Political Science and Philosophy

Political Science and Philosophy

434 Cherry Hall
5030 Cherry Street
(816) 235-1326

Mailing Address
University of Missouri-Kansas City
Department of Political Science and Philosophy
434 Cherry Hall
5030 Cherry Street
Kansas City, MO 64110-2499

Department Chair:
Greg Vonnahme

Administrative Assistant:
Cynthia Beard

Professors Emeriti:
Robert Evanson, George D. Gale, Jr., Robert E. Gamer, Dale A. Neuman, Max Skidmore, Edward Walter   

Bruce Bubacz, Clancy Martin, Beth Vonnahme

Associate Professors:
​Rebecca Best, Debra Leiter, Mona Lyne, Greg Vonnahme, Benjamin Woodson

Assistant Professor:
E. Gwendolyn Nally

Associate Teaching Professor:
Adrian Switzer

Adjunct Faculty:
Nancy Harper, David Sprick

Department Description

Our department is home to nationally and internationally recognized faculty who engage in a variety of fields of inquiry within Political Science and Philosophy. Our faculty publishes in leading academic outlets, frequently conducts externally funded research, and has received numerous teaching awards. We are committed to the growth and success of our undergraduate students in their academic careers and professional objectives, including law school, graduate school, and employment in the public, private, and non-profit sectors.

We offer two undergraduate programs. Both programs provide students with opportunities to complete advanced coursework, engage in undergraduate research, and gain field experience through internships.

  • The Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science equips students with the analytic, writing, and presentation skills to acquire, create and convey knowledge of the political and social environment. The program includes coursework covering American political and legal systems, comparative politics, international relations, and political theory.
  • The Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy offers a program of study that develops critical and analytical skills, acquaints students with the history of philosophy, and applies philosophy to issues of living. Students who major in other disciplines can gain special insight into their majors with a philosophy minor. There is a focused minor on bioethics, targeted at students interested in the medical and health care professions.

Career Implications of the Degrees

The Political Science degree serves as professional preparation for students with interests in the following areas:

  • Law school and legal careers
  • Electoral politics
  • Government service
  • Not-for-profit and public-interest organizations
  • Business and finance
  • Teaching and research
  • Public and private political research and consulting services
  • Electronic and print journalism
  • International careers and non-governmental organizations

The study of philosophy will prepare you for the challenges of this evolving world. The most important traits that will serve you well in the twenty-first century are flexibility and discipline, the capacity to quickly assess and understand new environments, to recognize opportunities and the ability to deploy tools that will guarantee success. Studying philosophy provides you with the ability to read complex materials with care and comprehension, to write with clarity and economy, and to express your ideas forcefully and succinctly. If you are interested in honing the skills that will allow you to succeed in any endeavor requiring focused thought, if you recognize that the best way to prepare for the challenging world of our knowledge-based economy is to hone your mind and sharpen your intellect, then philosophy is the major for you.

Faculty Mentors

The department has two faculty mentors, one for Political Science and one for Philosophy. Faculty mentors are available to assist majors/minors with questions about the programs, research and internship opportunities, and post-graduation objectives.

Department Activities

Honor Societies

The Political Science and Philosophy Department is committed to having a strong student community. We have two active honors societies, Pi Sigma Alpha and Phi Sigma Tau. Events include everything from inviting guest speakers, movie nights, reading/discussion groups (both with and without faculty members) to socializing. Students are highly encouraged to participate in departmental activities.

Internships and Study Abroad

The department has an active internship program. Credit is given for successful completion of internship programs approved by the department. Further information regarding internship opportunities and requirements can be found at http://cas.umkc.edu/politicalscience/internships.asp.

UMKC has a large study abroad program, and the department strongly encourages students to participate in approved programs. Credit toward the degree can be earned for approved courses and competitive scholarships are available. For more information see http://info.umkc.edu/international/.

Undergraduate Research
Students are encouraged to participate in faculty research and/or to develop their own research project in conjunction with the undergraduate research program, UMKC SEARCH and SUROP (http://www.umkc.edu/searchsite/). Faculty invitation is required to assist with faculty research and course credit is available. Students who wish to develop their own research project should select a faculty mentor and develop a proposal in conjunction with the mentor.  Successful proposals can receive up to $1250 to support student independent research through SEARCH and SUROP.

Departmental Scholarships

The department awards scholarships each year to outstanding sophomores and juniors.

Political Science students are eligible for the Ruth L. Gant Memorial Scholarship, the Sallie Millard and Cornelius Roach, Sr. Scholarship, the Dan Bishop Scholarship in Public Policy, Delia Wong Stephens Scholarship, the Pat Gray Memorial Scholarship, and the David N. Atkinson Scholarship in Political Science. These scholarships can provide from $500 to $4000 to exceptional students.

Philosophy students are eligible for the Dr. George Gale Honorary Scholarship in Philosophy, the Donald R. Nicholas Undergraduate Philosophy Scholarship, and the Selene Scholarship in Philosophy

Students are also eligible for unit-wide scholarships. Continuing students should apply by March 1st through academic works. https://umkc.academicworks.com