The Department came into being in the year 1981 consequent on the bifurcation of the till then composite Department of History and Politics. The goal, initially, was to strengthen the discipline by seeking to increase the number of Colleges/University Departments, which could take up teaching and research in Political Science. It may be noted here that Political Science at that time remained a highly marginalized discipline in the higher education set-up of Tamil Nadu, with only four colleges in the state offering it at the U.G level (viz.,) besides the two University Departments at Madras and Madurai. The situation today is marginally improved, with six colleges and three University Departments teaching the subject.
Professor. S. Bhaskaran, a Fulbright Scholar, who was instrumental in the setting up of the Department, was a visionary and envisaged the Department’s development into a center of excellence. The initial vision centered around an emphasis on teaching and research in Political Science gradually grew more concrete and more relevant to contemporary purpose in mid 1990’s when the Department envisaged ‘Nation-Building and ‘National Integration’ as the thrust areas of research and development. Running through these academic goals there has been an emphasis on character and skill building of the students as a central concern of all the activities of the Department.
Addressing the Goals and Objectives
Moving towards the goals the department had set for itself, a regional workshop on “Research Methodology in Political Science” was organized in 1982, and in the following year a workshop on the same theme was organized at the national level. Further, in an attempt to bring about greater interaction among social science departments in the University to facilitate greater exchange of ideas, the department formed a Social Science Research Council (SSRC) wherein faculty and research scholars from different departments were represented. The Council organized fortnightly meetings at which staff members and research scholars would make their presentations on significant social science topics and discuss them. The forum helped researchers hone their research skills and keep themselves up to date in their knowledge. The Council also published, for a few years, a journal entitled Social Science Digest (SSD) - all without any outside financial support.
Cuddalore district, (earlier South Arcot) is one of the most backward districts of the State. Keeping this in mind, in an effort to ensure greater access to higher education for students belonging to depressed classes in villages in the district, the department started a five-year integrated programme in Political Science in 1994-95 probably for the first time in India. The programme elicited enthusiastic response. Students learnt, apart from Political Science, such subjects as Logic, basics of Computer Science, Statistics, Economics, Sociology and Psychology.
The course content was so designed as to prepare the students for competing in Civil Service Examinations. Besides, the Faculty also conducted regular Civil Service coaching classes. Further, extension programme was made an integral part of the curriculum with a view to imparting social consciousness in the students’ minds. Tutorials aimed at the personality development of students in addition to regular counseling classes were also organized.
In an effort to direct research in the department along lines that would make significant contribution to both national development and knowledge advancement, the department established a Centre for Integration Studies in 1995.The Centre aims at concretizing the on-going research effort in the field of integration besides providing a forum to Faculty and Research Fellows to channelise and publish their work, organize seminars and symposia.
The Centre has organized several seminars and Symposia and helped to focus on research at M.Phil., Ph.D. levels on aspects related to nation-building in India. An ICSSR funded major research project on “Integration and Stability: Patterns of Political Development in India” was completed in 1997. It also brings out a journal, the Journal of Integration Studies (JIS), an annual publication. The Centre has been taking efforts to obtain funding for its activities. As of now, it enjoys no financial support from any source. Once such support is available, its activities will be expanded and are likely to produce greater impact.
A proposal submitted by the department to the UGC for the creation of a Centre for Gandhian Studies within the Department bore fruit, and the Centre was set up at the end of 1999. The funding by the UGC was for five years (1999-2004), and over the next four years, the department organized several seminars on Gandhian themes, training programmes for Village Panchayat – Presidents from two districts (over 350 underwent training), youth leadership camps in several parts of the state (more than 10 camps were organized), built up exhaustive stock of books on Gandhi and Gandhism, and promoted M.Phil., and Ph.D., research in these areas. Besides, entrepreneurial training was given to youth, and essay and Quiz competitions were organized for school children and College students.
Significantly in the year 2006 a new Post- Graduate Programme on M.A., (Public Administration) was started in the department and subsequently M.Phil., (2008) and Ph.D., (2009) programmes were also started in the department .
A chair in memory of Perarignar Anna, “Anna Memorial Chair” was established in the department in the year 2012 with the financial support from the university. This Chair will organize National Seminars, conduct workshops, training programmes, and competitions among students and invite experts to deliver series of lectures on political philosophy of C.N.Annadurai and Tamil Nadu politics.
Presently, Dr.A.Thanikodi is the Head of the Department of Political Science and Public Administration. The faculty consists of 2 Associate Professors and 12 Assistant Professors. Each faculty member has different areas of specialization.