Political Science

Roanoke's Political Science program encourages you to examine the ideals of governance, politics and responsible citizenship—both in your own life and on the world stage. 

Seminar-style classes allow you to take a proactive approach to problem-solving in governance, equipping you with both the insight and skill to affect public policy. 

Our distinctive Washington Semester and the Institute for Policy and Opinion Research offer you the rare opportunity to engage in the political arena as undergraduates. 

Roanoke's political science students have been accepted to top-ranked graduate and law schools, such as George Washington University, Harvard Law School, Penn State Law, University of South Carolina, University of Texas at Austin, University of Virginia, Washington and Lee, and William & Mary.

Many graduates currently work as lawyers, judges, policy experts, professors and political advisors.

We offer a major in political science.

Both sides engage during presidential candidate’s visit

Watch Video marco rubio surrounded by students from roanoke college

Republican presidential hopeful Marco Rubio holds a rally on campus, giving students a firsthand view of the political process. 

Roanoke's Henry H. Fowler Public Policy Program has hosted presidents, prime ministers, national commentators, the first female Supreme Court justice, renowned scholars and recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize. Students have the chance to connect with global leaders and hear firsthand about issues facing the world. 

Sample Course Offerings:

  • POLI 202: Voting in ElectionsStudent in front of the Capitol building
  • POLI 222: Comparative Political System: Asia
  • POLI 261: Arab Israeli Conflict

    View all courses

From Internship to Job

Urecki and Sen. Manchin

Zahava Urecki '16 set her sights on a career in Washington, D.C. as an 11-year-old watching "The Daily Show with Jon Stewart" and "The Colbert Report." The shows ignited her excitement about what was going on in the world.

Fast forward to Roanoke College where she interned for U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin and lived and worked in D.C. through the College's Lutheran College Washington Semester Program. Now she wants to write legislative policy.

"I saw a lot of the behind-the-scenes people," she said of her Washington experience. "They were at the heart of everything, getting everything done. I really wanted to be a part of that."

After graduation, it was an easy transition to a job. Urecki is now a staff assistant working in Manchin's office.

Our grads work at great organizations.

Logos of: Cigna, Merrill Lynch. United States Department of the Navy, and the United States Senate

African Faces and Voices: History and Political Science

Students travel to Uganda with Dr. Rubongoya for May Term. 


Alumni News - September 2021

Maroons are newsmakers! Here's the latest alumni accomplishments. Kudos all around!

Haskins presents redlining research

Roanoke College senior Hunter Haskins discussed his research project “Walking the Red Line: Residential Discrimination in 20th-Century Roanoke” in a presentation at the Salem Museum, where he was an intern.

Public Affairs Society Encourages Discourse, Critical Thinking

The Public Affairs Society at Roanoke College offers students the unique opportunity to encourage public discourse between the various disciplines of the public affairs department, such as political science, criminal justice, and international relations. The organization aims to promote awareness, as well as participation, in public issues that affect students in any and every major on campus. It offers students the unique opportunity to encourage and partake in public discourse; something that not every club can offer.

Live, Study and Intern in the Nation’s Capital | Washington Semester Program

During the Washington Semester Program, students take two academic courses plus an internship. In recent years, Roanoke College students have interned at the White House, the U.S. Supreme Court, the State Department, the Pentagon, the ACLU, the offices of U.S. senators, and more.

Polling Political and Economic Issues | Roanoke's Institute for Policy and Opinion Research

The Institute for Policy and Opinion Research (IPOR) conducts regular surveys within the Commonwealth of Virginia. These polls focus on political, economic, and social issues of importance throughout the state. Many of these polls focus on electoral politics, but we also poll on important social issues. IPOR is the only organization measuring consumer sentiment and real estate outlook in Virginia. Those polls are conducted quarterly in November, February, May and August.

Public service drives alumnus’ career calling

Photo of Andrew Sturmfels giving a speech

Andrew Sturmfels ’05 is fulfilling his call to public service. As Deputy Director for Legislative Affairs at the Department of General Services for California, Sturmfels says he likes to “work with stakeholders to solve problems and make it easier to do business in California.” His interest in public service started at Roanoke College where he helped launch the College’s first Relay for Life fundraiser for the American Cancer Society. “Roanoke instilled in me the belief that I could do anything, which gave me the confidence to go to graduate school so that I could pursue my master’s in public policy and my true calling to public service,” said Sturmfels, who earned a master’s degree from Sacramento State University in 2012.

Professor Harry Wilson | Author and Gun Control Debate Expert

Photo of Dr. Harry WilsonDr. Harry Wilson, professor of public affairs and director of Roanoke College's Institute for Policy and Opinion Research, authored a book on the gun control debate titled "The Triumph of the Gun-Rights Argument: Why the Gun Control Debate Is Over."

Utilizing his knowledge of gun issues and his political polling experience, Wilson compiles arguments on both sides of the issue, providing a detailed political analysis on why the gun rights movement has succeeded despite strong polling of some gun control initiatives.

"I've always owned guns, and I've always been interested in politics. The two subjects fit well together," said Wilson.

Photo of Maggie Anderson in Washington, D.C.

Politically-driven alumna 

A Capitol Hill internship during the Lutheran College Washington Semester program gave Maggie Anderson '13 a jump in her political career. Anderson now is a legislative correspondent for Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., working in the same office as her internship. 

As a Roanoke student, she immersed herself in politics. She volunteered for President Barack Obama's 2012 campaign, and she was president of Roanoke College Democrats and the Public Affairs Society. 

At Warner's Washington, D.C. office, Anderson, originally from Charlottesville, Va., covers agriculture, the environment, animal welfare and other issues. "I have a deep passion for public service, especially in Virginia," she says.

German Federal Election

Participants are invited to watch this live lecture from Pickle Meeting Room in the Colket Center or join the virtual webinar from anywhere. Registration is required for the virtual webinar. No need to register to attend in Pickle.  Feel free to bring your lunch for this noon program. 

Learn more

Date | Time: Tuesday, September 21, 2021 | 12:00 PM
Location: Pickle Meeting Room or virtually

David L. Guy Lecture Series: Stephen Moore

Please join us for an evening with Stephen Moore as he gives the first lecture in the David L. Guy Lecture Series, co-sponsored by the Center for Economic Freedom and the Young America’s Foundation.

Learn more

Date | Time: Thursday, September 30, 2021 | 7:00 PM
Location: Ballroom