History and Development; young - growing - connected

The Department of Political Science of the University of Lucerne is the youngest Political Science Department in Switzerland. It was created in spring 2006 as Prof. Dr. Sandra Lavenex took the chair for International Relations and Global Governance. In the fall of 2006 its first courses were taught. Since then the department has undergone a continuing process of growth, expanding both the range of political science research and teaching opportunities and at the same time developing the department’s own particular profile.

In the fall semester of 2008, Prof. Dr. Joachim Blatter was invited to chair the Professorship for Political Science with a focus in Political Theory. Furthermore, in the fall semester of 2009, PD Dr. Andreas Balthasar – who since 2007 had taught Swiss politics at the department – was named titular professor. Since the spring semester of 2010, André Bächtiger has further strengthened the department as SNSF professor. His research and teaching focuses on the fields of deliberative democracy, comparative political science and methodology.

The department has grown not only thanks to new professorships and collaborators, but it has further broadened its offer through collaborative efforts with other universities both within and beyond Switzerland. The relatively high proportion of external lecturers has helped develop strong links to practitioners and with the Universities of Zurich, Berne and St. Gallen. Furthermore, since the fall semester 2008 renowned lecturers from the European University Institute (EUI) in Florence and the Social Science Research Center in Berlin have taught courses in Lucerne.

The first programme established at the department was a Bachelor in Political Science – which can be studied in Lucerne both as a major and as a minor. Furthermore, the Political Science department has become strongly involved in both Society and Communication Sciences (Gesellschafts- und Kommunikationswissenschaften) and Cultural Studies (Kulturwissenschaften) programmes. In the fall semester 2009, the Master programme World Society and Global Governance (Weltgesellschaft und Weltpolitik) was established under the aegis of the department. In addition, a dual-degree Master programme is currently being organised together with a Canadian university.

Academic Profile; international perspectives - excellency - fundamental and practice-related research

The main emphasis of political science research and teaching in Lucerne has to do with the globalisation, transnationalisation and Europeanization of politics. Particular attention is paid to the consequences of these interlinked phenomena in our understanding of the functioning of state and democracy. The interplay amongst different political areas is analysed through the lenses of glocalisation and multi-level governance. Political Science in Lucerne thus embraces a unique approach that is nowhere to be found in the German speaking part of Switzerland: 

  • Transformations of democracy within the context of multi-level systems, migration, and mediatisation
  • Governance theory – changes in political steering and integration  
  • The external effects of European integration towards third states and international organisations
  • International cooperation, global governance, and institutional complexity
  • International migration and citizenship
  • Emerging powers and the transformation of contemporary power structures in global trade governance
  • Deliberative reforms in the political system
  • Dialogues with citizens in direct democracy and the European Union

These main areas of research give the political science department not only its particular character, but also a solid reputation won through several awards and prizes as well as the granting of numerous projects financed by third parties.

Besides its focus in the abovementioned areas, the political science department emphasises praxis as well. Particular attention is provided by Prof. Dr. Andreas Balthasar in this area, who as one of the leading scholars in evaluation research in the German-speaking world, lectures and researches in evaluation practice.

Team of the Department of Political Science

(Photo taken in December 2016)