About Us

What Is Political Science?

The name Political Science might seem a little vague.  If you hear it, you probably think of lawyers, elected office holders, or international diplomats.  And political science is all of that, but it’s also much more.  Political Science is understanding the world around you, and how people cooperate to govern the world.  Political Science is having the knowledge and skills to be a leader – in your workplace, your community, and the world.  

Political Science is a unique field of study because of the important combination of skills you develop:

  • Critical thinking
  • Information literacy
  • Public speaking
  • Data literacy
  • Creative problem solving
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Clear and concise writing
  • Ethics
  • Collaboration

Learning Political Science

As a political science major, the world is your laboratory.  What starts in the classroom emerges into the real world.  You don’t just take classes, you experience everyday politics and participate in real-time.  The political science curriculum includes high-impact elements like simulations, service learning projects, internships, and a variety of other hands-on opportunities. 

Professional Contributions by Political Science Faculty: Research and Service

Making us stronger teachers, we are engaged scholars in our fields.  We need to be engaged with our discipline in order to bring the debates, methods, and trends of political science research into the classroom for our students.  Our scholarship engages us on the important public issues that made us become professors in the first place.  It also brings prominence to the department as our contributions are recognized in diverse areas.  Further, it helps to make the world a better place through service provided to local and global communities.

Who We Are

  • Dr. Paige Tan’s research focuses on political parties, democracy, and authoritarianism targeting Indonesia and the wider Asian region. In 2021, research she conducted on twenty years of Indonesia’s democratization was published in an edited volume by the Kyoto Review of Southeast Asia. Also, in 2021, she served as an Indonesia country expert for the global Varieties of Democracy research project. Dr. Tan teaches Comparative Politics and International Relations.  She covers the regions of Africa, Asia, and the Middle East in the department.  She teaches thematic courses on terrorism, dictatorship, ethics, development, and Model UN.  Dr. Tan also teaches the department’s careers course along with supervising internships. Dr. Tan serves as Model UN advisor and oversees the department’s annual Poli Sci Days showcase.  She speaks regularly in the local community, recently to the Virginia Tech Great Decisions/Lifelong Learning community on China and Africa (2021) and China and Latin America (2020).  Dr. Tan serves as a board member of the Southern Regional Model United Nations (2017-2021).
  • Dr. Tay Keong Tan is Director of International Studies and Leadership Studies, and a Professor of Political Science. He teaches the introductory and capstone courses in International Studies and in Leadership Studies, as well as the Political Science capstone seminar. His research interests are on sustainable development and anti-corruption and has recently published five books in the area of global sustainability and corruption. Dr. Tan headed public and nonprofit organizations in Singapore, Israel and the United States, and have worked in development projects in more than twenty countries around the world. He is a member of the United Nations’ Working Groups on Sustainable Mindset, Anti-Poverty, and Anti-Corruption. He has a Master's degree and a doctorate in Public Policy from Harvard University.
  • Dr. Daniel Reed's research focuses on parties and interest groups, elections, and election and campaign finance law.  His most recent research examines the historical development of ballot laws and voting technology and its effects on voter mobilization, third parties, and voter turnout over time.  Understanding the past can help us predict how dramatic changes in election laws might influence electoral processes in the future.
  • Dr. Chapman Rackaway’s work on the Trump presidency has produced The Unorthodox Presidency of Donald J. Trump, published in 2021 by the University Press of Kansas. 
  • Dr. Allyson Yankle has forthcoming work on her judicial ethics project, which examines the relationship between the current processes for enforcing state judicial conduct codes and citizens' desires for accountability and independence.