Department of Political Science

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Previously named: Mental and Moral Philosophy and Political Economy; Philosophy and Politics; Economics and Politics; Economics and Political Science.

Established: 1970

History: From the time of the creation of the University of New Brunswick in 1859, political theory was studied in one form or another in the writings of classical theorists such as Plato and Cicero. At the turn of the twentieth century, the study of Political Science was a fairly new discipline that had been around for quite some time but was only just being qualified as an autonomous subject. In the earliest days of UNB, under the heading of English Literature, honours students could study Political Economy. While this subject encompasses a broad range of topics and is most notably the progenitor of the study of Economics, the study of politics was an integral part of the discipline. In 1872, under the heading of English Literature and Mental and Moral Philosophy, the study of Political Economy became integrated into the set curriculum for regular Bachelor of Arts students in one term of their senior year. In 1886, Political Economy was added to the name of the department, forming the Department of Mental and Moral Philosophy and Political Economy.

The study of politics as a specialized course did not start until 1894. Then, under the Department of Mental and Moral Philosophy and Political Economy, the study of Political Economy began to separate into Political Science and Economics respectively. However this distinction was only at the individual course level while the department kept its broader definition. Political Science and Economics continued to be difficult to distinguish between until the 1932-33 academic year when the Department of Economics and Politics was created, making this the first time Politics was recognized as an individual discipline at the departmental level. That year, more specific courses about political theory were offered. They included three elective courses offered to third and fourth year students as well as two honours courses. By 1943 the department had adjusted its name to the Department of Economics and Political Science—using the modern term in the department title for the first time—and offered eleven elective Politics courses to third and fourth year students. In 1946, Political Science was temporarily combined with Philosophy for one year, but this was only temporary and the original department of 'Economics and Political Science' was re-established for the 1947-48 academic year. Economics and Political Science remained joined until the 1970-71 academic year when they were each given their own independent chairs. There were thirty-nine class options given by the Department of Political Science in that first year, grewing slowly over subsequent years. In 1980, the department had grown to forty-five courses and ten years later, in 1990, the number had increased to sixty courses. This slow, incremental growth continued over the next two decades with the department reaching sixty-seven courses in 2000 and seventy-four in 2010. As of the 2012-2013 academic year, there were seventy-eight Political Science courses offered at UNB.

Physical location: Tilley Hall

Faculty: Arts

Notes: The year that a certain department was established can be a subjective figure. For the purpose of this wiki, the year that a department is considered first established is the first year it was listed in the academic calendar as an independent chair with no other affiliation, unless there is documentation to demonstrate otherwise.


  • UNB Calendars (UA RG 86), 1863-1875, 1880, 1886, 1933, 1943, 1946-1948, 1971, 1980, 1990, 2000, 2010, 2013.
  • UA Case 116.

--TonyGoss 26 February 2013 (ADT)
© UNB Archives & Special Collections, 2014