Politics and Government

Academics | Politics and Government

Politics and Government

What do we study in the Politics and Government department? We study all aspects of political life, ranging from how nations deal with each other in crisis situations to how the daily decisions made by legislators affect ordinary people in their everyday lives. The study of politics has many dimensions, and in our department we try to give you the tools you will need to understand and analyze all aspects of political life.

Through our Politics and Government major, we seek to give students the tools they need to keep up with the constantly changing world of politics. We start the program by introducing students to the major questions of politics and the various answers proposed by the most significant thinkers in the history of western political thought. We then introduce students to the study of international relations, comparative politics and American government; at the same time, giving them hands-on instruction in data analysis so that they begin to “do,” and not just study, political science.



Lamont Colucci

Martin Farrell

President Zach Messitte Henrik Schatzinger

Steven Sorenson


Courses & Requirements

The goal of course work within the department of Politics and Government is to provide students with the skills and perspectives necessary to achieve a deep understanding of politics in all its richness: American national government, constitutional law, comparative government and international relations. Courses in political philosophy and theory are designed to lead students to a fuller understanding of issues of justice and the relationships among the individual, law and politics. Faculty members share a commitment to excellence in teaching and accessibility to students. At Ripon, we seek to help students discover the deepest possible understanding of contemporary problems and to equip them with the information and skills they need to reach workable solutions.

At the junior and senior levels, we emphasize individual research while offering seminars in a variety of specialized topics. Our capstone experience is a yearlong senior seminar in which students define their own major independent research projects, work on them in close collaboration with a faculty mentor and finally present their research to the students and faculty of the department. We believe our curriculum and the close personal attention we are able to give to our majors allow us to provide our students with an opportunity to develop their skills to their highest potential.

Course Guide: Politics and Government



Ripon College encourages all students to embrace a Four-Year Career Development Plan. This plan is based on the premise that career planning is a development process that involves learning and decision-making over an extended period of time.

First Year

  • Incoming students are assigned a Faculty Mentor based on their interest area(s). Please see the FACULTY tab under your major area;
  • All Freshman are required to enroll in a First-Year Seminar, which is designed as a transition from high school to college learning, providing an interdisciplinary introduction to the liberal arts and the pursuit of in-depth study;
  • Freshman are encouraged to meet the career development staff early on and complete interest and skills inventories, and self-assessment tools; and,
  • Attend the pre-Fall Break “Major Fest” to explore the various major options and career tracks.

Third Year

  • Assume leadership positions in on-campus clubs and organizations;
  • Participate in mock interviews with the Career Development Office;
  • Attend the Wisconsin Foundation of Independent Colleges Job Fair in February and other relevant career fairs;
  • If relevant, begin to research potential graduate school programs and take the appropriate entrance exam(s);
  • Continue to meet regularly with your Faculty Mentor;
  • Continue to build a solid network and a list of work references, and build your resume;
  • Consider off-campus study: Semester and/or alternative Spring Breaks;
  • Continue to job shadow; and,
  • Gain further career experience associated with your education during the academic year and as part of a summer job or internship.

Second Year

  • Get involved with on-campus clubs and organizations, athletic teams and/or intramural sports;
  • Attend the pre-Fall Break “Major Fest” to explore the various major options and career tracks;
  • Declare a major;
  • Meet regularly with your Faculty Mentor or match your interests with a faculty member in your major department. Determine which professors have areas of expertise most similar to your interests. Talk to people in the academic department to find out about faculty research, scholarly, and creative interests;
  • Attend on-campus career workshops;
  • Work with the Career Development Office to create an approved resume;
  • Job shadow people involved in various careers and professions of interest; and,
  • Gain further career experience associated with your education during the academic year and as part of a summer job or internship.

Fourth Year

  • Complete a Senior Capstone/Thesis in your major area(s);
  • Continue to meet regularly with your Faculty Mentor;
  • Perfect your interviewing skills;
  • Expand your existing network of contacts;
  • Finalize your resume and prepare cover letter;
  • Build a credential file in the Career Development Office;
  • Interview with on-campus recruiters;
  • Set-up informational interviews with target companies;
  • If relevant, apply to graduate school programs, and if necessary, re-take entrance exams; and,
  • Practice career goal-setting.


What can I do with a Politics and Government major?

Majoring in Politics and Government can lead to careers in a wide variety of fields, from international relations to law to business, and, of course, careers in government and politics.

Recent graduates have taken many paths, including graduate school programs in International Affairs, Law, National Security, Public Administration, Political Science, Business and Communication; and careers as political advisers, marketing directors, analysts, lawyers, and television producers.

Recent graduates of our program work for…

  • America Votes
  • American Heart Association
  • Boelter & Lincoln Advertising
  • Congressional Black Caucus Foundation, Inc.
  • Illinois Republican Organization
  • JP Morgan Chase
  • Michael Fitzpatrick Law Office
  • National Forensic League
  • Organizing for America
  • Piper & Schmidt
  • Project Vote Smart
  • State of Minnesota
  • State Representatives
  • State Senators
  • Target Corporation
  • The Institute of World Politics
  • Wisconsin Historical Society

Job titles of recent graduates include…

  • Youth Market Coordinator
  • Director of Marketing
  • E-Commerce Strategist
  • Pricing Analyst
  • Campaign Staff Member
  • Grants & Development Coordinator
  • National Director
  • Attorney
  • Political Research
  • Development Associate for Major & Planned Giving
  • Legislative Analyst
  • Chief of Staff
  • Policy Advisor
  • U.S. Sales Manager
  • Television Producer
  • Branch Operations Assistant


Unique Opportunities

Unique Emphasis on Methodology

The courses of the Politics and Government department are geared toward providing a solid foundation for the understanding, analysis and evaluation of contemporary political issues. We strongly stress research and writing throughout our curriculum, and we are unique in the emphasis we give to integrating the study of methodology (how information about politics is gathered and analyzed) with the study of specific areas of politics.

We require the study of both American and non-American political systems, with the aim of preparing students to be citizens in an increasingly global society. While many of our majors go on to further study in political science or law, many others begin careers in business, journalism or public service directly after graduation.