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Amherst College Department of Political Science
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A Letter From the Chair

Austin Sarat - Chair of the Political Science Department

Welcome back! Hope you had a wonderful summer. All of us in Political Science are eager to resume teaching and working with our extraordinarily talented students.

Meanwhile, we are pleased that Jaeyoon Park has joined us as a post-doctoral fellow. We are also pleased to welcome both Scott Smitson and Gilles Verniers who are visiting with us. I urge you to check out their classes. 

And we are thrilled that Manuela Picq has been appointed to a continuing position in the department.

All of us are eager to see you and catch up. Stay safe. And good luck with the start of the semester.

Austin Sarat
William Nelson Cromwell Professor Jurisprudence & Political Science, Political Science Chair 2022-23
Amherst College
Amherst, MA. 01002
413-542-2308 (tel)
413-542-2264 (fax)

2022 Densmore Berry Collins Prize Winner (Best Political Science Thesis)

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Congratulations to our 2022 Densmore Berry Collins Prize Winner Eleanor Lundberg '23E!

Thesis Title: Rural Reimagined: The Political Economy of Rural Short Video Production in China 

The glistening skylines and high-tech megacities that define China today tend to overshadow the devastating effects that the largest urban migration in world history has had on China’s rural communities. Since the 2000s, the Chinese Communist Party has attempted to address rural neglect, but these strategies have revealed a critical shortcoming: the necessity of bottom-up grassroots innovation to support and balance top-down government intervention. My thesis examines the emergence and rapid growth of short video platforms Douyin (TikTok) and Kuaishou in rural China and demonstrates how these platforms have begun to fill this rural development shortcoming by enabling remarkable innovation and entrepreneurship in rural China from the bottom-up. Through the analysis of several case studies, I illustrate how rural creators and entrepreneurs are beginning to record a multi-dimensional picture of the changing Chinese countryside and fuel a powerful new engine for rural revitalization. As I present these cases, I also present a timely and important update on how we ought to think about rural development in contemporary China in the wake of the pandemic.

Interested in Political Science? About the Major

What do we mean by politics? Amherst’s Department of Political Science treats the study of politics as a liberal art, offering students new perspectives on political phenomena. The Department offers a diverse range of courses in three broad areas of study:

  • Political Theory
  • Domestic Politics and State–Society Relations
  • International Politics and Practices

Our courses engage theoretical assumptions that underlie political life and examine different institutional arrangements and political practices. They provide the resources by which students can critically evaluate and engage contemporary political life.

International Relations

Five College Opportunities

International Relations Certificate Program

The International Relations Certificate offers students an opportunity to pursue an interest in international affairs as a complement to their majors and shows graduate schools or future employers that they have a strong interest in world affairs.  The Certificate is designed to encourage  motivated students to develop a global perspective on the origins of the current international system, the salient concerns in international relations today, and the emerging challenges humanity will face in the years ahead. The Certificate encourages students to explore how global, regional, and domestic factors influence relations between actors on the world stage. Students are advised to make interdisciplinary connections between the complexities of numerous  global challenges, such as competition among  the great powers, nuclear proliferation, transnational terrorism, regional and ethnic conflict, migration, environmental degradation, demographic stress, global climate change, socioeconomic and cultural globalizations and wide disparities in global economic development.

Earning the certificate requires demonstrating competence in a contemporary foreign language (four semesters of a single college-level contemporary foreign language) and earning at least a B in each of seven courses on world politics and institutions, the international economy, the history of the international system, US foreign policy, and the politics, history, economy, or culture of one or more foreign areas.

The courses listed in these sections of the IR Certificate program can be used to fulfill your International Relations Certificate.  It is important to know that courses listed below may or may not be offered during each academic year at Amherst College.  However, you may be able to take similar courses at the other four participating institutions or while studying abroad. There may be additional courses offered which fulfill your requirements during the academic year which do not appear in the printed catalog but can be found in the on-line version of the course catalog. 

Please confer with Professor Javier Corrales, Pavel Machala, Eleonora Mattiacci, Ruxandra Paul or Kerry Ratigan in selecting such courses when trying to fulfill your requirements for the International Relations Certificate. 


Workday at Amherst

On this site you’ll find how-to guides and videos about how to navigate Workday and complete the tasks and processes you’ll use most.