About the Major

The study of politics and public affairs at Hamilton has three tracks: government, world politics, and public policy. Government majors are grounded in international relations, American politics, comparative politics, and political theory. Many participate in Hamilton’s program in Washington, D.C., where they get a front-line perspective on the U.S. government, including work in a Congressional or executive office. World politics focuses on a region or theme such as poverty and inequality, democratization, or international law. Public policy is interdisciplinary and includes economics and philosophy.

Students Will Learn To:

  • Make reasonable inferences from data and evidence in order to draw logical conclusions about historical and contemporary political phenomena
  • Effectively communicate ideas in clear writing
  • Use foundational principles of political science to plan and carry out independent research
  • Consider alternative perspectives in order to respond to counter-arguments

A Sampling of Courses

Alexander Hamilton's lap desk

The American Founding: Ideals and Reality

An intensive analysis of the philosophical ideals of the Founding Era (1763-1800) and their uneven realization. Social histories of various races, genders and classes will help illuminate the inherent ambiguities, weaknesses, strengths and legacies of the social and political philosophies of late 18th-century America.

Explore these select courses:

This course examines the ways war and processes of militarization impact women in the Global North and the Global South.  Discussion will be accompanied by an analysis of categories such as “women,” “gender” and “sexuality” in relation to the “state” and “nation” during periods of warfare and armed conflict. We will engage with a range of interdisciplinary texts on gender and militarism.  These narratives will be grounded by theoretical readings that explore the ongoing debates and tensions among feminists regarding nationalism, violence, war and militarization.

Analysis of constitutional doctrines through major cases. Function of the Supreme Court as an instrument of government and arbiter of public policy. Doctrines include judicial review, federalism, interstate commerce, due process and questions of individual rights.

Analysis of competing theories of the liberty of expression in the American context. Focuses primarily on contemporary political and legal disputes over such morally divisive issues as "hate speech," campus speech codes, pornography, media and Internet censorship, and the proper role of free speech in a democracy. Examination of the evolution of American constitutional law concerning freedom of expression.

What is the relationship between capitalism and democracy? Do the claims of democracy extend into the workplace? This course examines the development of a market society, the division of labor, and contemporary working conditions, exploring the challenges and possibilities each presents democratic life. It emphasizes critical reading of historical, empirical, and normative texts in order to define and assess the mutual obligations between democratic societies and their citizens and workers. Readings include Adam Smith, Max Weber, Hannah Arendt, C. Wright Mills, and Karl Polanyi.

Analysis of the representation of interests in American national government. The history of the role of lobbyists in the Washington community and the contemporary profession of government relations in legislative, regulatory and political contexts. Strategies of lobbying Congress and the executive branch. Issues of reform, including ethics rules and campaign finance. Emphasis on exploring theories and practice of lobbying/government relations through use of academic research, case studies and engagement of the class in practical "real world" lobbying exercises.

Meet Our Faculty

Peter Cannavò

Chair and Professor of Government


environmental political theory; republican political thought; environmental politics; land-use politics; political geography; climate change

Frank Anechiarico

Maynard-Knox Professor of Law, Director of Public Policy


public administration, public ethics, and law and society

Alan Cafruny

Henry Platt Bristol Professor of International Relations


international political economy, European politics, U.S. foreign policy

Rebeca Castaneda

Visiting Assistant Professor of Government


rhetoric and statesmanship, classical political thought, executive power, American political thought

Alexsia Chan

Assistant Professor of Government


comparative politics; authoritarian politics; political economy of development; Chinese politics

Erica De Bruin

Associate Professor of Government


international security; civil-military relations; coups d'état; international conflict; civil war

Ashley Gorham

Assistant Professor of Government


democratic theory, modern political thought, and politics of technology

Kira Jumet

Associate Professor of Government, Director of Middle East/Islamicate Worlds Studies


comparative politics, international relations, and Middle East politics

Philip Klinkner

James S. Sherman Professor of Government


American politics, political parties, campaigns and elections, race and American politics

Kenneth Leonardo

Visiting Assistant Professor of Government


history of political thought, comparative political thought, American political development

American political thought, democratic theory, early modern political thought, philosophy of social science, and constitutional law

Ngonidzashe Munemo

Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty, Professor of Government


African politics and development; democratization, especially in Africa; civil society and issues of diversity in democracies

Andrea Peña-Vasquez

Visiting Assistant Professor of Government


migration, citizenship, race and ethnic politics (REP), Black European studies, Iberia, Sub-Saharan Africa and the African Diaspora

David Rivera

Visiting Assistant Professor of Government


the international politics of Eurasia, post-communist democratization, and the composition of the Russian elite

Sharon Werning Rivera

Sidney Wertimer Professor for Excellence in Advising and Mentoring, Professor of Government


post-communist democratization, the composition of the Russian elite, elite survey research, and the diffusion of ideas

Heather Sullivan

Assistant Professor of Government


comparative politics, Latin American politics, protest and social movements, political violence, and state capacity

Joel Winkelman

Visiting Assistant Professor of Government


history of political thought, American political thought, work and labor, and the Progressive Era

David Wippman

College President, Professor of Government


international law

Brian Wolfel

Visiting Assistant Professor of Government


contemporary political philosophy, history of political thought, political economy, theories of social justice, American Transcendentalism, American political thought and development, American political institutions

Gwen Dordick

Distinguished Lecturer in American Public Policy and Practice


urban sociology with a focus urban poverty; homelessness and social policy; neighborhood collective efficacy; the intersection of housing, addiction and recovery

Andrea Kendall-Taylor

Sol M. Linowitz Visiting Professor of International Affairs


Explore Hamilton Stories

A student typing on a laptop with a Wikipedia page displayed

Politics in Latin America Class Takes on Wikipedia

Communications and Marketing Office student intern Anna Richardson ’26 talks here about an unusual assignment in her Politics in Latin America class with Professor Heather Sullivan.

Root Hall

From the Federal Reserve to Chinese Politics – March 2023 News

National and regional news organizations regularly interview Hamilton faculty, staff, and students for their expertise and perspectives on current events, and to feature programs and activities on campus. March’s news highlights ranged from commentary on the politics of China to Federal Reserve decisions.

Kira Jumet

Government Professor Named NY6 Mellon Academic Leadership Fellow

Associate Professor of Government Kira Jumet has been selected as a New York Six (NY6) Mellon Academic Leadership Fellow and will have opportunities to engage across the six-member consortium and access to mentors who will be a resource for their professional and leadership development.

Careers After Hamilton

Hamilton graduates who concentrated in government are pursuing careers in a variety of fields, including:

  • Program Analyst, Department of Homeland Security
  • Strategic Marketing Coordinator, NBC Universal Media
  • Writer, Comedy Central
  • Coordinator for Communications & Outreach, U.S. Department of State
  • Orthopedic Surgeon
  • Advisor & Associate Counsel, Republican National Committee
  • Maynard-Knox Professor of Government, Hamilton College
  • Founder/Executive Director/President, New England Center for Children
  • Director, Foreign Exchange Distribution, UBS Securities LLC
  • President & CEO, Texas International Education Consortium
  • Senior Public Affairs Officer, U.S. Department of the Interior


Department Name

Government Department

Contact Name

Peter Cannavò, Chair

Office Location
198 College Hill Road
Clinton, NY 13323

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