Courses

Fall 2010 Course Descriptions

(M) = Methodologically focused course

PS 11 INTRODUCTION TO AMERICAN POLITICS – Glaser
A study of governmental politics, functions, and programs. Emphasis given to political behavior, both at the mass level and in institutions. Survey of public opinion and political culture, parties, and elections. Congress, the presidency, the bureaucracy, the federal courts, and interest groups.

PS 41 WESTERN POLITICAL THOUGHT I – Evrigenis
Central concepts of ancient, medieval, and early modern political thought. Ideas of Thucydides, Aristophanes, Plato, and Aristotle during the rise and fall of Athens. Subsequent transformations of political philosophy related to the decline of the Roman empire and the origins and development of Christian political doctrine, and the new political outlook of those who challenged the hegemony of Christianity. Analysis of how premodern political thought helped structure future political debate.

PS 59-02 SOPHOMORE SEM: ETHICS AND INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS - Evrigenis
Nowhere does the uneasy relationship between politics and morality become more clear than in international relations.  Does justice extend beyond the borders of states?  Is it ever permissible to kill, even if it is in defense of one's country?  Are there human rights, and, if so, how far should one go to protect them?  Ought one feel responsible for poverty on the other side of the world?  We will examine some of the most challenging moral dilemmas in international relations, and consider some of the most important responses to them, in an attempt to determine the extent of our duties.

PS 61 INTRODUCTION TO INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS – Mufti
This course is intended as an introduction to both the theory and the practice of international relations. Students will be expected to attain a firm grasp of major concepts (and controversies) in IR theory as well as of the most important historical events that have shaped our modern nation-state system. If the course succeeds, students should be able to assess critically the various theories of international relations in light of the empirical evidence that they have mastered.

PS 99-01 FIELDWORK IN POLITICS – Gleason
Internship placements with such employers as legislators, campaigns, news media, lobbies, law firms, and administrative agencies. Twelve to fifteen hours of work per week. Written assignments, with supporting readings, on organizational structure, goals and strategies, and occupational socialization.

PS 121 SEM: POLITICAL CULTURE IN COMPARATIVE PERSPECTIVE - Cruz
How cultural meanings and practices shape political struggles and institutions. Survey of culturalist theories of political dynamics and structures, and assessment of theories against a range of empirical case studies from Asia, the Middle East, Western Europe, Latin America, and the United States.

PS 122 SOVIET, RUSSIAN AND POST-SOVIET POLITICS - Shevel
In this course, you will be studying one of the most important countries of the 20th century, the Soviet Union, and the states – the Russian Federation and 14 others – that were formed from its collapse.  Approximately one third of the course will be devoted to an overview of political, economic, and social structures that defined Soviet Communism.  In the remaining two/thirds of the course we will consider the divergent paths taken by the 15 successor states of the Soviet Union after 1991. While Russia will receive the most extensive consideration, we will cover the other successor states as well. As we examine and compare developments in the region after 1991, we will pay special attention to topics such as state collapse and state formation, political and institutional changes, the politics of economic reform, the challenges of nationalism within the multinational state, informal politics, and "colored revolutions."

PS 126 CHINESE POLITICS - Remick
Survey of the domestic politics of the People's Republic of China. The development of Communist Party power through the political campaigns of the 1950s and 1960s. The political, cultural, economic, and social challenges faced by post-Mao reformers.

PS 127 LATIN AMERICAN POLITICS - Cruz
This course is intended to deepen our understanding of Latin America and of politics. To that end, we will be concerned with both the political dynamics of Latin America and with significant debates in political science. This course will familiarize students with the rich histories of several Latin American countries and engage social scientific theorizing of such processes as imperialism, colonialism, revolution, regime change, identity politics, and issues in political economy.

PS 129 AFRICAN POLITICS - Robinson
Analysis of political developments in contemporary Africa, with emphasis on the interaction between politics and culture. Relates Africa's historical, economic, social, and gender dynamics to general theories of politics and governance.

PS 135 COMPARATIVE REVOLUTIONS - Remick
The causes, processes, and outcomes of revolution. Student development of a theory of revolution's causes through comparative examination of revolutions in France, Russia, China, and Iran. Discussion of whether the causes of revolution have changed in the late twentieth century.
Prerequisite: Sophomore Standing. This course is methodologically focused.

PS 138-01 SEM: AUTHORITARIANISM IN COMPARATIVE PERSPECTIVE - Art
Throughout human history, most political regimes have not been democratic. Until recently, however, the field of comparative politics treated authoritarian regimes as theoretically uninteresting. This upper-level seminar examines the politics of non-democratic regimes in different regions of the world and across time. Topics include types of authoritarian regimes, political institutions in authoritarian regimes, methods of repression and control, and economic development.
Prerequisite: PS 21 or an upper-level course in comparative politics.

PS 138-06 DEMOCRACY AND DICTATORSHIP IN EUROPE - Art
Examination of the origins and development of democracy, authoritarianism, and totalitarianism in Europe. Course uses European political development as prism for examining major theoretical issues in comparative politics, such as state formation, the connections between economic development and political liberalization, the rise of fascism and communism, and the construction of the modern welfare state.

PS 138-07 DEMOCRACY IN ISRAEL - Blander
Democracy is characterized by inherent tensions and paradoxes. In this course, we will examine the tensions that pervade democratic theory, and will see how these tensions are reflected in the Israeli case. During each class, we will examine a major tension (majority role vs. minority rights, governability and representation) and the form that it assumes in the Israeli context. Our goal is twofold – to deepen our knowledge and understanding of Israeli democracy as well as to gain some insight into the tensions and conflicts with which democratic theory must come to terms.

PS 138-08 CONFLICT AND NATURAL RESOURCES - Gleason
This course examines the role of natural resource endowments and scarcity in national and international conflicts. Students will explore not only conflict theory but also technical aspects of global environmental change and civil conflict. The course begins with a study of the various causes of conflict at the state, society and individual levels such as structural violence, politics, religion and humiliation. We then explore how constraints on natural resources such as water and fertile soil increase the likelihood of environmentally related violence as compared to other causes of conflict. Finally, the class will explore potential conflict resolution approaches as they relate to resource scarcity and environmental change. Case studies include the Sudan Conflict, Somalia' Pirate Conflicts, and Ache Indonesia's struggle with violence.

PS 141 SHAKESPEARE'S ROME - Sullivan
Exploration through Shakespeare's poetry of a central issue in political philosophy: the effect of the regime on the character of the individual. The course will study Shakespeare's Rape of Lucrece, Coriolanus, Julius Caesar, and Antony and Cleopatra in light of his classical sources such as the histories of Livy and Plutarch in order to consider whether Shakespeare arrives at his own judgment of the Roman republic.

PS 144 MEANING OF AMERICA - Rasmussen
Examination of American political thought, concentrating on the founding debate, the development of Lincoln's thought and the Civil War, and Alexis de Tocqueville's Democracy in America. Topics include the Puritan origins of America, the meaning and relationship of our founding documents, the challenges posed by the Anti-Federalists, the defense of the large republic in The Federalist, the role of religion in American life, the problems presented by slavery, the proper role of a democratic statesman, and Tocqueville's hopes and worries about liberal democratic society and government (especially its American variant).

PS 146 LIBERTY, MORALITY, AND VIRTUE - Devigne
The class will address fundamental problems of modern liberal societies, such as whether the goal of promoting individual liberty can be reconciled with the aims of preserving standards of right and wrong, cultivating human sociality, and promoting human excellence. We are going to focus our attention on the writings of Alexis de Tocqueville, who devoted an enormous amount of energy to assessing the advantages and disadvantages of democracy in the United States, France, and England. We explore Tocqueville's views on the influence of democracy on the culture, mores, education, and religions that shape our views on what is better and worse and the good life. We examine his views on democracy's tendency to foster homogeneity and mediocrity and his positions on how democracy can attain more ennobling goals. We also explore his views on democracy's penchant for promoting or quelling revolutionary movements and the role that empire and war play in a democracy's foreign policy.

PS 147 SEM: THE POLITICAL THOUGHT OF NIETZSCHE - Devigne
Nietzsche's views of philosophy, nature, morality, religion, art, science, and politics. Analysis of view that "God is dead" and that we are no longer capable of distinguishing whether one value is better than another. Assessment of the qualities that must exist--in both the individual and society--for human creativity to regenerate. Exploration of whether Nietzsche successfully broke from Western political philosophy.

PS 148 SEM: THE POLITICAL THOUGHT OF MONTESQUIEU - Sullivan
Examination of Montesquieu's political thought through his comparative analysis of political regimes in his major work, Spirit of Laws. Topics include the principles that guide tyranny, monarchy, and republican government, the principle of separation of powers, the meaning of political liberty, the impact of commerce on political life, the relation of mores to laws, and the character of Montesquieu's liberalism. His other works, The Persian Letters or Considerations on the Greatness of the Romans and Their Decline, will also be considered. Please see departmental website for specific details.

PS 149 CONTEMPORARY POLITICAL THEORY - Rasmussen
Survey of recent political theory in the U.S. and Europe, from the mid-20th century to the present. Authors range from Isaiah Berlin and Michael Oakeshott to John Rawls and his critics. Topics include the negative and positive conceptions of liberty, the consequences of pluralism, the problems with rationalism, the contrast between utilitarian and rights-based conceptions of justice, libertarianism, communitarianism, multiculturalism, "political" liberalism, "pluralist" liberalism, and "virtue" liberalism.

PS 158-05 HUMAN PORTRAITS THROUGH THE AGES - Blander
This interdisciplinary course will follow the changing images of the person/individual across the ages: from Plato's and Aristotle's political man, to Saint Augustine's religious man, Montaigne's contradictory self, the various faces of the modern individual (rational individual, economic agent, psychological mind) and eventually the post-modern deconstruction of the subject. Through close reading of major works by thinkers who reshaped the way human beings experience themselves, this class attempts to take students on a journey that sheds light on the relation between the changing images of the person/individual and the changing views of the political order.

PS 158-06 MEDIEVAL ISLAMIC THEORIES OF JUSTICE - London
In this course, we will survey theories of justice that medieval Arab and Persian kings invoked in mirrors for princes.  To do so, we will begin with a brief introduction to earlier traditions (e.g., ancient Greek and Persian) that are mentioned in the medieval Islamic context, and we will analyze how ideas from these ancient traditions were transformed to fit a particular medieval king's project. We will begin by reading some excerpts from Plato's Republic, as well as some secondary sources on medieval Persian notions of justice.  The rest of the course will be devoted to readings from English translations of medieval Persian and Arabic sources that present advice on how kings ought to govern and organize their societies.  In particular, we will read English translations of Kai Ka'us' Qabus Nama, an early Persian work that a king writes for his son; Nizam al-Mulk's Siyasat Nama, a book that a minister writes for his king on how to govern; and an Arabic work on governance attributed to the Sunni theologian al-Ghazali.

PS 160 FORCE, STRATEGY AND ARMS CONTROL - Taliaferro
Examination of the political, economic, military, and ethical factors affecting the use and utility of military force in international relations. Study of the political and decision-making process by which nations decide to use military force. Study of the major arms control agreements of the post-World War II period, including negotiations currently under way.
Prerequisite: Political Science 61. This course is methodologically focused.

PS 166-01 SEM: CAUSES OF MODERN INTERSTATE WAR - Greenhill
This course explores the causes of interstate war, with a particular focus on preventable causes. Topics examined include the security dilemma, diversionary war, deterrence, power transition theory, misperceptions, domestic politics, the role of alliances, and economic causes of war. These theories will be examined through the lens of some of the most significant wars and crises of the modern era. The conflicts examined will be used to test the logic of the various theories that purport to explain their causes and consequences.

PS 170-01 UNDERSTANDING CIVIL WARS: INTERNAL WARS AND INTERNATIONAL RESPONSES - Greenhill
For the better part of the twentieth century, international security scholars and practitioners focused on the causes and consequences of war and peace between countries, particularly the prospects for conflict between the great powers. Nevertheless, since 1945 the vast majority of conflicts have been within countries rather than between them.  This course surveys competing theories about the causes, conduct, and conclusion of the dominant brand of conflict in the world today and examines how the international community deals with these (enduring and often seemingly intractable) conflicts. Topics examined include conflict prevention, conflict mediation, military intervention, peace implementation, peacekeeping and peace enforcement, and refugee crisis management. The course combines theories from international relations and conflict resolution with case studies of recent and ongoing conflicts.

PS 181-01 PUBLIC OPINION AND FOREIGN POLICY - Eichenberg
Study of the domestic politics of foreign policy, especially the relationship between leaders and people, which is central to democratic theory and practice. Examination of public and elite opinions on international issues: nuclear weapons, arms control, military intervention, and defense spending; historical and comparative focus. Inquiry into the determinants of attitudes, the impact of public opinion, the role of the media, and the effects of foreign policy events on domestic politics.
Prerequisite: PS61 or PS11(recommended). This is a methodologically focused course.

PS 188-02 NECONSERVATIVES AND US FOREIGN POLICY - Smith
The neoconservative movement has provided the most ideologically complex and coherent framework for American foreign policy that has ever been adopted to guide this country's conduct in world affairs. What are the general tenets of this movement and how did they evolve across time; to what extent did this thinking determine the decision to launch the invasion of Iraq; what is the likely influence of this approach to foreign policy to be after the presidency of George W. Bush and to what extent can we see the Obama administration distancing itself from such thinking? While readings by various leading intellectuals of neoconservatism will be covered, chief attention will fall on the writings of Robert Kagan.

PS 188-04 ENCOUNTERS WITH THE MIDDLE EAST - Finnegan
This course explores the relationship between Western and predominantly Muslim societies. It is part of an innovative cross-cultural education program that brings together university students in the United States, Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa to collaboratively explore the relationship between their regions via online dialogue sessions. The aim of the course and the dialogue sessions is to improve awareness, understanding, and capacity for social action towards peace. Students will delve into themes and questions within an interdisciplinary framework that combines international relations, political science, conflict resolution, sociology, and media studies. Some of the themes we will examine include perceptions of the 'other,' the role of the global economy, and an investigation of the part media plays in our understanding of conflict and one another. The course combines a more traditional in-class approach of lecture and discussion with an online dialogue forum that utilizes the newest videoconferencing technologies.

The course is taught in conjunction with Soliya, an NGO that has designed the Connect Program, which is the online portion of the course (www.soliya.net).

PS 188-06 TOPICS IN INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS: GLOBAL ENVIRONMENTAL POLITICS - Gleason
This course is designed to provide an introduction to international environmental concepts and policy challenges. Comparative politics concepts relating to governance, non-state actors, and domestic approaches to international law will be integrated with environmental issues. The course begins with a survey of significant environmental concepts such as sustainable development, environmental justice and the tragedy of the commons. The course will cover ecology and human systems; energy and resources; climate change; and environmental law and governance, all with a special emphasis on the political challenges associated with these issue areas.

PS 188-23 RACE, ETHNICITY AND US AFRICA POLICY - Robinson
Scholars debate whether foreign attachments of US ethnic lobbies foster policy advocacy that runs counter to the national interest. This course traces the shift in emphasis of African-American internationalists from the defense of Black nationality to broader human rights advocacy around norms of racial equality, the rule of law, and economic justice.  Case studies address the role of race, ethnicity and religion in the making of US Africa policy from 1850 to the age of Obama.

PS 189-01 SEM: FROM WILSON TO OBAMA- Smith
From the presidency of Woodrow Wilson (1913-1921) to that of Barack Obama, liberal internationalism has often been the framework adopted for the conduct of American foreign policy. Liberal internationalism stresses democracy promotion, the creation of an open and integrated world economy, and multilateralism to settle conflicts as the way best to provide for American national security. The invasion of Iraq in March 2003 was in good measure justified in terms of bringing the Middle East into such a system. Where did this thinking come from, how has it evolved over time, and what is its future likely to be in the hands of the new administration in Washington?

PS 189-04 SEM: WORLD WARS AND THE NATION STATE - Taliaferro
This research seminar examines the grand strategies of the five great powers the United States, Britain, France, Germany, the Soviet Union, and Japan during the World War I, the Twenty Years' Crisis (1919-39), and World War II. We will explore the causes of the world wars and the determinants of wartime and peacetime strategies from variety of historical interpretations and international relations theories, such as neoclassical realism, structural realism, strategic culture/constructivism, and dynamic differentials theory. Topics discussed include: debates on the origins and responsibility for World War I; the 1919 peace settlement and the League of Nations; the cause and character of German and Japanese expansion in the 1930s; role of ideology, nationalism, and domestic mobilization for warfare in liberal democracies versus totalitarian or authoritarian regimes; Anglo-French debates over preventive war and appeasement of Germany in 1930s; the crisis between the United States and Japan in 1940-41 and the U.S. entry into the war; the origins of strategies of civilian victimization and genocide; and debates over war aims and war termination.
Prerequisite: PS 61 (OPEN TO JUNIORS and SENIORS ONLY).

PS 189-05 SEM: TURKISH FOREIGN POLICY - Mufti
This seminar studies the determinants, mechanisms, and main elements of Turkish foreign policy. It combines three main elements: an investigation of the relationship between domestic political dynamics - particularly competing conceptions of Turkish identity - and foreign policy; a chronological survey of Turkish diplomatic history; and in-depth analyses of Turkey's relations with its primary interlocutors on the regional and global levels.

PS 194 POLITICS OF ENVIRONMENTAL POLICY IN THE US - Portney
Examines the recent history and contemporary political debates surrounding governmental decisions affecting the environment. Environmental policy making in the general context of U.S. policy-making processes and institutions, emphasizing the roles of federal, state, and local actors, including the president, executive and regulatory agencies (especially the Environmental Protection Agency), the legislature, and the courts, as well as their state and local counterparts, in defining environmental policy. Addresses such issues as policies toward air pollution, water pollution, hazardous waste management, environmental justice, sustainability, and public opinion toward the environment.

PS 198-01 SEM: SENIOR HONORS THESIS - Eichenberg
This course explores the theoretical, empirical, normative, and methodological problems involved in conducting political science research. It will also provide a forum for discussing students' draft thesis chapters.

Back to top.