The Commune

Being a graduate student at Northwestern should be an exciting and fulfilling experience.  The Department of Political Science has a very active student body, and many events, activities, and programs to enhance the student experience. 

The Commune is the formal organization of Political Science graduate students, started in 1968. The Commune is led by two elected co-chairs, and their board has recently expanded to include a secretary and a treasurer.

The Commune's reputation is well known throughout Northwestern; in 2013, the Commune was nominated for two Northwestern University awards: a Community Enrichment Award and an Outstanding Graduate Student Organization Award. Although they didn't win, these nominations are a testament to the hard work and involvement of the department's graduate students in our community!

The Commune is a very active each academic year, and continues to work on many long-term projects to improve graduate student life in Political Science.  Listed here is only a small sample of what the Commune plans and provides for the Department. 

Student-intitiated proposals have resulted in several new programs, processes, and perks.  These include:

  • More than twenty-one lockers for graduate students are available for use.
  • Per suggestion by several students at a Fall Commune meeting, a workshop for international students on academia in the United States.
  • Coffee and bottled water available for graduate students
  • New furniture and new technology in graduate student lounge spaces

Numerous professional development events, with support from a grant from TGS:

  • Faculty led "How to give a job talk" Talk + up to twelve practice job talks given by current graduate students
  • Dissertation Writing Workshop
  • Teaching Philosophy and Portfolio Workshop (in conjunction with the Teaching Committee)
  • Applying for and Presenting at Conferences (including the construction of a conferences database:
  • Applying for Outside Fellowships
  • Teaching Sensitive Subjects Panel Discussion (in conjunction with the Teaching Committee and MENA Grad)
  • The TA/Professor Relationship
  • Responsible Conduct of Research Workshop
  • Avoiding Burnout in Graduate School

Under the heading of gender and the discipline, the Commune organized:

  • Gender Gap in Political Science Mini-Conference
  • Family & Academia Conversation

A growing series of organizational and social events:

  • Quarterly Commune meetings, open to all graduate students, with an open agenda circulated in advance
  • Prospective Students' Weekend
  • Fall Welcome Party
  • Post-qualifying exam drinks for third-years
  • Standing Friday happy hour at the Celtic Knot
  • Red Line bar crawl
  • Intarmural sports

The diversity initiative which helped our department make important strides in implementing a package of proposals intended to increase the presence of under-represented minorities, including:

  • A commitment to building a Race & Politics program, including the launch of a speaker series under that heading.
  • Admitting and supporting URM graduate students across subfields
  • Subscription to the APSA Minority Student Recruitment Program
  • Encouraging faculty to apply for the SROP summer program
  • A commitment to engaging with the TGS Director of Diversity and Inclusion about graduate students participation in URM recruitment activities at TGS level.

The Commune leaders can be reached at, and welcome input and suggestions from all members of the community!