If you are considering political science as a college major or as a career choice, I have some tools to help you familiarize yourself with the ideas, people, and concepts behind it so that you can make an educated decision.
Check out the course listing for any colleges you are thinking of attending. Many will have these online; others may require a call or visit. At the very least, the titles of their classes will give you a good idea of the scope of the class as well as the types of information you’ll be covering. If you are more interested in international relations, be sure to find a program that reflects your interests. Once you are enrolled in a program, utilize your advisors, professors, and TAs. They will be excellent guides on your journey.
There are a plethora of political science books, ranging from historical texts to current best sellers. Books like The Federalist Papers, The Rights of Man, and The 48 Laws of Power will give you an excellent idea of what types of reading material will be part of your course load. Look through Amazon’s bestsellers in political science and see if anything there interests you. If you’re reading something you are interested in, you are more likely to complete the book, of course, but retain the information and enjoy it more. Your local librarian can also be an invaluable source of information when looking for books on any specific topic. Or, you can simply look through the stacks. Political Science books tend to be located in the non-fiction section and are in the 320 section. See what grabs your attention. It’s an excellent place to start.
You can also find a variety of trade journals covering all sorts of political science topics. The American Political Science Review is an excellent place to start. Their website allows you to preview articles in their current issue to pique your curiosity. If international affairs are more to your liking, Cambridge University Press also publishes International Organization, which should satisfy your appetite on a regular basis.
If you are looking specifically for political science information regarding the U.S. or U.K., a great resource for you is Richard Kimber’s site. He has compiled links and documents about all things political for these two regions and makes it easy to find what you’re looking for. Interesting links include access to congressional email addresses, links to The Atlantic Monthly’s archives and a breakdown of local and regional information. Another option is to go directly to the source and look at the State Department’s website. Here you can find daily press briefings and information about travel concerns. Also, be sure to check out the Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs tab, which will give you links to many of the government bureaus involved in political science.
One last good resource is this site, of course! Feel free to ask me questions in the comments or suggest a topic you’d like me to cover!