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Political Science

Chair: Khristina H. Haddad 
Professor: Khristina H. Haddad 
Associate Professor: Faith Okpotor
Assistant Professor: Samuel C. Rhodes, Holly Seo-Nyeong Jo
Adjunct Instructor: Fara Farbod
Emeriti: Jean-Pierre Lalande, John Reynolds

The program in political science is designed to provide opportunities to understand politics as art, science, and philosophy. The political science department prepares students for pursuit of graduate degrees in political science as well as for professional schools such as law school and careers in government service.  The department also seeks to prepare students for their role as citizens in a democratic society and for informed membership in a global community.

The Major in Political Science

The major in political science consists of 10 course units. Four are required: Political Science 110, 115, 120, and 125. In addition to these four required courses, students will select one of two departmental concentrations that will structure choices of upper division courses and complete at least four upper division courses in the chosen concentration. In addition, students must take at least one upper-level course in the second concentration.  Students must complete two 300-level courses, at least one of which needs to be in their chosen area of concentration. One writing-intensive course is required. Writing-intensive courses may be at the 200 or 300-level.

The departmental concentrations are:

Citizenship in theory and practice – Designed to prepare students for informed engagement in political and public affairs through a purposeful consideration of the theoretical nature of politics, the ends towards which politics can be directed and the means employed to achieve those ends. This concentration focuses on normative purposes and argumentation, political language and consciousness, historical texts, institutionalized political processes, modes of political participation and the particulars of contemporary policy issues.  Courses that can be used to complete the requirements of this concentration are: POSC 215, 220, 221, 225, 237, 250, 260, 330, 340, 355 and ENVR 240.

Global politics and international political awareness – Designed to develop the students understanding of international politics and global political issues through the study of international political systems and the practice of politics in nations and regions beyond the United States. Students choosing this concentration will engage matters such as the means by which states organize and maintain political power, the international political economy, regional governance and conflict, political violence and international security. Courses that can be used to complete the requirements of this concentration are: POSC 228, 235, 241, 245, 247, 248, 255, 327, and 346.

Courses in special topics and independent study may be substituted for courses at the advanced level, depending on the area in which the student will work and contingent upon departmental approval. Internship (386-388) will be counted as an elective in the major but is contingent upon department approval. Honors candidates take two courses, Political Science 400-401, which are counted within the 10-course requirement. Such courses will be evaluated on a case by case basis to assess for which track the course might be accepted as meeting the requirements of the major.

Important note about special topic courses. The department encourages students to take special topic (ST) courses. All special topic courses are eligible for credit with regard to political science major and minor requirements.

ST: American political and political theory courses are eligible for Track 1 credit

ST. Comparative politics and international relations courses count for Track 2 credit

Special topic courses are not automatically assigned to the corresponding requirement. Advisors request a course substitution by emailing the registrar. If your special topic courses require a transcript adjustment, please contact your advisor.

Required introductory courses: All majors will complete the four introductory courses listed below.

  • POSC 110 American Political Systems 
  • POSC 115 Introduction to International Politics
  • POSC 120 Introduction to Political Theory 
  • POSC 125 Introduction to Comparative Politics 

Courses eligible for upper division credit in Citizenship in theory and practice track. Students completing this track will be required to complete a minimum of four of these courses. Each of these courses will generally be taught on a two year cycle but a minimum of four will be available each academic year. At least one 300 level course in this track will be scheduled each academic year. 

  • POSC 215 Modern Political Theory 
  • POSC 220 American Constitutional Law 
  • POSC 221 Civil Liberties (cross listed, taught within Sociology Department)
  • POSC 225 Congress and the Presidency 
  • POSC 237 Public Administration and Public Policy 
  • POSC 250 Contemporary Political Theory 
  • POSC 260 Critical Gender Studies 
  • POSC 330 Culture and Politics
  • POSC 340 Energy Policy 
  • POSC 355 Utopias, Dystopias, and Manifestos: The Imagination of Political Alternatives 
  • ENVR 240 Environmental Policy 

Courses eligible for upper division credit in Global politics and international political awareness. Students completing this track will be required to complete a minimum of four of these courses. Each of these courses will generally be taught on a two year cycle but a minimum of four will be available each academic year. At least one 300 level course will be scheduled each academic year. 

  • POSC 228 - African Politics
  • POSC 235 - Contemporary European Politics
  • POSC 241 - International Security
  • POSC 245 - The Politics of the Middle East 
  • POSC 247 - Introduction to Chinese Politics 
  • POSC 248 - Will China Rule the World?
  • POSC 255 - The Political Wisdom of the East
  • POSC 327 - Politics of Developing Nations
  • POSC 346 - The Politics of the Global Economy

Writing-Intensive Courses

Students will be required to take one of the following to meet the University requirement for writing-intensive courses:  POSC 225, 330 and 355. The department is in the process of developing one or more writing-intensive courses in the global/international track.

The Minor in Political Science

The minor in political science consists of five courses: two introductory courses (chosen from POSC 110, POSC 115, POSC 120, and POSC 125) and three other courses at the advanced level of which one must be a 300-level course.

The Interdepartmental Major

Set I of the interdepartmental major consists of six course units: any two of Political Science 110, 115, 120, and 125, and four others, two of which may be independent study.

Departmental Recommendations

Students interested in graduate and professional studies are encouraged to take courses in other areas of the social sciences and in statistics. Prospective graduate students are advised to reach at least reading proficiency in those languages that may be required for their studies.

Courses in Political Science

POSC 110. The American Political System. Operation of American political processes and governmental institutions. Political culture of American democracy, political philosophy of the Constitution, relationship between organization of the economy and political power, linkages between mass public and governing elites, and operation of institutions of national government. (M4) 

POSC 115. Introduction to International Politics. This course is meant to acquaint students with the analytical approaches, concepts, processes, issues, and actors in world politics. The class is anchored in class discussion and exchange of ideas. We will study the continuum of theoretical traditions and analytical approaches used in the study of international relations/world politics/international politics, including realism, liberalism, constructivism, and feminism. We will explore the roles of key actors in global politics including governments, international institutions, and a variety of non-state actors. Additionally, we will examine key global issues such as global security, war and peace, human rights, global economics and trade, poverty and development, and environmental issues. The course will draw on historical and contemporary cases to help students draw connections between theories and world events and to be equipped with how to best explain and understand the world. (M4) 

POSC 120. Introduction to Political Thinking. How can we ask better political questions and provide better political answers? This course introduces students to the habits of mind of famous thinkers across the centuries: Plato, Machiavelli, Shakespeare, de Tocqueville, Students for a Democratic Society, and Hannah Arendt. Topics include personal choice, democratic citizenship, justice, and totalitarianism. (M3) 

POSC 125. Introduction to Comparative Politics. In this course, students will be introduced to analytical tools that can be used to explore how politics operate outside of the United States. We will begin by addressing fundamental “what” questions about the concept of the state, democracy, and political identity. From there, we will examine “why” and “how” questions through comparative perspectives. Some of the questions we will explore include: Why are some countries democratic and peaceful while others are authoritarian and conflict-prone? How does democracy affect power distribution among political actors? What is the impact of political identities based on race/ethnicity/gender and religion on domestic politics? Upon completing the course, students will better understand the differences between strong and weak states, how politics are organized in democracies and non-democracies, and the political significance of various forms of identities. (M5) 

POSC 127. East Asia and the Future. This course provides an introduction to national security, regional security, and politics in the East Asian region. The course will focus primarily on the major and middle Northeast Asian powers (China, Japan, Russia, the Koreas, Taiwan, and the United States); however, there also will be substantive reference to South Asia, Southeast Asia, and Europe. It will consider a series of selected issues, including historical background; political economy; national and regional security; human rights; culture; and transnational linkages such as drugs, disease, oil, and war. (M5) 

POSC 130. The First Amendment. Issues of freedom of speech and expression. Supreme Court interpretations of the First Amendment, including major cases that have defined parameters of free speech in America. Philosophical debate about value of free expression in a democratic society. Topics include subversive speech and political dissent, protest speech, prior restraint, obscenity, libel, symbolic speech, hate speech, and provocation. May Term. 

POSC 215. Modern Political Theory. Why should we obey the law? What makes state violence legitimate? Close textual investigations of the works of great modern political theorists such as Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Wollstonecraft, Marx, and Mill, with an emphasis on the social contract and its limits as a form of political foundation. Spring. Two 70-minute periods. 

POSC 220. American Constitutional Law. (Also SOCI 220) Role of the Supreme Court and its relationship to the legislative and executive branches of American political system. Attention to judicial decisions of constitutional and historic significance in development of American government. Recommended: POSC 110 or SOC 216. Fall, alternate years. Two 70-minute periods. 

POSC 221. Civil Liberties and the U.S. Constitution. (Also SOCI 221) Civil liberties of Americans as delineated in the Bill of Rights. Issues of freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly, right to counsel, searches and seizures, self-incrimination, cruel and unusual punishment, and fair trial. Judicial policy-making and problem of individual freedoms in conflict with federal and local police powers. Alternate years. 

POSC 225. WI:Congress and the Presidency. Organization and operation of legislative and executive branches; interaction between them. Attention to the rise of the administrative state and struggle for control of public policy. Fall, alternate years. Two 70-minute periods. Writing-intensive. 

POSC 228. African Politics. This course provides an understanding of politics and policy in Africa that is devoid of common stereotypes. Students will gain an appreciation of the many success stories on the continent and of the lingering challenges. We will draw from a variety of readings, books, articles, reports, documentaries and news reports. Topics to be discussed include the colonial state; the postcolonial state; elections, democratization and political change; political economy and development; gender and politics; religion and politics; ethnicity and politics; conflict and violence; African international relations. Prerequisites: POSC 110 or POSC 115 or POSC 120 or POSC 125 or POSC 127 or instructor permission.

POSC 235. Contemporary European Politics. Efforts to set up, organize, and implement the European Union, from the end of World War II to the present. Review of political, economic, and social factors that have influenced these efforts. Topics include national interests of the larger countries (Germany, France, and Great Britain); role of smaller countries; reunification of Germany; relations with the United States and Japan; recent enlargement of the EU to include central and eastern European countries. Special attention given to the creation, implementation, and meaning of the euro, the EU's common currency. Spring. Two 70-minute periods. (M4) 

POSC 237. Public Administration and Public Policy. Principles and practice of public administration in the U.S. Organization and operation of executive branch and its role in formulation and implementation of public policy. Topics include organization theory, bureaucratic discretion, power and accountability, administrative process, budgeting, theories of decision-making, regulatory policy. Spring, alternate years. (M4) 

POSC 241. International Security. This course provides students an understanding of the traditional and non-traditional discourses surrounding security affairs and conflict internationally, transnationally and sub-nationally. We will explore realist, liberal, constructivist, critical, and feminist understandings of international security affairs in the areas of great power conflict, terrorism, revolutionary war, internal conflict, and civil-military relations. We will also examine other non-traditional security areas such as environmental degradation, resource/livelihood conflicts, global pandemics and economic woes that threaten the physical safety of individuals and groups. Prerequisites: POSC 110, POSC 115 or POSC 120 or POSC 125 or POSC 127 or instructor permission.

POSC 245. The Politics of the Middle East. Focuses on the politics and conflicts in the Middle East including Israeli-Palestinian conflict, oil politics, Islam, U.S. policy in the region, with attention to Egypt, Iran, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and Saudi Arabia. Spring. Two 70-minute periods. (M5) 

POSC 248. Will China Rule the World?. Will China rule the world, replacing the United States as the global hegemony?  Will China’s rise change the rules of the game of today’s international system and global economy?  The course examines the implications of China’s rise for global economy, governance, security, resources, environment, technology, and culture, as well as for the United States.  Drawing on International Relations and Globalization theories, the course focuses on China’s glowing presence in the global economy/international institutions, its global reach as a foreign-aid donor and investor in Africa and the Middle East, its global propaganda efforts/pursuit of soft power, its association with North Korea, its rapid military build-up, and its ambition to rejuvenate the nation. Prerequisite: POSC 115 or POSC 125 or POSC 127. (M5) 

POSC 250. Contemporary Political Theory. Topics have included democracy, totalitarianism, existential political thought, Marxism, nationalism. 

POSC 255. The Political Wisdom of the East. Introduction to major political thought and ideology in Asia and the political and economic implications of those ideas. The course examines ancient philosophies such as Taoism, Confucianism, and Sun Tzu’s “the Art of War” as well as modern political thought of Mao Zedong, Ho Chi Minh, and North Korea. The course considers the implications of these systems of thought for Asia’s warfare and nation-building struggles. The course also focuses on contemporary thought/philosophies in modern Japan, China, and Southeast Asia and their implications for Asia’s democracy, capitalism, and business. Prerequisite: Sophomore standing or higher or permission of instructor.

POSC 260. Critical Gender Studies. (Also WGSS 260) This advanced-level political theory course introduces students to scholarly texts, activist writings, and historical documents pertinent to feminist theory and masculinity studies. Selected readings also address multiculturalism, race, class, sexuality, religion, and ethnicity. Theories studied will vary by semester. This class exposes students to diverse approaches to the politics of sex and gender. Prerequisite: POSC 120 or permission of the instructor. 

POSC 327. Politics of Developing Nations. This course is meant to acquaint students with the pertinent issues affecting the developing world and the challenges faced by developing nations. In an interconnected world, the challenges of developing nations affect us all. The course will provide an overview of the analytical frameworks used to study the politics of the developing world. We will explore the question of development and underdevelopment. Why are some countries not developed? We will examine the global context in which the developing world is situated and the power dynamics that shape current political and economic realities of developing nations. Additionally we will discuss how the issues of globalization, gender, violence, governance, poverty, natural resources, and many others unfold in the developing world and how they are perceived by both developing and developed nations. The course will draw on historical and contemporary examples from Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Middle East while exploring some countries in depth. The class will be run as a seminar and is anchored in class discussion and exchange of ideas. (M5)

POSC 330. WI:American Politics and Culture. How cultural processes structure comprehension and evaluation of American politics; the relationship between culture and political power; how cultural beliefs and values are manifest in the U.S. political agenda. Topics can include discussion of consumerism, nationalism, race, ethnicity, gender and religion in American politics. Spring, alternate years. Writing-intensive. (M4) 

POSC 340. Energy Policy. Explores how contemporary society uses energy and how its use is shaped by politics and public policy, especially how energy consumption and choices of energy technologies shape patterns of human settlement, structure of social life, distribution of income, and allocation of political power. Examines implications of energy choices for the viability of the environment, levels of personal freedom, and possibilities of democratic government. (U1) 

POSC 346. The Politics of Global Economy. Examination of major approaches to the studies of global political economy and examinations of key issues and trends that have characterized today’s global economy. How do money, goods, and people move around the world? Who regulates the global flows of money and trade? What are the challenges of today’s global economy? Why global financial crisis? How those challenges affect our daily life? Why rich countries are rich and poor countries are poor? Topics include the evolution of global economy, trade and finance, the issues on world resources, environment, and sustainable development, the roles of multinational corporations, foreign aid and dependency, and the rise of China/BRICS and its impacts on global economy. Prerequisites: POSC 115 or POSC 125 or POSC 127 or permission of the instructor.

POSC 355. WI: Utopias, Dystopias, and Manifestos: The Imagination of Political Alternatives. This course introduces students to visionary political writing, including Thomas More's Utopia, Theodore Herzl's The Jewish State, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engel's The Communist Manifesto, and Octavia Butler's The Parable of the Sower. We will think about political theorists as writers and also engage in original writing. The work of this course culminates in the creation of original student political visions. Prerequisites: Sophomore standing or higher, and POSC 120 or permission of instructor. (U2) Writing-intensive. 

POSC 190-199, 290-299, 390-399. Special Topics.
POSC 286, 381-383. Independent Study.
POSC 384. Independent Research.
POSC 288, 386-388. Internship.
POSC 400-401. Honors.