Politics is the study of man in communities and deliberation about how best to order man’s social existence. The main objective of Ave Maria University’s Politics major is to advance students’ critical understanding of the nature and purpose of political life. Students are presented with differing theoretical perspectives from which to understand and assess certain perennial political problems. Through careful analysis of how statesmen and scholars from antiquity to the present have answered the great political questions, students expand their intellectual horizons and cultivate sharp analytical and critical skills.

The program is guided by the four subfields of the study of politics: political philosophy, American politics, international relations, and comparative politics. These four fields complement each other. Political philosophy promotes inquiry into the nature of justice, authority, forms of social order, law, political regimes, and international relations. American government promotes the study of constitutional law, the history of American politics, public and foreign policy, and comparative politics. Courses in the field of American government serve to test the theoretical underpinnings of political philosophy; courses in political philosophy offer normative perspectives from which to evaluate issues and events in American government. Courses in international relations and comparative politics are moved by considerations of justice and the attempt to evaluate normatively regimes. The four fields provide broad and principled yet exact knowledge of political life. The curriculum is designed to provide a solid foundation for specialized graduate work, entry into law school, careers in the public or private sector, and lifelong learning. Ave Maria University cultivates in its students a sense of public responsibility and a respect for the common good. Therefore emphasis is placed upon normative principles and purposes of government, as well as the factual operations and history of the United States system of government.

Explore the Politics Program

The main objective of Ave Maria University’s Politics major is to advance students’ critical understanding of the nature and purpose of political life. According to Aristotle, because man is by nature a political animal, politics is the architectonic art. The study of politics is therefore a comprehensive study of man. The study of politics is an investigation into the perennial questions of political life through careful analysis of the best that has been said and written by statesmen and philosophers from antiquity through the American founding to the present.

The program is guided by the four subfields of the study of politics: political philosophy, American politics, international relations, and comparative politics. These four fields complement each other and provide broad and principled knowledge of political life.

According to James Madison, education and the study of politics ought to be a support for free government. As Madison says in a letter to William Berry “The American people owe it to themselves, and to the cause of free Government, to prove by their establishments for the advancement and diffusion of Knowledge, that their political Institutions, …are as favorable to the intellectual and moral improvement of Man as they are conformable to his individual & social Rights. What spectacle can be more edifying or more seasonable, than that of Liberty & Learning, each leaning on the other for their mutual & surest support?”

Once majoring in Politics, you’ll examine the ideas of freedom, democracy and human rights. You’ll touch on ideologies, such as communism and fascism, as well as party politics, electoral behavior and protest and revolution. You will study the rise and fall of leaders and political parties and the power play between nations. Political philosophy, American politics, international relations, and comparative politics will leverage your understanding of past and current politic.

“I myself am most pleased by good friends, and if I possess something good I teach it, and I introduce them to others for whom, I believe, they will receive some benefit with a view to virtue. And reading in common with my friends, I go through the treasures of the wise men of old which they left behind in their books; and if we see something good, we pick it out; and we hold that it is a great gain if we become beneficial to one another.”

Socrates to Antiphon in Xenophon’s Memorabilia

In addition to the core curriculum, politics majors take the following courses

POLT 201 Introduction to Political Thought

POLT 202 Comparative Politics

POLT 203 American Civilization

POLT 205 International Relations

POLT 301 American Government

POLT 302 Catholic Political Thought

POLT 304 Constitutional Law

POLT 490 Senior Seminar

Elective Options

POLT 204 Introduction to Political Research

POLT 305 Public Policy

POLT 307 The United States Presidency

POLT 308 The United States Congress

POLT 309 The Judiciary of the United States

POLT 314 U.S. Foreign Policy

POLT 415 Special Topics in Political Science and International Relations

POLT 495 Internship in Politics

HUMS 301 Humanities Seminar I

HUMS 302 Humanities Seminar II

See the Academic Catalog for course descriptions

Those who have graduated from Ave Maria with a Politics major have gone on to work in Washington D.C. for members of Congress, have worked in a variety of policy organizations that study, advocate, and lobby for specific public policies, others have gone on to graduate school to continue studying politics with the goal of one day teaching in secondary or higher education, or to law school. There are a number of careers that are available for politics majors from political consulting, working on campaigns, political advocacy,  journalism, and public service on the local, state, national and international level.

Below are links that outline the wealth of career opportunities for Political Science graduates:

The University is affiliated through Career Services with numerous political organizations in Florida and D.C (see below). Internship and mentoring programs are available for students interested in a political career.
– U.S Dept of State – Washington, D.C & International
– FL House of Representatives – Tallahassee, FL
– David Rivera, Representative – Tallahassee, FL
– American Life League – Washington, D.C


Sean Sugrue, D.C.L.

Associate Professor of Politics
Education: B.B.A., Bishop’s University; LL.B. University of Ottawa; LL.M., D.C.L., McGill University
Office: Henkels 2054
Phone: (239) 280-1625
Fax: (239) 280-1637

John Colman, Ph.D.

Chair of the Department of Politics and Associate Professor of Politics
Education: B.A., M.A., Carleton University; Ph.D., Boston College.
Office: Canizaro Library 161B
Phone: (239) 280-1609
Fax: (239) 280-1637

Elizabeth Kirk, J.D.

Adjunct Professor of Politics

Mahluli Dube ’07 pursued graduate studies in Development Economics in Hong Kong, worked at the United Nation’s Department of Economic and Social Affairs as a fellow, and engaged in the urban education policy conversation by teaching 5th grade mathematics at the Harlem Children’s Zone.  Mahluli is currently working in private equity and management consulting for Open Capital Advisors and KPMG respectively. He has also pursued studies in Organizational Behavior/ Psychology at Columbia University in New York City.

Miriel Thomas Reneau ’09 (valedictorian) completed a year-long fellowship with the John Jay Institute, interned for a summer with the Senate Republican Policy Committee, and worked for a year as a research assistant at the American Enterprise Institute under constitutional scholar, Michael Greve. In 2011, Miriel began graduate studies in the Department of Political Science at Baylor University, focusing on American politics and constitutional law. She earned her MA summa cum laude in May 2013.

Shannon Hale ‘11 (magna cum laude) obtained her MSc Theory and History of International Relations with Distinction from the London School of Economics and Political Science in September 2012.   Since November 2012, Shannon has worked as Policy Advisor to a federal Canadian Cabinet Minister, the Honourable Rona Ambrose, in her capacity as Minister of Health and as the former Minister of Public Works and Government Services Canada and Minister for Status of Women. She has been an active member of the Conservative Party of Canada since 2005.

Katherine Rosario ’12 interned at the Heritage Foundation’s Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, where she worked under the legal center’s then-Senior Legal Fellow and Deputy Director, Robert Alt, and former U.S. attorney general Edwin MeeseExternal link.  Katherine then interned on Capitol Hill in the office of Congressman Cliff Stearns (R-FL).   She currently works as the Communications Deputy at Heritage Action for America, where she serves as the primary writer for Heritage Action’s blog, The ForgeExternal link.