Department of Political Science and International Relations
The Department of Political Science and International Relations (PSIR) was founded in 2011 with just three faculty members growing to its current strength of 17 full-time faculty coming from a diversity of countries: Canada, Ireland, Kazakhstan, Macedonia, Nepal, Russia, South Korea, and the United States. The faculty serve 20 graduate students and about 300 undergraduate majors, while also teaching students from across the School of Sciences and Humanities and the University.

In our research and teaching, we examine political processes in different human polities and ask the following questions:
  • Where is the locus of power at the national and international levels?
  • How are contemporary societies politically organized?
  • How do individuals formulate their political preferences?
  • What drives international cooperation and/or conflicts?

Our Department is committed to dynamic growth, which is evident in the highly productive faculty with diverse rich interests, world-class learning opportunities at both graduate and undergraduate levels, and highly active student life. We also contribute to interdisciplinary graduate programs at Nazarbayev University: MA in Eurasian Studies and PhD in Eurasian Studies by teaching courses and supervising students' research. The courses offered by the department range from introductory courses to specialized seminars in all the three subfields of political science:
  • Comparative Politics
  • International Relations
  • Political philosophy

Our Department has a working strategic partnership with the Political Science Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. This partnership enhances research opportunities and assures the delivery of excellent political science education. Our first cohort of students graduated in June 2015 and our graduate majors have gone on to Ph.D. programs in the US, MA programs in the UK, the Czech Republic, Singapore, Switzerland, South Korea, and the US, and employment in Kazakhstan and abroad. Our first cohort of graduate students graduated in 2016. Several of them have been admitted to the PhD programs in prestigious universities in the Netherlands, the UK and the US. Our alumni work and study in the fields of public policy, journalism, public health, education, administration and management, and more.

Our faculty members are active researchers. We regularly hold political science seminar (the PSIR Faculty Lecture Series) that provides opportunities for faculty, invited scholars and graduate students to present their work in progress. The department works closely with the School of Sciences and Humanities to provide research opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students, including involving students in the Faculty’s ongoing research projects, sponsoring research presentations, and helping to fund conference travel.
PSIR undergraduate and graduate students are active across the University. Undergraduate political science students run a very active Association of Political Science Students (APSS) that organizes seminars on current events, guest lectures, and political games on a regular basis throughout the school year.
Contact information:
Department of Political Science and International Relations,
Nazarbayev University
53 Kabanbai batyr ave.
Nur-Sultan (Astana), Kazakhstan
Caress Schenk, Department Chair, Associate Professor
Hélène Thibault, Associate Professor, Director of Graduate Program