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Descriptions of course offerings are included below. For advice on course selection be sure to speak with a faculty adviser.

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. Advanced Placement credit in Political Science or Government counts only as four general credits toward the major. Therefore, all Political Science majors must take 151.

205. Introduction to Public Policy.

Fall or Spring. Credits: 4.

In short, public policy includes whatever government chooses to do or not to do. As such, this course will explore the reasons why government acts, how government acts, and the types of actions it takes. The course is not designed to convince you whether particular public policies are good or bad, but to think carefully and analytically about why they exist and how they function. The course is not about any particular public policy.  However, the course will engage a wide variety of contemporary public policy debates in the areas of health care, welfare, the environment, regulation of business, energy, transportation, and education to provide examples of the concepts and theories we will discuss in the course. 

Prerequisite: Political Science 151 or permission of the instructor.

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. Not offered every year.

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 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.

209. Bureaucratic Politics.

Fall or Spring. Credits: 4.

While there are many objectives for learning in this course, the primary objective of the course is to expose the class to provocative arguments about bureaucracy and challenge our established notions of what a bureaucracy is and how it performs. In order to achieve this objective, however, we will begin first by discussing what a bureaucracy is. We will then consider how public bureaucracy is or is not different from private bureaucracy. Next, we will explore several well-known theories of bureaucratic behavior and performance. The goal is to not only understand what these theories are, but also to critically evaluate these theories. Do they do a good job of explaining bureaucratic behavior? Finally, we will consider some more advanced and provocative arguments about bureaucracy including Goodsell’s “case for bureaucracy” and Adams & Balfour’s notion of “administrative evil”. The course is not designed to convince you whether public bureaucracies are “good” or “bad”, but to think carefully and analytically about why they exist and how they function. As such, you will be exposed to both positive and negative arguments about public bureaucracies. Not eligible if you have already completed the Topics course on Bureaucracy and Public Policy.

Prerequisite: Political Science 151 or 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. Not offered every year.

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. Not offered every year.

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.

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.

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. Not offered every year.

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 quantitative and qualitative research methods, including experiments, observation, interviews, and surveys. Students in this course will develop their own research question and literature review, test hypotheses, and analyze data. This course is recommended for the sophomore year and must be taken by the end of the junior year.

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

280. Topics in American Politics, Government, and Policy.

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.

283. 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 or 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 270 and one other 200 level course, or the permission of the instructor.

305. Public Policy Analysis.

Fall or Spring. Credits: 4.

The objective of this course is to introduce students to the field of public policy analysis. Rather than focusing on the institutions that make public policy, such as legislatures, presidents, governors, and courts, or the groups that impact the policymaking process, such as interest groups and the media; this course provides students with an Introduction to the tools used to analyze policies and a discussion of the political elements that affect this analysis. The course will be composed of several different elements: 1) a discussion of the various meanings of public policy analysis, 2) a presentation of the basic economic and political tools used to analyze public policies, and 3) practice at analyzing current policy controversies. Essentially, the goal is to ensure that student understand the basic economic principles used to evaluate different public policy proposals. However, as this is a political science course, other principal goals are to highlight the weaknesses of some of these economic assumptions, discover how politics may alter these otherwise sound assumptions, and examine the political environment in which policies are analyzed and adopted. This course does not focus on any one policy area, so students are encouraged to bring their own policy interests to the course. Not eligible if you have already completed the Topics course on Public Policy Analysis.

Prerequisites: Political Science 270 and POL 205 or ECON 100, or the permission of the instructor.

308. Political Advertising.

Fall or Spring. Credits: 4.

Political advertising is potentially the most important component of modern political campaigns, particularly in high-level races. In some cases, political ads can consume over one-half of the campaign budget targeting incumbents or challengers with emotional appeals and/or dramatic attacks. We are also experiencing dramatic shifts in campaigning as more candidates craft on-line and social media appeals. Parties and interest groups target key contests and insert their own messages into campaign discourse. This course gives students the chance to explore the research, debates, and timely cases from the academic study of political advertising. Not offered every year.

Prerequisite: Political Science 270 and one other 200 level course, or the permission of the instructor.

311. The Classical Search for Justice.

Fall or Spring. Credits: 4.

This course examines the thought of Plato and Aristotle on comprehensive political questions such as: the character of human happiness, the best regime, the nature of virtue and justice, the competing claims of aristocracy and democracy, and the role of civic education. Some attention will also be given to ancient Roman political thought and to the Christian challenge to Greek and Roman ideas about the “good human being” and the “good citizen.” Not offered every year.

Prerequisite: Political Science 270 and one of the following 212, 214, 216, 218, 230, HUM201 (Politics Track), or the permission of the instructor.

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: Political Science 270 and one of the following 212, 214, 216, 218, 230, HUM201 (Politics Track), or 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. Not offered every year.

Prerequisites: Political Science 270 and one other 200 level course, or the permission of the instructor.

320. Health Care Policy.

Fall or Spring. Credits: 4.

This course examines the politics of health care policymaking in the United States. The course will spend a substantial amount of time addressing the passage and implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, but will also provide an historical context in which to place recent health care legislation. While the course focuses on the U.S. experience, it does also include an examination of approaches to health care in other countries as a way of placing the U.S. experience in a larger context. Not offered every year.

Prerequisites: Political Science 270 and one other 200 level course, or 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 270 and one other 200 level course, or 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 campaigns make in election outcomes. Not offered every year.

Prerequisites: Political Science 270 and one other 200 level course, or the permission of the instructor.

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 other 200 level course, or the permission of the instructor.

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 other 200 level course, or the permission of the instructor.

370. Government Regulation of Business.

Fall or Spring. Credits: 4.

This course is designed to expose students to the history and practice of government regulation of business in the U.S. Topics addressed include an historical survey of regulatory policy, regime theory, the current regulatory climate in Washington, D.C. as well as details on antitrust, financial institutions, consumer protection, environmental protection, telecommunications, and workplace health and safety regulation. Not offered every year.

Prerequisite: Political Science 270 and one other 200 level course, or the permission of the instructor.

380. Intermediate Topics in American Politics, Government, and Policy.

Fall or Spring. Credits: 4.

Prerequisite: Political Science 270 and one other 200 level course, or the permission of the instructor.

386. Intermediate Topics in Political Thought and Philosophy.

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: Political Science 270 and one of the following 212, 214, 216, 218, 230, HUM201 (Politics Track), or the permission of the instructor.

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.

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. Not offered every 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. Students may not receive any credit toward a Political Science major from this course if they have received transfer credits for an internship from the Washington Semester or Capitol Semester programs.

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

480. Advanced Topics in American Politics, Government, and Policy.

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.

485. Senior Seminar in Political Science.

Fall, Spring. Credits: 4.

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

486. 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.

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.

Mock Trial

262. Trial Procedure.

Fall. Credits: 4.

Students study and practice trial procedure. Topics include opening statements, direct examination, cross examination, closing statements, objections, and preparing a witness. Not eligible if you have completed INTD 262. Trial Procedure.

Prerequisite: Sophomore status or the permission of the instructor.

This course does not count toward the major in Political Science.

263. Mock Trial Participation.

Spring. Credits: 1.

Preparation for and participation in intercollegiate Mock Trial competitions. Participants prepare cases around assigned sets of facts. They then practice and compete in roles of both lawyer and witness.
Prerequisite: Political Science 262 (formerly Interdepartmental 262) and the invitation of the instructor. A total of 4 credits may be earned for Mock Trial Participation, this includes credits earned as INTD 263.

This course does not count toward the major in Political Science.

264. Rights of the Accused.

Spring. Credits: 4.

An academic assessment of rights of criminal defendants under the Sixth, Eighth, and Fourteenth Amendments. Topics include the right to counsel, prosecutorial discretion and disclosures, the confrontation clause, defenses and immunities (stand your ground laws, insanity pleas), and the death penalty.
Not eligible if you have completed INTD 264. Rights of the Accused.

This course does not count toward the major in Political Science.