top awards at these meetings.

Political Science majors interested in democracy, development and international studies are encouraged to become proficient in a  foreign language, do a concentration in “Comparative and  International Relations,” and take relevant courses in other majors, such as International Affairs and History. They might also consider living in Northeastern University’s  “International Village” dormitory, where they can meet students from all disciplines and colleges throughout the university.