UNC Asheville, the only liberal arts institution within the UNC system, straddles many subjects within one broad openness of mind and opportunity. The political science major is just one of the majors at UNCA that offers a wide range of overlapping subjects to study.
“By asking our students to think critically about political processes, institutions, biases, and behavior, I think political science fits into this idea of liberal arts,” said Ashley Moraguez, associate professor and co-chair from UNC Asheville Political Science. department.
Moraguez said this is their eighth year teaching at UNCA. The associate professor said before UNCA that they gained teaching experience as a PhD. student at Emory University.
“I hope students can gain skills, gain real-world experience, and learn important lessons about the world of politics through our degree,” Moraguez said.
Moraguez said their political science professors fundamentally changed the way they think about the political and social world.
“I hope to have at least a small fraction of the impact on my students that my undergraduate professors had on me,” the UNCA professor said.
Moraguez said working with students personally is the best part of the job.
“I am constantly impressed by the involvement and commitment of our students,” said Moraguez. “Many students are enrolled in full course loads and have demanding jobs outside of school, but they still find time to get involved.”
The co-chair said the department tries to provide many opportunities for students to get involved outside of the classroom through internships, service-learning courses and research assistant positions.
“In my mind, the goal of a liberal arts education is to cultivate critical thinkers who are active members of their communities and engage with society’s larger issues, questions, and ideas,” Moraguez said. .
Moraguez said liberal arts education often highlights the importance of being active citizens.
“I hope a liberal arts education will help develop the next generation of leaders who will create a more just and inclusive society,” the co-chair said.
UNCA provides jobs and leadership opportunities not only for students on campus, but also for alumni and other members of the Asheville community.
“I have the opportunity to feel that I have an impact and to use my knowledge of mass communication to bring something different,” said Alexis Douglas, student assistant in the political science department.
Douglas said their job is to help with long-term projects and goals, as well as collaborating with the sociology and anthropology departments.
“There are going to be a few voting-related events, some of which also happened last year,” Douglas said.
The Political Science major hosts drop-offs throughout the semesters to promote voting, engage with the university and surrounding community, and provide voting and registration information.
“There’s a lot of respect between faculty and students,” Douglas said. “The environment is welcoming and it seems like everyone has a mutual benefit.”
UNCA students studying Political Science require 34 major credit hours alongside other required general courses such as Humanities, Arts and Ideas, Second Language, Social Sciences, etc. UNCA requirements provide students with a variety of global perspectives and immersion topics.
“I think my view of the world has broadened since I studied political science, and I learned a lot of history and knowledge about subjects that I hadn’t been taught before,” said Ona Elkins, student at UNCA.
Elkins said that since his studies in political science, they have immersed themselves in new information regarding the Rwandan genocide, examples of systemic racism, the impacts of the US census and other international organizations. At the same time, Elkins said he learned new tools such as coding, using Excel and the R programming language.
“I think I have a much better understanding of the political processes in our world today and in the past, and more of the repercussions of those policies around the world,” Elkins said.
Elkins said that since his studies in political science, they have enriched their historical knowledge and their consumption of local and international news.
“I think the most fun part of studying political science was learning such a variety of skills within the major,” Elkins said.
The UNCA student said he got into political science because he loves history, government and wants to change the world.
“People in office make decisions on our behalf, and those decisions impact everything from our rights to law enforcement and passing to funding important things like education, infrastructure. and health care,” Elkins said. “I plan to encourage people to vote, take part in the census and become more active in their communities.”
Elkins said the political science major has many different subjects to study. The political science student said they focus more on international politics and human rights, and less on US politics.
“I think it’s a great way to engage with your community and learn about policies that impact our daily lives,” Elkins said.