Political Science

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PROFESSORS

Michael Nelson. 1991. Fulmer Professor of Political Science. B.A., College of William and Mary; M.A. and Ph.D., The Johns Hopkins University. (American Presidency; Southern Politics; American politics.)

Marcus D. Pohlmann. 1986. B.A., Cornell College; M.A., M.Phil. and Ph.D., Columbia University. (American politics; legal studies; black political thought.)

ASSOCIATE PROFESSORS

Daniel E. Cullen. 1988. M.A., Dalhousie University; Ph.D., Boston College. (History of political philosophy; American political thought; contemporary political theory.)

Amy E. Jasperson. 2012. Chair. B.A. Wellesley College; Ph.D., University of Minnesota. (American politics; political communication; political psychology; political campaigns.)

Stephen H. Wirls. 1994. B.A., Kenyon College; M.A. and Ph. D., Cornell University. (American politics; Congress; American political thought; modern political philosophy.)

ASSISTANT PROFESSORS

Christopher E. Baldwin. 2007. B.A., Kenyon College; M.A. and Ph.D., University of Toronto. (Classical political philosophy; American political thought; post-modern political thought.)

Renee J. Johnson. B.A., Lawrence University; Ph.D., SUNY at Stony Brook (Now Stony Brook University.) (Political economy/public policy; American government; methodology.)

PART-TIME ASSISTANT PROFESSOR

Anna R. Smith. B.A., Rhodes College; J.D. Duke University. (Legal studies; internships.)

STAFF

Jacqueline Baker. Departmental Assistant.

REQUIREMENTS FOR A MAJOR IN POLITICAL SCIENCE

A total of forty-eight (48) credits as follows:
  1. Political Science 151: U.S. Politics
  2. Political Science 270: Research Methods
  3. Political Science 485: Senior Seminar
  4. One course of the following courses in political thought and philosophy: 212, 214, 216, 218, 230, 311, 314, Humanities 201 (Politics Track).
  5. International Studies 100 or International Studies 200
  6. Seven additional courses (28 credits) in Political Science, two of which must be at the 300 level. Political Science 460, Public Affairs Internship, does count as an elective, but it does not count as a 300 level course.

REQUIREMENTS FOR A MINOR IN POLITICAL SCIENCE

A total of five courses or twenty (20) credits as follows:
  1. Political Science 151: U.S. Politics
  2. Two courses at the 200-level. Humanities 201 (Politics Track) may count for a 200 leve course.
  3. Two courses at the 300-level or above.

HONORS IN POLITICAL SCIENCE

Honors work in Political Science affords an opportunity for Political Science majors to investigate topics of their own choosing. In the process, they will be expanding and honing their research and writing skills, which is excellent preparation for graduate and professional degree work. Majors pursuing honors will devote a substantial portion of their last two semesters at Rhodes to their projects (honors work earns eight-twelve credits across two semesters). To be eligible, a student must have completed 28 credits of course work in the major and have a grade point average of 3.5 or higher in the college and in Political Science courses. Honors guidelines are available from the chairperson of the department.

THE WASHINGTON SEMESTER AND THE CAPITOL SEMESTER

Political Science students may participate in two different semester long programs in Washington, D.C., each involving courses, an internship, and a research project. Since special financial arrangements are required for these programs, students need to meet with the Director of the Buckman Center. These programs can be done in the Fall or the Spring semester. Two of the four courses transferred from the Washington Semester may satisfy requirements for a Political Science major, and all four of the courses transferred from the Capitol Semester may satisfy requirements for a Political Science major. Students receiving credit from either of these programs cannot count Political Science 460 toward the Political Science major.

Course Offerings

110. Political Questions.

Fall, Spring. Credits: 4.

Degree Requirements: F2i, F8.

What is just? What is right? Are human beings equal? In what ways should we be free? To what degree must we obey the state? What are our duties to others? Is “big government” compatible with individual liberty? This course explores these and other fundamental political questions concerning freedom and authority, rights and obligations, peace and war, moral obligation and selfishness, faith and reason. It will also delve into contentious public policy problems (e.g., income inequality, affirmative action, sexual discrimination), each of which poses moral and practical difficulties. Our goal will be to think openly, honestly, and precisely about the quandaries of political life. This course is open only to first years and sophomores.

151. United States Politics.

Fall, Spring. Credits: 4.

Degree Requirements: F2i (some sections), F8.

What is the foundation of government in the United States? What are its purposes? How is the constitution of government designed to achieve those purposes? How well does it in fact fulfill those purposes? Major topics and controversies include the nature of politics, individual liberty and constitutionalism, the federal structure of government, elections and political parties, interest groups, representation, Congress, the Presidency, the Judiciary, civil rights and liberties. Some sections may be open only to first year students, and all sections are open to seniors only by permission of the department. Because Advanced Placement credit in Political Science or Government counts only as four general credits toward the major, all Political Science majors must take 151.

205. Introduction to Public Policy.

Fall or Spring. Credits: 4.

An analysis of the processes and politics of making and implementing public policies. Topics may include: taxing and spending, energy, transportation, environmental protection, agriculture, equality, health, consumer protection, education, business, labor and welfare.

Prerequisite: Political Science 151.

206. Urban Politics and Policy.

Fall or Spring. Credits: 4.

A critical introduction to urban America’s fiscal and racial problems, formal and informal political processes, power structures, and alternative futures. We will also discuss problems and processes of policy formation in the urban system. Not eligible if you have completed POLS 200 or 316.

Prerequisite: Political Science 151 or the permission of the instructor.

207. Race and Ethnic Politics.

Fall or Spring. Credits: 4.

A general survey of minority politics in the United States. We will explore the historic and contemporary importance of race and ethnicity in American politics, particularly in relation to political institutions, political parties, voting coalitions, representation, and public policy. Attention is paid to how the structures of the American political system disadvantage minority groups as they attempt to gain the full benefits of American society. In addition to exploring the different agendas and strategies adopted by racial and ethnic minority groups, this course also shows how intertwined minority politics and American politics have been and continue to be.

Prerequisite: Political Science 151 or the permission of the instructor.

208. Media and Politics.

Fall or Spring. Credits: 4.

An investigation of the power of media in American society and the interaction between media, institutions, political actors, and the public. Topics covered may include the evolving role of media as an institution in the political system, media ownership, media bias, race and gender in media, media fragmentation, the relationship between media and public opinion, the role of news and advertising in political campaigns, media coverage in crisis and wartime, and the impact of new media on society. Underlying these topics, we will consider the question of whether the role and function of media today are helpful for or detrimental to political learning, participation, and democratic government. Students will have the chance to explore ideas, concepts, and themes through real-world, hands-on applications. Not eligible if you have completed the Topics course on media and politics.

Prerequisite: Political Science 151 or the permission of the instructor.

211. Politics and Literature.

Fall or Spring. Credits: 4.

This course explores how literature (and the arts generally) express political ideas and pursue political purposes. Topics and readings vary but they include: literary depictions of political causes, political crises, war and peace, leaders and followers, conflicts of individuals and society, and the competing demands of nature and civilization. Authors read in this course might include: Sophocles, Shakespeare, Defoe, Stendahl, Austen, Dickens, Melville, Hawthorne, Twain, Robert Penn Warren, Ralph Ellison, Don DeLillo, Phillip Roth and Tom Wolfe.

212. American Political Thought and Statesmanship.

Fall or Spring. Credits: 4.

A survey of the ideas and controversies in American political thought and development from the Puritans to the present. Topics may include: the philosophical origins of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, selfishness and morality, federalism, the democratization of politics, equality and slavery, laissez-faire capitalism and the welfare state, the civil rights movement, and the redefinitions of freedom and equality by, for example, the new left and feminism.

Prerequisite: Political Science 151 or the permission of the instructor.

214. Modern Ideologies.

Fall or Spring. Credits: 4.

What are all these “isms” that pervade political discourse? What does it mean to be a liberal (or a “progressive”), a libertarian, conservative, communitarian, socialist, or feminist? Where do liberal and radical feminists agree and disagree? Why is a democratic socialist not a Marxist and vice versa? Is “environmentalism” a comprehensive political stance? Should there be a “green” party? What separates a nationalist from a “fascist”? Generally: what ideas, perspectives and principles account for these divergent doctrines that compete to organize the political world? Why do people adopt these views? Are there rational grounds for choosing among them? Is there a rational foundation for political life or, to put it another way, is political philosophy possible? Or are all claims to political knowledge ideological assertions? This course examines questions like these, although the list is not at all exhaustive.

216. Philosophy of Law.

Fall or Spring. Credits: 4.

We believe in the rule of law, but what is law and what is the nature of rules? Is the ultimate source of law nature, God, or human agreement? What is the relation of law and morality? How does law promote human freedom and social order? What do we do when those concerns conflict? The law assumes that human beings are responsible for their actions unless they aren’t. How do we know when they are or are not? What is the purpose of punishment? What is the role of the jury, and can jurors fulfill it? Does our society live up to its ideal of equality before the law? What is the professional responsibility of the lawyer, and why is the legal profession so controversial? This course examines a multitude of interesting and puzzling questions that drive us toward a philosophic consideration of law.

218. Justice, Equality, and Liberty.

Fall or Spring. Credits: 4

Drawing primarily on contemporary sources in politics, philosophy and economics, this course examines rival visions of the good society. We will analyze competing conceptions of justice and the ways in which those views are modified by commitments to liberty and equality. Thematic questions will include: What do human beings owe to one another? How is personal responsibility related to social responsibility? What are the causes and consequences of wealth and poverty? What is the character of freedom? What does equality require? How should rights and duties be properly understood? A good portion of the course will be devoted to the intellectual and moral foundations of the free society and to critiques of the assumption that the good society is “the free society.”

The course will include public lecture, debates and conversations with visiting political theorists, economists, entrepreneurs and public officials.

220. Might and Right among Nations.

Fall. Credits: 4.

What governs international relations, might or right? Does justice play a role in relations between nations? Or are such relations governed strictly by considerations of political necessity? What is (or should be) the role of religion, morality, economics, and power in international relations? What are the prospects for a just international order? We will consider what light political philosophy has to shed on these and other questions concerning justice among nations through the careful study of major thinkers, such as: Thucydides, Aquinas, Machiavelli, Montesquieu, Kant, and others.

230. Black Political Thought.

Spring. Credits: 4.

Degree Requirements: F9.

A critical analysis of a variety of political goals, strategies, and tactics espoused since Reconstruction. Views of Booker T. Washington, Marcus Garvey, W.E.B. DuBois, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X are among those normally considered.

Prerequisite: Political Science 151 or the permission of the instructor.

241. Parties and Interest Groups in American Politics.

Fall or Spring. Credits: 4.

In this course, we explore the following questions in the American context: What is a political party? What is an interest group? How are they organized? Why and how did political parties and interest groups develop? How do parties and interest groups compete with and complement each other? How has the role and importance of both political parties and interest groups in American politics changed over time? What do political parties and interest groups do for voters, for candidates and officeholders, and for democratic government? How could they do it better? We examine these questions both theoretically and empirically using a range of materials and media. Not offered every year.

Prerequisite: Political Science 151 or the permission of the instructor.

245. Southern Politics.

Fall or Spring. Credits: 4

An examination of politics in the American South, with special attention to political parties and elections. Politics at the state level is considered, along with the place of the South in the national political arena.

Prerequisite: Political Science 151 or the permission of the instructor.

270. Methods of Political Inquiry.

Fall, Spring. Credits: 4

Why do political scientists call themselves scientists? How can we learn about politics using the tools of scientific inquiry? What are the tools of scientific inquiry? This course introduces the methods political scientists (and others) use to generate and answer empirical questions about politics. We explore a wide variety of research methods, including experiments, observation, interviews, and surveys. In the course of this exploration, we examine how these methods are applied to real data by real researchers. We also critically analyze the methodological choices made and conclusions drawn by political scientists and others who employ social science data.

Prerequisite: Political Science 110 or 151.

280. Topics in American Politics and Government.

Fall or Spring. Credits: 4.

An examination of some aspect of American politics and institutions of government. Topics might include: the judiciary, state and local government, intergovernmental relations, American political development, the legislative process, campaign finance, political communication.

Prerequisite: Political Science 151 or the permission of the instructor.

286: Topics in Political Thought and Philosophy.

Fall or Spring. Credits: 4.

Prerequisite: One of the following: Political Science 110, 212, 214 or the permission of the instructor.

301. Constitutional Law and Politics.

Fall. Credits: 4.

An examination of the federal judicial process and American constitutional principles. Constitutional topics include free speech and assembly, church-state relations, abortion, gay rights, euthanasia, and rights of the accused.

Prerequisites: Political Science 151 and one 200 level course.

302. Topics in Public Law.

Fall or Spring. Credits: 4.

An examination of some aspect of law and the judicial branch. Topics might include: the 1st Amendment, the 14th Amendment, state and local law, legal reform, and administrative law.

Prerequisites: Political Science 151 and one 200 level course.

308. Intermediate Topics in American Politics and Government.

Fall or Spring. Credits: 4.

Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor.

310. Topics in Political Theory.

Fall or Spring. Credits 4.

Problems of justice, law and morality explored through classic and contemporary works of political philosophy and literature. (Topics vary from year to year and students may repeat the course accordingly.)

Prerequisite: A previous course in political theory or the permission of the instructor.

311. The Classical Search for Justice.

Fall or Spring. Credits: 4.

What can reason tell us about justice and the right way to live? What is the human good? What is justice? How is politics related to human nature or, what does it mean to be a “political animal”? Are the good person and good citizen identical? These questions will be explored through careful examination of the writings of Xenophon, Plato, and Aristotle.

Prerequisite: One 200 level course.

314. The Modern Search for Justice.

Fall or Spring. Credits: 4.

Where, according to the moderns, did classical search for justice go wrong? Why was a new beginning—why were new beginnings—for this search reasonable or necessary? Although modern thought leads to concepts with which we are familiar, it also carefully examines whether humans are in fact equal, whether they have natural rights, whether democracy is a good form of government, and ultimately, whether reason is capable of solving such moral puzzles definitively.

Prerequisite: One 200 level course.

317. Globalization and City Politics.

Fall or Spring. Credits: 4.

Globalization has affected the form and function of cities everywhere. This course deals with the challenge of globalization, its impact on cities, the mechanism by which it operates, and the results it produces. We will explore how the rapid development of a unified world market has changed the politics of urban communities and radically altered cities. We will also examine how this complex process has produced similarities of physical, social, and cultural patterns in cities around the world, yet still allowed individual cities to retain unique characteristics. Our objective is to develop a better understanding of the forces that have transformed urban communities in the 21st century.

Prerequisites: One 200 level course and the permission of the instructor.

318. Race, Class, and the Politics of Inequality.

Fall or Spring. Credits: 4.

An intellectual debate with policy implications continues to rage on regarding the relative importance of racial discrimination versus social class as the cause of inequality between blacks and whites. Has social class become more important than race in determining access to power and privilege for blacks in the United States? Or, does race continue to trump class because of persistent racial inequality and widespread racial discrimination? To answer these questions, we will analyze how the structures of the American political system have constrained African-Americans across class statuses, as well as the social and political processes that have advantaged blacks of higher class status.

Prerequisites: One 200 level course and the permission of the instructor.

319. Contested Cities.

Fall or Spring. Credits: 4.

This course looks at the city as a site of contested dynamics of social belonging over race, ethnicity, nationality, and religion. We analyze the dynamics that shape the partition of city dwellers into insiders and outsiders, people who belong and people who do not. Using a global perspective, we will study the forces of conflict that persistently divide cities and the conditions of state planning and policy which have both ameliorated and exacerbated these conditions. Not offered every year.

Prerequisites: One 200 level course and the permission of the instructor.

321. Political Psychology.

Fall or Spring. Credits: 4.

An investigation of psychological theories in understanding political attitudes, judgment, and behavior at the levels of the individual, group, and nation-state. Topics covered may include the role of values, affect, cognition, emotion, motivation, personality, and/or situational factors in explaining public opinion formation and change, political ideology, voting behavior, elite decision-making, inter-group conflict, political tolerance, stereotyping and prejudice, authoritarianism, genocide and extreme political aggression. Not offered every year.

Prerequisites: Political Science 151, Psychology 150 (recommended), Political Science 270 (or equivalent), and the permission of the instructor.

330. Campaigns and Elections.

Fall. Credits: 4.

This course examines the dynamics of contemporary American electoral politics. We investigate why candidates, voters, and other political actors and groups think and behave the way they do, the rules that govern their behavior, who wins elections and why. Analysis focuses on the ways in which factors within the candidate’s control (e.g. strategy, fundraising, advertising) interact with factors largely outside the candidate’s control (e.g. regulations, gender, race, partisanship), to assess what difference (if any) campaigns actually make in election outcomes. Not offered every year.

Prerequisites: Political Science 270 and one additional 200 level course.

340. The American Presidency.

Fall or Spring. Credits: 4.

An exploration of the constitutional, historical and political aspects of the presidency. Specific topics include the selection of the President, presidential leadership, personality, relations with Congress and the Supreme Court, and the Vice Presidency.

Prerequisites: Political Science 270 and one additional 200 level course.

360. Congress.

Fall or Spring. Credits: 4.

The United States Congress is a rarity among representative assemblies in the rest of the world; it actually legislates, and individual members of the House and the Senate directly affect legislation and policy. Why then is it also the least respected branch of our national government? Is it failing to legislate effectively? To represent fairly? This entire course explores these questions. Specific topics include: representation; the framers’ original design for House and Senate; the evolution of House and Senate; elections and incumbency; campaign finance and interest groups; the internal organization of the two houses; the struggle for power between President and Congress.

Prerequisites: Political Science 270 and one additional 200 level course.

399. Junior Honors Tutorial.

Spring. Credits: 1.

Junior Political Science majors who are considering pursuing honors research are required to enroll in this preparatory tutorial. Enrollment in this course does not guarantee acceptance into the Honors Program.

Prerequisite: Permission of the faculty member who has agreed to supervise the honors candidate’s research.

401. Advanced Topics in American Politics and Government.

Fall or Spring. Credits: 4.

An investigation of an important subject area within the discipline of political science. Topics might include constitutional controversies, the legislative process, political communication and behavior, campaign design and strategy.

Prerequisite: One 300 level course.

402. Advanced topics in Political Thought and Philosophy.

Fall or Spring. Credits: 4.

An investigation of an important subject area within the discipline of political science.

Prerequisite: One 300 level course.

411. Seminar in Contemporary Political Philosophy: Problems of Rights, Freedom, and Equality.

Fall or Spring. Credits: 4.

An in-depth study of contemporary political thinking about such issues as: the culture of capitalism, the nature and limits of individual freedom, achieving equality in a diverse society, the challenges of biotechnology, rights in conflict, the evolution and endurance of American political principles. Topics vary from year to year.

Prerequisite: One 300 level course.

451-452. Research Practicum.

Fall, Spring. Credits: 1-4.

This course allows qualified students to become active participants in ongoing departmental research projects. No more than 4 practicum credits may count towards the major.

Prerequisites: Invitation of the instructor and approval of the department.

460. Public Affairs Internship.

Fall, Spring. Credits: 4.

Degree Requirements: F11.

The focus of this course is a directed internship with a selected legal, governmental or community agency. The course integrates traditional academic work in Political Science with practical internship experiences. All internships are assigned through the Department of Political Science Internship Director. The course can be taken only once for credit, but students who have received credit for the Washington Semester or the Capitol Semester cannot receive any credit toward a Political Science major from this course.

Prerequisites: Two Political Science courses and the consent of the instructor.

485. Senior Seminar in Political Science.

Fall, Spring. Credits: 4.

An advanced investigation of critical political problems and/or contemporary perspectives on American democracy.

495-496. Honors Tutorial.

Fall, Spring. Credits: 4-8.

An advanced independent study, involving the completion of a major research project. Guidelines for honors work in Political Science are available from the department chairperson.




PLEASE NOTE: This document reflects information as it was published in the 2013-14 Rhodes Catalogue. You may find more current information elsewhere on rhodes.edu.