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Letter from the Chair

Who can deny that many of our major predicaments - from international peace and climate change to global health and racial inequality - are political at their core? At the Charles and Louise Travers Department of Political Science, we are committed to the premise that the study of politics can make a major contribution to understanding and addressing these predicaments.

We believe that specialized knowledge about politics is every bit as important as basic science on health, the environment or energy. How can we stop political corruption or understand the impact of gerrymandering without systematic analysis? How can we endorse international sanctions without knowing whether they have worked in the past?

The award-winning research of our faculty, graduate and undergraduate students ranges from the study of Ancient Greek democracy to contemporary Chinese political protest and across topics like election integrity, human trafficking and ethnic conflict. Although we rarely end up on the nightly news, the basic knowledge we produce is foundational for responding to our contemporary challenges.

Whether you are a former Berkeley graduate or undergraduate student who wants to “pay it forward” or a friend of the department who wants to support our efforts to conduct foundational research and cultivate citizen-scholars, we hope you will consider contributing to the Charles and Louise Travers Department of Political Science.

Yet, research is much more than our calling. We also believe that the ethic of scholarship is a necessary one in our contemporary world, one that forms the backbone of a healthy civic culture. With over 1000 majors—the third largest major at Cal—we are proud to have the opportunity to train a next generation of “citizen-scholars” who embrace the honest and respectful exchange of ideas.

Although our tradition of scholarly excellence reaches back over a century, retaining our position as one of the nation’s top political science departments means that we must continually adapt. For example, we must stay abreast of the new and powerful methods of “data science” and find ways of helping our amazing graduate students cope with exorbitant Bay Area housing costs. 

Your contribution can help us do this. Whether you are a former Berkeley graduate or undergraduate student who wants to “pay it forward” or a friend of the department who wants to support our efforts to conduct foundational research and cultivate citizen-scholars, we hope you will consider contributing to the Charles and Louise Travers Department of Political Science.

Chris Ansell
Department Chair