About the Department

Ellison Hall, UC Santa Barbara

For over half a century, the Department of Political Science at UC Santa Barbara has been home to top scholars engaged in cutting edge research. Housed in a world-class university widely known for its interdisciplinarity, the department is committed to rigorous quantitative and qualitative research, as well as to normative theory.

The Department also prides itself on first-rate teaching at the undergraduate and graduate levels.  Our research and teaching cover the traditional fields of International Relations, Comparative Politics, American Politics, Political Theory, and Research Methods. In collaboration with faculty in other departments and research centers on campus, we also emphasize two cross-cutting areas: Politics of Identity and Politics of the Environment.

Department Leadership
Chair: Kathleen Bruhn
Vice Chair: Cynthia Kaplan
Director of Graduate Studies: Amit Ahuja
Director of Graduate Admissions: Neil Narang

Main Office
Location: Ellison Hall 3834
Telephone: (805) 893-3432
Fax: (805) 893-3309
Office Hours: Monday – Friday,
8:00am – 12:00pm and 1:00-5:00 pm

Undergraduate Advising Office
Location: Ellison Hall 3838
Telephone: (805) 893-4192
Advising Hours: See Advising Page

Graduate Advising Office
Location: Ellison Hall 3835
Telephone: (805) 893-3626
Advising Hours: See Advising Page

Mailing Address
Department of Political Science, 9420
The University of California Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara, CA 93106-9420

Campus Mail Code: 9420
Campus Map


Message From the Chair

Kathleen Bruhn, Department ChairJune 2, 2020

This week we watched in consternation as yet another Black American died at the hands of the police. The undeniable evidence of George Floyd’s agony as he was slowly suffocated by a white police officer has exposed in a brutal way the systematic racism that often goes unnoticed by white America but never by Black America, because they live it daily. This is why, in every major city across the nation—and not just in Minneapolis—we have seen night after night of protests: to make sure that we all notice what is happening. Black Americans are more likely to die in confrontations with police, more likely to be pulled over for searches, more likely to die of COVID-19 because of unequal access to health care and jobs that often put them on the front lines, even, apparently, more likely to be tear gassed while protesting than white Americans. And Black Americans bear a disproportionate share of trying to make the rest of us notice. I must quote the statement of the chair of Black Studies at UCSB here: “It is exhausting for Black students, staff, and faculty to summon the resolve to stand, to smile, to do what is expected of us, while experiencing such deep-seated pain.”

Hopefully, we will do more than just notice. We must participate, in big ways and small, to make a change. Likely, we will disagree about how to effect change, or even what policy reforms need to be enacted. But there is one action within the reach of everyone. The violence that led to George Floyd’s death is rooted in everyday language and behavior, every time we get away with treating another human being as ‘less than’ because they are different, whether because of the color of their skin, or their gender, or their sexual orientation, or their disability. This takes work and it starts within each of us. These are the values that we aspire to uphold, as human beings and as political scientists.