Politics in Context: About the Department

Department Chair: Prof. Daniel Wirls

Director of Graduate Studies: Prof. Roger Schoenman

Director of Undergraduate Studies: Prof. Vanita Seth

Department Manager: Hollie Clausnitzer

Politics in Context

The Politics Department at UC Santa Cruz is committed to empirical and theoretical research situated in history and culture.

Scholars in the department emphasize fine-grained, interdisciplinary, empirical and archival research. They also employ critical and interpretive approaches, all in the name of studying the politics of contention in its many forms. Their work includes the study of language and discourse, political economy and institutions, and political life at levels ranging from the local to the transnational.

The department is widely recognized for distinctive strengths within the traditional disciplinary subfields, and even more so for innovative research that engages broadly with humanistic and social science disciplines alike.


The study of politics aims to better understand the many faces of power in the many collective projects of human experience. Therefore scholars and students in the Department address a great variety of topics central to public life, such as democracy, freedom, justice, conflict, social movements, and institutional reforms.

Given the breadth of these concerns, the Politics Department is dedicated to studying politics within social-scientific and broader humanistic traditions of scholarly inquiry alike.


The Politics Department was among the inaugural Departments (then called Boards) at the founding of UC Santa Cruz in 1965. Since then, thousands of women and men have earned a degree in Politics at UCSC. The Department's graduate program admitted its first students in 2000, and conferred its first Ph.D. in 2006. Throughout its history the Department has maintained distinctive traditions and pursued novel approaches in the study of politics.

Degree Programs

The Politics Department offers an undergraduate major (B.A.) and minor in Politics, as well as a combined major in Politics / Latin American and Latino Studies. It is also the administrative home for the interdisciplinary Legal Studies Program and the UCDC program.

The Department has built a distinctive doctoral program in Politics, with about 29 currently active Grad Students in our program.

Graduates have taken faculty positions at the University of Toronto, the University of Texas, the University of Connecticut, and Colorado College, among other liberal arts colleges and research universities.


Merrill College Academic Building

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Mailing Address

Politics Department
Merrill Faculty Services
University of California, Santa Cruz
1156 High Street
Santa Cruz, CA 95064