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DEPARTMENT OF POLITICS

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.

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POLT 10100-01, 02 U.S. POLITICS LA SS 1 h;  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: Alex Moon, Muller 308, Ext. 4-1258

ENROLLMENT: 90

PREREQUISITES: None

COURSE DESCRIPTION: This course has three main purposes. In ascending order of

importance, it seeks to familiarize students with the role of voters, interest groups, the

media, and parties in the American political system. We will examine the dynamics of

American political institutions and (some of) the origins of (some of) the current political

cleavages in the U.S.; it will examine the gap between the ideals and practices of American

Politics.

COURSE FORMAT/STYLE: Lecture/discussion

POLT 10100-03, 04 U.S. POLITICS LA SS 1 h;  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:  C. Figueroa, Muller 319, Ext. 4-7381

ENROLLMENT:  30 each 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 U.S. politics through the notion of power from two perspectives: 

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 also explore the role religion and/or morality has played since the founding of the U.S. polity and into 21st Century social, political and economic life.

Last, we focus on the historical power struggles over nation-building and related political identity formation within the context of the U.S. dynamic representative and neo-liberal democratic capitalist system.

COURSE FORMAT/STYLE:  Lecture/Discussion; guest speakers; Skype/Zoom sessions; films/documentaries

COURSE REQUIREMENTS & GRADING: Policy analysis paper; 6 in-class critical thinking exercises; group exercise; field trip

POLT 12200- 01, 02 POLITICS AND SOCIETY LA SO SS TPJ TQSF 

3 credits; MWF 1pm and 2pm

Instructor: Patricia Rodriguez 

Enrollment: 30 

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 does the state play in democracies and non-democracies, and what are state policies and responses to the global migration crisis? 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 DESIGNATION: Social Sciences; Theme: World of Systems; Theme: Power & Justice

INSTRUCTOR: Chip Gagnon, Muller 324, Ext. 4-1103

ENROLLMENT: 25 per section

PREREQUISITES: None

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 12900-01, EXPLORATIONS IN GLOBAL & COMPARATIVE STUDIES SS LA 1b, g; ICC Social Sciences; Theme: Identities; Theme: Power & Justice

3 Credits

INSTRUCTOR: Peyi Soyinka-Airewele, 314 Muller, ext. 4-3508

ENROLLMENT: 20

PREREQUISITES: None

COURSE DESCRIPTION: The course examines critical global issues, including the nature and impact of globalization; the role of international institutions such as the United Nations; culture and identity formation; human rights and the protection of human security in a competitive marketplace; and the dilemmas of sovereignty, militarism and the struggle for a just peace. Students may assess some national and international policies and explore policy alternatives, individual responses and responsibilities. The course utilizes country case studies, international simulations, literature and film and emphasizes global awareness and critical thinking. It will provide fundamental analytical frames through which students can address current debates on representation, identity, and the global future.

COURSE FORMAT/STYLE: Lectures, discussions, and collaborative work.

COURSE REQUIREMENTS & GRADING: Regular attendance, active participation, presentations, tests, essays and projects.

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: 25 per section

PREREQUISITES: none

COURSE DESCRIPTION: What makes for a good society? How do you think we might achieve it, and why? Where do your ideas and beliefs about the world come from? How do you know your beliefs are correct, and why might it be useful to entertain doubt? 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 liberty, 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: demonstration of thorough class preparation, active participation, weekly writing about course materials, midterm and final essays

POLT 14400-01, 02 Global Political Thought

3 credits

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

ENROLLMENT: 25

PREREQUISITES: none

COURSE DESCRIPTION: This course explores a range of themes and issues that are integral to the study of political thought: identity and difference, freedom, democracy, community, modernity, authority, domination, liberation, political violence, power and knowledge, etc. Our goal is: (1) to analyze how these ideas have been theorized and how they have traveled, been translated, and challenged across various national and geographical boundaries; (2) to use these texts as tools to help us ask a wide range of questions about ourselves and the world we share with others; (3) to unsettle the assumption that we can only interpret and understand texts and experiences reducible to our own culture, nationality, and way of life. More broadly, our aim is to begin to appreciate political thought as a human activity that arises universally rather than as something over which only the “west” has exclusive purview. Therefore, instead of comparing “western” and “non-western” systems of thought as discrete traditions of theorizing, we will examine the transmission and translation of ideas in relation to global systems of race and empire.

COURSE FORMAT/STYLE: Discussion

COURSE REQUIREMENTS & GRADING: Participation, reading, short papers.

POLT/ CSCR 310-14500-01: POLITICS OF IDENTITY; (ICC) - HU; LA; (ICC)- Social Sciences; Themes: Identities & Power and Justice

INSTRUCTOR: Asma Barlas

ENROLLMENT: 22

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: Attendance policy, concept papers, journals.

POLT 19501-01, 02 FOOD AND WATER SUSTAINABILITY

3 CREDITS

INSTRUCTOR: Juan M. Arroyo, Muller 308, Ext. 4-3969

ENROLLMENT: 27 per section

PREREQUISITES: None

COURSE DESCRIPTION: At some level, we may think we know what it means to eat and drink sustainably. This course will challenge conceptions by examining different, and often conflicting, definitions of sustainability. Then, even if we do agree to eat and drink differently, we face challenges in changing individual behavior and social patterns in more sustainable directions. This course will look at the many actors and obstacles involved in shaping our choices regarding food and water. Political systems privilege certain ideas and also specific interests. Economic structures and patterns limit our choices. Anthropological, cultural, and sociological backgrounds structure our options. Biological and psychological predispositions affect our ability to eat and drink sustainably. Students will consider the “simple” acts of eating and drinking from all of these perspectives. Students will be challenged to understand the potential for changing patterns of consumption, examining their own choices, their communities, and the socio-political system in which we are embedded.

PREREQUISITES: Open to all students.

COURSE FORMAT/STYLE: Discussion/lecture; expert presentations

COURSE REQUIREMENTS & GRADING: Readings, active participation in class discussions, 2-3 short papers (3-5 pages), 1 medium paper (5-7 pages), 1 final paper (7-10 pages); A-F.

POLT 23000-01 The Holocaust

3 credits

INSTRUCTOR: Donald Beachler

ENROLLMENT: 25

PREREQUISITES: Sophomore standing or permission of instructor

COURSE DESCRIPTION: This class is an introductory survey of major themes requisite to an understanding of the Holocaust. Among the topics covered are the origins and evolution of Anti-Semitism in Western civilization; the rise of Nazism; the repressive measures taken against Jews in the 1930s and Jewish responses to them; the policies of other nations to the refugee crisis of the 1930s; the debate over whether significant numbers of Jews could have been rescued; the ghettoization of the East European Jews and the discussions about Jewish responses to German dictates; the planning and implementation of the Final Solution; and the manner in which the Holocaust was consistent with the racist world view of the Nazis. We will conclude with a detailed study of labor and survival in Poland.

COURSE FORMAT/STYLE: Lecture/discussion

COURSE REQUIREMENTS & GRADING: 3 exams

POLT 32000-01 ST: THE POLITICS OF U.S. CITIZENSHIP; GE h: Historical Perspective

3 credits 

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

ENROLLMENT:  15

PREREQUISITES:  Sophomore standing

COURSE DESCRIPTION:  This seminar explores the following question: "What does it mean to be an American?" from a number of perspectives (historical, theoretical, critical and global) in order to understand how citizenship is conceptualized, lived and experienced in the United States by different people under various circumstances.

We examine the way in which U.S. citizenship has been constructed and re-constructed through and by competing political visions and institutions, ideas/ideologies, moral/religious beliefs, social values, racial, ethnic and gender discourses, among others, over time.

We pay close attention to the articulation of citizenship at the confluence of race, ethnicity, class, gender, and religion as so-called "categories of difference" that often inform, if not structure, who can become an "American" and when certain political, social and civic rights ought to be recognized and protected. We consider how these "categories of difference" relate to the politics over immigration, migration, international travel, and the U.S. border generally.

Throughout the semester we explore how key national (and international) institutions – Congress, presidency, Supreme Court, the Census Bureau, United Nations, U.S. State Department and even local governments – shape debates over civic status, political community, and national identity.

Last, we look at the impact of trans-nationalism, multiculturalism and globalization on the meanings of U.S. citizenship, while illuminating the shifting civic dimensions of political membership today, and into the future.

COURSE FORMAT/STYLE:  Discussion; in-class close reading of texts; Skype/Zoom sessions; guest speaker; films/documentaries

COURSE REQUIREMENTS & GRADING: Readings; group led discussions; take-home mid-term; 4 in-class paragraph analyses; final paper/oral presentation

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

3 credits

INSTRUCTOR: Asma Barlas

ENROLLMENT: 22

COURSE DESCRIPTION: Europe’s colonization of Latin America, Africa, and Asia began in the 15th century and ended in the 20th and it left behind a political and economic legacy of genocide, slavery and skewed patterns of capitalist “development.” Less visibly, it also 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 analyzes both aspects of colonialism though we will focus more on understanding the intimate nature of colonialist violence and the psychic wounds it inflicted on both the colonized and the colonizer. Since colonialist notions of alterity (otherness/ difference) continue to shape contemporary constructions of racial identities, we will also study colonialism's traces in the present.

COURSE FORMAT/STYLE: Discussion

COURSE REQUIREMENTS & GRADING: Attendance policy, concept papers, presentation.

POLT 32700-01 Politics of Development LA SS

3 credits MW 4:00-5:15pm

INSTRUCTOR: Patricia Rodriguez

ENROLLMENT: 17

PREREQUISITES: Sophomore standing.

COURSE DESCRIPTION: This course explores the political, social, cultural, and economic challenges of development in developing nations. It examines a range of past and current development approaches aimed at reducing poverty and inequality adopted in different developing countries, with emphasis on the ways in which governments, non-governmental organizations, international aid agencies, and social movements and communities envision and implement development programs. We look closely at alternative ‘civil-society centered’ development approaches, including sustainable and participatory development projects throughout Latin America, Asia, Africa and other areas, and examine their impacts. The course includes in-depth case studies with a focus on rural and urban development. Counts as a Comparative & International Studies course for politics majors and international politics minors. 

COURSE FORMAT/STYLE: discussion of readings, films, speakers

COURSE REQUIREMENTS & GRADING: shorter essays, research paper.

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 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. Starting from the assumption that human being are dialogical and self-interpreting animals, in this course we will ask and attempt to answer a series of interrelated questions: Does dialogue always lead to mutual understanding and conflict resolution? What is the role of empathy in human 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? Possible authors may include: Buber, Bakhtin, J.J. Clarke, Gadamer, Habermas, Heidegger, Lem, Levinas, Panikkar, Todorov, Kitaro, Taylor, Nandy.

COURSE FORMAT/STYLE: Discussion

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

POLT 35006-01 Selected Topics in Political Theory: THEORY AND PRACTICE OF RACE

3 credits

INSTRUCTOR: Alex Moon

ENROLLMENT: 20

PREREQUISITES: Any introductory or higher course in politics or philosophy.

COURSE DESCRIPTION: This course is an introduction to modern political thinking about race, primarily in the United States. We will discuss the nature of race, the place of racial domination in American society, and contemporary ethical issues associated with race, such as reparations, collective responsibility, obligations to solidarity/ally ship, and epistemologies of ignorance. Readings include works by Douglass, Dubois, Wells-Barnett, King, Baldwin, Mills, and Shelby.

COURSE FORMAT/STYLE: Discussion

COURSE REQUIREMENTS & GRADING: Several brief papers and exams

POLT 37000-01 Selected Topics in Public Policy: Politics of Wealth & Poverty

3 credits

INSTRUCTOR: Donald Beachler

ENROLLMENT: 25

PREREQUISITES: Sophomore standing or permission of instructor

COURSE DESCRIPTION: This class examines issues related to the distribution of wealth and income. We focus on the United States, but we will also delve into these issues from a comparative and global perspective. We will begin with a brief survey of the relationship between business and the state in a democratic market political economy. We will discuss inequality of wealth and income and consider various perspectives on its causes and possible measures to ameliorate growing inequality. The financial crisis and the housing bubble that plunged the U.S. into a prolonged recession are investigated at some length. The first section of the course will be followed by a consideration of the role of labor unions and the current state of workers in the American political economy. The consequences of the decline and possible resurgence of labor unions will be explored. The politics of health care and issues of cost and access are examined from a comparative perspective. We will also consider policies and politics of retirement security. A portion of the course will consist of an intensive study of the problem of poverty in the United States.

COURSE FORMAT/STYLE: Lecture/discussion

COURSE REQUIREMENTS & GRADING: one exam and two papers

POLT 40102-01 SEMINAR: Nationalism & 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.

COURSE DESCRIPTION: To what extent is violence motivated by cultural or national identity? This seminar will either be focused on violent ethnic / nationalist conflict, or on right wing populist nationalism. If the former, 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, Australia, Europe, the United States and others.

If the latter, we'll look at the roots of territorial nationalism, debates on the meaning of borders and belonging in national terms, and the cultural, political, and economic roots of the wave of populist nationalism that has swept the developed world. This course counts as a Comparative and International Studies course for the purposes of the Concentration in International Studies and the International Politics minor.

COURSE FORMAT/STYLE: Discussion

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

POLT 40103-01 Seminar: CATHOLICS AND POLITICS LA SS

3 CREDITS

INSTRUCTOR: Juan M. Arroyo, Muller 316, Ext. 4-3969

ENROLLMENT: 10

PREREQUISITES: 3 courses in social sciences

COURSE DESCRIPTION: The Catholic Church is one of the oldest continuous institutions in world history. 30% of US voters are Catholic, as are 5 out of 9 Supreme Court Justices. Both 2012 vice-presidential nominees were Catholics. Christian Democratic parties (inspired by Papal doctrines on labor and economics) are major players in the political systems of many countries. These are just a few indicators of the Church’s prominence in the political world. This course will guide students as they analyze the politics of the Catholic Church and the politics within the institution.The course has three major themes. The first is a review of the history of Church and state, in Europe, the US and in the rest of the world, including key events and controversies. This part examines the changing balance between church and state in different cultures and times. The second theme looks look at the Church’s understanding of prominent policies, such as economic justice, abortion, marriage, and the environment. Finally, we will also consider the internal politics of the church, and how different interests might be affected by changes in the societies of the world.

COURSE FORMAT/STYLE: Lecture/discussion

COURSE REQUIREMENTS AND GRADING: Readings, active participation in class; one in-class presentation. 1 mid-term paper; 2-3 shorter writing exercises; final paper; A-F.

POLT 40113-01 Seminar: IMPERIALISMS IN THE ASIA-PACIFIC

3 CREDITS

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

ENROLLMENT: 15

PREREQUISITES: Junior/Senior status and at least one politics course.

COURSE DESCRIPTION: This course focuses on the question of empire in our own times through the lens of imperialisms and imperial encounters of the past. We explore in particular the contemporary legacies and manifestations of Chinese, Japanese, European and American imperialisms in the Asia-Pacific region. Two general questions animating the course are, first, how might different ideas and practices of imperialism intertwine with one another? (i.e. Is imperialism the same over time and in different places?) Second, how might ideas and practices of imperialism(s) intertwine with ideas and practices of the international state system? (i.e. Now that we’re a world of states, is imperialism a thing of the past?) We also consider how different forms and strategies of opposition to imperialism shed light on the politics of empire in the region and beyond. In doing so, we will examine competing narratives about territory, identity, race and experiences of colonial encounters—and how power relations shape whose stories count in which contexts. Throughout the course we will reflect critically on how our own lives and perspectives relate to the topics under discussion. Some key concepts we will interrogate include imperialism, colonialism, decolonization, sovereignty, nation(alism), and state.

COURSE FORMAT/STYLE: discussion

COURSE REQUIREMENTS: demonstration of thorough class preparation, active participation, weekly writing about course materials, midterm and final essays.

POLT 40300-01, TUTORIAL: RESEARCH METHODS IN POLITICS, POLICY AND INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, LA SS 1 h

3 Credits

INSTRUCTOR: Peyi Soyinka-Airewele

ENROLLMENT: 5

PREREQUISITES: Junior/Senior Standing

COURSE DESCRIPTION: This course is for students who wish to work in a small group to learn some of the valuable basic methods used by scholars, policymakers and practitioners as they examine or respond to issues such as natural disasters, refugee crises, or public health dilemmas; allocate limited resources; determine trends in religious radicalization; or navigate tensions in popular culture. It is particularly useful for those who wish to learn how to improve their research, writing and "employability" skills as they prepare for graduate studies or law school, or consider jobs with nonprofits, consulting firms, in journalism, business, public relations, or the policy sector.

Some of our goals will include learning how to assess the state of scholarly literature, identify important questions, design strategies for answering them, consider critical ethical issues, acquire the tools with which to conduct the research, collect and analyze the data, and write up the results so they communicate powerfully to the appropriate audience. We will do this through fascinating cases drawn from national and international contexts and application activities involving problem based simulations, empirical sociopolitical inquiry, survey research, intensive interviews, case studies, and participant observation.

COURSE FORMAT/STYLE: Tutorial Discussions, Presentations, Practice Activities, Collaborative and Independent Research.

COURSE REQUIREMENTS & GRADING: Active participation, problem-based and experimental application activities, research and writing assignments.