Founded by the nationally renowned scholar Willmoore Kendall, the Politics Program has gained national acclaim for teaching excellence and for a commitment to forming broadly educated citizens and scholars. Our graduates have gone on to teach at leading colleges and universities, to clerk for justices of the Supreme Court, and to hold high positions in presidential administrations.
The Politics Program of the University of Dallas is unique in American higher education today. The program combines the study of timeless classics of Western political thought with rigorous exploration of contemporary American politics and international affairs. We focus on the great themes and issues of political thought and experience: justice, equality, liberty, morality, religion, and human nature. Through a curriculum that ranges from the Greek polis, through the great Catholic thinkers of the Middle Ages, to the politics of contemporary liberal democracies, we challenge each student to master the most rewarding political works of the Western tradition and the American experiment in self-government.
Politics is the activity of the polis (city), as athletics is the activity of the athlete. The polis, according to Aristotle, is the association whose purpose is the complete life. Politics, therefore, includes all the activities whose end is the complete human life. Political philosophy is the reflection upon or the attempt to understand the nature of these activities. Political science, therefore, as understood at the University of Dallas, is a philosophical discipline concerned with the whole range of human actions to be found in the context of the polis.
First: The general purpose of the department is to promote a critical understanding of political phenomena, an understanding of the nature of the political life and its relation to human life as a whole. Accordingly, courses are designed to present conflicting points of view on a great variety of important political questions. Sustained and systematic analysis of how philosophers, statesmen, and poets--ancient as well as modern--have answered these questions enlarges intellectual horizons and cultivates analytical and critical skills. Readings are therefore selected with a view to engaging the student in controversy, for controversy is of the essence in politics.
Second: The department seeks to promote enlightened and public-spirited citizenship. This requires understanding of the principles and purposes of our regime, as well as some personal involvement in, or commitment to, the larger political community. One of the distinctive features of the department is its emphasis on American statesmanship and the great controversies that have reflected and shaped the character of our people. The curriculum attempts to relate the political, legal, and philosophical aspects of our heritage to contemporary questions.
Third: Together with the other liberal arts, the department seeks to promote civility. Civility requires, first, the capacity to appreciate what is to be said on diverse sides of an issue. Secondly, it requires a capacity to participate in serious dialogue, which in turn requires some degree of detachment from contemporary affairs, for total involvement in the present narrows and distorts our vision.
Fourth: The department seeks to preserve the great tradition of political wisdom, theoretical and practical, against modes of thought which assail or abandon it. This requires, of course, an understanding and critique of these various modes of thought.
Fifth: The department tries to prepare some students for active political life. This requires the study of politics from the perspective of the statesman as well as from the perspective of the citizen.
Sixth: The department seeks to prepare some students for graduate study in political science, or for training in the professional fields of law, public administration, diplomacy, and related fields.