In the age of Obama, the Tea Party and global financial uncertainty, the Government Department is helping its students and the rest of the world make sense of the political changes under way.
Celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, the department has faculty members whose expertise ranges from Texas politics to political theory, from Latin American studies to the evolution of constitutions.
The department was established, appropriately enough, because of politics. University President Sidney Mezes wanted to rid the School of Political Science of what critics saw as a socialist influence. So, in 1910, he broke the school into three units, one of which was the Government Department.
Over the next century, Government taught more students than nearly any other department on campus. Since every undergraduate in Texas must learn about the Texas and American constitutions, virtually everyone who has passed through the Forty Acres has taken courses in government.
“For 100 years, its professors have helped students better understand the privileges and responsibilities of living in a democracy and become better informed and more civic-minded citizens,” says University of Texas President William Powers Jr. “As a former law school dean, I understand just how important that mission is to our society.”
The Government Department marked its anniversary with a series of centennial lectures during the 2010-11 academic year.