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DEPARTMENT OF POLITICS

Fall 2016 course descriptions

All Politics Department courses are open to all students who meet the prerequisites. For information on requirements for any Politics major or minor, please see Peyi Soyinka-Airewele, Chair of the Politics Department.

For the schedule of courses, click here

POLT 10100-01, 02  U.S. POLITICS GE:1 Self & Society, GE h: Historical Perspective, (ICC) - Humanities, Liberal Arts, (ICC) - Social Sciences, Social Sciences, Themes: Power and Justice, World of Systems, Identities, and Inquiry, Imagination and Innovation.

3 Credits

INSTRUCTOR:  Carlos Figueroa, Muller 319, Ext. 4-7381
ENROLLMENT:  30 per section
PREREQUISITES: None

COURSE DESCRIPTION:  This introductory course explores the development of the U.S. political system, the values it is based on, how it works, how politics and policy intersect within it, and its impact upon individuals and groups alike.  We engage US politics (especially in relation to the 2016 Presidential general election campaign season) through the notion of power while taking a two prong approach:  an American political development (APD) perspective that pays close attention to how institutions, ideas and policies emerge & evolve historically, and within particular social/political/economic contexts, and a Media perspective that takes old & new communication technologies seriously in how U.S. citizens engage with, and are informed by the evolving political & economic systems and broader global environment.  We explore the role religion and/or morality has played since the founding period and into 21st Century political life.  We also give special attention to the development of the federal national system, including the historical power struggles over nation-building and related national political identity formation.  In sum, through the notion of power we explore the historical development of U.S. politics, and how individuals & groups have participated in shaping/reshaping our complex/dynamic "representative democratic" and neoliberal capitalist system through old & new communication technologies.  Lastly, we put the key themes covered in class to work via a classroom Presidential Electoral Campaign Simulation during the second half of the semester.

COURSE FORMAT/STYLE:  Conversational/Discussion; group work; SKYPE sessions; guest speakers; films/documentaries; and Presidential campaign simulation activities (town hall meetings, Meet the Press session, political commercial(s), and candidate debates)

COURSE REQUIREMENTS & GRADING:  4 essay quizzes; 4 in-class group exercises; and simulation based writings (memos/articles/speeches)

POLT 12200-01, 02 Politics and Society LA SO SS TPJ TQSF

3 credits

INSTRUCTORr: Patricia Rodriguez

ENROLLMENT: 25

PREREQUISITES: none

COURSE DESCRITPTION: This politics introductory course explores the impact of social forces and societal dynamics on the politics of diverse countries, as well as the influence of politics and the state on society. We will examine how and to what extent political institutions, individual and collective political action, and historical circumstances are capable of shaping political and social developments in different countries and regions of the world. The key questions to be examined in the course are: are there different versions of democracy, why? why/when do democracies emerge but also breakdown? who has power, and why is state power often wielded in repressive manners in different types of political systems? what role do international actors play in reconstructing governments, and with what consequences internally and globally? are there resistances to this role of international actors, and why; what impact does citizen activism have in global and national political and economic issues, particularly conflict resolution, democratic rule, and climate change issues?

COURSE FORMAT/STYLE: lecture and discussion

COURSE REQUIREMENTS & GRADING: participation, papers, group project

POLT 12800-01, 02 INTRODUCTION TO INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS SS LA 1b, g; ICC Social Sciences; Theme: World of Systems; Theme: Power & Justice
3 credits
INSTRUCTOR: Chip Gagnon, Muller 324, Ext. 4-1103
ENROLLMENT: 25
PREREQUISITES: None
STUDENTS: Open to all.
COURSE DESCRIPTION: We examine and discuss issues of security ranging from security of the state to security of individuals. Issues include the future of war, terrorism, the global economy, nationalism, ethnic and religious conflict, and the role of the media in how we think about the international. We also study how different perspectives lead us to see different worlds, looking specifically at realism, liberalism, global humanism, and theories of identity. This course counts as a Comparative and International Studies course for the purposes of the Politics major, the Concentration in International Studies, and the International Politics minor.

COURSE FORMAT/STYLE: Lectures, discussions, films.
COURSE REQUIREMENTS & GRADING: Attendance and participation in class discussions; readings for each class; three take-home exam essays. 

POLT 14200-01, 02 IDEAS AND IDEOLOGIES SS LA 1a, 1b

(ICC) Humanities, Social Sciences, Power and Justice, World of Systems 

3 CREDITS

INSTRUCTOR: Kelly Dietz, Muller 323, Ext. 4-3581

ENROLLMENT: 28

PREREQUISITES: none

COURSE DESCRIPTION: What is your idea of the “good life” or a “perfect world”? How do you think we might achieve it, and why? Where do your ideas about the world and your own life come from? How do your individual beliefs relate to broader systems of thought we call ideologies? This course requires self-reflection on these questions as we explore ideological perspectives on political, social and economic life. Through readings, film, art, music and your own observations, the course focuses on key political ideas and the ideological debates over their meaning and practice. We examine concepts such as freedom, equality, democracy, human nature, security, order, authority, community and nation. We consider how these and other political ideas developed historically, why certain ideas endure, and why they remain important to understanding politics today. In doing so we also pay close attention to how political ideas reflect, reinforce, and challenge relations of power, especially in terms of class, race, ethnicity, gender and sexuality. The course encourages critical reflection on where your views about the world come from, and which ideas you take for granted. Encounters with views and theories different from our own help bring to light our unconscious assumptions and also what is distinctive about our political views. Ideological perspectives the course explores include liberalism and conservatism (and their “neo” variants), socialism, anarchism, and fascism.

COURSE FORMAT/STYLE: mostly discussion, occasional lecture

COURSE REQUIREMENTS & GRADING: active participation, weekly writing about course materials, midterm and final essays

POLT 14400-01, 02 Global Political Thought LA HU SS 1 h

3 credits

INSTRUCTOR: Evgenia Ilieva, 311 Muller, ext. 4-7092

ENROLLMENT: 25

PREREQUISITES: none

COURSE DESCRIPTION: Critical engagement with a range of themes and concepts integral to the development of western political thought: identity and difference, freedom, democracy, community, authority, domination, liberation, violence, power and knowledge. Our goal is to analyze how certain key texts in political theory have traveled, been translated, or appropriated across various national and geographical boundaries; to use these texts to help us ask a wide range of questions about ourselves and the world we share with others. More broadly, our aim is to appreciate the role of non-western thought within the western tradition and recognize the presence of the western ideas within non-western thought.

COURSE FORMAT/STYLE: Discussion

COURSE REQUIREMENTS & GRADING: Participation, short papers.

POLT 14500-01, 02 POLITICS OF IDENTITY; (ICC) - HU; LA; (ICC) - Social Sciences; Themes: Identities and Power and Justice
INSTRUCTOR: Asma Barlas

ENROLLMENT: 22 each; two sections

PREREQUISITES: None

COURSE DESCRIPTION: In this course, we will explore the relationship between racial identities as defined in the U.S. and the political-economy of people’s lives while also critically examining the concept of race itself. To this end, the syllabus is structured around a set of open-ended questions such as: is race “real;” how does it impact people’s life chances; what are the social and psychological implications of thinking in terms of binaries like self/other, black/ white, similarity/ difference; do sex/ gender influence racial attitudes; can one be a color-blind anti-racist; and do, or should, such questions matter to you?

COURSE FORMAT/STYLE: Discussion

COURSE REQUIREMENTS & GRADING: Two concept papers; three journals.

POLT 32300-01/CSCR 30700-01: RACE & COLONIALISM LA, SS
3 credits

INSTRUCTOR: Asma Barlas

ENROLLMENT: 22

PREREQUISITES: Two courses in the social sciences preferred.

COURSE DESCRIPTION: Europe’s colonization of Latin America, Africa, and Asia began in the 15th century and ended in the 20th, leaving behind a political and economic legacy of genocide, slavery and skewed patterns of capitalist “development.” Less visibly, it passed on Eurocentric conceptions of racial, sexual and cultural differences reflected in such binaries as self/other, black/ white, West/ non-West, and civilized/ barbaric. The course focuses on this less observable aspect of colonization for two reasons. First, it allows us to understand the intimate nature of colonialist violence and the psychic wounds it inflicted on both the colonized and the colonizer. Second, colonialist notions of alterity (otherness/ difference) continue to shape contemporary constructions of racial identities. The course, therefore, is not only about the past but also about its traces in the present. Three themes in particular will guide our engagement; the racial overtones and undertones of the colonial encounter, especially as embodied in the ideas of discovery, barbarism, and progress; the psychological dynamics of the relationship between the colonizers and the colonized; and the politics of oppression and liberation. 

This course counts as a Comparative and International Studies course for the purposes of the Politics major, the Concentration in International Studies, and the International Politics minor.

COURSE FORMAT/STYLE: Discussion

COURSE REQUIREMENTS & GRADING: Two concept papers; one presentation.

POLT 34003-01 ST: MILITARIZATION OF EVERYDAY LIFE

3 CREDITS

INSTRUCTOR: Kelly Dietz, Muller 323, Ext. 4-3581

ENROLLMENT: 20

PREREQUISITE:  Three courses in the social sciences.

COURSE DESCRIPTION: From fashion trends, Hollywood films and video games to drones, the DREAM Act, privatized militaries and overseas basing, this course examines the ways in which things, people and social relations become objects of militarization. We pay special attention to how and why this is embraced by some and resisted by others. The course takes a broad view of militarization as an everyday process in order to better understand our relationships to state power as individuals, citizens, and as members of local and global communities. Doing so also allows us to gain a richer understanding of the range of actors, relations and processes that constitute “international relations.” The course begins by looking at some of the central ways American culture and institutions are militarized. We then broaden our scope to explore how these typically taken-for-granted processes intersect with the militarization of relations globally. Throughout the course, we explore how and why militarization plays out differently for different people, particularly in terms of gender, class, race, sexuality and citizenship. We critically examine the processes that give rise to and sustain militarization—and the ways in which we are all involved in the militarization of everyday life. 

This course counts as a Comparative and International Studies course for the purposes of the Politics major, the Concentration in International Studies, and the International Politics minor.

COURSE FORMAT/STYLE: discussion

COURSE REQUIREMENTS & GRADING: active participation, weekly writing about course materials, one paper and a final take-home exam.

POLT 34012-01 Race and IR Theory LA, SS

3 credits

Instructor: Naeem Inayatullah

Enrollment: 23

Prerequisite: Three courses in Social Sciences or equivalent

COURSE DESCRIPTION: This course is centered in Robert Vitalis’ White World Order, Black Power Politics (Cornell University Press, 2016). Vitalis demonstrates how, from 1920 to 1960 or so, a core group of black professors at Howard University (including one woman) consistently wrote about how International Relations (IR, my field) expresses white supremacy. We explore three issues: (1) the writings of four Howard University Professors: Alain Locke, Ralph Bunche, Rayford Logan, and Merze Tate. These four attempted to revolutionize the field of IR by addressing its white supremacy, by pointing to external and internal imperialism as the core issue in IR, and by comparing and contrasting the colonial nature of the Third World and the oppression suffered by blacks in the U.S. (2) We will also reconnect the current internal strife suffered by black U.S.-ians (and others) with the colonial and neo-colonial exploitation of the Third World. This second theme will be taken up mainly from within the thought of the four mentioned theorists. And, (3) we will assess the imperial and colonial origins of the field of International Relations. The course highlights the overlap between inside and outside, domestic and international.

This course counts as a Comparative and International Studies course for the purposes of the Politics major, the Concentration in International Studies, and the International Politics minor.

COURSE FORMAT/STYLE: Discussion.

COURSE REQUIREMENTS & GRADING: Three essays, including a comprehensive final essay.

POLT 35004-01 Selected Topics in Political Theory: Continental Political Thought

3 credits

INSTRUCTOR: Evgenia Ilieva, 311 Muller, ext. 4-7092

ENROLLMENT: 20

PREREQUISITE: One course in the humanities or social sciences.

COURSE DESCRIPTION: This course introduces students to some of the most prominent theories of dialogue emerging from the continental tradition of political thought. Dialogue is a recurring theme in contemporary political and philosophical debates, and is central to an understanding of human communication as well as social, political, and cross-cultural interaction. Dialogue is frequently invoked as a solution to violent conflict and has been credited with reversing the nuclear arms race and ending the Cold War. Yet far from being the exclusive purview of politicians and statesmen, dialogue is also an everyday phenomenon that operates at all levels of life. Taking seriously the claim that existence itself is dialogical by its very nature, in this course we examine the historical and political context for the emergence of dialogue as a distinct response to the “clash of civilizations”; we consider the normative aspirations that underlie the dialogic model of interaction; and we also give voice to dialogue’s critics. Here are some of the questions we will consider: Does dialogue always lead to mutual understanding? What is the role of empathy in understanding? Do differences in power, language, and culture inhibit the possibility of genuine communication? What does “genuine communication” look like? If dialogue is possible only under conditions of equality, how should we proceed in a world where such equality is absent? We will seek answers to these questions by drawing on the work of the following thinkers: Buber, Bakhtin, J.J. Clarke, Gadamer, Heidegger, Lem, Levinas, Panikkar, and Todorov.

COURSE FORMAT/STYLE: Discussion

COURSE REQUIREMENTS & GRADING: Willingness to engage in close reading of some very interesting books; participation; four take-home essays.

POLT 40102-01 SEMINAR: Violent Ethnic Conflict CP/IR SS LA
3 CREDITS
INSTRUCTOR: Chip Gagnon, Muller 324, Ext. 4-1103
ENROLLMENT: 10
PREREQUISITE: Junior or Senior standing; and 3 courses in social sciences or equivalent, one of which must be Politics.

STUDENTS: Open to interested students who meet prerequisites
COURSE DESCRIPTION: To what extent is violence motivated by cultural or national identity? Starting with this question we explore the sources of violent conflicts described as ethnic. We’ll look at the political, military, and cultural origins of the nation-state and the role of culturally-defined violence in constituting state, national, and group boundaries. Cases will include Yugoslavia/Bosnia, Rwanda, the United States and others. 

This course counts as an international course for the Concentration and International Studies and the Minor in International Politics
COURSE FORMAT/STYLE: Discussion

COURSE REQUIREMENTS & GRADING: Attendance and active participation in Seminar; reaction papers for each reading; final research paper.

POLT 40107-01 Social Movements in Comparative Perspective LA SS

3 credits

INSTRUCTOR: Patricia Rodriguez

ENROLLMENT: 15

PREREQUISITE: three social science courses

COURSE DESCRIPTION: This seminar focuses on a topic of current relevance in the contemporary world: citizen activism and its impact. The course examines major debates surrounding the emergence, buildup, and impact of social movements struggling especially in the following issue areas/themes: social, racial and immigrant rights, LGBTQ & gender issues, student/youth activism, and indigenous, territorial and environmental rights in a variety of political contexts in Latin America, Africa, Asia, U.S. and the Middle East. By examining the goals, strategies, constraints, and consequences of activism in different parts of the world and at different moments/places in time, we can begin to understand what it means for different groups to exercise their rights and voice for alternative visions of social, economic, political, and cultural processes, and especially the personal and political challenges that ‘voice’ both confronts and poses. We will read from: We are an African People: Independent Education, Black Power, and the Radical Imagination (Oxford Press, 2016); and Rhythms of the Pachakuti: Indigenous Resistance and State Power in Bolivia (Duke Press, 2014).

This course counts as a Comparative and International Studies course for the purposes of the Politics major, the Concentration in International Studies, and the International Politics minor.

COURSE FORMAT/STYLE: Discussion

COURSE REQUIREMENTS & GRADING: participation, papers, group project

POLT 40200-01 SEM: African American Politics and Political Thought AP/PT Social Sciences/Liberal Arts

3 Credits

INSTRUCTOR:  Carlos Figueroa, Muller 319, Ext. 4-7381

ENROLLMENT:  10

PREREQUISITES:  Three courses in social sciences/humanities; junior/senior standing; Course can also satisfy a 300 level requirement

COURSE DESCRIPTION:  To what extent can the past help us make sense of the present, and future in Black American politics and broader U.S. politics?  What can we learn from the historical institutional legacies of black political regimes?   To what extent can lessons from past black political strategies and successful institutional arrangements help us understand and approach more effectively 21st century struggles for political freedom/equality, & social, racial, and economic justice?  This seminar engages these questions by exploring the intellectual roots (ideas/thinking) and material substance of politics among black Americans and the relation of black politics to the broader American political order.  The course has two objectives.  First, we will explore the strategic political discourses of black Americans in the late 19th century and through the early 21st century by examining central debates among black American intellectuals, activists and politicians with a focus on: 1) identifying issues considered and positions taken by such actors;  2) locating those debates in relation to American intellectual history and the changing political situation of the black population; 3) analyzing unifying principles that inform black American political thought & intellectual discourse; 4) examining the connections of social theory and political behavior among black Americans and, perhaps most important, 5) trying to establish links between debates in the past and the present political and ideological configuration in ways that can inform strategic thinking for the future.  Second, and closely related to the first objective, we will 1) explore the pertinent issues and social relations since 1865 as a way of helping us understand current intellectual dynamics in black American politics, and 2) develop criteria for evaluating political scientists’ and others’ (social media activists', pundits', etc.) claims regarding the status and characteristics of black American political activity.  A core presumption underlying the course’s organization is that black American politics originated as an autonomous enterprise only after the Civil War and the extension of citizenship rights to the freed-people.  It was only then that the general black population could participate in public civic action.  Therefore, the course concentrates on the period from Emancipation to the early 21st Century.  We will read books, articles, & essays (primary and secondary sources) from social & political historians, political scientists, African American novelists, literary critics, black poets, black activists, among others.

COURSE FORMAT/STYLE:  Discussion; author/activist SKYPE sessions; guest speakers; films/documentaries

COURSE REQUIREMENTS & GRADING:  close readings; participation; thematic reflective journaling; mid-term book review essay; student pairs lead discussion; 4 in-class paragraph analysis exercises; final seminar paper, and (if possible) present final paper research as part of a student conference on Black Politics/Political Thought in November/December