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.

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




· 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:

o 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

o 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 dynamic U.S. representative and neo-liberal democratic capitalist system.

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

COURSE REQUIREMENTS & GRADING: 2 quizzes; 1 short mid-term paper; 1 group project; and final exam

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

3 Credits

Instructor: Asma Barlas

Enrollment: 20

Prerequisites: non

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 Howard Zinn, A People's History of American Empire (2008; graphic book), and others TBA.

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


3 credits; TR 9:25 and 10:40am

Instructor: Patricia Rodriguez

Enrollment: 25 each section

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 on 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


3 credits

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

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



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


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


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

ENROLLMENT: 25 (Section 1) 25 (Section 2)


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 short lecture

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


3 credits

INSTRUCTOR: Naeem Inayatullah


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



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

ENROLLMENT: 25 per section


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 defining and 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 improving sustainability by changing their patterns of consumption, examining their own choices, their communities, and the socio-political system in which we are embedded.

COURSE FORMAT AND 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)

POLT 32000-01 ST: U.S. POLITICS: THE POLITICS OF U.S. CITIZENSHIP; GE h: Historical Perspective, (ICC) - Humanities, Liberal Arts, (ICC) - Social Sciences,

3 Credits

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


PREREQUISITES:  Sophomore standing

COURSE DESCRIPTION:  This seminar explores the following question: "What does it mean to be an American?" from a number of perspectives in order to assess historically, theoretically, and critically the various conceptions and understandings of citizenship in the United States.  

· We examine the way in which U.S. citizenship has been constructed and re-constructed through and by competing political visions and institutions, ideas, 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 a citizen and when certain political, social and civic rights ought to be recognized and protected. 

· We also explore how key national institutions – Congress, presidency, Supreme Court, the Census Bureau and even local governments – shape debates over civic status, national identity, and political community. 

· Throughout, we consider the impact of transnationalism, multiculturalism and globalization on the meanings of U.S. citizenship, while illuminating the historical and civic dimensions of political membership more broadly.  

· Readings will cover materials from political history, social and public policy, political/social theory, gender/area studies, to public law, sociology and economics.

COURSE FORMAT/STYLE: discussion-based; in-class close reading of texts; documentaries/films; field trip; Skype/Zoom sessions

COURSE REQUIREMENTS & GRADING: Readings; individual/group led discussions; take-home mid-term; 2 paragraph analyses; a short book review; and final paper/oral presentation



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


PREREQUISITES: Sophomore Standing.

COURSE DESCRIPTION: Students investigate controversial issues, case studies, philosophical and legal debates that address the question of whether human rights are truly universal. Together we will explore the contradictory ways in which religious, social and cultural forces, gender and class dynamics and structural global inequalities generate diverse concepts of moral rights, justice, freedoms and protections. Participants will also analyze the differences in human rights documents such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights and the Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam/Universal Islamic Declaration of Human Rights. We will seek to answer critical questions such as that posed by Mahmood Mamdani: “can a culture of individual rights coexist with the right of every individual to practice one’s culture?” The course will draw on comparative studies from across the world in an attempt to make meaningful contributions to human rights discourses and practice.

COURSE FORMAT/STYLE: Lectures, discussions, independent/collaborative research and fieldwork.

COURSE REQUIREMENTS & GRADING: Regular attendance, active participation, research and presentations. Assessment methods set by instructor.

POLT 34012-01 Race and IR Theory LA, SS

3 credits

Instructor: Naeem Inayatullah

Enrollment: 28

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.


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

POLT 34051-01 The European Union

3 credits

INSTRUCTOR: Juan M. Arroyo


PREREQUISITES: Three courses in the social sciences, or equivalent

COURSE DESCRIPTION: The European Union is frequently in the news because it is being shaken by economic trouble, immigration, populism, and by nationalist sentiments. Who cares? This course starts by asking what the EU is, and why it should matter to US students. What is Europe anyway? Should Turkey be admitted, or not? The bulk of the course is about the EU works and what it does. Is there a democratic deficit that threatens the EU? How does the EU challenge our notions of national identity, of the nation-state, globalization, etc.? Specific topics may include the creation of the Euro currency, and the formation of European foreign policy. A regular theme will examine the backlash against the EU, as illustrated by Brexit, and the resurgence of the far-right and far left.

COURSE FORMAT/STYLE: Lecture with discussion; simulation exercises.

COURSE REQUIREMENTS & GRADING: Readings, three papers, class participation; A-F

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


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


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 36600-01 Environmental Politics

3 credits 



PREREQUISITE: Two courses in the social sciences or permission from the instructor.  


The class is designed as a survey of a set of global environmental issues and the power relationships that undergird them. We begin the course with an overview of the nature of the environmental crisis and some theoretical approaches to understanding it, including attention to cultural and historical contexts.  Once students gain some familiarity with history and theory, we move to a discussion of a set of discrete policy problems. These include: climate change, toxics, the fossil fuel economy, food and agriculture, among others.  Each issue is addressed in relation to race, gender, and class implications.  Modes of political action—including civil and uncivil disobedience--are also analyzed, given environmentalism’s status as a social movement.   Students will also participate in the Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival in April by attending FLEFF events, some of which will be integrated into class sessions. https://www.ithaca.edu/fleff/ The aim of the course is not only to expose students to a set of environmental ideas and issues, but to show how these are deeply imbedded within contemporary political discourses.   Students should be prepared for a moderately heavy reading load, along with a set of critical writing assignments. Books (excerpted from or read in entirety) include, Carolyn Merchant, Reinventing Eden: The Fate of Nature in Western Culture, Jang Rong, Wolf Totem, Barry Estabrook, Pig Tales: An Omnivore’s Quest for Sustainable Meat, Steve Early, Refinery Town: Big Oil, Big Money, and the Remaking of an American City, Ashley Dawson, Extreme Cities: The Perils and Promise of Urban Life in the Age of Climate Change. 

POLT 40107-01 Comparative Social Movements LA SS

3 credits; TR 4:00-5:15pm

INSTRUCTOR: Patricia Rodriguez


PREREQUISITES: junior/senior standing

This seminar 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, and land, territory and environmental rights in a variety of political contexts and regions (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 hope to understand what it means for different groups to exercise their rights and voice, and the personal and political challenges that ‘voice’ (both) confronts and poses. Readings include: ‘The Decolonial Imaginary: Writing Chicanas into History’ and ‘ExtrACTION: Impacts, Engagements, and Alternative Futures’ among others.


COURSE REQUIREMENTS & GRADING: Projects, research paper, participation



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


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

COURSE DESCRIPTION: This course explores the expansion of military power as a lens on the formation of the international system and contemporary global relations. Deploying troops for war is perhaps the most obvious example of extending military power beyond borders, especially to those living in countries that tend to wage war elsewhere. However, the course focuses on forms of military expansion that are related to, but worth distinguishing from, warfare. This includes military basing and related activities, as well as humanitarian activity and military aid. The course probes the limitations of a state-centric view of military power as we seek to understand how extending military forces beyond one’s borders became a normalized aspect of contemporary international relations and state power, especially given that doing so 1) challenges fundamental principles of modern state sovereignty, and 2) until quite recently, was both a hallmark of imperialism and a non-state endeavor. A related concern of the course is how power relations shape ideas about and experiences of military expansion, including our own understandings and experiences. In addition to academic and political debates, we will look at how popular films, other media and forms of resistance reveal competing narratives about foreign military presence, with an eye toward understanding why certain narratives prevail and others are marginalized.


COURSE REQUIREMENTS & GRADING: demonstration of thorough class preparation, active participation, weekly reflections, midterm and final essays.