Political Science & International Studies

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The Political Science and International Studies department prepares students for exciting careers in national and international politics, political organizations, institutions, and academic environments. We believe that the study of the science and art of politics is to examine and understand human behavior in a governmental context. The major in Political Science and International Studies provides knowledge about governmental systems in general, and of American government and politics, and international affairs in particular. McDaniel's location relative to cities such as Washington, D. C. and Baltimore gives students wonderful opportunities to seek out relevant internship and career opportunities.


Dr. Christianna N. Leahy
Department Chair
(410) 857-2414

Poltical Science and International Studies Online Catalog

Majors & Minors

Undergraduate Major

Undergraduate Minor

Pre-Professional Studies: Pre-Law

Experiential learning opportunities, enhanced mentoring, and professional skills development – key features of the McDaniel Commitment – combined with the flexibility of the McDaniel Plan curriculum make McDaniel an ideal place to pursue pre-law. Learn more »


Professor and department chair Christianna Nichols LeahyProfessor and department chair Christianna Nichols Leahy

(Ph.D., Georgetown University), teaches such wide-ranging topics as Comparative Politics of Europe, Peacemaking and Peacekeeping in the Post 9/11 World, and Revolutions from 1789 to Occupy Wall Street. She is a human rights activist who has served on the boards of several prominent international organizations, and has expertise in International Humanitarian Law. Every year she takes students to a Model European Union.

Assistant Professor Anouar BoukharsAssociate Professor Anouar Boukhars

(Ph.D., Old Dominion University), teaches seminars in security issues in the Middle East, comparative politics, political philosophy and international relations theory and international law and international organizations. Dr. Boukhars is viewed as a leading scholar of moderate Islam. Students join him at D.C.-conferences on the Arab Spring and receive career mentoring from key policymakers. He has been a non-resident scholar in the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace's Middle East Program. He is the author of Politics in Morocco: Executive Monarchy and Enlightened Authoritarianism.

Assistant Professor Francis Grice

(Ph.D. from King's College London, an M.S. from University College London, and an M.A. (Honors) from the University of St. Andrews). Prior to joining McDaniel College, he worked as a Teaching Fellow at the United Kingdom's Joint Services Command and Staff College. Dr. Grice teaches courses on International Relations, China, the Asia-Pacific, Research Design, and Leadership. He has a growing publications record in these fields and has conducted fieldwork to support his work in China, Vietnam, and the Philippines. He currently serves as the Faculty Advisor for the college's Model United Nations Team and has previously led students to present at both national and international research conferences.

Assistant Professor Matthew Mongiello

(Ph.D. University of Pennsylvania, MA University of Chicago). His teaching area is American Politics and Jurisprudence at McDaniel College. He teaches topics including Constitutional Law, Civil Liberties, Public Policy, and Political Thought. He also serves as the Pre-Law Advisor for students interested in applying to law school. His research explores how social movements influence American politics, and is particularly concerned with how the First Amendment applies to protest and movement organizing. While his work looks at a broad spectrum of social movements, he is especially interested in Disability Rights and Animal Rights.

Professor Herbert C. SmithProfessor Herbert C. Smith

(Ph.D.,The Johns Hopkins University), teaches contemporary politics in an impartial and balanced fashion, serving as faculty advisor to the McDaniel College Democrats. In courses like “Campaigns and Elections” students get first-hand experience by fulfilling Dr. Smith’s assignment to volunteer in a campaign of their choice and design and conduct original survey research. His book on Maryland Politics and Government: Democratic Dominance written with former Secretary of State of Maryland, John Willis, is said to have "set the standard for understanding the politics of the Free State."


Recent graduates have gone on to graduate schools, law schools, careers in government, development work with non-governmental organizations, advocacy groups, and private firms. Others have chosen careers in local, state, national, and international politics, law, journalism, academia, nonprofit agencies, and other exciting arenas in the political sphere. Several have careers in government agencies (on the federal and state level), several are lobbyists, and many are with prestigious law firms or in private practice.

Of those who have obtained Ph.D.s in the field, most are already tenured professors. A graduate is serving in a high level capacity at the Department of Homeland Security working on Counter-terrorism. Many work for the National Security Agency (having been recipients of the NSA Scholarship while at McDaniel).  Several have gone abroad for graduate studies at The University of London’s School of African and Oriental Studies, the London School of Economics, and the Sorbonne in France. Some of our graduates from Budapest are in similar governmental positions in Hungary. We have had students work with the Mayor of Budapest, several involved in national politics, and many choose graduate programs in Hungary as well.

In addition to internships, simulations, and service learning opportunities, many of our students study abroad in exciting places (Hungary, Spain, Morocco, South Africa, and Belgium to name a few). While abroad many interned for international organizations, United Nations agencies, and European Union institutions. They bring their first-hand experiences into the classroom when they return with real life examples of concepts that are relevant in class.

The Political Science Department offers many off-campus opportunities for students to expand their educational experiences at McDaniel. From local, national, and international internships to simulations of the United Nations, Maryland Student Legislature, and the Model European Union, our students get practical, hands-on experience to excel in a global environment. These include:

The political science internship program gives students the opportunity to apply research skills, learn about various career opportunities, and discover the correlation between academic political science and real world government

Model United Nations Simulation in New York
Students selected for McDaniel College's Model United Nations Team will be required to take a mini-course to prepare them for competition. Over 3,000 students from all over the world attend, with each participating school representing a country within simulations of all branches of the UN. The McDaniel delegation is mainly comprised of Political Science students, but also involves students in other fields.  Participants majoring in Economics are often delegates to finance committees, and Biology majors may represent McDaniel in the World Health Organization. McDaniel's award-winning Model UN teams have participated in simulations of the United Nations for over thurty years.

The Model European Union
Each fall semester 12-15 students have the opportunity to attend a Model European Union simulation in Washington, D.C. This conference is supported by the European Union itself, and each group of students from participating schools traditionally visits the embassy of the country they will represent to get first-hand information from the Ambassador and other officials.  Over three days, delegates debate and alter a piece of legislation written for the conference, acting as an EU member country, which helps participants understand the structure and mindset of European countries in their negotiations. 

Model Arab League

Model Arab League competitions offer participants the opportunity to gain practical knowledge of international diplomacy and policymaking in an interactive and engaging environment. Delegates also build critical leadership skills such as improved public speaking, the art of negotiation, coalition-building and argumentation, applied research, and intercultural understanding by approaching global issues through new lenses.

Maryland Student Legislature
Each year majors participate in the Maryland Student Legislature Simulation. Students draft, debate, and pass legislation that is of relevance to the actual Maryland State Legislature. McDaniel College has a number of graduates who are members of the Maryland legislature. Their work begins in the January term and might continue during second semester. Students regularly work with legislators and/or legislative committees and receive as many as six credits. A 10-page research paper and personal journal is required upon return.

MockTrial Competition
The goal of college mock trial is to facilitate the growth of the individual student as a person able to work with and support others, as a knowledgeable citizen acquainted with the legal system, and as a community leader working for the betterment of humanity. The students selected for participation write briefs and present an oral to defend their client in a hypothetical case.

Washington Semester
Students attend a full semester in one of American Universities Washington Semester Programs, and have an internship in any one of the many organizations of government & non-government establishments in D.C. Programs also have travel components to Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.

Washington Center Programs
The Washington Center sponsors yearly programs on such subjects as the presidency, Congress, executive leadership, political campaigns, the legal system, and more. These usually last two to three weeks and are held in Washington, D.C.

Recent student–faculty research collaboration

Student Professor Topic
Ryan Spicer Dr. Herbert Smith Cursing a Dysfunctional Congress
Emily Schaeffer Dr. Christianna Leahy Moving off of the Internet and Into the Street: Communication Technologies as a Mobilizing Force in the Green Movement in Iran and the Dignity Revolution in Egypt
Rachel Hoffman Dr. Jack Arnal The Effects of Infant Directed Speech and Visualization on Foreign Language Word Learning
Emily Sanders Dr. Holly Chalk Gay Identity, Internalized Homophobia and Perceived Stigma in Undergraduates
Jasmine McCormick Dr. Wendy Morris An Examination of Gender Differences in Negotiation
Jason Stein, Cari Sledzik, Jasmine McCormick Dr. Madeline Rhodes Effects of Androgen-Replacement to Attenuate Behavioral and Endocrine Deficits Induced by Anti-Epileptic Drugs
Political Science and International Studies major lands scholarship to study in Indonesia

John Henry Bussey ’17, a Political Science and International Studies major, has been awarded a U.S. State Department Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) to study in Indonesia this summer.

John Henry Bussey ’17, a Political Science and International Studies major, has been awarded a U.S. State Department Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) to study in Indonesia this summer.

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