23% increase in political science majors at UT during presidential election year

November 2, 2016 | Features, News, UToday, Arts and Letters
By Christine Billau

The number of University of Toledo students choosing to major in political science jumped 23 percent during this election year.

This semester 113 UT students are majoring in political science as a primary major, non-primary major or secondary major. That is up from 92 students a year ago. A total of 98 undergraduates chose political science as their primary major in 2016, compared to 83 last year.

Students attended a presidential debate watch event hosted by the Department of Political Science and Public Administration.

Students attended a presidential debate watch event hosted by the Department of Political Science and Public Administration.

“I’m sure the high level of interest in the presidential election has been part of it,” Dr. Sam Nelson, associate professor and chair of the Department of Political Science and Public Administration, said. “I’m really pleased with the increase and proud of what we’ve been doing to offer an improved and more student-focused program.”

After recognizing a growing interest in global affairs, the department chose to offer more courses in international politics and American politics.

The department held two presidential debate watch events this fall for students to discuss the faceoffs between Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton and Republican nominee Donald Trump. Faculty also added a film series and speaker series.

“The study of campaigns, political parties and public opinion has reached a fever pitch in this election,” Nelson said. “The randomness of the race has kept us all on our toes, and the analysis of the results will make this area of study very exciting for the foreseeable future.”

Freshman Kyle Zapadka wants to be a lawyer. He chose to attend UT because of the 3+3 program that allows students to earn both a bachelor of arts degree and a law degree in six years instead of seven.

“I chose political science because this gives me the connections I need if I want to stay in the Toledo area,” Zapadka said. “I first became interested in politics during the Obama-McCain presidential election and have remained active as a Republican.”

Senior Lucy Frank, who majors in political science and minors in French, wants to work in logistics or schedule planning for a politician after graduation.

“Throughout my time at UT, the Political Science Department has been growing,” Frank said. “UT gave me the opportunity to intern in the Toledo mayor’s office. I also interned for the Ohio Democratic Party in Philadelphia for the Democratic National Convention. It has been a fun ride, and I’m proud faculty members are growing the reputation of the program.”

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