Course Descriptions


PSCI 101 American National Government (CSI) (U)

An introduction to the structure, institutions and processes of American government. Topics include an analysis of the system of American federalism, separation of powers, Congress, the Presidency, Supreme Court policy-making, elections and voting behavior, political parties and interest groups. Offered each semester.

PSCI 102 International Politics (CHC, G)

A theoretical and historical basis for analyzing and understanding international politics. It does so by examining the major conceptual approaches to the study of war, peace, and the interactions of nations and states. The class seeks to place contemporary and historical events into a broader analytical context, and to understand the forces of change in the international system from a number of theoretical perspectives. Offered each semester.

PSCI 103 Comparing Nations (CSI, G)

Compares the peoples, geography, political culture (attitudes and values of citizens), and government (structures, processes, and policy-making) across a range of countries in order to better understand how politics works. Offered annually.

PSCI 104 Multiculturalism and its Critics (AV)

Internationally, advocates of multiculturalism promote the cultural and religious interests of national minorities, immigrants, and dispersed communities within the nation state. This course focuses on liberal multiculturalism, which claims that individual rights are necessary but insufficient for the protection of minority group interests. Critics see tensions between multicultural protections and (1) national unity, (2) feminism, and (3) the liberal ideal of state neutrality. Offered in alternate years.

PSCI 200 American Political Cultures (U)

This course examines the variations among and conflicts between the different "political cultures" in America. These include varying values, attitudes, beliefs and symbols.The course analyzes several "cultural clashes" over the public policy decisions of government. Offered occasionally.

PSCI 201 State and Local Government

Analysis of the different structures and political cultures of state and local governments in the United States. Focus is on institutional structures, behavioral patterns and trends, public policies, and on the interplay of levels of government in a Federal system. Prerequisite: PSCI 101 or consent of instructor. Offered in alternate years.

PSCI 202 Engagement & The City (U)

An introduction to the challenges of contemporary citizenship, the course teaches students the basic skills of action research. Students work in teams on projects with community partners. Students learn to conduct stakeholder analyses, locate communities in the context of power and social capital, complete “best practice” studies, and create and implement action plans. Sophomore standing recommended. Offered each spring.

PSCI 204/304 Transitional Justice (AV)

Societies emerging from extreme violence such as genocide, ethnic cleansing, or state terror cannot find durable peace without taking account of these legacies, acknowledging responsibility for such crimes, and implementing some form of justice. Such “transitional justice” processes have become a major mechanism of international relations, human rights law, and humanitarian advocacy. This course examines the political, institutional, and normative challenges of implementing them. Offered every third year.

PSCI 210 Democracy: What’s the Big Idea (IT)

This seminar introduces students to multiple perspectives on democratic theory and practice. These include expectations surrounding citizen competence and involvement in governance, the evolution of democratic institutions, and prospects for saving democracy from the economic and cultural crises of our era. This is a team-taught seminar involving the entire department. Prerequisites: at least sophomore standing, or instructor approval. Offered annually.

PSCI 212 International Politics of East Asia (CHC, G)

This course of International Politics of East Asia seeks to develop students’ capacity in understanding the challenges and opportunities that East Asian countries currently face and predicting the future of dynamics of regional security and political economy. Offered annually.

PSCI 214 Politics in China (CHC, G)

The highly-modified communist Chinese party-state as it adopts the competitive economic model. Institutions of the Party and the State civil rights problems, economic privatization and incentives policies, and the changing roles of the army, the regions and zones, private business, and institutions like education. For general education credit. Offered occasionally.

PSCI 215 Politics in Developing Societies

A study of emerging societies with marked problems evidenced in their political behavior and structures, cultural diffusion, unequally progressing systems, and international acts. Examples will include nations in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, or Latin America. Offered in alternate years.

PSCI 216 Politics in Africa

Examines trajectories of political and economic development in Africa. Considers the impact of colonialism on economic, social and cultural organization in Africa, the nature of postcolonial African elites, and the sources of their power. Analyzes the politics of 'development' in Africa through African states' relationship to international financial institutions. Offered in alternate years.

PSCI 217 Politics and Society in Contemporary South Africa (G)

This course examines South Africa's transition from authoritarian apartheid rule to a democratic dispensation. It focuses on the legacies of apartheid and the characteristics of the liberation struggle; emerging political cultures; the design of new political institutions; the political economy of uneven development; the challenges of poverty and social reconstruction. Offered in alternate years.

PSCI 218 Advanced Democracies (G)

Course explores politics in post-industrial democracies (primarily Western Europe, North America and Australasia). Through readings and assignments students will evaluate the role that differences in political culture and institutional structure play in explaining country-level responses to common welfare state challenges. Offered in alternate years.

PSCI 220 Women and Politics (CSI, U)

Analyzes the status of women in American political and social life. Emphasis is placed upon political participation, voting, and policies that affect women at home and in the workplace. This status is then compared with the status of women in other advanced industrial societies, developing and theocratic societies, and the communist and post-communist systems. Offered in alternate years.

PSCI 225 Compare, Analyze, Discover (W)

Based on the model of a think tank, students in this class will learn the logic and strategies of comparative method in order to apply those in cross-national research aimed at solving real-world problems. Short practice assignments build toward an original research design and Working Paper. Offered in alternate Spring Terms.

PSCI 230 The American Presidency (W)

This course surveys the American presidency from its founding to the current period, with an emphasis on the modern presidency. Several perspectives on understanding presidential power are examined. Particular attention is given to presidential relations with Congress and the courts. Students produce a research paper. Recommended prerequisite: PSCI 101. Offered in alternate years.

PSCI 241 American Elections, Political Parties and Campaigns (CSI, W)

Designed to explore the idiosyncratic nature of the American electoral process and political party system. It includes an analysis of divergent political sub-cultures, public opinion, the impact of electoral structures or different "rules of the game," electoral history, change, partisan realignment and the critical factors which affect individual voting decisions such as party identification, ideology, issues and candidate images. It will also examine political institutions in the era of modern "new style" election campaigns. Recommended: PSCI 101. Offered in alternate years.

PSCI 243 Public Opinion and Political Behavior

Introduces students to the major themes in American public opinion and political behavior. Emphasis is given to the mechanics of opinion polling, political learning and opinion formation, media influences, connections between opinion and behavior, and linkages between public opinion and public policy. Offered in alternate years.

PSCI 244 Voting, Voice, and Virtual Freedom (AV, W)

Is the Voting Rights Act still needed after the Obama era? Was the city of Chicago justified in shutting down nightly Occupy protests in Grant Park? Is net neutrality a First Amendment right? Should Twitter be held to free speech standards? These and other issues will be featured in this discussion-based class. Students will master the persuasive essay form, and will research, write, present, and publish Wikipedia entries on a variety of civil liberties topics. Offered in alternate years.

PSCI 250 Special Project

Independent research under the supervision of a department faculty member. Prerequisite: consent of faculty supervisor prior to registration. Offered occasionally.

PSCI 260 American Environmental Politics and Policy (CSI) (Cross-listed with ENST 260)

Basic introduction to the institutional and legal framework of contemporary American environmental policy and to environmental politics in the United States. Policy issues explored include water and air pollution, solid and hazardous waste, endangered species and wilderness preservation, energy development, growth management, and environmental justice. Offered in alternate years, fall semester. 

PSCI 262/362 Global Environmental Sustainability and Asian Development (CSI, G) (Cross-listed with ENST 262/362)

Home to 60 percent of the world’s population, abundant biodiversity, and rapid economic growth, Asia is central to life on our planet. This course introduces students to Asia’s ecosystems; it then focuses on how economic development trends in Asia are influencing environmental, social, and economic sustainability and affecting people both within Asia and globally. Offered annually.

PSCI 270 Special Topics in Politics (1.00 or 1.25 depending on topic)

A periodic course dealing with political issues of current or unique interest. May be repeated once for credit if the topic is not repeated. See current Program of Classes to determine if this course fulfills general education requirements. Offered occasionally.

PSCI 280 Contemporary Issues in Public Policy

Examines the controversies of a different public area each time offered (such as, but not limited to, civil rights, environment policy, health care, social welfare and urban policy). The historical evolution of the policies are examined as well as the contemporary controversies and problems. May be repeated once for credit if the topic is not repeated. Offered occasionally.

PSCI 281 American Social Policy (AV, U)

This course surveys some major social programs in the U.S. Topics include Social Security, welfare, foodstamps, Medicare and Medicaid, housing assistance and homelessness, and affirmative action, among others. Students will examine the trade-off between federal and state roles, and the cultural and economic values the programs involve. Offered annually.

PSCI 282/382 American Health Policy

This course examines health policy in the United States. In addition to covering issues related to quality of and access to care, it addresses the major payment systems of Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurance. Students will have opportunities to meet and discuss these issues with health professionals who visit class. Some small-group work will allow students to identify problems with the nation’s current health systems and propose detailed solutions. Prerequisite for 382: approval of instructor. Offered in alternate years.

PSCI 301 Studies in Political Culture: The American South and the Politics of Race (U)

Examines the distinctive political culture of the American South (its collective values, beliefs, history and demographic characteristics) and the central role of race in forming this uniqueness. Offered in alternate years.

PSCI 302 Political Protest and Social Movements

Through an examination of case studies and theoretical approaches, this course examines the politics of popular protest and rebellion. Topics include: resources and prerequisites for movement mobilization and success; the role of cultures/ ideologies in mobilization; changing protest 'repertoires' and tactics; 'old' and 'new' social movements; how state institutions structure the characteristics of social movements. Offered in alternate years.

PSCI 303 International Law and Organizations

The sources and nature of international law. Concern for current legal issues such as the use of force, human rights, war crimes, outer space, ecology, and international organizations, both general and economic. Case law course. Offered in alternate years.

PSCI 305 Theories of International Relations (IT, W)

The course of Theories of International Relations seeks to examine major theoretical approaches to international relations. Its primary goal is to give students the analytic tools to understand contemporary issues in international politics, including the causes of war and peace, economic cooperation and conflict, and the role on international institutions. Offered occasionally.

PSCI 307 Constitutional Law I: Judicial Review and Constitutional Interpretation

The Constitution governs the relations between the executive branch and Congress and the federal government and the states. But is a Constitution more than a set of rules?; who has the ultimate authority to interpret it?; and how should it be done? With these questions, we interrogate the classic cases of Calder v. Bull, Marbury v. Madison, McCulloch v. Maryland, Missouri v. Holland, and Roe v. Wade among others. Offered in alternate years.

PSCI 315 Classical Political Thought: Democracy in Athens and America (IT,W)

This course uses Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War, the dialogues of Plato, and the plays of Sophocles and Aristophanes to examine the values and ideals of Athenian democracy. The American case is used to spur debate. Issues addressed include: the rules of war, realist and constructivist views of power, and the merits of democratic participation. Offered in alternate years.

PSCI 316 Modern Political Thought: Liberalism and its Discontents (IT, W)

This class uses the defining texts of modern political theory—Hobbes' Leviathan, Locke's Second Treatise on Government, and Rousseau's On the Social Contract—to develop a working definition of liberalism. Problems that plague the application of liberal principles are raised as we address the conundrum of voluntary servitude, the shifting basis of the social contract in consent and reason, the claim that property is a pre-political right, the distinction between negative and positive liberty, and the role of religion in public life. Offered in alternate years.

PSCI 317 American Political Thought: Three Political Traditions (IT, W)

American political ideals often express a liberal commitment to individual freedom, but a republican commitment to citizen independence and ascriptive commitments to particular ethnic and religious traditions have also characterized mainstream political ideology in the United States. This class assesses the claim that the liberal tradition dominates American politics. Offered in alternate years.

PSCI 318 Schools and Sects in the Study of Politics (IT)

This seminar course covers many influential writings in political science in order to examine why we ask the questions we ask and why we tend to look for the types of evidence we often gather.We read these texts paying at least as much attention to the theoretical and epistemological approaches used as to the substance of the findings and conclusions. Several short papers are required. Prerequisite: junior or senior standing or consent of constructor. Offered in alternate years.

PSCI 322 Politics of the European Union (CHC, G)

The course of Politics of the European Union seeks to examine the history of European integration, European institutions, European policies, and the challenges and opportunities of European integration (e.g., Europeanization, the democratic deficit, European identity, transatlantic relations, the Eurozone crisis, etc.). Offered occasionally.

PSCI 323 Post-Communist Europe (CHC, G)

This course explores the establishment, functioning, and collapse of the system of rule developed in the Soviet Union and exported to states in East Central Europe (ECE). Students will evaluate the legacies of communist rule for contemporary politics and uncover national diversity in a region once treated as homogeneous. Suggested prerequisite: PSCI 103. Offered in alternate years.

PSCI 325 Conflict Areas of the Third World

The focus will be on both the sources and the nature of conflict in the various areas of the Third World: Africa, Latin America, Asia. Offered in alternate years.

PSCI 326 Globalization and Development

Explores the roots of global poverty and inequality by examining the interplay of ideas and power that shape poor countries' development strategies. Analyzes foundational ideas of classical thinkers: Smith, Marx, Durkheim, Weber. Assesses concepts of modernization, dependency and neoliberalism. Analyzes effects of multilateral organizations, states, markets, civil society organizations and local cultures. Offered in alternate years.

PSCI 341 Congress and the Legislative Process

This course introduces students to the contemporary U.S. Congress. Topics include explanations of how Congress organizes itself and the implications of those perspectives, and how Congress relates to the executive branch and the courts. Individual research projects allow examination of a topic of particular interest to a student. Prerequisite: PSCI 101. Offered in alternate years.

PSCI 342 The Politics of Presence (W)

Women and minorities are still under-represented in legislatures worldwide. What explains this? Does it matter? This course begins with classical theories of democratic representation; develops arguments for a "politics of presence"; and uncovers factors that improve or hinder the representation of marginalized groups. Offered in alternate years. 

PSCI 343 Parties and Legislatures (CSI, W)

Through reading, writing, and simulation exercises, students will: (1) examine the historical emergence and evolution of political parties and legislatures and the original problems they were meant to address; (2) explore literature on the changing role of these national institutions in the face of globalization; and (3) examine the links between legislatures, parties, and the problem of making democracy work. Offered occasionally.

PSCI 345 International Political Economy

An examination of the ways in which the interplay between political and economic factors shape the global system. Prerequisite: PSCI 102 or ECON 100 or consent of instructor. Offered annually.

PSCI 360 Comparative Environmental Politics (CSI, G)(Cross-listed with ENST 360)

Examination of how different political-economic systems shape the environmental policy process and impact the environment. This course considers how party-structure, mode of interest articulation, economic system and level of development affect environmental policy. Countries studied include the United States, Germany, former Soviet Union/Russia, China, India, Brazil and Nigeria. Prerequisite: a course in either political science or environmental studies strongly recommended. Offered in alternate years, spring semester.

PSCI 361 Globalization and the Environment (CSI, G) (Cross-listed as Environmental Studies 361)

Introduction to the international politics behind efforts to deal with tropical deforestation, ozone depletion, global warming, loss of biodiversity and transnational transfer of hazardous wastes. Actors, conferences, and accords involved in the international environmental policy process are discussed, with particular attention to different positions of industrialized versus developing countries. Offered in alternate years, spring semester.

PSCI 363 Global Response to Climate Change (Cross-listed with ENST 363)

This course examines from a comparative perspective the effects of climate change in five different countries on five different continents (North America, Europe, Africa, Asia, South America) and how different governments and peoples in these countries are responding to rapidly changing ecological conditions. Offered in alternate years.

PSCI 365 Ethical Dilemmas in Environmental Politics (AV) (Cross-listed with ENST 365)

Does humanism provide a coherent lens for evaluating environmental issues? If not, when should non-human needs trump human interests? How should humanist institutions like zoos, farms, and forest preserves be managed? Utilitarian, rights based, social contract, and holist theories will be used to debate these questions. Case studies focus on wilderness management, habitat restoration, and common property regimes. Offered in alternate years.

PSCI 370 Advanced Special Topics in Politics

An upper level course examining a specialized sub-field in the discipline. Examples include "Ethnic Nationalism," "The American South and the Politics of Race," and "Public Finance and Budgeting." Students will be able to repeat the course if the subject is not duplicated. Prerequisite: any 100 level political science course. See current Program of Classes to determine if this course fulfills general education requirements. Offered occasionally.

PSCI 392 Empirical Political Research

An introduction to the logic, process and methodology of conducting empirical research in political science. It includes discussions of theory/hypothesis and analysis. The latter often involves the use of statistics. However, the approach to statistical analysis in the course is upon how and why statistics are used to study political behavior and not upon memorizing particular formulas or mathematical proofs. Offered each spring.

PSCI 395 Action Research Seminar (Cross-listed as Sociology 395)

This seminar bridges theory and applied research in community action. The course introduces the student as scholar-citizen to the multiple ways of seeking information on communities and examining community issues. On teams with community partners and faculty, students develop action plans and implement research projects. Prerequisite: sophomore standing. Offered each semester.

PSCI 396 Internship Seminar

Qualified students may arrange an action research project in consultation with a department member and a community partner. Visit the Career Center or the Action Research Center (ARC) website for potential projects. Requirements include a journal, demonstrated citizenship skills, attendance at a weekly seminar, a supervisor's evaluation, and a formal project outcome. May be repeated for a total of two course units. Prerequisites: a learning contract and consent of instructor. Offered each semester.

PSCI 397 Internship in Administration

Qualified students may arrange work-study programs in consultation with a faculty member and a sponsor associated with a public agency, law firm, social service agency, the local branch of a non-profit or non-governmental agency. Requirements to be specified in the internship learning contract include a journal and an oral presentation at a departmental internship colloquium (offered in December and April). Prerequisite: consent of instructor and fourth semester standing. Offered each semester.

PSCI 398 Grant Writing (Cross-listed with SOC 398)

Grants are a funding challenge and opportunity for non-profits. Successful grants must construct a compelling argument and align with funder priorities. Students partner with community leaders to complete applications in support of actual programs. This course is designed for upper level students and does not count toward the major or minor in Sociology or Political Science. Offered by arrangement.

PSCI 402 Advanced Studies in Politics

A major original research project developed and implemented in consultation with a department faculty mentor. Particularly appropriate for qualified students seeking to graduate with Research Honors. Prerequisite: consent of faculty mentor prior to registration. Offered occasionally.

PSCI 420 Political Research Seminar: Behavior and Attitude (W)

This seminar provides students the opportunity to develop an original research project on political attitude formation and expression. Topics include attitude formation, persuasion, public opinion polling, media effects, voting, and participation. Students will develop an original research question, write a literature review, develop a theory-based empirical analysis, and will present their significant project to the class at the end of the term. Prerequisites: PSCI 101; political science major or consent of instructor; junior or senior standing. Recommended: PSCI 392. Offered as needed.

PSCI 421 Political Research Seminar: Inclusion and Exclusion (W)

This seminar explores two sides of democratic participation; arguments and mechanisms that promote inclusion versus ideologies and organizations that define the people in exclusionary terms. Students are required to develop an original research project situated in one of those literatures. Course culminates in a research report and oral presentation. Recommended: PSCI 103 and 392. Offered as needed.

PSCI 422 Political Research Seminar: American Political Development (W)

This seminar provides students the opportunity to develop an original research project on topics in American political development. Class units may cover American political thought, political regimes, racial orders, religion and politics, policy history, and constitutional law. Students will develop an original research question, write a literature review, develop a theory-based empirical analysis, and will present their significant project to the class at the end of the term. Recommended: PSCI 317. Offered in alternate years.

PSCI 423 Political Research Seminar: International Security (W)

This seminar provides students the opportunity to develop an original research project on international security. Topics include terrorism, democratic peace, nuclear proliferation, territorial disputes, American foreign policy, and economic interdependence and peace/war. Students will develop an original research question, write a literature review, develop a theory-based empirical analysis, and will present their significant project to the class at the end of the term. Prerequisites: PSCI 102 and 212, or consent of instructor. Recommended: PSCI 305 and 392. Offered as needed.

PSCI 424 American Politics in Action: People, Policies and Power (W) 

This seminar provides students the opportunity to develop an original research project on how public opinion and/or elections affect public policy actions of governments. The effects of public policies upon citizens may also be examined. Recommended prerequisite: PSCI 392. Prerequisite: PSCI 101. Offered as needed.

PSCI 425 Political Research Seminar: Hunger (W)

The persistence of hunger at global and local levels poses questions of power and politics that are amenable to research from a variety of political science perspectives. These include comparative public policy, political economy, social movement theory, and normative theory. This seminar offers students an opportunity to develop an original research project on a selected aspect of hunger using established political science techniques. Students will be required to develop an original research question, write a literature review, develop a theory-based empirical analysis, and present their project to peers and faculty at the end of the term. Offered as needed.

PSCI 426 Political Research Seminar: Democracy (W)

Democracy is the institutional and normative lodestone of modern political communities: politicians assert it; citizens claim it; protestors demand it. Yet democratic governance and citizenship remain unfinished political projects, repeatedly undermined, assailed, and unconsolidated. This seminar offers students an opportunity to develop an original research project that explores a selected aspect of democracy using established political science research techniques. Students will be required to develop an original research question, write a literature review, develop a theory-based empirical analysis, and present their project to peers and faculty at the end of the term. Offered every other year