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Overview It should come as no surprise that, at the University of Virginia, government and foreign affairs is one of the most popular and prestigious departments. After all, Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of Independence, also founded this University to educate citizens and to prepare them for participation in the governance of this country.
The department studies government, public law, and politics of the national, state and local levels, and among states in international relations. Its course offerings are divided into four fields: American politics, comparative politics, international relations, and political theory. These fields permit two undergraduate majors. The government major emphasizes American politics and political theory, while the foreign affairs major emphasizes comparative politics and international relations. Both degree programs require study in all four of the department's fields; at the same time, they are designed to allow each student latitude in selecting of courses that meet specific interests.
The department's orientation is toward developing a critical understanding of the practical and theoretical dimensions of national and international governmental processes and institutions, as well as providing students with essential analytical and methodological skills. Rather than narrow specialization or vocational training, the department's programs are designed to prepare students for teaching and research, public service at all levels of government, and other careers in fields such as business, foreign affairs, journalism, and public affairs.
Faculty With more than thirty-five faculty members, the department offers students access to a diverse group of internationally recognized scholars and teachers. The group includes a former Vice President of the American Institute of Iranian Studies, who now serves as a consultant to the White House, Departments of State and Defense and United Nations Secretariat, a Vice President of the Rockefeller Foundation, who holds nine honorary doctorates, a recipient of Fulbright, Rockefeller, N.E.H. and American Council of Learned Societies fellowships, and a Rhodes Scholar, who is a frequent political commentator on "Face the Nation" and "Nightline." The faculty has published numerous influential books.
Students More than 650 students are currently seeking a degree in one of the two majors available in the department. This large number means that introductory lecture courses are large (200-plus students). These courses are designed to give students an overview of a large topic (e.g., national government of the United States). After these large courses, the student can pick from upper- level courses and seminars which focus on more specific topics: Virginia government and politics, Japan in world affairs, or Marxist theories. Upper-level courses average thirty to forty students; seminars are limited to fifteen students. The department offers approximately 100 courses each year. In courses with large enrollments, teaching assistants lead discussion sections, which are limited to twenty students. Advanced students may enroll in graduate course work or pursue independent study topics.
Most students who receive a degree in government and foreign affairs go immediately into the workforce. Corporations from around the country come to the University to recruit students. An increasingly large percentage of students, however, goes on to graduate work. Law is the most popular option, at Virginia's law school or other top schools such as Harvard and Stanford. Others choose graduate work in international relations, foreign affairs, or business.
Internships Several internship programs are available to students through various research centers located within the University. These include the Center for Middle East Studies, the Center for Russian and East European Studies, and the Miller Center of Public Affairs. In addition, there also are internships available through state agencies and in Washington, D.C. These are to be approved by the internship coordinator at the Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service, then approved by the undergraduate advisor.
Requirements for Major Students planning to major must see an associate undergraduate advisor regarding admission and assignment to a faculty advisor. Prerequisites: Completion of at least three credits of work in this department with no grade below C and a cumulative grade-point average (GPA) of 2.0 are prerequisites for majors in government or foreign affairs.
Government The major concentration in government requires 30 credits of course work, as specified below, including the three prerequisite hours. No more than nine credits taken at the 100 level may be counted toward the major. At least fifteen credits of course work in the department must be earned at the 300 level and above. At least six of these must be earned at the 400 and 500 levels.
The government concentration requires the following minimum distribution of courses among the four fields:
The remaining nine credits required for the government major may come from departmental offerings in any of the four fields, depending upon student interests and objectives.
In addition to the 30 credits required in the Department of Government and Foreign Affairs, 12 credits of courses in closely related disciplines such as history, philosophy, the social sciences and in appropriate cases, in other related subjects, are required, no more than six credits of which should be taken at the 100 and 200 levels. The other six credits should be in advanced courses. The students should seek to construct their related course "package" in such a way that it contributes to their major subject field in as direct a fashion as possible, and to have this list of courses approved by their major advisor.
Foreign Affairs The major concentration in foreign affairs requires 30 credits of course work, as specified below, including the three prerequisite credits. No more than nine credits taken at the 100 level may be counted toward the major. At least fifteen credits of course work in the department must be earned at the 300 level and above. At least six of these must be earned at the 400 and 500 levels.
The foreign affairs concentration requires the following minimum distribution of courses among the four fields:
The remaining six credits required for the foreign affairs major may come from departmental offerings in any of the four fields, depending upon student interests and objectives.
In addition to the 30 credits required in the Department of Government and Foreign Affairs, 12 credits of courses in closely related disciplines such as history, philosophy, the social sciences, and in appropriate cases, in other related subjects, are required, no more than six credits of which should be taken at the 100 and 200 levels. Students should seek to construct their related course "package" in such a way that it contributes to their major subject field in as direct a fashion as possible, and to have this list of courses approved by their major advisor.
In order to assist students in selecting departmental and related courses which meet their interests, the department has outlined several clusters of courses on forms available in the department office.
Both Majors A grade of C or better is necessary in any course counted toward the major. Students who earn a grade of C- or lower in three courses in the department or who drop below a 2.0 GPA in the department are not allowed to continue as a major.
The 18 credits offered to fulfill the basic field requirements of the major must be taken in this department. Ordinarily, six of the remaining nine credits required for the major may be transferred from other institutions, with the approval of the departmental undergraduate advisor. Such approval is not automatic. In order to be counted toward the major, work done elsewhere must be of a suitable nature and quality and must be offered in compliance with departmental rules available from the undergraduate advisor. Students already enrolled at the University of Virginia who wish to take courses at other institutions (including foreign ones) must obtain advance approval from the Dean of the College and, for courses to be counted toward the major, from the departmental undergraduate advisor as well. Students who transfer to the University may transfer three credits for the required prerequisite and up to six of the nine credits not specified as fulfilling basic field requirements for the major after proper validation.
Under no circumstance may advanced placement credit count toward fulfilling the major.
Requirements for Minor A minor program in government and foreign affairs consists of at least 15 credits of course work taken at the University in at least two of the four fields of the department, with a grade of C or better. At least nine credits must be in one field. Of the 15 credits, no more than six credits may be taken at the introductory (100) level. At least three credits must be taken at the 400 or 500 level. No advanced placement credit is allowed for a minor.
Students taking the minor in government or foreign affairs should fill out a minor application in the department's academic office (Cabell 240). At the beginning of their last semester before graduation, students should receive a PACE form which serves as the degree application. The PACE form must have a departmental advisor's signature. Students taking the minor program have access to the undergraduate advisor and may attend departmental guest lectures and informal seminars. The department's rules for satisfactory standing apply.
Honors Program The Bachelor of Arts with honors, high honors, or highest honors may be awarded to students who follow a special course of study during the third and fourth years. It combines honors seminars and a thesis with independent as well as ungraded study in this department and others. Written examinations are given at the end of each year, and a general oral examination is conducted by an independent examining committee at the end of the fourth year. The John White Stevenson Prize may be awarded annually for the best honors thesis.
Students of unusual academic distinction and promise may be selected for participation. They should consult with the department's Honors Program Advisor at the time of declaring a major. Before admission to honors study, they should complete with superior grades at least three courses distributed among the fields of American politics, comparative politics, international relations, and political theory.
The Distinguished Majors Program Students of high academic achievement are eligible for the department's Distinguished Majors Program (DMP). Students completing the program graduate with distinction, high distinction, or highest distinction. A prerequisite of three credits of course work in the department and departmental and University GPA's of 3.4 or above are required for admission. Students wishing to apply should submit an application form, a statement of interest in the DMP, a copy of their current transcript, and two sealed letters of recommendation from faculty members. Students may apply in the second semester of their third year. Application deadline is February 1.
In addition to the prerequisite, a DMP student is required to take 30 credits in the department. These must include at least 15 credits at the 400 and 500 levels. These courses must also satisfy the general departmental distribution rules. The DMP student is also required to write a thesis of high quality for which six credits may be earned as part of the 33 credit total. Students complete their theses while enrolled in GFAD 496, which is a year-long course. Thesis work is done under the supervision of an individual faculty advisor.
Departmental recommendations for levels of distinction, high distinction, and highest distinction are based on (1) the quality of the student's thesis; (2) overall work in the major field of study; and (3) the student's overall College record.
Conferences and Special Activities Students and faculty of the department meet frequently in informal and off-the-record conferences throughout the session at which discussions are led by visiting authorities from government, business, and educational institutions. Speakers of distinction are also brought to the Grounds by student organizations, including those consisting primarily of students in the department. Field trips are organized when appropriate to study the operation of government and international relations firsthand in nearby Richmond, Washington, and the United Nations.
The Quincy Wright Library (Cabell Hall 211) is the department's special reference collection. It is available to undergraduates as a supplement to their explorations in Alderman and Clemons Libraries.
Additional Information For more information, contact Larry Sabato, Director of Undergraduate Advising, Department of Government and Foreign Affairs, 240 Cabell Hall, Charlottesville, VA 22903; (804) 924-3604.
Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service
The Weldon Cooper Center for Public Service was created in 1987 by the merger of the former Institute of Government and portions of the former Tayloe Murphy Institute. With research programs in government, public policy, business and economics, and demographics, the center brings multiple perspectives to the study of Virginia. It assists both state and local governments in the Commonwealth with research into specific issues, management expertise, planning, and social and economic data. The center also sponsors professional education programs for government managers and elected officials, through the Virginia Institute of Government, and it hosts the Virginia Institute of Political Leadership. In all its work, the center aims to apply the University's resources to improving the public life of Virginia.
Senior staff members are University faculty who frequently teach courses in their respective fields. The center employs both work-study students, who serve as office staff, and graduate research assistants, who gain firsthand experience in research and government by participating in center projects. The center's publications program makes readily available a wealth of data on Virginia to supplement students' course work in political science, economics, history, and sociology. Besides its central offices in Charlottesville, the center maintains a Southwest Virginia office in Wise County and a Richmond office.
Miller Center of Public Affairs
The Miller Center is an institute of independent thought and inquiry at the University of Virginia. Its research and study program is dedicated to scholarly investigation into the American presidency. Its three major points of focus are examination of the nature and purpose of the presidency, of particular problems in which the presidency is deeply involved, and of individual presidencies. It has an extensive outreach program including the sponsorship of national commissions on urgent problems. University faculty and advanced students participate in its weekly forums as do community leaders.
Additional Information For more information, contact Kenneth W. Thompson, Director of the Miller Center, 2201 Old Ivy Road, Charlottesville, Virginia 22903; (804) 924-7236.
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