DEPARTMENT OF POLITICS

For the Spring 2017 schedule of courses, click here

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 Airewele-Soyinka, Politics Department, 314 Muller Faculty Center.

For courses not listed here please contact the professor directly.

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:  25 & 25

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 politics through the notion of power while taking a two prong approach:  an American political development (APD) perspective that pays close attention to how institutions and policies emerge historically &evolve over time and within particular contexts, and a Media perspective that takes 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.  And 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.  Thus, through the lens 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 Neo-liberal capitalist system through new communication technologies.

COURSE FORMAT/STYLE:  Lecture/discussion; group work; SKYPE sessions; guest speakers; films/documentaries

COURSE REQUIREMENTS & GRADING:  3 short quizzes; 2 group projects and 5-6 in-class exercises; final exam

POLT 10300-01, 02 U.S. and the World: The Politics of Empire

3 credits

GE 1: Self & Society, Liberal Arts, Social Sciences

INSTRUCTOR: Asma Barlas

ENROLLMENT: 22

PREREQUISITIES: None

COURSE DESCRIPTION: In this course, we will study the U.S.'s political history as an empire and what this means for democracy at home and human rights and justice abroad. Among the topics we will cover are differing views on the meaning of empire, the scope and impact of the U.S.'s power on the rest of the world, the political consensus in the U.S. that allows it to carry out wars and torture and the uprisings to which some U.S. policies have given rise globally. One of the points of such a focus is to help you call into question your own understanding of, and relationship to, the world as a U.S. citizen.

COURSE FORMAT/STYLE: This is a discussion based class in which students will be required to share their own perspectives on the texts. These include Richard Immerman, Empire for Liberty (2012); Lila Rajiva, The Language of Empire (2005), and others TBA.

COURSE REQUIREMENTS & GRADING: Regular attendance and participation in class and four essays/papers.

+ + + +

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

ICC Social Sciences; Theme: Power and Justice; Theme: Quest for Sustainable Future

3 credits

Instructor: Patricia Rodriguez

Enrollment: 25

Prerequisites: none

Course description: 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 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? What role do international actors play in reconstructing governments, and with what consequences internally and globally? 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

POLT 12800-01, 02 INTRODUCTION TO INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS SS LA 1b, g;
3 credits
ICC Social Sciences; Theme: World of Systems; Theme: Power & Justice
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 

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

3 CREDITS 

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

ENROLLMENT: 12 (Section 1) 23 (Section 2)

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 short lecture

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

POLT 14300-01 UNDERSTANDING CAPITALISM LA SS

3 credits

ICC Designation: Social Sciences; Theme: World of Systems; Theme: Power & Justice

INSTRUCTOR: Naeem Inayatullah

ENROLLMENT: 23 

COURSE DESCRIPTION: Exploration of the role of class conflict in the making of contemporary political and social life. Application of theoretical and historical materials to assess capitalism's complex relationship to such ideals as progress, freedom, equality, individuality, and justice. Understanding the personal, regional, national, and global scope of capitalism.

COURSE FORMAT/STYLE: willingness to accept alternative teaching methods.

COURSE REQUIREMENTS & GRADING: Plenty of reading, writing, and discussion

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 31900.01 ST: Faith and Race in U.S. Political Life GE h: Historical Perspective, (ICC) - Humanities, Liberal Arts, (ICC) - Social Sciences

3 Credits

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

ENROLLMENT:  15

PREREQUISITES:  Sophomore standing

COURSE DESCRIPTION:  This course explores the confluence of race and religion in American political and policy development.  Through close readings of primary and secondary sources within both an historical context & contemporary perspective, we examine scholarly political discourses and public national policy debates covering several interrelated themes:  religion, race and American political culture;  constitutional struggles over religious freedom/state power (separation of church/state & establishment clause);  religion and slavery/anti-slavery debates;  Christianity, Judaism and Islam in national identity formation & immigration policies;  white supremacy and black insurgency as political theology;  Latino, Asian, and African American religion & politics;  Quakers, race and U.S. citizenship;  the Confederate flag and southern religious practices;  redemption and Jim Crow;  religion and the Civil Rights Movement;  the political power of the Nation of Islam;  Mennonites and African Americans;  voting and religious affiliations;  religion and role of national institutions (Congress, President, and Courts); and megachurches and political power, among others.   
COURSE FORMAT/STYLE:  Student led discussions; in-class close reading of texts; SKYPE sessions; guest speakers; films/documentaries

COURSE REQUIREMENTS & GRADING:  5-6 in-class exercises; take home midterm; book review; final policy letter to elected official; final presentations

POLT 32700-01 Politics of Development LA SS

3 credits

INSTRUCTOR: Patricia Rodriguez

ENROLLMENT: 25

PREREQUISITES: Sophomore standing

COURSE DESCRIPTION: This course explores the political, social, cultural, and economic challenges of development in developing nations.  It covers a wide range of development approaches aimed at reducing poverty and inequality adopted in different developing countries, while looking closely at alternative ‘civil-society centered’ approaches, including sustainable and participatory development projects throughout Latin America, Asia, Africa and other areas, and their impacts. 

The course is designed with the objective of engaging students in a critical look at current approaches, thereby enhancing students’ research and analytic skills for courses and possible future work in international and national political, economic, and environmental issues. 

 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: The course will be strongly discussion-based. 

COURSE REQUIREMENTS & GRADING: papers, collaborative project, participation

POLT 33300-01: Understanding Islam

3 credits

INSTRUCTOR: Asma Barlas

ENROLLMENT: 22

PREREQUISITIES: Sophomore standing

COURSE DESCRIPTION: Learning about Islam poses a challenge for undergraduate students who have known it for almost half of their lives only through the lenses of “Islamic terrorism” and U.S. involvement in various wars in Muslim countries. Given this fact, part of the course will focus on the nature of the West’s encounters with Muslims at different points in history. In this context, since the most persistent Western depictions of Islam associate it with jihad/ holy war, terrorism and the oppression of women, we will deal with all these topics from two different perspectives: those of Islam’s scripture, the Qur’an, and those of the West, broadly speaking. Part of the course, however, focuses on Islam "itself," and it covers a broad range of topics ranging from the nature of God and mysticism to Muslim sexual politics.

COURSE FORMAT/STYLE: This is a discussion based class and students will be required to share their own perspectives on the texts we will be reading. These include, Asma Barlas, "Believing Women" in Islam (University of Texas, 2002); Khalid Abou El Fadl, The Place of Tolerance in Islam (Beacon, 2002); Mahmood Mamdani, Good Muslim, Bad Muslim (Three Leaves, 2005); Jalal-al-din Rumi, The Love Poems of Rumi (Harper, 2005), and Ziauddin Sardar, Introducing Islam (Totem, 2005).

 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 REQUIREMENTS & GRADING: Regular attendance and participation in class and four essays.

POLT 33700-01 Politics of Memory  SS LA

3 Credits

ICC DESIGNATION: None

INSTRUCTOR: Peyi Soyinka-Airewele

ENROLLMENT: 25

PREREQUISITES: Sophomore Standing

COURSE DESCRIPTION:  Exploration of the political and social dilemmas surrounding concepts such as collective memory, truth, justice, confession, forgiveness, healing and reconciliation in polarized socio-political spaces. How, for instance, will the political suppression or mobilization of memory vie for space with efforts to address the systematization of unconscionable crimes against humanity and create a just peace? What lessons do the experiences of South Africa, the USA, Chile, Burma, Bosnia, and Rwanda offer other fractured societies? Students engage memory theory and the narratives of victims, witnesses, beneficiaries and perpetrators in examining Czech writer Milan Kundera’s suggestion that “the struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting.”

 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: Lecture, discussion, film analysis and direct engagement.

COURSE REQUIREMENTS & GRADING: Essays, Presentations and engaged Research 

POLT 35004-01 Contemporary Political Theory

3 credits 

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

ENROLLMENT: 20 

PREREQUISITE: None. 

COURSE DESCRIPTION: This course explores the social and political dynamics of recognition – the process by which we come to an understanding of who we are. We begin by examining the foundations of the notion of recognition in Hegel’s master-slave dialectic, before proceeding to consider the ways in which a number of contemporary thinkers have responded to, reinvented, and challenged the Hegelian account of the emergence of self-consciousness. 

COURSE FORMAT/STYLE: Discussion

COURSE REQUIREMENTS & GRADING: Participation, four papers. 

Possible books:

Foucault, The Government of Self and Others

Butler, The Psychic Life of Power

Oliver, Witnessing: Beyond Recognition

Benjamin, The Bonds of Love 

Gray, On Understanding Violence Philosophically

Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks

POLT 35005 – 01 ST in Political Theory: Writing and Criticism LA SS

3 CREDITS

INSTRUCTOR: Naeem Inayatullah, Muller 325, Ext. 4-3028

ENROLLMENT: 23

COURSE DESCRIPTION: Grasping the technical, political, theoretical, and psychodynamic motivations for writing. Understanding the meaning, purpose, and practice of criticism. Students will evaluate their written work via collaborative and individual assessments of others’ work. Together, we will seek to write and criticize well as a means to living meaningfully.

COURSE FORMAT/STYLE: willingness to accept alternative teaching methods.

COURSE REQUIREMENTS & GRADING: Plenty of reading, writing, and discussion

POLT 40111-01 SEM: Theories of Exploitation LA SS

3 Credits

INSTRUCTOR: Naeem Inayatullah, Muller 325, Ext. 4-3028

ENROLLEMENT: 15

COURSE DESCRIPTION: Understanding the meaning of “exploitation” in social relations. Locating and specifying the relationship between race, class, gender, and capitalism.  Exploring the relationship between exploitation and Marx’s Labor Theory of Value.  Moving beyond ideas about “intersectionality.”  

 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.

CLASS FORMAT/STYLE: Discussion, Collective collaboration in exploring ideas, alternative and radical pedagogy.  

COURSE REQUIREMENTS AND GRADING: Three essays.  

POLT 40110-01 ST: Struggles of People and Place    

3 CREDITS

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

ENROLLMENT: 15

PREREQUISITE:  Junior/Senior status and at least one Politics course. 

COURSE DESCRIPTION: Political maps of the world today are remarkable for their neatness. Bold lines mark the division of continents into countries, with no overlap. Bold labels identify the spaces created by the lines, giving a name to both the place and the people. Another way to make this point is to note that everyone is organized and divided spatially; we all have a place on today’s political map, but apparently only one place—every person lives within one set of lines, under one name. This arrangement of people and place is taken for granted by most of us today, but to what extent is this a natural state of affairs? What forces—political, economic, social, cultural—gave rise to such a straightforward representation of the world’s people and territory? How did it come to be

taken for granted? What and who might this neatness obscure, or erase? Is the state system as we know it here to stay? Taking the contemporary political map as our analytical point of departure, this course explores the struggles over identity and territory that created (and sustain) this particular way of organizing people and place, and the struggles that emerged as a result. Struggles and disputes over territory and identity will be examined in their multiple forms, from military force to contested representations in popular culture. The course pays particular attention to competing narratives about people and place, and how power relations shape whose stories count in which contexts. Throughout the course we will reflect critically on how our own identities and claims to place relate to the topics under discussion. 

 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, midterm and final essay.