The proposition that politics is the "comprehensive science", as claimed by Aristotle, provokes debate at Bowdoin as elsewhere. Some argue that it is not a science, others that it is not comprehensive. Still others look with jaundiced eye on anything that smacks of politics. Yet the basis for the claims and counterclaims both rest on the pervasiveness of matters political throughout society; on the perennial quest of human beings for the discovery and application of a common set of purposes regarding their common life; and on the multiplicity of skills needed to explore and understand such matters. Generations of students have found the study of politics a fascinating endeavor for these very reasons.
The study of politics in the Department of Government and Legal Studies at Bowdoin has traditionally provided a liberal arts background in government for careers in teaching, public service, journalism, business and law.