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Arkansas State University

The Importance of Ethics in Political Science Studies

Imagine you are a new graduate with a degree in political science. However, instead of going straight on to earn a post-graduate degree, you decide to gain real-world experience as a legislative aide for a member of Congress. As a public servant, you will adhere to the federal principles of ethical conduct and must “place loyalty to the Constitution, the laws and ethical principles above private gain.”

Ethics in political science studies is essential, preparing students for careers involving public trust. For example, the online Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Political Science program from Arkansas State University (A-State) provides students with a thorough understanding of the foundations of our legal system and how it relates to the political world.

A-State’s fully online program gives graduates a competitive edge — whether preparing for law school or seeking careers in the public and private sectors.

What Is the Meaning of Ethics?

Merriam-Webster defines ethics as “the principles of conduct governing an individual or a group.” In philosophy, as the Legal Information Institute explains, “ethics defines what is good for the individual and for society and establishes the nature of duties that people owe themselves and one another.”

A-State’s online B.A. in Political Science program prepares graduates to grapple with complex issues related to ethics, politics and law.

How Does Ethics Relate to Politics and Law?

Any day’s news offers opportunities to explore real-world connections between ethics, politics and law. In fact, the non-partisan organization National Conference of State Legislatures provides a monthly summary of Ethics in the News. From impeachments, abuse of power and questionable online conduct to relationships between lobbyists and lawmakers, each article explores ethics in politics and law.

Campaigns and elections offer additional opportunities to examine and debate ethical dilemmas in politics and law. Consider the following questions related to negative political advertising:

  • Is it ethical? Is it legal?
  • Is it okay as long as the damaging information about an opponent is true?
  • What if the information is knowingly false?
  • How do First Amendment rights of free speech apply in this case, if at all?

Campaign financing, including “dark money,” is another hot topic during election season. From an ethical standpoint, campaign finance laws intend to promote transparency and allow voters to assess whether elected officials may be influenced by their donors.

Federal law governs who can and cannot contribute to a federal candidate. Campaigns are not allowed, for example, to accept donations from corporate treasury funds, labor organizations or national banks. Campaigns are allowed, however, to accept contributions from political action committees (PACs) such as those established by corporations, labor organizations and national banks.

There is much more to campaign finance law, but campaigns and elections clearly raise important legal and ethical considerations, especially concerning public trust.

A-State’s online B.A. in Political Science program includes coursework that develops an understanding of civil rights and liberties, the politics and processes of the federal judiciary, the role of fair and free elections and more in courses such as American Constitutional Law and Civil Liberties, Rights, and the Constitution.

A-State’s program also prepares graduates for law school. As a lawyer, areas of law students might pursue include:

  • Criminal
  • Corporate
  • Elder
  • Civil rights
  • Employment and labor
  • Environmental and natural resources
  • Immigration
  • Intellectual
  • Real estate
  • Sports and entertainment
  • International

Earning a B.A. in political science can also prepare you for several professional careers, including the following:

  • Intelligence analyst
  • City or county administrator
  • Regional planner
  • Paralegal
  • Mediator
    Whatever your career aspirations, earning a B.A. in political science will provide you with the knowledge and industry-relevant skills to take part in restoring public trust in political leadership and democratic systems.

Learn more about A-State’s online B.A. in Political Science program.

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