Main Topic: Human Geography
Secondary Topic: Environment and Society
Overview: Political scientists study the origin, development, and operation of political systems. They research political ideas and analyze governments, policies, political trends, and related issues. Political scientists usually conduct research in one of the following areas: national politics, comparative politics, international relations, or political theory. Often, political scientists use qualitative methods in their research, gathering information from numerous sources. For example, they may use historical documents to analyze past government structures and policies. Political scientists also rely on quantitative methods to develop and research theories. For example, they may analyze voter registration data to identify voting patterns. Political scientists study a wide range of topics such as U.S. political parties, how political structures differ among countries, globalization, and the history of political thought.
Political scientists also work as policy analysts for organizations that have a stake in policy, such as government, labor unions, and political groups. They evaluate current policies and events using public opinion surveys, economic data, and election results. From these sources, they try to anticipate the effects of new policies. Political scientists often research the effects of government policies on a particular region or population, both domestically and internationally. As a result, they provide information and analysis that help in planning, developing, or carrying out policies. Some people with a political science background become postsecondary or high school teachers.
Political scientists must understand geography. Political processes are closely affected by and vary greatly by location. The people and physical geography of these different locations are diverse, and politics has very different outcomes as a result.
Geographers at work: Political geographer, economic geographer, cultural geographer, human geographers
Recommended College Courses: Political geography, economic geography, urban geography, cultural geography, human geography, physical geography
Skills: Understanding of politics, economics, finance, markets, human behavior, and especially how politics is influenced by geography (people and locations); critical thinking
Occupation Group: Life, Physical, and Social Sciences
Learn more about Political Scientist from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. Department of Labor: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/political-scientists.htm#tab-2
Written by Christopher Anderson