Political science courses focus on the processes by which societies make decisions affecting the lives of their citizens. Questions raised by political science include: Who has the power, how is it acquired, and how is it used? What produces stability and what produces change in societies? What is political leadership, and what forces shape the relations between leaders and the led? How do societies utilize their governments to deal with basic problems? Political science offers students both a grasp of the various answers provided for these questions and a sophisticated sense of how to choose among these answers.
Since a core of central questions is common to virtually all the department’s courses, students of political science are expected to begin with the introductory course, Political Science 101, in which these questions are pointedly raised. This course provides the necessary background for further work in the various fields of the discipline: American politics, comparative politics, and international politics.
Political science majors should take statistics and courses in related social studies—anthropology, economics, history, philosophy, and sociology. They are encouraged to undertake interdisciplinary study combining social studies with the humanities. Appropriate internships and experience off campus enhance the major. Students will find courses in mathematics valuable to their major program in political science.
Recent graduates in political science have undertaken careers in a number of different fields. Law, government service, teaching, journalism, and social work have proven especially attractive.
A minimum of 32 credits. With permission, up to eight of the 32 credits may be taken in related studies, at the 200-level or above, outside the department. Required are: Introduction to Political Science 101 and one course in each of the following areas:
- American politics (Political Science 216, 219, 222, 237, 239 or Policy Studies 220*)
- Comparative politics (Political Science 255, 257, 261, 262, 273, or 275)
- International politics (Political Science 250, 251, or 259)
* Varying content requires permission from the Department to count this course toward distribution in American Politics. In addition, eight credits of coursework are to be taken at the 300 level after having completed the prerequisite at the 200 level. It is preferred that students complete all of their 200-level work before undertaking 300-level courses, so students should try to reserve 300-level work for the third and fourth years. The following is the schedule of Prerequisites: A 200-level course can be used as a prerequisite for only one of two 300-level courses required for the major.
- Political Science 310 (any American politics course)
- Political Science 319 (Political Science 219)
- Political Science 350 (Political Science 250, 251, or 259)
- Political Science 352 (Political Science 250, 251, or 259)
- Political Science 354 (Political Science 250, 251, 257, 261, 262, 273 or 275)
- Political Science 355 (Political Science 219, 216, 239, 255, 273, or 261)
- Political Science 357 (any comparative politics course)
In addition to the required 32 credits, students are required to take statistics (Mathematics 115 or 209).
To be considered for honors in political science, graduating seniors, in addition to meeting the College’s general requirements for honors, must achieve a G.P.A. of 3.75 in the major and a G.P.A. of 3.6 overall.
Designed to provide a general introduction to the major concepts and themes of the discipline of political science, using examples from contemporary American, comparative, and international politics.
A study of the politics of Congress, including such topics as congressional elections, party leadership, floor voting, congressional committees, congressional policymaking, and reform proposals. Emphasis placed on understanding theories of legislative behavior.
This course examines the critical role that the U.S. Supreme Court has played in shaping the American political landscape over time. We will learn various methods of constitutional interpretation, and use them to read and analyze many of the court’s landmark decisions. Specifically, we will explore how the court has policed controversial power struggles in American government, and developed into a powerful political institution.
Debates over the perceived costs and benefits of immigration have long been a familiar part of American political rhetoric, but immigration also raises bigger questions about global justice, state sovereignty, what it means to be an American, and what newcomers should have to do to become one. We will explore these contemporary controversies in American immigration politics, and ask ourselves: What is the ‘problem’ and can it be fixed? In the process, we will learn lessons about how American politics works more generally.
An examination of the political party in U.S. politics. Considers the party at three levels: the individual, the organization, and the system. Topics include the development and evolution of parties, candidates and elections, third parties, and the role of parties in the U.S. political system.
Consideration of the modern presidency as an institution and the president as a critical political actor in politics. Topics include leadership, institutional change, executive-legislative relations, decision-making, and presidential selection.
A study of the evolving relations between nations in the period since 1939, focusing on U.S. foreign policy. The crucial decisions of the Cold War and post-Cold War evaluated against the standard of the rational national actor, taking into account distortions caused by the bureaucratic, bargaining, personality, psychological, societal, momentum, and communications factors.
Introduction to the study of political economy through the examination of the pursuit of wealth and power in the international system. Evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of different theoretical approaches as applied to the issues of trade, international finance, and foreign investment.
This course provides a survey of contemporary European politics. It examines the European geopolitical dynamics in the 20th century, the variations among European polities in political institutions, parties, electoral politics, and public policy; and the institutionalization and policy processes in the European Union. Some thematic issues are the varieties of democracies and capitalist systems, transitions to democracy, the role of the state in the economy, and enlargement and deepening of the European Union.
This course explores the definition of states and nations and the relationship between them. It analyzes the forces that motivated the appearance and spread of nation-states, and that formed national identities. It also studies the relationship between capitalism, communism, decolonization, globalization, and nationalism. It explains the emergence of secessionist claims, ethnic violence, and the ability of institutions in channeling national conflict. Cases include France, United States, Spain, Germany, Ireland, Quebec, U.S.S.R., Yugoslavia, India, or Rwanda.
This course will familiarize students with the international human rights regime and will analyze a series of case studies which illustrate the challenges to the realization of human rights and the choices for human rights advocates and policymakers. Topics for discussion include universality or relativity of human rights, the interplay between civil and political rights and economic and social rights, the impact of sovereignty, monitoring, and compliance. Cases will include humanitarian intervention, the U.S. domestic response to 9/11, religious accommodation and equality of rights, human rights and development, and climate change and human rights.
Examination of the diverse and common dilemmas facing Latin America, using social scientific approaches. Topics include economic development and political uncertainty.
A study of typical Third World politics in an African context. A study of behavior of political elites constrained both by the international context and by limited resources. Topics include personalistic leadership, corruption, military coups, civil wars, mass-elite interactions, and peasant autonomy.
This course analyzes the politics of contemporary Russia, focusing on the country's post-Soviet political and economic transformation, as well as its changing place on the global stage. Questions we will explore include: what was the Soviet Union and why did it collapse? What kind of political regime has since taken root in Russia? How do Russians view their political system? and What role does Russia play in a multi-polar world?
A study of the dynamics of politics in the People’s Republic of China. After a study of the history of communism in the PRC, the course examines the role of political leadership, the communist party, the state bureaucracy, the People’s Liberation Army, and elite-mass relations. Recent reforms in the political and economic systems are analyzed. Some comparison with the experience of the political system of the former U.S.S.R.
A research-oriented course in American politics. Students examine research methods and their application to political questions/phenomena. Students then devise and conduct an intensive research project. Throughout the course, there is an emphasis on quantitative political science.
This course is an in-depth exploration of the role of the U.S. Supreme Court in American democracy, focusing on the question of how courts strike a balance between protecting democratic values and protecting the rights of vulnerable minorities. Students will read contemporary legal theory and write a research paper linking a particular topic of interest to them to larger questions about rights in a constitutional democracy.
Analysis of the international politics of the conflict between the developed nations of the North and the developing nations of the South for control of the world’s resources and over trade and environmental issues. The impact of national decision-making processes, international organizations, cartels, and multinational corporations. Case studies.
An in-depth study of the U.S. foreign and defense policymaking process, emphasizing international relations theory; case studies of recent important decisions; discussion of the role, structure, function, and power of the National Security Council, State Department, Defense Department, and CIA; conflict between president and Congress; impact of press, public opinion, lobbies, and elections.
Following a brief examination of the main theoretical approaches taken in the study of development, students apply these approaches to a comparison of several less-developed countries. Emphasis on the interplay between domestic and international factors in the path to industrialization.
What do constitutions say and how do they become enforceable documents? This seminar focuses on the politics of constitutional choice and interpretation. It looks at the political aims of constitution and the role of courts in enforcing these documents. It analyzes the political factors involved in judicial decisions and the political strategies that derive from them, as well as how constitutional meaning evolves and changes. Cases include Germany, France, Spain, United States, Canada, Russia, Argentina, and Mexico.
An analysis of the conditions under which and the processes by which nations become and/or remain democracies.
- College Catalog