Politics & Values Program Frequent Asked Questions

(Answers written by real P&V students)

How long has P&V been around at GW?

P&V has been at GW since 1975, making it older than the University Honors Program.

What do P&V alumni go on to do?

P&V alumni have entered a variety of professions, from public service officers to attorneys to business officials to academia. P&V students get the opportunity to meet with several alumni each year as part of the program’s alumni speaker series, hearing academic, career, and life advice based on the alum’s experiences.

What do you read in P&V?

The better question here might be what DON'T you read in P&V? All joking aside, the course is highly reading-heavy and students should be prepared for a fair amount of outside work. The course begins with studies of past political philosophers, including John Locke and James Madison, and later focuses on academics such as justice theorist John Rawls, congressional scholar David Mayhew, and theorist of International Politics Kenneth Waltz. You also will read various chapters and articles from other works, all of which will be made available to you on Blackboard or through email.

What do you learn in P&V?

You will learn all of the basic Political Science information taught in the standard courses, but given the academic level of P&V’s students you will not do so in a textbook-focused way. The overall theme of the course examines the bridge between ethics and politics, and as a result the course will focus on the connection between the humanities and the world’s past and present political systems and processes. As the second half of the course counts for Writing in the Disciplines credits, you will learn to craft a Political Science paper and will undoubtedly improve your writing and analytical skills throughout the year.

I'm into politics. Why would I want this type of liberal arts education?

P&V will introduce you to a number of ways people analyze and study politics, as well as giving you opportunities to apply these theories to current political events through projects and class debates. This course will give you a new way to examine current events, and the chance to live in such close proximity with other politically-oriented students will provide an outlet to engage in debates and learn from other political buffs.

Why might P&V be better for me than other intro Political Science classes?

P&V is designed for exceptional students, and as such you will not be subjected to a standard introductory textbook method of learning. You will jump straight into actual philosophers and theorists instead of memorizing vocabulary words, and the smaller size of the course allows for much more discussion and debate than would a large lecture hall. As the course’s grading is contingent on papers rather than exams, students who prefer writing and aim to improve their skills will do well in the course. The course’s continuity also allows for students to develop relationships with one another and their professor, forming an invaluable resource for questions throughout the course and into the rest of their undergraduate careers.

What's the professor's classroom style?

Your Politics & Values class will be substantially different than the rest of your freshman year courses. With most introductory classes being a hundred students or more, it is impossible for professors to actively engage their students or for the students to ask questions to enhance their understanding of the material. Politics & Values is an exception to this rule, where there is free and engaging dialogue between the professor and student. Though lecture is necessary in tackling the advanced material covered, it is frequently broken up by discussions. And because of the relationship you build with your professor, class can be made more informal and actually something you enjoy going to.

When do you meet, and for how long?

Politics & Values meets for 3 days a week for approximately 6 hours a week. Monday and Wednesday evenings from 3:30-6:00 and an hour long Friday morning discussion (Friday classes are split into two sections of 16 students each). Don't let the long meeting times discourage you. The time flies by because of the class discussions, and a half hour break is given during the Monday and Wednesday classes. And because of the amount of time this class meets, it counts for 6 credit hours, meaning 2 classes in your schedule.

How is P&V going to impact my future, at GW and beyond?

You can take your experience in Politics and Values many directions. For one, the material you learn and the writing skills you develop will give you the base to tackle any political science course with ease. Maintaining close contact with your professor as you navigate the maze of college is easy and highly recommended. And, you will have the opportunity to network with alumni of the program who are in successful careers in all fields.

What special opportunities will P&V open up for me?

Politics & Values is one of the best ways to get a leg-up on your peers freshman year. You will be writing at the level of a Master's student by the end of your year, which will open up many doors. You will develop close friendships with some of the most intelligent and active students George Washington University has, which you will quickly see is vitally important in enhancing your college experience. And, being part of a prestigious and selective program is always a nice addition to your resume!

Do I really want to live with my classmates?

The short answer is: Yes, definitely. This is for two reasons. This course will be challenging and you will often times need to seek help from your classmates to understand the material. This is a lot easier when they live in the same room as you or just down the hall. Also, entering college is often times intimidating. You are living on your own, in a city you don't know, with people you don't know. By living with your classmates you automatically have a group of people to associate with and a way to ease into college.