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 involved in their operation and change. Conference.

Political Science 230 - Introduction to Political Philosophy

Full course for one semester. This course takes up major ancient and modern political thinkers, paying particular attention to changing notions of freedom, obligation, justice, authority, rights, and legitimacy. Conference.

Political Science 240 - Introduction to International Politics

Full course for one semester. This course introduces the theoretical study of international relations. Students will learn to perform basic research and analysis through writing and thinking about events in world politics from different perspectives, including realism, liberalism, and feminism.  Readings are drawn from historic and contemporary scholars of international relations, cover a wide variety of issues, and are grouped together in conflicting pairs where possible. Assignments are a mixture of analysis, research, and experiential learning. Conference.

Political Science 315 - Latin American Politics

Full course for one semester.  This course provides an introduction to the political and economic issues confronting modern Latin America. How have Latin American countries pursued enduring goals such as stable government, democracy and human rights, and economic development and 'modernization'? How can we explain the variation in national experiences across the region? How should we account for the undercurrent of violence, from coups and revolutions to poverty and inequality, in Latin American history? Conference.

Political Science 316 - European-Atlantic Relations

Full course for one semester. This is a survey course on transatlantic relations. In addition to traditional foreign- and trade-policy questions, the course may cover such issues as regulatory and environmental cooperation. Discussions will be organized around institutions (U.S. government, the European Union, European states, transnational actors), policies (security, trade, environment, etc.), and regulatory policy. We will seek to understand the underlying mechanisms, structures, and conflicts in transatlantic relations. Prerequisite: one 200-level political science course, or consent of the instructor. Conference. Not offered 2008-09.

Political Science 317 - Latin American International Relations

Full course for one semester. This course integrates international relations theory with the history of political interactions in the Americas. How do Latin American countries engage one another, the United States, and the rest of the world? How do domestic changes such as democratization or economic crisis affect transnational flows of migrants, capital, and narcotics, and vice versa? To what extent do Latin American countries, or does the region as a whole, exhibit a unique style of foreign policymaking? Prerequisite: Political Science 220, 240 or consent of instructor. Conference.

Political Science 320 - Power

Full course for one semester. This course explores the concept of power, examining basic tools in any social scientific enterprise. The basic questions include: Is power a relationship, an attribute of an actor, or something else? Is it proper to say an actor has power if it is latent? Must power be exercised intentionally to be power? Is power necessarily conflictual or consensual? Should power be conceived as narrowly coercive, or more broadly as positive or productive? How these questions are answered has specific implications for how one conducts social inquiry. The emphasis will be on the practical application–how to study events differently depending on one's view of power, and how to know whether the claims made in each analysis are true or false? Prerequisite: Political Science 210, 220, 240, or any 300-level political science course under 386. Conference.

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. Not offered 2008-09.

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 makes up 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 345 - Comparative Environmental Politics

Full course for one semester. This course is designed to achieve three main objectives. It will introduce students to some important works and current scholarship in comparative environmental politics. Students will learn about comparative political methods, especially qualitative comparative inquiry.  Students will incorporate these insights into individual research projects.  Students will gain a good knowledge of the field of comparative environmental politics and policy, and some understanding of comparative politics in a theoretical and methodological sense. Prerequisite: Political Science 210 or 220, or consent of the instructor. Conference. Not offered 2008-09.

Political Science 348 - States and Markets

Full course for one semester. This political economy survey addresses the relationship between the state and the market—do states rule or serve markets? Following a “great books” approach, this includes a survey of important works on the topic from economics, political science, sociology, and history. The conceptual framework explored in this course includes transaction costs, property rights, corporate governance systems, power relationships, social networks, and cultural norms. Current phenomena such as the proliferation of private regulation, globalization, and the creation of new markets as regulatory instruments are also addressed. Prerequisite: one 200-level course in political science, or consent of the instructor.

Political Science 350 - Politics of Western Europe

Full course for one semester. This is a survey course on Western European politics. As such, attention given to any particular country in Europe must be limited. The goal of the course is to provide an understanding of European politics in general, with more detailed knowledge of an issue or area chosen for a comparative research paper. Particular emphasis will be placed on the often confusing competencies shared by the European Union and its member states. Understanding when Berlin, London, and Paris—or at other times, Brussels—have a say is key to making sense of politics within Europe and beyond. Prerequisite: Political Science 210 or 220, or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Political Science 352 - War, Rivalry and Conflict Resolution

Full course for one semester. This class bridges domestic and international affairs, exploring perspectives on conflict and cooperation ranging from social psychology to rational choice to policy studies. What makes a conflict intractable, and when are adversaries likely to negotiate? Does "ethnic" conflict really exist? Do conflicts involving states differ from those involving other types of groups and organizations? Are third-party interventions such as mediation and peacekeeping really effective?  Prerequisite: one of Political Science 240, 358, Psychology 121 and 122, History 301, 302, 303, 308, or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Political Science 356 - Critical Approaches to International Relations

Full course for one semester. This course will examine post-positivist approaches to understanding international politics. We will survey a variety of critical, interpretive, and post-structural concepts, and read and discuss key examples where they have been used to analyze international political practices. Areas of focus may include security discourses; state identity construction; governmentality and global governance; biopower and resistance; surveillance and panopticism; and gendered conceptions of power. We will draw mostly on internatioal relations texts, but we will also look at examples drawn from policy and popular media. The goal of the course is to enable students to apply interpretive methods to international politics case studies.  Prerequisite: Political Science 240 or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Political Science 358 - Strategy, War, and Politics

Full course for one semester. 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? What strategies do actors in the international system use to employ force, and how have they changed in the nuclear age? What are the current problems facing decision makers today? The course begins with a review of political, psychological, organizational, economic, and cultural theories of the causes of war, then uses these theories to examine the origins and character of both historical and contemporary conflicts, with an emphasis on the First World War and the Iraq War. It continues by examining the effects on conflict of the nuclear revolution. 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 course in political science, or one course from History 300-308, or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Political Science 359 - Weapons, Technology, and War

Full course for one semester. This course examines the historical evolution of the conduct of war from a theoretical and normative perspective. What elements of war have changed over time, and what core precepts remain the same? To what degree have advances in technology altered the causes, conduct, and outcomes of war? Why have some weapons been deemed cruel and inhumane at times and merciful at others? We will explore the interrelationships among military technology, society, politics, and war, asking how different forces have shaped warfare from the introduction of gunpowder to the present, focusing on how and why different weapons have been used (or prohibited) over time. Prerequisite: one 200-level course in political science, or one course from History 300-308, or consent of the instructor. Conference. Not offered 2008-09.

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 20th 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 20th 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, or sociology, or consent of the instructor. Conference.

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, or sociology, or consent of the instructor. Conference. Not offered 2008-09.

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 2008-09.

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. Not offered 2008-09.

Political Science 385 - Transitional Justice

Full course for one semester. Postauthoritarian 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 2008-09.

Political Science 387 - American Constitutional Democracy

Full course for one semester. The course examines the principles and practices of constitutional democracy in America. The aim is to set up a series of debates and written exercises that lead students into a critical engagement with some of the basic problems of free self-government generally, and democracy in America specifically. We begin with the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution: they announce the general standards by which, even now, we measure ourselves and other polities. These ideals, as expressed in historical debates, political theory, and Constitutional interpretation, provide the underlying framework linking together the seemingly diverse topics covered in this course. The Constitution and its interpretation serve as a focal point for our engagement with and assessment of these ideals and their implementation. Prerequisite: Humanities 110. Conference. Not offered 2008-09.

Political Science 388 - Environmental Political Theory

Full course for one semester. This course will examine the conceptual relationship of politics to the environment, nature, and ecology, and  how that relationship is understood in contemporary environmental writing. How have different views of nature enabled or constrained our understanding of politics, and vice versa? What kind of politics have environmentalist thinkers suggested is necessary for ecologically sustainable societies? Finally, what happens to politics and environment in a “post-nature” and “post-human” world? To answer these questions, we will read thinkers including Wendell Berry, Val Plumwood, Murrary Bookchin, William Cronon, Bruno Latour, Donna Haraway, and Luc Ferry.  Prerequisite: Political Science 230, 373 or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Political Science 390 - Machiavelli

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 2008-09.

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 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 394 - Sex, Gender and Political Theory

Full course for one semester. This course provides an intensive study of Western political thought through the lenses of sex, gender, and power. At least since Plato proposed abolishing the family in the name of justice, questions about sex, gender, power, and politics have been central to Western political thought. Does biological difference matter in political life? Why or why not? Should it? Can it not? What is “sex”? What is “gender”? Is either, or are both socially constructed or naturally existing? Can we change the way sex and/or gender figure into political life? Should we? Why or why not?  What is “political”? What is “power”? We shall engage these questions with thinkers from Plato to Simone de Beauvoir, Harvey Mansfield, and Judith Butler. Prerequisite: Humanities 110. Conference.

Political Science 395 - Sex, Gender, and Political Theory

Full course for one semester. This course surveys influential Western political theories of relationships among sex, gender, and power. At least since Plato proposed abolishing the family in the name of justice, questions about sex, gender, power, and politics have been central to Western political thought. Does biological difference matter in political life? Why and why not? Should it? Can it not? What is "sex"? What is "gender"? Are either (or both) socially constructed or naturally existing? Can we change the way sex and/or gender figure into political life? Should we? Why and why not? What is "political"? What is "power"? With thinkers from Plato to Simone de Beauvoir, Harvey Mansfield, and Judith Butler, we shall engage these questions. Prerequisites: one 200-level political science course and Humanities 110 or consent of the instructor. Conference.

Political Science 398 - Injustice

Full course for one semester. This course explores the remarkable statement made by the late political theorist Judith Shklar that “philosophy ignores evil” and fails to give “injustice its due.” What does this claim mean and why would it be true? If it is true, why does it happen, what are the consequences of failing to give injustice its due, and what would be required to give injustice its due? Lastly, are we even in a position today to give injustice its due? The course will first explore the classical argument in Saint Augustine, then review those late modern thinkers who were skeptical of the classical answer, but sought to give injustice its due. These include Lon Fuller, Judith Shklar, Hannah Arendt, Susan Niemann, Barrington Moore Jr., Isaiah Berlin, Donald Livingstone, and Susan Brison. Prerequisites: Political Science 230 or two completed upper-division courses in one of political science, anthropology, sociology, economics, or history, or consent of the instructor. Conference. Not offered 2008-09.

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 2008-09.

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.

Political Science 405 - Judgment

Full course for one semester. How are particulars subsumed under, or otherwise connected with, universals? This problem of judgment is treated with 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. Not offered 2008-09.

Political Science 411 - Max Weber

Full course for one semester. This course examines the contribution of Max Weber to issues in the social sciences, philosophy of social science, and political theory. The course focuses on Weber’s account of the field of social scientific inquiry and the methods appropriate to it, as well as the concepts he used to understand empirical political phenomena (e.g. rationalization, authority). Emphasis will be on his political sociology, and Economy and Society will be read in its entirety. As with all great thinkers, the question is what is alive and what is antiquated in Weber’s thought for us today? Prerequisites: completion of two upper-division courses in one of political science, anthropology, sociology, economics, or history, or consent of the instructor. Conference. Not offered 2008-09.

Political Science 415 - Special Topics in Political Science

One-half or full course for one semester. This seminar covers unique topics requiring highly specialized knowledge or advanced research skills. In 2008-09, this course will introduce students to research design and method, assisting students in shaping and framing their own independent projects. Prerequisites: completion of two upper-division courses in one of political science, anthropology, sociology, economics, or history, or consent of the instructor. 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 hyperdemocratic 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 2008-09.

Political Science 422 - Nuclear Politics

Full course for one semester. This course examines contemporary international nuclear politics, covering a number of historical and recent suspected nuclear weapons programs. It focuses on interactions between these potential proliferators and U.S. policies, looking at how different states were deterred from developing nuclear programs or compelled to accelerate such programs under the influence of actions taken by the U.S., the Security Council, and other members of the international community. Topics covered will include the effects of military threats and promises, economic benefits and sanctions, and symbolic gestures and diplomatic insults on nuclear outcomes. Additionally, the role of faulty intelligence, clandestine proliferation networks, and nuclear assistance from third parties on both U.S. strategies and proliferators' programs will be explored. Conference. Not offered 2008-09.

Political Science 431 - Water Governance

Full course for one semester. Sharing water resources among different entities and users posesformidable governance challenges. The course deals with governing freshand sea waters, and places Oregon water issues in a broadercomparative context. Using the Klamath River as a current watergovernance issue, course participants collaboratively explore thisOregon case in a research seminar setting, including some fieldwork. On a theoretical level, this course examines governing with andwithout the involvement of government. Prerequisite: Political Science 210 or 220, Economics 351 or 352, or instructorapproval. Conference.

Political Science 470 - Thesis

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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