Famous Political Scientists


WMaurice Duvergerhen you decide to go into political science, you will find yourself in great company. Many of the most influential men and women throughout history have come from a polisci background, some even before it was a recognizedfield of study. Here are just a few to illustrate my point:

Everyone is at least a little familiar with the Machiavellian term “the ends justify the means.” What is not quite as common knowledge is that Machiavelli is also considered the father of modern political science. This inspiring Renaissance man was clearly ahead of his time. His infamous book The Prince is an excellent discourse on the difference between political ideals and reality, while the often-studied Discourses on Livy focused on governmental republics, even discussing early versions of checks and balances. His many other works cover a variety of other topics and make for some fascinating reading. Imagine writing something that becomes so much a part of a culture that a day-to-day expression attributed to you is still in use nearly 500 years after your death!

Other political scientists have the advantage of modern media. Fareed Zakaria, a brilliant foreign affairs expert, is a highly respected journalist. While he may not carry a lot of name recognition outside of political circles, he certainly has a lot of media exposure and you likely would be able to identify him by sight. He has a show on CNN, has written for papers like The Washington Post and Newsweek, Time Magazine, and is the author of several bestselling books. He serves on several political boards and is considered a go-to expert for current political commentary. People like Zakaria are intelligent, well-spoken, and in high demand for their expertise. When something happens in the world, you could be the first person the media looks toward to explain what is going on to a riveted nation in a way they can understand.

Some political scientists, like Maurice Duverger, are also sociologists who create political theories so compelling and logical that they become law—like his principle stating that plurality-rule elections favor a two party system. If you developed such an important concept that it became an accepted tenant of political theory, students could be studying you and your ideas for years to come.

Women like Condoleezza Rice also have also used a political science degree to their advantage in the political world. Rice, who went from teaching political science at Stanford to become the National Security Advisor as well as Secretary of State to President Bush. Under her advisement, the United States changed many policies regarding international relations and she increased hands-on diplomacy throughout the world; she travelled more in her position as Secretary of State than any of her predecessors. Having the knowledge and the power to create real, lasting change is always a worthwhile endeavor no matter what job you find yourself in.

These are only a few of the many political scientists who have, and continue, to create change and inspire others to do the same. For a more detailed list, check out this Wikipedia page.