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Political Science Courses

Course information found here includes all permanent offerings and is updated regularly whenever Academic Senate approves changes. For historical information, see the Course Catalogs. For actual course availability in any given term, use Course Search in the Portal.

POLS 110. U.S. Federal Government and Politics (1). Introduction to U.S. government and politics at the national and state levels. Provides background on guiding principles, constitutional guarantees, the federal system, major institutions, and mechanisms that link citizens to officials. Covers both federal and state levels and their interaction in topics such as elections and political executives, which include the president and governors. Illustrative use of public policy materials, especially health policy, as well as current events and issues. Serves as a basic course for any student wishing to gain a foundation in U.S. politics and as the prerequisite for many courses in the American politics subfield. (3B) Offered each semester.

POLS 130. Introduction to Comparative Politics (1). Introduction to the internal politics and policies of various countries throughout the world. Themes of the course include: methods and approaches of comparative analysis; democratic vs. authoritarian systems; political culture and state traditions; political attitudes and ideologies; executive, legislative, and judicial systems; electoral and party systems; interest groups and other civil society actors; political economy; and selected domestic and foreign policy issues. Students may elect to use this course as part of their preparation for study abroad. (3B) Offered each semester.

POLS 160. International Politics (1). Introduction to the workings of the international political and economic systems from both a practical and theoretical perspective. Offers a brief history of the key events which have shaped international politics, introduces the major theoretical approaches of the discipline, and explores mechanisms for conflict and cooperation. (3B) Offered each semester.

POLS 180. Introduction to Political Thinking (1). Introduction to political philosophy through consideration of the enduring question: what is justice? Investigates responses offered by ancient thinkers and those of the early modern period in order to examine the historical development of political theory in the Western tradition. Additional topics of inquiry include: the possibilities and limits of power, freedom, property, and the good society; the relationship between religion and politics; as well as the philosophic presuppositions about human nature and social responsibility that underlie the ancient and modern perspectives. Emphasis on close readings of philosophical texts, critical analysis, and class discussion. (5T) Usually offered once each year. Open to first-year and second-year students only.

POLS 201. Research Methods in Political Science and Health (1). This course offers an overview of research methods used in health and political science research. Course objectives will include an introduction to basic statistical concepts and research design; the course will also emphasize the use of STATA statistical software for production of various statistical output (ANOVA, odds ratios, bivariate and multivariate regression analyses). (Also listed as Health and Society 201.) (3B) Prerequisite: None, but POLS 110 or higher recommended.

POLS 206. Gender Equity and Women’s Empowerment (1) What is gender equity and women’s empowerment? Why are they so hard to achieve? How do varied policies, ideologies, and political contexts shape answers to these questions? Students explore these enduring questions by engaging with projects related to girls and women and the “real” complexities and nuances that emerge. Focusing on local service, international agencies and NGOs, and a human sustainability index, students develops skills needed to apply for and gain support for internships, off-campus study, and other fieldwork on equity and empowerment. Offered alternative fall terms. An Enduring Questions course. Prerequisite: 2nd, 3rd, 4th semester standing.

POLS 212. U.S. Health Policy and Politics (1). An overview of health policy and politics in the United States. Course examines the U.S. health care system, its politics, organization, and the financing of health services. It explores how federalism shapes the system and compares it with other industrialized countries. It also examines the social or non-medical determinants of health, and the limits of what health care alone can accomplish. Health disparities among ethnic and social groups feature centrally throughout. (Also listed as Health and Society 212.) (3B) Prerequisite: Politicial Science 110 or higher or sophomore standing.

POLS 215. U.S. Parties, Groups, and Elections (1). Investigates the nature and functioning of political parties and groups and their roles in representative government. Special attention given to campaigns, with fieldwork required. Offered even years, fall semester. Prerequisite: Political Science 110 or 160 or consent of instructor.

POLS 216. U.S. Media and Politics in a Global Context (1). Explores the symbiotic relationship between the media and politics, along with the forces that drive news journalism and political coverage. Focus is on U.S. politics in a comparative perspective. Offered every third semester. Prerequisite: sophomore standing or consent of instructor.

POLS 217. U.S. Congress (1). Analysis of the complexity and conflicts of the institution and its members. Considers constitutional foundation and structure, committees, procedures, elections, and relation to the presidency. Some focus on policy making. (3B) Offered every third semester. Prerequisite: Political Science 110.

POLS 218. U.S. Presidency (1). Examines the institution of the presidency through focus on its weak constitutional foundations and relations with Congress, the EOP and executive branch, selection, power, and leadership. Special attention to use of media to enhance power potential. Offered every third semester.

POLS 221. Topics in Public Law (1). Selected topics or problems in public law, legal theory, or the history of law. Particular focus of the course will be announced before registration. May be repeated for credit if topic is different. Prerequisite: sophomore standing or consent of instructor.

POLS 225. U.S. Constitutional Law (1). An introduction to the study of law and the judicial process, with special emphasis on legal questions pertaining to the judicial, legislative, and executive powers in the federal government, as well as intergovernmental relations; federalism; economic and substantive due process; equal protection as it pertains to race and gender; freedom of speech; and freedom of religion. Emphasis on critical analysis of Supreme Court cases, class discussion, and crafting original legal arguments for a moot court exercise. Offered each year. Prerequisite: sophomore standing or consent of instructor.

POLS 227. Constitutionalism and National Security (1). An examination of civil liberties and the separation of powers in the face of national security challenges, with particular attention paid to executive powers in war time, Supreme Court cases addressing free speech and due process, and national security legislation. Offered even years, fall semester. Prerequisite: sophomore standing or consent of instructor.

POLS 230. Comparative Health Systems (1). This course provides an overview of comparative health systems. Health care systems in both rich and poor countries throughout the world are examined, including their facilities, workforces, and technology and equipment. Students in this course evaluate the performance of these systems in terms of cost, quality, access, and other issues. (Also listed as Health and Society 230.) Prerequisite: Sophomore standing and one Health and Society or Political Science core course, or instructor approval.

POLS 235. Politics of Advanced Industrial Democracies (1). A comparative study of three or more advanced industrial democracies, including at least two from among the United Kingdom, the Federal Republic of Germany, France, and Japan. Study of state traditions and political cultures, including patterns of democratization, social cleavages, political attitudes, socialization, and recruitment. Comparison of elections, political parties, party systems, interest groups, and institutions (executive, legislative, administrative, judicial, and local). (3B) Offered even years, fall semester. Prerequisite: Political Science 130 or consent of instructor.

POLS 236. Democracy in East Asia (1). Examination and comparison of the politics of the three major East Asian democracies: Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan, plus the semi-democratic system of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China. Two main comparative themes will include: first, how democratic structures and values in each of the countries fit within the model of majoritarian and consensus democracies; and second, whether or not democracy in each of the three countries reflects so-called “Asian values.” Offered odd years, spring semester. Prerequisite: Political Science 130 or 235, or any course in Japanese and Korean history, or consent of instructor. (3B)

POLS 237. European Union (1). A review of the history of the European Union (EU). Addresses the politics of identity, such as the meaning of being European and the challenge of nationalism, treaty law, and integration theories. Includes a simulation of an EU summit. Offered occasionally. Prerequisite: Political Science 160 or consent of instructor.

POLS 238. Anarchism as Theory and Movement (1). This course examines anarchism both as a universal idea that has appeared in different political cultures at various times in history, as well as a social movement that began in Western and Southern Europe in the 19th century and later spread throughout the world. We will examine that movement's driving force and lasting influence as well as its flaws and logical inconsistencies that have led to its periodic downfall and revival. In this course we will look at anarchist critiques of other ideologies while at the same time examining critiques of anarchism from many different perspectives. This course counts toward the Russian, Asian, and European Studies minors, and towards other minors as well with the approval of the instructor and the appropriate advisor. (5T) Prerequisite: Political Science 130 or 180 or consent of instructor

POLS 239. Political Fiction (1). This course examines several works of fiction concerning politics in various times and places. We will not necessarily look at great literature, nor will we deconstruct hidden meanings that reveal unconscious structures of power or domination. Instead, we will look for the underlying conscious and deliberate attitude toward politics in each work and relate that viewpoint to classic political ideas and ideologies. Student will complete research papers on their own chosen work or body of fiction by a particular author and present their findings to the class. Counts for various area studies minors with the approval of the instructor and the relevant advisor. (Also listed as Comparative Literature 230.) (5T) Prerequisite: Political Science 130 or 180

POLS 240. Communist and Post-Communist Systems (1). Study of the political systems of Russia and the former Soviet Union, the People’s Republic of China, and other Communist or post-Communist systems. Focuses on why and when some Communist systems undergo reform and/or revolution while others resist change and even intensify repression. Compares state traditions and political cultures, Marxist ideology, and paths to power. Also compares institutions, recruitment patterns, economic policies, and social cleavages, including women, minorities, and dissidents. (3B) Offered odd years, fall semester. Prerequisite: Political Science 130 or consent of instructor.

POLS 241. China: The Long Revolution (1). This course provides students with the background to modern Chinese history and culture in order to understand political and other events in contemporary China. This is an interdisciplinary course that explores the revolution not just in politics, but the arts, literature, economics, and society from the 19th century to the present. We explore this revolution through several topics that each cross many chronological periods. (3B) (Also listed as Asian Studies 242) Prerequisite: Political Science 130, or any 1 course on China, or consent of instructor.

POLS 246. Global Political Economy (1). This course analyzes the key actors and institutions that shape economic globalization, such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the World Trade Organization, multinational enterprises, governments such as the United States, China, the European Union, Japan, and the BRICS, and civil society, especially nongovernmental organizations. Examines the impact of globalization on trade, investment, finance, technology, development, and sustainability. This course fulfills one of the requirements for the international political economy major. Offered even years, spring semester. Prerequisite: Political Science 160 or consent of instructor.

POLS 247. African International Relations (1). Study of major issues in contemporary African politics. Case studies of representative conflict situations and related topics, including genocide, child soldiers, famine, secession, UN and regional intervention, failed states, and the exploitation of natural resources. Offered occasionally. Prerequisite: Political Science 130 or 160 or consent of instructor.

POLS 248. Contemporary African Politics (1). Guides students through the struggle for democratization and economic development from the post-independence era to the present day. Examines the major factors that shape African politics—the state; social groups; politics of identity (gender/ethnicity/class); international donors; and financial institutions. Offered even years, spring semester. Prerequisite: Political Science 130 or 160 or consent of instructor.

POLS 249. Politics of Development (1). Uncovers the relationships between politics and poverty on the one hand, and politics and development on the other. Investigates differing conceptions of development and the many different theoretical approaches to development. Drawing on case studies from Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Latin America topics covered may include: law and legal system reform; politics of HIV/AIDS; state capacity and efficiency; civil society and social movements; and resource mismanagement and conflict. (3B) Offered odd years, fall semester. Prerequisite: Political Science 130 or 160, or consent of instructor.

POLS 250. Women and Politics in Africa (1). Introduction to the roles and interaction of women within African society and in relation to the African state. Examines the formal and informal ways in which African women have entered and shaped the political sphere; as political activists, organizers, voters, politicians, lawyers, and policymakers. This course situates the study of African women in politics within the scholarship of developing world gender politics more broadly. (Also listed as Critical Identity Studies 210.) (3B) Offered odd years, spring semester. Prerequisite: Political Science 130 or 160, or sophomore standing.

POLS 251. Judging Politics: Comparative Courts and Law (1). Introduction to the interaction between law, courts, and politics around the world—particularly in the new democracies of Africa and Latin America—but also with cases from the United States, Europe, and Asia. This course, starting from the assumption that courts are political actors, examines the (in)formal functions of courts by investigating how they have crafted national policies, empowered individual rights regimes, and shaped the democratic development of states. (3B) Offered even years, fall semester. Prerequisite: Political Science 110, 130 or 160.

POLS 255. Global Political Ecology (1). This course has a strong practical focus to help the students develop skills for careers in sustainability. Students will work in groups on a semester-long sustainability project on campus and a simulation of a climate change summit. They learn about different ecologies, as well as the actors, institutions, and key issues in environmental policy-making, from the local level to the global, with special focus on climate change, class, environmental racism, environmental justice, activism, and empowerment. This course fulfills one of the requirements for the environmental studies major and minor. (3B) Offered every fall semester. Prerequisite: any 100-level political science course or consent of instructor.

POLS 261. Building Democracy (1). Exploration of the contemporary challenges of promoting democracy in regimes characterized by authoritarian elements simultaneously existing alongside multiparty elections. Examines the fundamental theories, conceptual tools, and comparative methods needed to understand the challenges of building democracy around the world. Offers students the opportunity to generate policy proposals. Offered odd years, spring semester. Prerequisite: Political Science 130 or 160 or consent of instructor.

POLS 262. Human Rights Seminar (1). The study of international human rights. Topics include the role of the United Nations and nongovernmental organizations; the position of women and gender-based cultural practices; refugees and asylum practices; labor practices; the death penalty and juvenile justice; health and human rights; indigenous peoples; civil and political liberties; and economic rights. Offered every third semester. Prerequisite: Political Science 130 or 160 or consent of instructor. Preference given to third- and fourth-year students.

POLS 265. Nationalism and Ethnic Politics (1). An exploration of the central concepts and theoretical debates surrounding nationalism and ethnic politics. Study of the meaning of the “nation,” the construction of national identity, the sources of ethnic conflict, secession, intervention, the management of protracted social conflict, and conflict resolution. (3B) Prerequisite: Political Science 130 or 160 or consent of instructor.

POLS 270. Topics in Middle East Politics (1). Topics include: the politics of West Asia, focusing on Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Turkey; the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; and the political processes of Mideast states, emphasizing identity, religion, social groups, economic development, and prospects for democracy. (3B) May be repeated for credit if topic is different. Offered fall semester. Prerequisite: Political Science 130 or 160 or consent of instructor.

POLS 272. Politics of Latin America and the Caribbean (1). A comparative study of the political systems of the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean. Reviews topics such as the consolidation of democracy, weakness of the party system, presidentialism, populism, patrimonialism, good governance, sustainable development, civil-military relations, the politics of identity (gender, race, ethnicity), religion, and the diversity of political histories, cultures, and traditions. This course fulfills a requirement for the Latin American and Caribbean studies minor. Offered odd years, spring semester. Prerequisite: sophomore standing.

POLS 273. Foreign Policy: Latin America and the Caribbean (1). A comparative study of the foreign policies of the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, with a strong focus on inter-American relations, including a simulation of a summit of the Organization of American States. Reviews the main theories that explore the role of Latin America and the Caribbean in international relations, such as modernization, dependency, and corporatism, among others, and regional integration. This course fulfills a requirement for the Latin American and Caribbean studies minor. Offered even years, spring semester. Prerequisite: Political Science 160 or 272, or consent of instructor.

POLS 275. United States Foreign Policy (1). The formulation, conduct, and content of post-World War II U.S. foreign policy, with an emphasis on the post-Vietnam war era. (Also listed as History 275). Prerequisite: Political Science 110 or 160 or consent of instructor.

POLS 280. Classical Justice (1). An examination of classical political philosophy through the study of Plato’s and Aristotle’s most influential political texts. Considers questions pertaining to justice, virtue, freedom, equality, gender, the purpose and scope of political authority, citizenship, education, poetry, as well as the relationship between the philosophical individual and the political community. Emphasis on critical analysis of ancient philosophical texts and class discussion. (Also listed as Philosophy 280.) (5T) Offered odd years, fall semester. Prerequisite: Political Science 180 or sophomore standing.

POLS 285. Modern Political Theory (1). An examination of the revolutionary challenge to classical and medieval political philosophy posed by such writers as Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Burke, Marx, and Nietzsche. Broad themes include: the question of human nature, the possibilities and limitations of social contract theory, the concept of property and its implications, the nature of rights and duties, as well as the meaning of human freedom and equality. (Also listed as Philosophy 285.) Offered each spring. Prerequisite: Political Science 180 or sophomore standing.

POLS 287. U.S. Political Thought (1). Study of the development of North American political ideas through critical analysis of the writings of intellectuals and political leaders from the American Founding to the present. Possible authors include Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton, Tocqueville, Lincoln, Douglass, Anthony, Stanton, Addams, Dewey, Croly, Roosevelt, Kirk, Chomsky, and others. Emphasis on textual analysis and class discussion. Offered even years, fall semester. Prerequisite: Political Science 180 or sophomore standing.

POLS 295. Studies in Politics (.5, 1). Selected topics or problems in government and politics or in relating political studies to other disciplines. The focus selected for a particular offering of the course will be announced before registration. May be repeated for credit if topic is different. Prerequisite: Political Science 110, 130 or 160, depending on topic, or consent of instructor.

POLS 306. Advanced Topics in Feminism and Politics (1). Capstone course in which students are expected to undertake a major research paper or activist practicum in addition to reading classic and contemporary feminist scholarship in political science. Themes will vary with each seminar. Topics depend upon student interests and recent scholarly developments. Offered every third semester. Topics course. Prerequisite: senior standing, any 200-level political science course, and Critical Identity Studies 165.

POLS 310. Public Leadership: Influence in Policy, Administration, Institutions, and Elections (1). Capstone course that requires a major original research paper or a major practicum. Based around readings on public leadership in theory and practice, it explores the ways change occurs in the public sector of U.S. politics. Covers general political science topics and invites students to focus upon public leadership as related to the environment, health care, economic development, and social justice. May be taken in conjunction with an additional .5 unit of special project honors thesis or internship. Offered every third semester. (CP) Prerequisite: junior or senior standing, any 100-level political science course, and any 200-level political science course.

POLS 330. Studies in Comparative Politics (1). Capstone course that examines a particular theme applied to various regions and countries of the world across time and space. Students will develop their own major research paper on a country or theme and will present that paper in class. Potential topics might include: electoral and party systems; comparative East Asian foreign policy; comparative African politics; law and development; comparative judicial politics; and the interrelationship of American and Chinese politics. (CP) Offered occasionally. Prerequisite: junior or senior standing and 2 courses in comparative politics.

POLS 380. Political Theory and Public Law: Research Seminar (1). Capstone seminar for students interested in political theory or public law. Emphasis on preparing students’ written work for conference presentation and publication. Includes seminar presentations and peer review. Particular focus of the course will be announced before registration. Usually offered each year. (CP) Prerequisite: junior or senior standing and at least one 200-level law or political theory course.

POLS 386. Studies in Comparative Political Thought (1). Capstone course that examines a particular theme, applied to various thinkers and countries of the world across time and space. Students will develop their own major research paper on a particular thinker or country and will present that paper in class. Potential themes include: comparative dissent; anarchism as theory and movement; comparative utopian thought; Chinese political thought; and political ideology in fiction. (CP) Offered occasionally. Prerequisite: junior or senior standing and 2 courses in political theory and/or comparative politics

POLS 390. Special Projects (.25 - 1). Individual research or reading projects for superior students under departmental guidance. Prerequisite: available, with consent of the department, to political science majors with a “B” average in political science.

POLS 395. Teaching Assistant (.5). Work with faculty in classroom instruction. Graded credit/no credit.

POLS 396. Teaching Assistant Research (.5). Course and curriculum development projects with faculty.