Political Science Course Descriptions
Political Science 210
- Introduction to Political Behavior
Full course for one semester. This course reviews the basics of
political behavior, with a focus on rational choice and
institutional and quantitative approaches to political action. The
substantive area of interest is political participation.
Assignments include essays, analytical exercises, and examinations.
Lecture and conference.
Political Science 220
- Introduction to Comparative Politics
Full course for one semester. This course emphasizes exemplary comparative analyses rather than a comprehensive mapping of the world. Using the comparative method, we will explore various types of political and social institutions (states, bureaucracies, legislatures, federalism, parties), various approaches to their development, and elements (class, ethnicity, gender) involved in their operation and change. Conference. Not offered 2006-07.
Poilitical Science 230
- Introduction to Political Philosophy
Full course for one semester. This course takes up major ancient
and modern political thinkers, including Plato, Machiavelli, Locke,
Rousseau, and Marx, paying particular attention to changing notions
of freedom, obligation, justice, authority, rights, and legitimacy.
Political Science 240
- Introduction to International Politics
Full course for one semester. This course introduces the study of
international relations. It examines central questions in world
politics--realism, liberalism, and radicalism--and provides a
working knowledge of world affairs. Conference.
Political Science 325
- Politics of Developing Areas
Full course for one semester. The term "developing areas" encompasses a vast diversity of people, places, and politics. What defines "development" and "developing areas"? How useful are these categories for social scientists? This course is an introduction to the politics and political economies of Latin America, India, and sub-Saharan Africa. Throughout the semester we will follow and discuss current events in these regions. We will briefly assess the histories of these three areas, focusing in particular on the experiences of colonialism and decolonization. We will then study a range of theoretical frameworks for understanding the politics of developing areas, and apply those theoretical insights to topics such as: patterns of economic growth and social inequality; racism and other forms of identity politics; and imperialism, globalization and forms of class rule. Prerequisite: sophomore standing. Conference. Not offered 2006-07.
Political Science 330
- The U.S. Congress
Full course for one semester. This course examines the development and current state of America's preeminent political institution: the U.S. Congress. We examine what forces operate on Congress, internally and externally, and how it has changed and reformed itself in response. Readings focus on current political issues before Congress, elections, the committee system, and floor voting. Prerequisite: Political Science 210 or one upper-division course in economics, political science, or sociology. Conference.
Political Science 333
- Elections: American Style
Full course for one semester. Elections are fundamental to
democratic government, but there seem to be as many variations in
electoral institutions, party systems, and campaign styles as there
are democratic societies. In this course, we review the expansive
literature covering elections, electoral rules, and electoral
behavior in the United States. The course focuses on three main
areas. First, we review electoral institutions, including laws,
regulations, and the current state of electoral reforms. Second, we
will survey the campaign literature, likely focusing on the
presidency. Finally, we will examine individual vote choice--why
individuals choose to vote, how they integrate information from the
political environment, and how they cast their ballot. Students
should be comfortable with analytical and quantitative material,
since it comprises such a large portion of the literature in this
area. Prerequisites: Political Science 210 and one upper division
course in the social sciences. Conference.
Political Science 336
- Power and Money
Full course for one semester. What is money? How is it related to power, freedom, and social order? What economic, political, and psychological changes has the “money economy” brought about? This course investigates the nature of money on a theoretical level, a micro or individual level, and a macro (social and global) level. We will ask questions about what money represents and how it relates to value, exchange, and truth; how people must understand themselves in order for the money system to function; and how money affects the role of the state, the division of labor, the nature of property, power, and international finance. Course readings will span a broad range from classical to contemporary, and from political philosophy to basic economics. Conference. Not offered 2006-07.
Political Science 340
- Politics of Globalization
Full course for one semester. Use of the word “globalization” has become pervasive in both academic and policy debates. But what does it actually mean? How new is it? What are its political, economic, and cultural dimensions? Who and what propels it? What counter-forces does it unleash? What forms of cooperation and conflict does it generate? What are its implications for democracy and the nation-state? This course explores these questions through a critical review of competing accounts of the causes, consequences, and significance of globalization. Contemporary trends will be examined in historical and comparative perspective, focusing on both the industrialized and less industrialized regions of the world. Prerequisite: one upper-level course in political science or sociology, or consent of the instructor. Conference. Not offered 2006-07.
Political Science 344
Full course for one semester. In this course we will investigate comparatively the process of democratization, including transitions from authoritarian rule and the ongoing consolidation of democratic regimes. Using a number of different theoretical and empirical perspectives, we will ask the following questions: What competing conceptions of democracy are there, and how can they be measured? Why do we see the emergence of democracies in some times and places but not others? Can a regime be "democratized" from the outside, or is it a purely internal process? What roles do culture, the economy, and institutions such as parties, the electoral system, the media, the military, and courts play in this process? Why should regimes democratize—what's in it for them or for the rest of the world? In addressing these questions we will use empirical cases from around the world, including current day Iraq. Prerequisite: Political Science 220 or one upper division social science course or consent of the instructor. Conference. Not offered 2006-07.
Political Science 358
- Strategy, War, and Politics
This course examines contemporary problems of war and peace from a historical and theoretical perspective. What were the causes of war in the past and what can we learn from that experience? To what degree have advances in technology altered war? How has the frequency, intensity, and conduct of interstate and intrastate conflicts varied in the past? The course begins with a review of political, psychological, organizational, economic, and cultural theories of the causes and conduct of war, then uses these theories to examine the origins and character of both historical and contemporary conflicts, including the First and Second World Wars. It continues by examining the effects on conflict of major changes in the international system at the beginning and end of the Cold War. The course concludes by examining the major contemporary threats to national and international security that may be faced in the coming decade. Prerequisite: one 200-level political science course or consent of the instructor. Conference.
Political Science 360
- Approaches to Violence
Full course for one semester. This course examines torture as an example of state violence, exploring different ways in which state violence has been explained in the twentieth century. The course will focus on specific country studies, exemplary practice, and metaphors and representations that underlie certain analyses of torture. Different explanatory paradigms will be considered both as social theory—how to explain the phenomenon—as well as political philosophy: what ought to be done? How ought torture to be controlled? Other questions to be considered include: why does torture persist in the twentieth century? What is cultural about torture? What are the consequences of torture for the state, for the public, and for torture victims? Prerequisite: completion of two upper-division courses in one of political science, anthropology, sociology, or history, or consent of the instructor. Conference. Not offered 2006-07.
Political Science 362
- Torture and Democracy
Full course for one semester. This course examines the interrelationship between torture and democracy, examining the demand for torture and the supply of torture techniques. On the demand side, the course examines the different ways the demand for torture arises in democratic contexts and the explanations for this demand. On the supply side, the course examines what factors shape the transmission of torture techniques and whether democratic life exerts any independent effect on the kinds of techniques that are used. Central questions include: How does torture appear in democracies in the past and present? How do states organize and regulate torture? How do torture techniques spread? How does torture work? Prerequisite: completion of two upper division courses in one of political science, anthropology, sociology, or history, or consent of the instructor. Conference. Not offered 2006-07.
Political Science 369
- Iran and American Social Science
Full course for one semester. This course is not a history of modern Iran—rather it surveys how American social scientists have studied Iran in the context of comparative politics, the frameworks they have used, and how Iran has constantly emerged as a deviant case. Behind these encounters of social scientists with Iran lies the problem of Iranian exceptionalism (how Iran keeps offering exceptions to standard social scientific theses) and the nature of social scientific investigation (how can we conduct research in a way to test for our own blinders?). The course then uses the case of Iran to explore the nature of theory building, comparative method, and the nature of doing social science. Familiarity with modernization theory, structural functionalism, structuralism, class analysis, and comparative method is strongly recommended. Prerequisite: Political Science 210, 220 or 240; or Religion 155 or consent of the instructor. Conference. Not offered 2006-07.
Political Science 373
- Global Ecological Politics
Full course for one semester. What conceptual framework can we use to analyze ecological issues in today's world? Do we as human beings have responsibility toward the environment? What impact does globalization have on environment? How do political and economic development of societies influence and, how are they influenced by the changes in the environment? How do ecological issues affect conflict and cooperation between and within states? In an attempt to shed light on these questions, the course examines the dominant social paradigm and the ecological security paradigm and applies these frameworks to analyze demographic factors (population growth, migration, the ecology of mega-cities); natural resources (energy supply, world food problems); the problems of global commons (ozone layer depletion, global warming); the dangers of microorganisms (diseases, vanishing species); the role of technology; and the plausibility of sustainable development. Prerequisite: one upper division course in social sciences or history or consent of the instructor. Conference.
Political Science 377
- Public Opinion and Democracy
Full course for one semester. This course broadly examines the role of public opinion in modern American politics. Topics include the capacities of the mass public, sources and uses of political information, and public opinion on areas such as race, democratic norms and values, and trust in government. Much of the material is quantitative in nature. Prerequisites: one 200-level political science course and a course in statistics. Conference.
Political Science 384
- Rights in Comparative Perspective
Full course for one semester. This course develops a critical comparison of U.S. constitutional rights and international human rights. Our approach is multifaceted but it concentrates on the case study method central in traditional legal analysis. We compare the rights systems of the U.S. constitution and the rights system operative via the Universal Declaration and its covenants, in light of exemplary cases in other national jurisdictions. Reflection on the philosophical justification of rights is essential to the criticism of rights systems. The premise of our course is that such reflection can be fruitfully carried out by analyzing substantive issues of contemporary salience in the politics of rights, such as national self-determination, religious freedom, racial equality, gender justice, genocide and other crimes against humanity, economic development and social welfare. Prerequisite: one 200-level political science course, or one course philosophy, history or the social sciences, or consent of the instructor. Conference. Not offered 2006-07.
Political Science 385
- Transitional Justice
Full course for one semester. Post-authoritarian democracies inherit, among other things, a history of extensive human rights violations. What is the best way to prosecute such violations? Is this a matter for the world, in the form of an international criminal court, or one best left to a nation? And what policy would be best: trial, bureaucratic purges, general amnesty, or commissions of truth and reconciliation? This course will focus on post–World War II democracies in Asia, Europe, Latin America, and Africa. It will examine comparatively the strengths and weaknesses of these different policies. Prerequisite: two completed upper-division courses from one of the following: political science, sociology, anthropology, history, philosophy; or consent of the instructor. Conference. Not offered 2006-07.
Political Science 390
Full course for one semester. This course will examine Machiavelli's political works. Perhaps the overriding question about Machiavelli is what is relevant about Machiavelli to modern times. What, in other words, is Machiavelli's enduring significance as a political theorist? Perhaps the answer to this is ‘not much’, or perhaps it is ‘everything’. To answer this question, we will take up more discrete questions: what is Machiavelli's view of the place of politics in human endeavor? What were his intentions in writing as he did; that is, what is his method? And how are we to understand the central concepts of his work: glory, fortune, liberty, and state? Prerequisites: Political Science 230 or Humanities 220. Conference. Not offered 2006-07.
Political Science 391
- Augustine and Hobbes
Full course for one semester. This course examines themes that unite The City of God, Augustine's central work, and Hobbes' Leviathan. Topics to be covered include the account of human motivation and the explanation of conflict, the foundations of secular authority and its relationship to religious authority, the nature of heresy, and the place of human achievement in time and the nature of salvation. Both books will be read in their entirety. Prerequisite: Political Science 230. Conference.
Political Science 392
- Democratic Theory
Full course for one semester. This course compares and contrasts philosophical and rational choice accounts of democracy, looking at empirical evidence of how democracy functions, primarily in the United States. Our study will include the following questions: What is a democracy? What distinguishes democracy from other forms of government? Why should we prefer democracy? Is democracy a set of procedural rules or is it a substantive way of life? What limits are there to democratic governance in a complex society, and how do “rules of the game” make democracy work? Is there evidence that citizens can fulfill the expectations placed on them by democratic theory? We will look at classical writings that answer these questions, as well as contemporary analytical and empirical responses. Prerequisite: Political Science 210 or 230. Conference. Not offered 2006-07.
Political Science 393
- Liberalism and Its Critics
Full course for one semester. In this course we explore contemporary political theory through critical engagement with works of prominent twentieth century liberal thinkers and their critics. We address questions including: What makes a thinker liberal or not? What grounds different varieties of liberalism (religion, reason, power, pragmatics)? What is, or ought to be, the connection between liberal political philosophy, liberal justifications, and liberal institutions? We consider the topics of freedom, progress, knowledge, power, equality, law and institutions, the relationships between individual and community, democracy and liberalism, public and private, toleration and unity, difference and gender. We will focus on the positions in this literature regarding what political theory is and why and how we ought to do it. The focus will provide a critical lever for the evaluation of materials and will result in the writing of a major research project in political theory. Prerequisite: one 200-level political science course and Humanities 110 or consent of the instructor. Conference.
Political Science 395
- Theories of Power, Freedom, and Justice
Full course for one semester. This course surveys major reflections on three interrelated fundamental political concepts—power, freedom and justice. We make some reference for grounding to classical authors such as Plato, Aquinas, Hobbes, and Marx. Course materials are drawn primarily from twentieth-century social theory and contemporary political philosophy. We critically analyze the controversy over negative and positive freedom (MacCallum, Taylor, Flathman, Skinner), the literature on the multiple faces of power and their various forms of operation (Dahl, Lukes, Poulantzas, Foucault), and central issues in the theory of distributive justice (Rawls, Sen, G.A. Cohen, Dworkin, van Parijs). Prerequisite: one 200-level political science course or consent of the instructor. Conference. Not offered 2006-07.
Political Science 400
- The Idea of the State
Full course for one semester. This course is a study of the metaphysics of the state. The focus will be on three basic problems: the problem of consent—to what extent is the authority of the state independent of individual volitional acts?; the problem of toleration—is mutual indifference compatible with the ethical nature of the social order?; and the problem of democracy—does citizenship require a system of ruling and being ruled in turn? In each case, the fundamental claims of modern politics (Rawls, Raz, Taylor, Walzer) will be assessed in the light of emergent conceptions of human action (Bourdieu, Gadamer, Habermas, Oakeshott). Conference. Not offered 2006-07.
Political Science 403
- Hegel and Marx
Full course for one semester. This course examines the principal political writings of Hegel and Marx. Much emphasis will be placed on Hegel’s Philosophy of Right and its conceptual and historical foundations. Readings from Marx will include Critique of Hegel's Philosophy of Right, Paris Manuscripts, Theses on Feuerbach, German Ideology, Capital, and Critique of the Gotha Program. Contemporary ideas on the question of Hegel and Marx will be traced in various writings, including those of Habermas and Althusser. Conference. Not offered 2006-07.
Political Science 405
respect to a range of related concepts: taste, rhetoric, phronesis, interpretation, common sense, and the like. The initial texts are Kant's Critique of Judgment and Gadamer's Truth and Method. Particular issues emerging from these texts are treated variously in the writings of Arendt on politics, Dworkin and Fish on textual interpretation, Habermas on communication, and Oakeshott on conversation. All of these issues bear on the broad question of rationality, objectivity and human understanding. Conference.
Political Science 420
- The Demise of Liberalism
Full course for one semester. Recent events in American politics have called into question the post-World War II consensus on the proper role of government. Some argue that American citizens have an enduring suspicion and distrust of centralized government and large social institutions. By this account, the growth in American liberalism over the past 50 years was an anomaly. Others argue that the reaction against liberalism is just a short-term consequence of failed policies in the Great Society, Vietnam, and a hyper-democratic opening of the system in the 1970s. In this course, we will examine whether liberalism really is in decline, and if so, the possible reasons behind it. We will survey literatures from public opinion, public choice and economics, the presidency, and bureaucracy. This course is an advanced treatment of topics raised in Political Science 377 and 392. Prerequisite: junior or senior standing in the humanities or the social sciences and one upper division political science course or consent of the instructor. Conference. Not offered 2006-07.
Political Science 470
Full course for one year.
Political Science 481
- Independent Reading
One-half or full course for one semester. Prerequisite: junior or
senior standing and approval of instructor and division.
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