About Government

Our Program and Courses

F&M’s Department of Government has earned a reputation as one of the finest in the country. You may either major in government or create a joint major by combining the field with public health or public policy. You’ll study the processes by which societies make collective decisions, explore the theoretical and ethical foundations of political action, raise critical questions about the nature and use of power, and examine how societies and international systems attempt to address basic problems of liberty, equity and order. 

Your learning won’t take place solely in the classroom; you’ll have the opportunity to immerse yourself directly in the political environment through internships, civic activism, off-campus study, and service-learning. Through independent and collaborative learning, you’ll develop skills in language, economics, mathematics and philosophy — all while developing skills of sound research, rigorous analysis, and clear and effective argumentation.

By the time you graduate, you will: 

  • Effectively describe, critique and apply various theories for understanding political processes and outcomes in a domestic, comparative and international context.
  • Be able to critically connect political events with course material.
  • Think conceptually about politics and immerse yourself in your political environment through internships, civic activism, off-campus study and service-learning.

Curious what government classes are like? Take a look at our course catalog to see the depth and breadth of what’s available to you. 

Our Faculty and Staff

Len Brown

Adjunct Assistant Professor of Government

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David J Ciuk

Associate Professor of Government, Department Chair of Government

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Prithviraj Datta

Assistant Professor of Political Theory

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Susan Dicklitch-Nelson

Professor of Government

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Julie B Gemmell

Academic Department Coordinator

Government; Public Policy

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Erin L Hallenbeck

Project Manager, Research Assistant in the Government Department


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Jennifer D Kibbe

Professor of Government

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Biko Koenig

Associate Professor of Government & Public Policy

Public Policy

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Stephanie McNulty

The Honorable & Mrs. John C. Kunkel Professor of Government

Latin American Studies

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Stephen K Medvic

The Honorable and Mrs. John C. Kunkel Professor of Government

Public Policy

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Jen Meyer

Associate Professor of Government & Public Health, Program Chair of Public Health

Public Health; Public Policy

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Matthew M Schousen

Professor of Government

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Robert G Shaver

Adjunct Assistant Professor

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Hollie L Tripp

Assistant Professor of Public Health

Public Health

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Elspeth M Wilson

Assistant Professor of Government

Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies

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Wei-Ting Yen

Assistant Professor of Government

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Berwood A Yost

Director, Floyd Institute's Center for Opinion Research and Director, Floyd Institute for Public Policy Analysis and Senior Adjunct Research Instructor of Government

Government; Public Policy

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Learning Beyond the Classroom

The Department of Government has a long tradition of encouraging students’ intellectual growth through internships, networking, off-campus study, independent research and more. Our goal is to provide close supervision and mentoring to you in the classroom and around the world.

Research Opportunities

Do you want to dive into a U.S. Supreme Court case? Or compare American and international approaches to cybersecurity? You can at F&M. As you explore all that a government major has to offer, you’ll discover areas or ideas you want to further explore. The good news? You won’t have to wait until graduate school to launch your investigation.
Explore research at F&M


Internships allow you to explore fields and job functions of interest, building your portfolio while shaping and inspiring your path in both expected and unexpected ways. Recent government majors have secured internships with: 

  • Members of Congress
  • The White House
  • The Federal Reserve
  • Local and state governments
  • The U.S. Department of State
  • Television and print media outlets
  • Policy institutes

In November, current government students can also apply for a Sidney Wise Public Service Internship, which provides paid internships through a competitive selection process.
Explore internships at F&M

Off-Campus Study

At F&M, government majors have extraordinary opportunities to study in the U.S. and abroad. In recent years, students have completed internship programs at American University in Washington, D.C. and in London, and Bath, England; conducted research on migration and borders in southern Mexico; and taken politics and international relations courses in Argentina, Australia, Austria, Denmark, Ecuador, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, Netherlands, Peru, South Korea, Spain, and at various universities in the United Kingdom, including the prestigious University of St. Andrews. You, too, can make study abroad integral to your experiences and research.
Explore off-campus study at F&M

The Franklin & Marshall Global Barometers

The Franklin & Marshall Global Barometers comprises the F&M Global Barometer of Gay Rights (GBGR (R)), the Global Barometer of Transgender Rights (GBTR (TM)) and the F&M Global Barometers LGBTQI+ Perception Index (GBPI). Together, these barometers provide groundbreaking research on the state of LGBT+ human rights in 204 countries and territories. Founded in 2010 by government professor, Dr. Susan Dicklitch-Nelson, the barometers generate annual report cards detailing the state-and societal-level protection or persecution of LGBT+ minorities worldwide.

Learn more


Success Beyond F&M

By majoring in government at F&M, you’ll gain a holistic outlook that provides a strong background in critical thinking, analysis, writing, and public presentation — skills in high demand in any post-graduate pursuit.

Graduate School

Many of our majors choose to pursue graduate school after F&M, with a significant number enrolling in law school. Our graduates have completed their advanced degrees at the best universities, including:

  • Harvard University
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Yale University
  • Columbia University
  • Georgetown University
  • New York University
  • University of Pennsylvania
  • Villanova University
  • American University

Career Paths

Government graduates build an invaluable foundation for an eclectic range of careers. They find success in education, law, government, marketing, and more, and hold positions such as: 

  • Attorney
  • College Professor
  • Deputy Attorney General
  • Foreign Service Diplomat
  • Government Official
  • Journalist
  • Judge
  • Law Clerk
  • Marketing Manager
  • Nonprofit Executive
  • Publisher
  • Research Analyst
  • Social Worker

Alumni Spotlight

“Coming from a first-generation background and having parents that are immigrants, I’ve thought a lot about diplomacy and the impact of aid – specifically international aid.”

Munahil “Muna” Sultana ’24, a joint major in government and international studies, was named a recipient of the prestigious Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Graduate Fellowship Program. The fellowship is a competitive award that prepares outstanding young people for foreign service careers in the U.S. Department of State. “I heard about the Pickering Fellowship when I was a sophomore in high school. At the time, I was an Alexander Hamilton Scholar. I got paired with a mentor who was a Pickering Fellow,” Sultana said. “Coming from a first-generation background and having parents that are immigrants, I've thought a lot about diplomacy and the impact of aid – specifically international aid – and my parents' journey to come to the U.S. and their visa process. My mentor told me about the U.S. Foreign Service Internship Program. I remember being a sophomore in high school knowing that this is what I want to do. When I applied to F&M, I wrote about it in my application!” As a student at F&M, Sultana spent a semester in Amman, Jordan with the School of International Training (SIT) Jordan Geopolitics, International Relations and the Future of the Middle East program.

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Alumni Spotlight

F&M in Harrisburg Offers Firsthand Look at Careers in Government

Jennifer Leigh ’24, a government and history major, was one of several F&M students who gained hands-on experience in public affairs through internships in Harrisburg, Pa. The F&M in Harrisburg Practicum matched students like Leigh with internship opportunities to provide a deeper understanding of the complexities of government bureaucracy. “It’s one thing to understand the academic perspective and the theories about how the government is supposed to operate, and it’s another to see it firsthand,” said Stephen Medvic, F&M Honorable and Mrs. John C. Kunkel Professor of Government. Leigh, who interned in the Governor’s Office of Communications, said seeing staff who have transitioned from campaign to government work helped her understand the variety of career paths available in politics. “It opened my eyes to what’s possible,” Leigh said.

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Alumni Spotlight

“This is not your usual college class...they’ll be doing law-school-level work.”

As an F&M student, Arielle Chapnick ’14 performed legal research for asylum-seeking cases in Professor of Government Susan Dicklitch-Nelson’s Human Rights-Human Wrongs class. Now an immigration law attorney, Chapnick recently returned to the class where her path began to offer the same opportunity to today’s students. “This is something that most undergraduate students don’t get to do. I’m actually going to have students working on my cases just like I worked on cases when I was a Human Rights-Human Wrongs student,” Chapnick said. “I said to my boss, ‘Look, this is not your usual college class. They are going to be learning things that normally someone would learn in law school; they’ll be doing law-school-level work.’”

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Related Fields of Study

International Studies

International studies is an innovative program that combines off-campus study in a non-English-speaking location with on- and off-campus coursework. As a student of international studies at F&M, you will develop a global perspective and immerse yourself in the languages and cultures of non-English-speaking countries and regions.


F&M’s pre-law program is offered through our Legal Professions Advising as a supplement to your chosen major. By engaging as a pre-law student and utilizing the skills gained from your F&M liberal arts education, you’ll be distinctly prepared to navigate the legal profession and make a difference to the world around you.

Public Policy

Government, economy, and society are increasingly reliant upon one another for ensuring the well-being of a community. When you study public policy at F&M, you’ll explore the methods and institutions through which governments, economies, and societies work together to support, regulate, protect, and communicate with diverse communities.

Government at F&M in Action

July 12, 2024

Two Alumni Earn Prestigious Foreign Affairs Fellowship

Lam Tran ’21 and Munahil Sultana ’24 will begin their careers in global diplomacy this fall through the prestigious Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Graduate Fellowship Program.

June 12, 2024

Success Beyond F&M: ‘Within One Month, I Knew I Was Going to Be Successful’

Samantha “Sammi” Perry ’23 shares how F&M prepared her both academically and socially to thrive in her pursuit of a master’s degree in political communications. “I am thrilled to be doing so well in the master’s program due to my F&M experience, but also to my perseverance,” she said.

May 23, 2024

Ten Faculty Earn Tenure, Promotion

At its May meeting, the Board of Trustees unanimously endorsed the recommendations of the Professional Standards Committee and the Provost, granting four F&M faculty tenure and promotion to associate professor, while six others were promoted to full professor.