Political Science and International Relations

Political Science and International Relations are complementary and inter-related disciplines that explore power and politics in many different contexts. They provide concepts with which to explain, justify and critique the modern world. They examine ideologies such as colonisation and socialism. They explore systems of ideas like the new right, religious fundamentalism, and postmodernism. They analyse social movements that call for justice, development, gender equality or environmental protection. They help us to understand processes of electoral competition, government, and policy- making in New Zealand and a range of other countries across the world. They uncover the structures and motivations behind cooperation, conflict and war in the international system. They dig into issues of power, conflict, diplomacy, arms control, democracy, revolution, terrorism, developmental politics, civil society, human rights, foreign policy, humanitarian aid, and the international political economy.

Globalisation links people, cultures and countries much more closely than they have ever been. International Relations studies the relationships among countries and the roles of governmental and non-governmental organisations and multi-nationals. In an increasingly inter-connected world, people who understand and can work with these complex relationships have a significant advantage.

WHY STUDY POLITICAL SCIENCE AND INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS?

Studying these disciplines brings many benefits. There is the personal satisfaction and social confidence that comes from training your brain and raising your understanding of not only world events but also the events of daily life. Being able to step back and see a larger (political) process at work is very empowering at an individual level. It can take the sting out of tense or emotional situations and provide you with strategies that enable you to behave constructively and proactively. Being able to rise above difficulties and move on is enormously valuable in any work environment, particularly when professional issues or competing interests are involved.

Political Science and International Relations are embedded not only in social processes and group dynamics, but also different cultural realities. This raises your sensitivity to the taken-for-granted aspects of cultural experience, making you more open to different points of view and value systems. The ability to move comfortably within and between different cultures and political systems is fundamental to international business and trade activities, development support, humanitarian aid and peacekeeping missions. People with this kind of understanding are more likely to be successful in multi-national corporations and professional practices, non-government organisations (NGOs) such as aid agencies, and government agencies including diplomatic services and defence forces. They are also valuable ‘at home’ working in organisations where cultural or ethnic identity has a relationship with other social or political processes.

Both Political Science and International Relations are linked to the media and public perceptions and these connections are studied specifically. Those able to work with spin, impression management and damage control techniques, either for the purpose of debunking them or doing them convincingly, are also dealing with deeper issues of truth, accuracy and the right to know. These issues underpin many political, social and educational institutions, business enterprises and systems of justice, particularly where public accountability is a requirement.