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Research and Immersion

The Department of Political Science has a variety ways to actively engage in the study of politics, including participating in research labs, conducting independent research, and pursuing immersion pathways.

Participate in Research Labs

Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions (CSDI) – A research center dedicated to monitoring the health of democracy and the institutions that support it. 

Latin American Public Opinion Project (LAPOP) – A research institution carrying out surveys of public opinion on a vast array of issues in the Americas

Research on Conflict and Collective Action (ROCCA) – A lab that brings together a wide-ranging set of research on political violence, collective action, and contentious politics.

Research on Individuals, Politics, and Society (RIPS) – A lab that conducts experiments on individuals in order to investigate political behavior.

Conduct Independent Research

Students interested in designing their own research project for credit can do so through an Independent Research course, PSCI 3851 and PSCI 3852. These classes are for students who are motivated to conduct research outside of class, and who have an arrangement with a professor who will oversee the research and assess the work for credit.  To consider enrolling in such a course, first meet with the instructor with whom you wish to study to propose what you are interested in studying or researching. You will need to create a written study plan detailing the nature of the project, including required readings, assignments, method of evaluation, and specifying the arrangements and frequency of meetings with the instructor. Once the instructor agrees to this plan, you can begin the process of enrolling.

To enroll, fill out the form available here, email the form and the study plan to the Director of Undergraduate Studies (DUS), Professor Jon Hiskey, to obtain his approval and signature.

To complete enrollment, email the completed form to the Undergraduate Coordinator, Riley Ellingson  before the end of the course change period. The undergraduate coordinator will enroll you.  (It is not possible for students to enroll themselves in such courses through YES.)

Participate in Internships

Many political science majors and minors spend time actively engaging with politics through an internship.  It is possible to also receive course credit for doing so, as long as the internship is accompanied by additional work commensurate with work for a traditional course.

Political Science does not offer graded credit for internships unrelated to formal internship programs. The department offers a set of graded and pass-fail credits for internships (PSCI 3880, 3882, or 3883) that is reserved for students involved in formal internship programs that are full time and supported by additional programming (courses, lectures, etc.).

Graded credit in these instances may come from coursework arranged by the program and/or from independent studies arranged separately. The internship work itself is awarded pass-fail credit (which does not count for the major). Such formal internship programs include those offered by the Tennessee General Assembly or The Washington Center. If you have questions about these internships, contact the Internship Coordinator, Professor Katherine Carroll.

If you have been offered an internship and are required to show that you are receiving academic credit for it, the College of Arts and Science has a one credit hour (repeatable up to three credit hours) pass-fail internship course (INDS 3881, 3882, 3883, 3884) that is available to students who are sophomores, juniors or seniors and in good academic standing. You can sign up for this course by picking up forms in Kirkland 311. This course requires no work in addition to that involved directly with the internship. A faculty advisor must sign off on the form, and you may contact Professor Katherine Carroll to do so.

For a summer internship, students may enroll in an independent study the following fall (note: these arrangements must be made before the student begins the internship).

Immersion Pathways

Students in political science complete immersion through two main pathways.

  • Applying to and participating in a research lab.
  • Completing an Immersion Course Augmentation. Some political science classes offer the opportunity to complete an enhanced project related to the course for immersion.  The details will be available on those course’s syllabi and are at the discretion of the individual faculty offering these opportunities.