"Born a citizen of a free state and a member of the sovereign, the right to vote is enough to impose upon me the duty to instruct myself in public affairs, however little influence my voice may have in them. Happy am I, for every time I meditate on governments, I always find new reasons in my inquiries for loving that of my country." J.J. Rousseau The study of Political Science presumes a commitment to certain values and standards, to wit:
Truth--the use of reason and evidence in the pursuit of what is verifiable about government and politics. Political Science stands or falls by the validity of its truth claims about what is and is not conducive to the well-being of the community, to justice, security, equality, prosperity, peace, and related public goods.
Reasonableness--being open to persuasion by argument and evidence. The proper attitude to the study of politics is summed up by John Adams, who said, "Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passions, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence."
- Criticism--analytically or empirically examining truth claims about politics, especially our own. We must be willing to subject our most cherished beliefs to skeptical scrutiny by those looking out for questionable premises, faulty reasoning, or unreliable evidence.
- Freedom--liberty of thought and expression in all matters political. Professors and students must be able to inquire into the truth or falsity of propositions, free from ideological pressure from within or without the university.
- Courage--thinking and speaking without fear. All who dare question what John Stuart Mill called the "received opinion" of the age must be brave in order to withstand the onslaught of criticism which their neo-heretical views are bound to provoke.
- Eloquence--speaking and writing persuasively. This requires not only correct spelling, grammar, syntax and diction, flawless logic, and skillful marshaling of evidence, but also a gracious style of one's own.
- Civility--the obligation to treat one another with courtesy and respect. There must be no shouting down of speakers, no burning or other destruction of printed words, no intimidation of those who think differently.
- Integrity--conducting ourselves honorably, conspicuously refraining from lying or cheating about our work. There can be no phony excuses for failing to complete an assignment, no turning in another's work as one's own, no plagiarism.
In honestly seeking greater understanding of the complex world of politics, our students acquire intellectual tools for discerning, managing, and solving problems they will encounter after graduation, as parents, employees, managers, entrepreneurs, or as members of a profession, including the law, journalism, and the military. Political Science is an excellent major for anyone seeking a liberal education, and especially for those aspiring to play a role in public affairs as a leader, commentator, or citizen.
For more information, please contact:
Dr. Jocelyn Evans
Chair Department of Government
The University of West Florida
11000 University Parkway
Pensacola, FL 32514