What Is Politics? 

In the Political Science Department at De Anza College we believe politics is at the heart of every society. The essence of political life is the process of deciding who gets the benefits and who bears the burdens and how this happens. This is not just an abstract idea. It touches on such important questions as who can go to school and who succeeds there, how much people make at their jobs and what kind of work is available for people, who goes to war, who gets health care, who can buy a house, and who will be without shelter. This field of study is based on the notion that human beings living in a society set up structures of ideas, values, and world-views as well as systems of norms, rules, laws, and behaviors that affect the outcomes of these kinds of decisions. Political Science is the study of these social structures and the ideas supporting them as well as the the study of how to improve the real lives of people in our society by using the tools available to us.

Program Learning Outcomes:

Vision, Mission and Values

The Political Science Department teaches students to: (1) evaluate how political decisions are shaped by institutions and processes; (2) assess the impact of political decisions on individuals and groups; (3) demonstrate the capacity to critically analyze and apply political values; and (4) demonstrate the capacity to participate effectively in the political process. In doing so, the department advances the Vision, Mission and Values of De Anza College, with a particular focus on promoting civic engagement and civic capacity for global, cultural, social, economic, and environmental justice.

Engaged Learning and Civic Engagement

The De Anza Political Science Department has figured out a variety of ways to make the study of politics engaging, meaningful, and fun. We have a range of classes taught by instructors with varying philosophies and teaching methods, all of whom are dedicated to helping students succeed.

  • POLI 1 – American Government and Politics
  • POLI 2 – Comparative Politics
  • POLI 3 – International Relations
  • POLI 5 – Introduction to Political Thought
  • POLI 15 – Grassroots Democracy: Race, Politics and the American Promise
  • POLI 16 – Grassroots Democracy: Social Movements Since the 1960s
  • POLI 17 – Grassroots Democracy: Leadership and Power (a required course for the VIDA Leadership Certificate)
  • POLI 60 – Community Organizing
  • POLI 64 – Political Science Internship

Every quarter a number of our POLI 1 sections require civic engagement, and are given an "E" designation. These sections have been modified such that the civic engagement requirement (12 hours of active work making a difference in our communities) does not involve more time than a regular class. The department rounds out its civic engagement work through courses in community organizing (POLI 60) and internships (POLI 64). It is through these classes (and related programs) that the department advances the civic capacity of students. Check out our list of current civic engagement opportunities.

Recommended Sequence of Core Classes

For Political Science Majors and the A.A.-Transfer Degree

Students often ask for advice regarding the best sequencing of classes. We recommend that political science majors take courses in the following order:

  • First – POLI 1: American Government and Politics
  • Second – POLI 5: Political Thought and Theory (can also be taken simultaneously with POLI 1)
  • Third – POLI 2: Comparative Politics
  • Fourth – POLI 3: International Relations

Internship Opportunities

There are a number of internship opportunities available to De Anza College students. For a list of current internships, go to: Internship Opportunities (link TBA). 

Students can intern with community organizations, political offices or government agencies. Recent  students have interned in the offices of local legislators, including Assemblymember Evan Low, State Senator Jim Beall, U.S. Representative Ro Khanna, among others. 

Moreover, students can receive academic credit while completing an internship by enrolling in POLI 64. For more information regarding internships and POLI 64, see:Poli 64: Political Science Internship. You can also contact the current instructor of record, Bob Stockwell, at StockwellRobert@fhda.edu.

American Cultures Credit and Cross-Listing

Two classes (POLI 15 and POLI 16) fulfill the American Culture graduation requirement for students transferring to UC Berkeley. In addition, we offer a number of classes cross-listed with Paralegal Studies, Administration of Justice, Intercultural/International Studies and Women's Studies. We hope you find our courses and programs engaging and transformative!

Civic Attitude Survey

Political Science icon


Robert Stockwell

James Nguyen
Instructor and Chair


Back to Top