Kathryn Pearson – Political Science Faculty

Kathryn Pearson – Political Science Faculty

I’m Kathryn Pearson, an associate professor
of Political Science at the University of Minnesota. When I was a freshman in college, I did
not know what I want to major in. I took a a class in political science
the second semester my freshman year ,and I absolutely loved
it and I followed up with a couple more political science classes, and actually went to Washington DC, and
had an internship. At that point it it clinched it. A political science major give students
a lot of choices. You can take classes in any of the four
subfields: political theory, international relations, comparitive politics, American politics. In the fall I
just taught a class on US campaigns and elections. Students becomes
well-versed in theories of campaigns and
elections, what past elections tell us, what patterns we’ve found, but then we
also applied them to what’s going on in campaigns and elections. When I
teach my class on the US Congress, I have students monitor a piece of legislation to really better
understand what happens in the committee process,
what happens on the House and Senate floor and all of the ways in which the journey
of a piece of legislation is different, than what students
learned in high school. In my Women in Politics course, which I tend to teach as a seminar pf about
20 students. the students and I actually put together
a database of all members of Congress and what we do
is compile this data set together of all 435 members of the House, so that all the
students can then analyze these data, for a final research
project. So students are often stunned with some of the things that they
learn. First of all women’s under-representation, not just at the federal level, but at the
state level. We talked about that a lot and then really try to understand the
roots of women’s under-representation, and one of the things that I
emphasize is that, the data show, that when women run for office, women and
men win at the same rates, and the students are very
surprised by that. So then we have to go the next step and find out okay why
is it that women are underrepresented if it’s not because women aren’t winning elections. And the answer is
because women aren’t running for office and we spend a lot of time really unpacking
why that is. Internships are great for all political science majors,
both, because they can act what we’re doing in the classroom with
what’s going on in the world around them, and also they help prepare you for life
after being a political science major. Political
Science is a terrific major for many reasons. The skills that it teaches students, critical thinking skills, writing skills
writings, writing is heavily emphasized. Many of my students either are in law
school or are law school graduates. Some have
gone on to Washington DC, others are now on more local campaigns. Political science isn’t just a major that necessarily leads to
a career in politics, but I think because it prepare students with so many
skills, they themselves quite well to other jobs, and I think sometimes when
recruiters are looking for students, they appreciate sort of diverse interests and background of a political science major.

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