The program in political science is designed to provide a comprehensive introduction to the discipline, viewed as a set of specific strategies for understanding political life. These strategies—conceptual, historical, structural, institutional, and behavioral—are approached in the light of their theoretical presuppositions and in terms of their respective research approaches. The emphasis is less on learning the facts of politics than on being able to recognize, evaluate, and use intelligently the intellectual tools of the discipline.
Specifically, the curriculum is designed to provide:
- A basic understanding of the modes of inquiry in political science: normative, empirical, and comparative analysis. The department's distribution requirements and the structure of the introductory course sequence reflect a strong and continuing commitment to this goal. All majors are required to take three of the four basic introductory courses: Introduction to Political Behavior, Comparative Politics, Political Philosophy, and International Politics.
- Research opportunities. Students are encouraged to explore quantitative and qualitative techniques of data collection and analysis. These efforts may be facilitated by the college’s excellent computer resources and by our access to the vast data archives of the Inter-University Consortium for Social and Political Research. The department’s public policy workshop (PPW) has meeting facilities and workstations and is available to students and faculty members for research.
- Opportunities for applied research.
- Specialized knowledge in one or more particular facets of politics. This is provided by the department’s upper-level course offerings and by the senior thesis experience.
Students have found that Reed’s political science program prepares them for careers in academia, government, law, nonprofit and nongovernmental organizations, and other fields. Further information is available in Reed’s career services office.
Requirements for the Major
- Three of the four introductory courses, two of which must be completed before taking the junior qualifying examination. The third may be in progress at that time. a. Introduction to Political Behavior (210). b. Introduction to Comparative Politics (220). c. Introduction to Political Philosophy (230).d. Introduction to International Politics (240).
- Economics 201.
- Statistics: one of Mathematics 141, Economics 311 or 312, Sociology 311, or Psychology 348. Students are strongly encouraged to complete this requirement in their sophomore year or first semester of their junior year.
- Political Science 470.
- Four additional units in political science.
- Junior qualifying examination. Students will write a junior literature review and research design in a regular course in place of a portion of the other assignments for that course. Course choice is left to the student, but this must be completed during the junior year in a 300- or 400-level course. Specific requirements are stated on the department website, academic.reed.edu/poli_sci/resources.html.
All courses in political science are offered as conferences. Some incorporate occasional lectures or a seminar format. Political Science 470 (thesis) may include one or more fall semester conferences made up of all political science thesis students and faculty members, depending upon enrollments.
Political Science 210 - Introduction to Political BehaviorFull course for one semester. A gateway course for the study of political science, this course covers 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 PoliticsFull 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 PhilosophyFull 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 PoliticsFull 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 PoliticsFull 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. Not offered 2009-10.
Political Science 316 - European-Atlantic RelationsFull 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 2009-10.
Political Science 317 - Latin American International RelationsFull 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. Not offered 2009-10.
Political Science 320 - PowerFull 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. Not offered 2009-10.
Political Science 328 - Comparative Political EconomyFull course for one semester. This course will provide the intellectual tools to understand economic policy, social welfare systems, business regulation, and economic competitiveness in the developed world. Using a range of theoretical approaches, we will study the creation and evolution of market institutions from the 19th century to the present. The course will focus on the industrialized world, but much of the material will help students understand the political economy of developing countries and postsocialist transition. In order to survey alternate ways of defining and interpreting capitalism, the first section of the course will introduce students to ways of thinking about states and markets beginning with European thinkers of the 19th century. The second section of the course will examine the varieties of political economy that developed in response to the Great Depression and the Second World War. Finally, we will examine the global wave of economic liberalization that began in the 1980s, and its consequences in the contemporary world. Conference.
Political Science 330 - The U.S. CongressFull 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 2009-10.
Political Science 333 - Elections: American StyleFull 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. Not offered 2009-10.
Political Science 341 - Markets as Social InstitutionsFull course for one semester. This course will examine the market as a social institution using the intellectual frameworks of economics, political science, and sociology. The task of interpreting modern politics, the material basis of modern society, or even our own lives is impossible without understanding what markets are and how they affect human behavior and social organization. This course will begin by critically examining modern microeconomic theory and the intellectual history that produced it. We will then consider the ways in which markets distribute power and structure political conflict in modern democracies. Finally, we will use research from sociology and anthropology to examine how markets shape society at a more fundamental level, examining consumerism, social inequality, and education to understand how our identity, our status, and our values are mediated through markets. Prerequisite: Economics 201 strongly recommended. Conference.
Political Science 345 - Comparative Environmental PoliticsFull 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 2009-10.
Political Science 348 - States and MarketsFull 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. Conference. Not offered 2009-10.
Political Science 350 - Politics of Western EuropeFull 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. Not offered 2009-10.
Political Science 352 - War, Rivalry and Conflict ResolutionFull course for one semester. This course 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. Not offered 2009-10.
Political Science 356 - Critical Approaches to International RelationsFull course for one semester. This course will examine postpositivist approaches to understanding international politics. We will survey a variety of critical, interpretive, and poststructural 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. Not offered 2009-10.
Political Science 358 - Strategy, War, and PoliticsFull 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, economic, technological, organizational, cultural, and psychological theories of the causes of war, using 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, one course from History 300-308, or consent of the instructor. Conference.
Political Science 359 - Weapons, Technology, and WarFull 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? What advances the technology of war, and how do these advances alter the conduct and outcomes of war? Why have some weapons been deemed cruel and inhumane at times and merciful at others? Who fights, and who suffers? We will explore the interrelationships among military technology, society, politics, and war, asking how different forces have shaped warfare from antiquity to the present. Prerequisite: one 200-level course in political science, one course from History 300-308, or consent of the instructor. Conference.
Political Science 360 - Approaches to ViolenceFull 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. Not offered 2009-10.
Political Science 369 - Iran and American Social ScienceFull 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 2009-10.
Political Science 373 - Global Ecological PoliticsFull 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 megacities); 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. Not offered 2009-10.
Political Science 377 - Public Opinion and DemocracyFull 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 2009-10.
Political Science 381 - Constitutional Law and Judicial PoliticsFull course for one semester. This course will focus on the nature of judicial, legislative, and executive institutional power in the American political system, with special reference to the developments since 9/11 and its influence. This includes the rise of executive power both domestic and international during the Bush administration (Article II), the limits and potential of Congressional power in meeting the economic crisis (Article I), and the changing nature of the Supreme Court as the constitutional “umpire” of federal policy and action in terms of the liberal/conservative dimension (Article III). Prerequisite: Political Science 210 or 230, or consent of the instructor. Conference.
Political Science 387 - American Constitutional DemocracyFull course for one semester. This 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 2009-10.
Political Science 388 - Environmental Political TheoryFull 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, Murray Bookchin, William Cronon, Bruno Latour, Donna Haraway, and Luc Ferry. Prerequisite: Political Science 230, 373 or consent of the instructor. Conference. Not offered 2009-10.
Political Science 389 - Sovereignty and ModernityFull course for one semester. This course will examine the idea of “the people” and its relationship to theories of sovereignty in some key texts of modern European political theory, from Hobbes to the 19th-century anarchists Bakunin and Proudhon. Some of the key questions we will consider with regard to these thinkers: who legitimates political authority and how? How do these thinkers draw upon the traditions of natural law and the social contract theory to conceptualize the polity? What is the relationship between the social, the political, and the economic for these authors? Where does law come from and can “the people” be represented? Finally, how have political thinkers imagined social cooperation outside of the state? Prerequisite: a political theory course (Political Science 230, 386-415) or consent of the instructor.
Political Science 390 - MachiavelliFull 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 or consent of the instructor. Conference. Not offered 2009-10.
Political Science 391 - Augustine and HobbesFull 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 or consent of the instructor. Conference. Not offered 2009-10.
Political Science 393 - Liberalism and Its CriticsFull course for one semester. In this course we explore contemporary political theory through critical engagement with works of prominent 20th-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. Not offered 2009-10.
Political Science 394 - Sex, Gender, and Political TheoryFull 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. Not offered 2009-10.
Political Science 395 - Political Theory and EmpireFull course for one semester. While a significant number of major figures in the European political theory canon have written about empire, until recently most scholars have ignored these texts or treated them as exceptions to the authors’ primary work. In this class we will seek to reintegrate the imperial writings of Burke, de Tocqueville, Mill, and Marx into an analysis of their political theories. We will also read the works of contemporary scholars writing on the historical relationship between political theory and empire (Mehta, Pitts, Muthu) as well as the work of some 20th-century anticolonial writers (Fanon, Cesaire) and postcolonial theorists (Said, Spivak.) General themes include the tension between liberal equality and colonial hierarchy, the role of history in the colonial imagination, and the idea of progress. Prerequisite: a political theory course (Political Science 230, 386-415) or consent of the instructor.
Political Science 398 - InjusticeFull 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 2009-10.
Political Science 400 - The Idea of the StateFull 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 2009-10.
Political Science 403 - Hegel and MarxFull 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 2009-10.
Political Science 405 - JudgmentFull 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.
Political Science 411 - Max WeberFull 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? Prerequisite: completion of two upper-division courses in one of political science, anthropology, sociology, economics, or history, or consent of the instructor. Conference. Not offered 2009-10.
Political Science 415 - Special Topics in Political Science
One-half course for one semester. This course focuses on preparing students for political science research, particularly the junior qualifying examination and subsequent thesis. Topics include research design, research methodology, shaping and framing a research question, locating data, and presenting results. All areas of inquiry in political science will be given ample coverage. While focused on students who are writing their junior qualifying examination in political science, the course may be helpful to students in the first semester of their thesis research. Prerequisite: junior or senior status in political science or consent of instructor. Conference.
What is Political Freedom?
Full course for one semester. Are you politically free when you are left alone to do as you please? Or, does political freedom involve participating in collective governance? What roles do consent, reason, and the institutions we inhabit play in determining whether we are free? No human being can survive, much less flourish on her own: in what sense, then, does it even make sense to speak of political freedom? Do technologies that appear to give us more control over our biology and chemistry make us more or less politically free? In this course, we will consider these questions with the aid of classic and contemporary thinkers from the Western political tradition. We will ground our theoretical investigation in periodic consideration of concrete political problems and debates. Prerequisite: one course in political theory, junior standing, or consent of the instructor. Conference.