The Political Science Department is designed to help students gain a deeper understanding of political behavior from global, national and local perspectives. The goal of the department is to assist students in understanding global and national affairs as future practitioners at the international, national, governmental, or non-governmental levels and as well-informed citizens of local, national, and world communities.
The Department’s program has responded to the changing nature of the global environment in the new millennium in its curriculum while continuing to satisfy student interest in both law and public policy issues in the US and the global arena. At the same time, the major continues to expose students to the systematic study and analysis of political behavior by introducing them to the major concepts and paradigms in the discipline. The Political Science major provides an excellent background for graduate work in Political Science and other social sciences, as well as a variety of careers including law, domestic and international public administration, politics, teaching, social and community services, planning and policymaking, international business, and journalism.
The department offers several majors in Political Science. The majors are designed to meet students’ diverse needs:
- Political Science: This general track exposes students to all the sub-fields in the discipline as well as allows the most flexibility in terms of course selection. It is appropriate for any student who wants to major in Political Science. Studies interested in Israeli and Middle East politics may utilize this track by selecting courses that focus on this area.
- US Politics, Law, and Public Policy: This major focuses on US politics, law, and public policy and is intended for students interested in careers in law, business, or in the public sector as legal advisors, administrators and policymakers at all levels of government. The major allows students to focus on US politics, issues in public policy and prepare for law school. Thus, the major may be tailored to meet the specific interests of the student. This major is especially appropriate for students planning on going to law school, graduate studies in public policy, or for those interested in entering public or community service.
- Global Studies: This major allows students to focus on international relations and global issues, including the areas of international security, international political economy, economic and human development, human rights, and international environmental issues. Students may tailor their coursework to include all aspects of these global issues or to focus more narrowly on a subset of these issues. The major is especially useful for students interested in working in the international arena in diverse careers such as in international business and trade, or with an international governmental or non-governmental organization.
The department encourages student internships as well as study abroad. Other special departmental programs include the Model United Nations and the Political Science Student Association.
DEPARTMENT CHAIR & ADVISOR
Lois Oppenheim, Ph.D.
University of Rochester, B.A. (Political Science, Distinction in Spanish), 1969
Washington University, M.A. (Political Science), 1972
Washington University, Ph.D. (Political Science), 1980
Dr. Lois Hecht Oppenheim is a Professor of Political Science and Co-Chair of the Political Science Department at American Jewish University. Specializing in Third World and Latin American Politics, she is an acknowledged expert on the politics of Chile. Dr. Oppenheim was a Professor of Political Science at Whittier College from 1976 until coming to American Jewish University in 1991.
Since she has been at American Jewish University, Dr. Oppenheim has written extensively on Chilean and Latin American politics, globalization dynamics and women in politics.
Dr. Oppenheim’s teaching interests are in the areas of: Globalization, Third World Political Literature and Film, Latin American Politics, US-Latin American Relations and Model United Nations, among others. Her research and teaching interests continue to evolve; most recently, she has focused on the economic and cultural effects of globalization, including their impact on food production and consumption, and has developed a course on the Politics of Food. She is also a practitioner of Traditional Asian medicine and teaches Asian Approaches to Health and Stress Reduction.
She is the author of several books, including Politics in Chile, which was chosen as an Outstanding Academic Book by Choice. Now in its third (2007) edition, the book has become a standard reference for students of Chilean politics. Another book, After Pinochet: The Chilean Road to Democracy and the Market, which was co-edited in 2006 with Dr. Silvia Borzutzky of Carnegie Mellon University, is about the political dynamics of the Chilean transition to civilian rule. Dr. Oppenheim also contributes the Chile country entry to the Encyclopedia Britannica Book of the Year, which she has done annually since 1999.
Dr. Oppenheim’s PhD dissertation won the Hubert Herring Memorial Award for the Best Ph.D. Dissertation in Latin American Studies in 1980 from the Pacific Coast Council on Latin American Studies. Among her honors and research grants, Dr. Oppenheim has been the recipient of two National Endowment for the Humanities awards, a Fulbright research grant, two John and Dora Haynes Research grants and a World Society research award. Other grants include a Fulbright Senior Lectureship to Chile, where she served as a Visiting Professor in the Sociology Department of the University of Chile and taught in their Master’s Program on the Sociology of Modernization, and as an Affiliate Research Scholar at the highly prestigious U.N. think tank, the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, both based in Santiago, Chile.