International relations, political science merges programs

The School of International Relations and Department of Political Science announced a merger to form the Department of Political Science and International Relations. (Daily Trojan file photo)

The School of International Relations and Department of Political Science, two programs housed in the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Science, merged to form the Department of Political Science and International Relations this semester. The new department is chaired by professors Saori Katada and Ann Crigler. 

Dornsife Dean Amber Miller wrote in an email to faculty announcing the change that the new department is important because it will expand its expertise in areas like immigration, health care, social justice, gender and race and economic development.

“The department maintains the School of International Relations as a pillar of strength in both teaching and research in international studies, while creating closer connections to our well-established Political Science strengths in areas such as American politics, comparative politics and research methods,” she wrote.

Katada stated the merger follows other universities like Columbia, Northeastern and Rutgers that place their international relations and political science programs under the same department. 

Katada, who co-chaired the committee overseeing the change, will direct the international relations portion of the program. She said the merger will help streamline administrative work for both majors because it will allow them to work together more effectively on hiring new faculty and leading collaborative and interdisciplinary projects. This increased visibility will also help the department recruit strong faculty and students.

Miller said the change will make the new department the largest social sciences program in Dornsife with 1,150 students and 47 full-time faculty. The merger would also increase the administration’s ability to coordinate PhD students’ classes more efficiently. 

For the last 15 years, the doctoral program has already combined political science and international relations classes for its students, but “the PhD program will be enhanced by closer working relationships among faculty who continue to provide strong training in core disciplinary areas,” Miller wrote.

Katada said that undergraduate students majoring in international relations and political science will see no major changes to their curriculum. 

However, classes that follow similar topics in the international relations major and political science major may be placed in a sequence so students can take relevant classes from both departments in order.

Anushka Sapra, a junior majoring in international relations, political economy and NGOs and social change, believes that the merger is beneficial to students, since the program could benefit from more resources. She believes there won’t be too much change because both departments have similar classes. 

USC will now function similarly to other universities in the U.S. in terms of having a combined department for international relations and political science.

“[The department] was created with strong support of the majority of the faculty following extensive faculty consultation, and the recommendation of an eminent group of external reviewers in political science and international relations,” Miller wrote.