Politics is the commanding height of human societies. It carries particular significance in its function to integrate all the other social activities and make human social life possible. The curiosity and the study of politics have a long history, both in the East and West. The contemporary political studies are unique among social sciences in its pluralistic approaches and research agendas. Both humanistic and empirical research is represented in the discipline. Domestic and international political phenomena are investigated. The vast scope and pluralistic approach of political science speak volumes about its rich history and exciting nature. The discipline is an integral part of the social sciences, and its development a sign of democratic robustness of a society.
The Republic of China on Taiwan has a unique political history. Its rapid economic development in the past was embedded in a stable but authoritarian political framework and belligerent cross-Taiwan Strait relations. Democratization since the 1990’s brought about transformative changes, including a shifting national identity and reorientation of the country’s external policy. Democratic transition also undermined the autonomy of the state that made developmental policies possible in the past. The nation is now facing the daunting tasks of balancing among divergent national identities, consolidating a nascent democracy, growing the economy while limiting disparities and attending to the environment, and guarding national security while improving cross-Strait relations. How can the political system cope with such a heavy load of tasks? Here one finds the mission of Taiwan’s political scientists.