This course explores the relationship between the individual and society as exemplified in the writings of political philosophers, statesmen, novelists and contemporary political writers. Questions about law, political obligation, freedom, equality and justice, and human nature are examined and illustrated. The course looks at different kinds of societies such as the ancient city, modern democracy and totalitarianism, and confronts contemporary issues such as race, culture and gender. The readings present diverse viewpoints and the sessions are conducted by discussion. The course is designed primarily for first-year students. Students enrolled in this course are automatically added to PSCI 102Y for the spring semester. Offered every fall.
This course explores the relationship between the individual and society as exemplified in the writings of political philosophers, statesmen, novelists and contemporary political writers. Questions about law, political obligation, freedom, equality and justice, and human nature are examined and illustrated. The course looks at different kinds of societies such as the ancient city, modern democracy and totalitarianism, and confronts contemporary issues such as race, culture and gender. The readings present diverse viewpoints, and the sessions are conducted by discussion. The course is designed primarily for first-year students. Offered every spring.
The course explores the guiding principles, major institutions and national politics of the American political system. The Founders' view of liberal democracy and of the three branches of our government (presented in the "Federalist Papers") provides the basis for consideration of the modern Supreme Court, presidency, bureaucracy, Congress, news media, and political parties and elections. The course concludes with Tocqueville's broad overview of American democracy and its efforts to reconcile liberty and equality. The themes of the course are illustrated by references to current political issues, events and personalities. This course is the same as AMST 200D. This course is required for the major. This counts toward the politics, culture and society requirement for the American studies major. Prerequisite: sophomore standing or first-year students currently enrolled in PSCI 102Y. Offered every year.
This course introduces students to classical political philosophy through an analysis of Plato's "Apology" and "Republic" and Aristotle's "Ethics" and "Politics." The course addresses enduring questions about the community, the individual, happiness and justice. Other themes to be discussed include the ideal political order, the character of virtue or human excellence, the relationship between politics and other aspects of human life (such as economics, the family and friendship), the political responsibility for education, and philosophy as a way of life. This course is required for the major. Prerequisite: sophomore standing or first-year students enrolled in PSCI 102Y. Offered every fall.
This course examines and evaluates the world revolutionary challenge to classical political philosophy posed by such writers as Machiavelli in his "The Prince," Hobbes in the "Leviathan," and political writings of Locke, Rousseau and Nietzsche. We consider these authors' differing views on how best to construct healthy and successful political societies; the role of ethics in domestic and foreign policy; the proper relations between politics and religion, and between the individual and the community; the nature of our rights and the origin of our duties; and the meaning of human freedom and the nature of human equality. This course is required for the major. Prerequisite: sophomore standing or first-year students enrolled in PSCI 102Y. Offered every spring.
Representative democracy came to be the most common form of government in Europe and the Americas in the 20th century. In the last half of the century, it became increasingly popular among the peoples of the rest of the world. Representative democracy takes many forms and confronts many challenges in its implementation. This course explores the institutional variety of representative democracy, the causes of political stability and instability in democratic regimes, and the possibility of successful creation of democratic regimes in countries in which the political culture has not traditionally supported democracy. Case studies may include the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, Russia, Brazil and Mexico. This course is required for the major. Prerequisite: sophomore standing or first-year students currently enrolled in PSCI 102Y. Offered every year.
This course is an introduction to the study of international relations. It first provides students with the analytical tools and concepts necessary to understand and explain the interactions of states and other actors in the international system. It then explores some of the most pressing political problems and challenges in the modern international system. The course discusses issues such as the importance of power in the international system; the origins of war and peace; the challenges of the new global economy; security and terrorism; and the implications of these trends for the 21st century. This course is required for the major. Prerequisite: sophomore standing or first-year students currently enrolled in PSCI 102Y. Offered every year.
Political scientists increasingly employ quantitative tools to analyze politics. Students are introduced to the fundamentals of quantitative political analysis. The core of the course is devoted to the basic linear regression model and its variants, which are used widely in political science research. We cover hypothesis formation and hypothesis testing, basic descriptive statistics and the presentation via tables and charts of the findings of quantitative analysis. To better situate quantitative analysis within the discipline, we introduce qualitative methods and discuss research design. This counts toward an elective for the major and the methodology requirement for the international studies major. Prerequisite: sophomore standing.
Does the U.S. Congress possess the capacity for independent and effective law-making, budgeting and oversight of the executive? To what extent has Congress ceded policymaking responsibility to the president? How does congressional performance vary across policy areas and what accounts for these variations? How have recent reforms affected congressional performance? This course explores these questions by examining the historical development and contemporary performance of the U.S. Congress. We analyze the factors that influence the policymaking process, including the electoral setting in which legislators operate, the relationship of Congress to interest groups and the party and committee systems within the institution. We also analyze the performance of Congress in several policy areas. This counts toward the American politics requirement for the major and the public policy concentration. Prerequisite: sophomore standing. Offered every two years.
This course explores different views of the presidency and the nature of presidential leadership. The Founders' view is compared with developments since Franklin Roosevelt, including the imperial and post-imperial presidencies. A central concern is understanding the constitutional powers of and restraints on the modern president. We study presidential selection, the president's relations with other parts of the government and the president's role in domestic and foreign policymaking. The course concludes with a study of presidential leadership and the proper ends and means by which to exercise political power, with particular attention to the presidencies of George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama. This counts toward the American politics course for the major. Prerequisite: sophomore standing. Offered every two years.
This course examines the origins, nature and impact of American public opinion as expressed through polling and electoral behavior. Major topics include the measurement and nature of public opinion, the sources of political opinions and attitudes, the organization of citizen thinking about politics, the origins of voting decisions, and the impact of public opinion on the nature and direction of public policy. We study these topics with regard to a number of contemporary issues and elections, and in light of modern trends toward popular polarization. Particular attention is paid to the tension between normative expectations of democratic citizens and empirical research findings regarding their actual behavior. This counts toward the American politics requirement for the major and the public policy concentration. Prerequisite: sophomore standing. Offered every two years.
This course examines the influence American citizens have on their government through political parties and elections. Major topics include the character of American parties; the political behavior and beliefs of citizens, especially as voters; recent history of the party system and elections; election campaigning; the role of the news media in elections; the impact of public opinion and elections on government policies; the future of the party system; and an evaluation of the party and electoral systems from the perspective of democratic theory. We pay special attention to current presidential and congressional elections. This counts toward the American politics requirement for the major. Prerequisite: sophomore standing. Offered every two years.
This course studies various views of the policymaking process in our national government and considers the different stages of policymaking. These include how problems are defined; how new proposals emerge and how certain solutions make it onto the national agenda and are debated before adoption, altered during implementation and subsequently evaluated. We also consider the role of politicians, experts and bureaucrats in policymaking, study why specific policies were adopted and debate whether these were the best possible policies. We analyze the policymaking process through case studies such as welfare reform, education and national health insurance. This course is a required foundation course for the public policy concentration and counts toward the American politics requirement for the major and the policy course for the environmental studies major. Prerequisite: sophomore standing. Offered every year.
The course analyzes how the American political system produces foreign policy decisions. In seeking to discover the domestic influences on American foreign policy, we examine how the original framers of the Constitution intended for the policy process to proceed. We then use case studies of American foreign policy decision-making to explore how policy actually gets formed, examining the role of various political institutions, including the president, Congress, the news media, public opinion, the bureaucracies of state and defense, and the National Security Council. Our case studies include turning points in Cold-War American foreign policy such as the Cuban missile crisis and the Vietnam War as well as more current issues and events, including Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq. How does a democracy make foreign policy? How does a democracy make decisions in an environment of partisan conflict and lack of consensus on the proper course of policy? This counts toward the American politics requirement for the major and the public policy concentration. Prerequisite: sophomore standing.
This course explores basic issues in constitutional law relevant to the principles and problems of our liberal democracy. The focus is on cases devoted to the division of powers between the three branches of government, federalism, regulation of commerce, voting rights and presidential war powers. We examine the historical development of the Supreme Court as jurisprudence in these areas of law and consider various methods of constitutional interpretation. This counts toward an elective for the major and the law and society concentration. Prerequisite: sophomore standing.
This course examine the participation of women in American political life. We trace the development of feminism out of broader political and intellectual movements and consider the situation of women in American society today. We also look at women in their roles as voters, candidates, party activists and public officials. The ways in which gender relations are defined by public policy and law are a focus, with particular attention given to constitutional equality, workplace and family issues, and reproductive rights. This counts toward the American politics requirement for the major and the public policy concentration. Prerequisite: sophomore standing.
Toward the 19th century, a number of thinkers began to embrace a novel idea: Man does not have a fixed and enduring nature, but is the product of his times. History and culture replaced nature as the proper objects of philosophic inquiry and eventually the possibility of philosophy itself was cast in doubt. We examine the roots of historicism in Rousseau, Burke and Kant, and its mature expression in Hegel, Marx and Nietzsche. We may examine notable 20th-century historicists, like Collingwood and MacIntyre and thinkers who question the basic historicist premise, like Davidson and Strauss. This counts toward an elective for the major. Prerequisite: sophomore standing. Offered every three years.
This course explores perennial issues of politics broadly understood, as they are treated in literature. Topics vary from year to year. Most recently the course has focused on the question of freedom and tyranny by reading works that span periods, such as Xenophon's "Hiero," Shakespeare's "Julius Caesar," Büchner's "Danton's Death," Dostoevsky's " Demons" and Platenov's "The Foundation Pit." This counts toward an elective for the major. Prerequisite: sophomore standing. Offered every two years.
The course explores basic issues in constitutional law relevant to the principles and problems of our liberal democracy. We begin with cases of the Marshall court, which lay the foundations of our constitutional order and defined the role of the judiciary. Most of the course is devoted to controversial themes in 20th-century jurisprudence. Emphasis is placed on recent Supreme Court decisions in the areas of equal protection of the laws, due process, the right to privacy, freedom of speech and press, religious freedom and the separation of powers. This counts toward an elective for the major and the law and society concentration. Prerequisite: sophomore standing. Offered every two years.
Alternative strategies of economic development pose the most difficult political choices for those countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America not yet blessed by economic prosperity. This course seeks to accomplish three related goals. First, it explores the contending theories of development that have shaped the debate about development in the past half-century: modernization theory, dependency theory, theories that emphasize state-led development and theories that seek to define sustainable development. Second, it compares alternative strategies of development, especially as exemplified by successful (or thought-to-be successful) developing and developed countries. Third, it considers a set of contemporary issues that complicate the efforts of countries to develop: globalization, environmental catastrophe, population growth and human-rights considerations. The definition of development and the desirability of economic growth are questioned. This counts toward the comparative politics/international relations requirement for the major, the policy course for the environmental studies major and the public policy concentration. Prerequisite: sophomore standing. Offered every two years.
This course explores the roots and realities of the explosive changes rocking Asia today, with an eye to the politics that shape and are shaped by them. Headlines today point to human-rights violations, democratic elections, and riots against corruption and pollution amidst phenomenal economic development. We look at the historical growth and modern development of the Chinese, Japanese and Indian nation-states and compare their changes and challenges so as to draw larger lessons about the processes of social and political change in a particularly vital and important region of the world. This counts toward the comparative politics/international relations requirement for the major. Prerequisite: sophomore standing.
This course in contemporary Latin American politics examines the region’s substantial and interconnected processes of political and economic change. We also consider the ongoing challenges for the quality of the region’s democracies, particularly in light of poverty, inequality and globalization. Focus cases typically include Chile, Argentina, Mexico, Venezuela, Guatemala and Brazil. Key themes include the authoritarian regimes of the mid- to late 20th century, transitions to democratic rule, economic policy changes, human rights, political institutions, poverty and inequality, and populism. This counts toward the comparative politics/international relations requirement for the major. Prerequisite: sophomore standing.
This course provides an introduction to comparative political development. It focuses on two key issues in the development of the contemporary world: the rise of the modern state and the emergence of modern nationalism. By analyzing the processes of state and nation-building in selected countries, we come to understand the means by which state power is constructed, maintained, and legitimized in political systems as varied as absolutist monarchies and modern nation-states. By examining nationalism in a variety of historical and geographical settings, we begin to comprehend the intriguing power and persistence of national identities in an increasingly multinational world. Although the course is explicitly analytic and comparative in character, analysis is supplemented as appropriate with case studies drawn from countries around the world. This counts toward the comparative politics/international relations requirement for the major. Prerequisite: sophomore standing. Offered every two years.
This course studies political beliefs, electoral behavior and political representation of Latino/a Americans in the U.S.A. We seek to understand what unites and divides voters and political actors of Latin American heritage; to grapple with the representation of shared (and disparate) interests, beliefs or identities; and to examine the variety of ways that leaders and leadership organizations bring Latino identity into the work of politics and democracy. While focused on one pan-ethnic sub-population of U.S. society, the course raises questions about political participation, interests and representation that are fundamental to the understanding of liberal democratic politics more broadly. The course bridges the fields of comparative, international and American politics. This counts toward an elective requirement for the major (but not for the upper-level American politics requirement); for the American studies major, and for the Latino/a Studies Concentration. Prerequisite: sophomore standing.
Migration is a worldwide phenomenon posing both opportunities and challenges for immigrants, their families, their countries of origin and the countries to which they move. Immigration policy often inspires virulent debates over border control, national identity, admission and citizenship policies, "guest" workers and bilingualism. The issues raise fundamental questions about human rights, citizenship and a political community’s rights to define and defend itself. The challenges are exacerbated by the fact that contemporary immigration is managed by nation-states, while migrants move in response to global economics and transnational relationships. This course deals with these issues by examining the social, economic and political forces giving rise to immigration today; the different ways nations have chosen to define citizenship and how those rules affect immigrants; the different strategies nations have used to incorporate immigrants; attempts to control immigration and their consequences; and the implications of immigration for recipient societies. About half of the course deals with the immigration experience and controversies in the United States, particularly with respect to migration from Mexico. The other half looks at these issues in Western Europe as well as in the developing world. This course is sometimes taught with a community-based research component, depending on the instructor. This counts toward the comparative politics/international relations requirement for the major and the public policy concentration. Prerequisite: sophomore standing.
Globalization has become an increasingly prominent phenomenon in contemporary politics. Some argue that globalization can generate a world of increased wealth and international peace. Others contend that globalization undermines traditional culture and generates social conflict. This course investigates the origins and nature of globalization. It explores the key actors, institutions and processes that gave rise to and shape modern globalization, the potential benefits that globalization brings and the sources and nature of the modern backlash against globalization. The course concludes by exploring the implications of globalization for the nation-state and international order. This counts toward the comparative politics/international relations requirement for the major and the public policy concentration. Prerequisite: sophomore standing. Offered every three years.
This course explores the U.S. role in world politics at the beginning of the 21st century. The United States faces a number of new challenges — from building democracy in the Middle East to defending against catastrophic terrorism to managing globalization — but many of the institutions and alliances that previously served U.S. interests and structured world order have come under increasing stress from U.S. actions. We explore topics such as whether the United States should pursue a more multilateral or unilateral foreign policy, American relations with key allies, and how to manage the most important challenges of the 21st century. This counts toward the comparative politics/international relations requirement for the major. Prerequisite: sophomore standing.
This course covers a variety of issues in environmental politics, placing special emphasis on global problems, politics and policy. Topics include population growth, consumption and consumerism, resource degradation, climate change and energy. We examine environmental governance and the prospects for environmental activism in the coming century. Although the course examines environmental issues around the globe, we may focus on certain countries or regions in order to examine those issues in greater detail. Case studies and films are used as appropriate to supplement lectures and discussions. This counts toward the comparative politics/international relations requirement for the major, the policy course for the environmental studies major and the public policy concentration. Prerequisite: sophomore standing. Offered every year.
This course examines the causes and consequences of poverty and inequality in the developing world. Topics include the conceptualization, definition and measurement of poverty and inequality; the lived reality of urban and rural poverty around the globe; individual, structural and governmental causes of and solutions to poverty; and the possibilities for grassroots empowerment, public policy, international organizations, philanthropy and foreign aid to reduce poverty and inequality. This counts toward the comparative politics/international relations requirement for the major and the public policy concentration. Prerequisite: sophomore standing.
Since 1945, the vast majority of conflicts have taken place within states. Indeed, by the 1970s, civil wars or wars within states had become the dominant form of warfare, noteworthy both for their intensity and duration. This course surveys theories about the causes, process, management and resolution of this pervasive form of modern conflict. It also looks at how the international community has and continues to deal with these conflicts, focusing on such topics as peacekeeping, the (adverse) effects of humanitarian aid and transitional justice. Historical and contemporary civil wars, ranging from the Yugoslav War to the conflict in the Sudan, serve as case studies, which we analyze in depth. The course aims to provide students with strong theoretical and historical foundations, which can assist them in recognizing the difficult choices policy-makers face when intervening in civil wars. For instance, students come to appreciate the tension between states' rights, human rights and whether to intervene in a civil war. Students should walk away from the course prepared to think through policy options associated with the prevention, management and resolution of civil wars. This counts toward the comparative politics/international relations requirement for the major. Prerequisite: sophomore standing or permission of instructor.
This course is devoted to a close reading of Plato's "Symposium," his dialogue on Eros, which corrects or supplements the anti-erotic teaching of the "Republic." Almost everyone sometimes wonders about the bewitching power of love and, for nearly 2,500 years, readers have found that Plato had anticipated their questions and thought about them profoundly. Topics are love and death, love and justice, love and god, love and happiness, and love and philosophy. Although politics is rarely in the foreground of the dialogue, it is ever-present in the background and finally bursts onto the scene in the person of Alcibiades — a man whose Eros leads him toward a political life that verges on tyranny. This counts toward the seminar or elective requirement for the major. Prerequisite: sophomore standing. Offered every other year.
This course is devoted to a close reading of Plato's "Gorgias," the sister dialogue of the "Republic." Today, students often wonder: Why bother with Plato and his Socrates? Isn't their thought clearly outmoded? In studying the "Gorgias" — Plato's most sustained reflection on the human concern for justice — we give him a chance to reply and make the case for the undiminished importance of his thought for politics and the good life. The guiding questions of the seminar are: What is justice? Why do we care about it? And how is it related to politics and philosophy? This counts toward the seminar or elective requirement for the major. Prerequisite: sophomore standing. Offered every other year.
This course is devoted to a careful reading of Thucydides’ "History of the Peloponnesian War." Course themes are Thucydides’ account of international relations, the connections between foreign and domestic politics, and his account of human nature and political morality. This counts toward the seminar or elective requirement for the major. Prerequisite: sophomore standing. Offered every three years.
Today, political comedians are a mainstay of our culture, some of the most famous being Jon Stewart, Trevor Noah and John Oliver. But while their insights are often astute, they are rarely profound and never add up to comprehensive political teaching. To see the heights and depths possible in comedy, we study four plays by Aristophanes, the unrivaled master of combining comic vulgarity with a wisdom equal to that of the philosophers. Through a close examination of these plays, we find and consider Aristophanes’ insights on such obviously political — and some not so obviously political — topics as the founding of cities, father-beating, the tension between the private good and the public good, the Muses and the other gods, the respective power of nature and convention, the danger of philosophy, war and peace, property and the political role of women. Throughout, we also consider Aristophanes’ view of the political purpose of comedy. Prior coursework in political science is not required. This counts toward the seminar or elective requirement for the major. This course is the same as IPHS 423D and counts toward the IPHS concentration. This course must be taken as PSCI 423D to count toward the social science diversification requirement. Prerequisite: sophomore standing.
What can we learn about politics from Shakespeare? We pursue this question while reading a variety of Shakespeare’s more political plays, including several of his English history plays (e.g., "King John," "Richard II," "Henry IV, Parts I and II" and "Henry V") and the Roman trilogy ("Coriolanus," "Julius Caesar" and "Antony & Cleopatra"). Other plays might include "King Lear," "Macbeth" and "Troilus & Cressida." We begin the semester with Machiavelli’s infamous treatise on politics, "The Prince," written about 50 years before Shakespeare’s birth, and his scandalous comedy "Mandragola." Turning to the tumultuous, scheming and often brutal politics dramatized in many of Shakespeare’s plays, we ask the obvious question: Was Shakespeare a Machiavellian? This counts toward the seminar or elective requirement for the major. Prerequisite: sophomore standing. Offered every three years.
This course explores the liberalism of John Locke, perhaps the most important founder of liberal democracy. Mindful of the criticisms leveled since Locke's time against liberal democracy, we are particularly interested in recapturing the original arguments on its behalf. We aim to see liberalism as it came to light and to assess, insofar as is possible from Locke's own writings, its intentions and its anticipated effects. Our readings are drawn from Locke's works on politics, education, religion and epistemology. This counts toward the seminar or elective requirement for the major. Prerequisite: sophomore standing.
Montaigne's "Essays," one of the acknowledged classics of modern thought, contains a breathtaking, wide-ranging and dialectically complex account of the human soul in its confrontation with others, with the world and with itself. Apparently artless and off-the-cuff, the essays require the most careful reading. The course consists of close reading of many of these essays in order to understand the position Montaigne ultimately takes on human nature and on the political implications of that position. This counts toward the seminar or elective requirement for the major. Prerequisite: sophomore standing. Offered every three years.
Nietzsche's thought is in one sense the culmination of the tradition of political philosophy, in another its destruction and, in yet another, the chief obstacle and point of perpetual return to his successors. Students read one book, "Beyond Good and Evil," with great care to help us understand the paradoxical way in which Nietzsche writes; the implications of his radical relativism for thought, culture and politics; and whether he has a political teaching at all — and if so, what kind. This counts toward the seminar or elective requirement for the major. Prerequisite: sophomore standing.
This course examines the presence and rightful place of ambition in politics. We read literature, biography and political theory in an attempt to answer the following questions: Is the desire to rule a permanent and independent feature of political practice? Is it compatible with concern for the common good? Must ambition be limited or somehow rendered undangerous? Can it be? Readings may include Homer, Xenophon, Plutarch, Machiavelli, Shakespeare, Benjamin Franklin, the "Federalist Papers" and Bullock's "Hitler: A Study in Tyranny." This counts toward the seminar or elective requirement for the major. Prerequisite: sophomore standing. Offered every three years.
Political thinkers regularly claim to have discovered the community best-suited to man, the just community. Yet suspicion toward the idea of community also enjoys a venerable history. Is not the individual prior to, and thus more important than, the community? Don't communities usually stifle, violate and oppress individuals, particularly members of the minority? Individualism is so pervasive in the most advanced countries that many now wonder if we have gone too far. Has concern for the individual at the expense of the community made us selfish, disconnected, alienated and unhappy? We read classic statements on the ideal community (e.g., Thomas More's "Utopia," Rousseau's "Social Contract," Huxley's "Brave New World") on our way toward studying contemporary "communitarian" thinkers (e.g., Bellah, Barber, Heidegger, MacIntyre, Putnam, Sandel, Walzer). We begin the semester by viewing Ang Lee's film "The Ice Storm" and end it by reading Hawthorne's "Blithedale Romance," a fictional account of the socialist experiment at Brook Farm. This counts toward the seminar or elective requirement for the major. Prerequisite: sophomore standing. Offered every three years.
This course examines key political events and debates in Latin America (1970s to the present) through the lens of film and the pages of fiction, using works by Latin American directors and writers. We examine the works of fiction not from a literary or artistic perspective, but as political arguments that reflect the political debates at the time they are created, contribute to a nation's self-understanding or "collective memory" about critical moments in a nation's life, and influence how readers/viewers understand political issues and questions. Students view films outside of class time. Knowledge of Spanish is not necessary. This counts toward the seminar or comparative politics/international relations requirement for the major and counts toward the Latino/a studies concentration, MLL/Spanish area studies and the international studies major. Prerequisite: sophomore standing. Offered every other year.
This course focuses on contemporary Latin America with emphasis on the institutions and quality of democracies in the region. Focusing on institutions, civil society and norms, we analyze contemporary Latin American democracies from the perspectives of representation, participation, legitimacy, accountability and the rule of law. We examine successes and innovations, as well as problems and challenges for democracy. Readings draw on data and case studies of many countries, but most of the course does not focus on particular countries, rather on core concepts and theoretical approaches used to analyze politics in the region. The course uses advanced readings and a strong emphasis on discussion, in-class presentations and writing. Prior coursework in Latin America or PSCI 240 is recommended but not required. This counts toward the seminar or comparative politics/international relations requirement for the major. This counts toward the Latino/a studies concentration, Spanish major, or international studies major, with permission of program director. Prerequisite: junior standing or permission of instructor.
This course provides a comparative analysis of the process of revolutionary change covering the origins, development and outcomes of revolutions. It focuses on two or three classic revolutions (France, Russia or China) and one or two modern cases to be determined (e.g., the Iranian Revolution of 1979, the revolutions of 1989 in Eastern Europe, the Arab Spring of 2011). A number of theoretical issues are addressed, including the relationship between revolutionary elites and "backward elements" such as the peasantry; the tensions between the revolutionary process and the political requirements of revolutionary states; and the role and relative importance of leadership, ideology and structural factors in shaping the outcomes of revolutions. The question of whether social media has changed the character and potential of social revolutions also are addressed. This counts toward the comparative politics/international relations or senior seminar requirement for the major. Prerequisite: sophomore standing. Offered every three to four years.
European governments face a number of challenges in the 21st century, including welfare and job-market reform, immigration, right-wing party activity and the forging of a new European identity. We explore some of the major economic, social and political issues facing European nations since the collapse of communism in 1989. The course focuses in particular on Great Britain, France, Germany and Italy, with some attention to Sweden, the Netherlands and the countries of Eastern Europe. This counts toward the comparative politics/international relations or seminar requirements for the major. Prerequisite: junior standing or permission of instructor. Offered every two years.
During the late 19th and 20th centuries, the advanced industrialized democracies in Europe and North America set up extensive social welfare systems in order to reduce class inequalities and eliminate risks across the life cycle. These included income support, family benefits, health care, pensions, unemployment, disability insurance and child-care programs. Beginning in the 1970s, these social welfare programs faced a variety of social and economic challenges, including the aging of the population, globalization, changes in family structure, the feminization of the labor force and deindustrialization. This has led to welfare retrenchment and restructuring. We examine the different welfare regimes across the United States and Europe and discuss the challenges confronting postwar welfare arrangements. We explore the politics surrounding the creation and retrenchment of welfare states across different political settings and in specific policy areas including pensions, health care and family policy, and look at the future of the social welfare state. This counts toward the comparative politics/international relations or seminar requirement for the major and the public policy concentration. Prerequisite: junior standing or permission of instructor. Offered every two years.
High levels of economic inequality are among the most important challenges confronting liberal democracy today. The increasing concentration of wealth among society’s richest citizens contributes to the belief that economic and political outcomes are determined by the interests of a few wealthy insiders and subverts faith in liberal democracy as a public endeavor for pursuing the common good. We consider the causes and implications of growing social inequality for the U.S. and other liberal democracies, including issues such as the tensions that arise between liberal democracy's two fundamental claims to legitimacy: private liberty and public equality. How do economic outcomes shape politics, and how do politics shape economic outcomes? Do liberal democracies exhibit a pro-business bias, and does today's growing social inequality threaten the long-run growth and political stability of liberal democratic states? This counts toward the seminar or elective requirement for the major and for the public policy concentration. Prerequisite: junior standing.
Political parties are among the most critical institutions in representative democracy, but in recent years, the electoral support for mainstream political parties has declined and new single-issue and populist parties have emerged. We explore the formation, role and changing nature of political parties in democratic politics. In particular, we examine several important questions regarding political parties: How and why do political parties emerge in democratic systems? Why have new parties emerged in some countries? What impact do they have on established parties and party competition? What determines party success and failure? The course draws on theoretical and empirical work on party formation and party-system change and draws examples from Europe and the United States. This counts toward the comparative politics/international relations or seminar requirement for the major. Prerequisite: junior standing and PSCI 240 or permission of instructor.
Democracy is in crisis. The rise of nationalist right-wing parties, limitations on the free press, the erosion of democratic norms, political party and civil society polarization, apathy on the part of young people, the spread of disinformation and abuses of democratic institutions pose serious threats to the values that liberal democratic regimes seek to uphold, including free and fair elections, rule of law and the protection of minority rights. We examine theories of democratic consolidation and democratic erosion and analyze the various factors that threaten liberal democratic regimes. We examine the ways in which democratic backsliding has manifested itself in various countries, which may include Hungary, Poland, Turkey, the Philippines and the United States; discuss why it has occurred; the consequences for citizens; and the ways in which democratic regimes can be protected from democratic erosion. This counts toward the seminar or comparative politics/international relations requirement for the major. PSCI 240 is recommended but not required. Prerequisite: junior standing.
Human rights represent an incredibly powerful idea that is a source of great controversy in contemporary world politics. Seeking to avert the horrors of another world war, state officials came together in the late 1940s to craft a body of laws governing what rights humans are entitled to, simply on the basis of being human. These laws embody aspirations of what it means to live a life of dignity. They additionally constitute important political tools that an array of actors in world politics have mobilized around to achieve different goals. However, human-rights law and norms face challenges. In particular, questions of whether rights apply universally persist. Moreover, there is a disconnect between the aspiration and realization of human rights in practice. This struggle over human-rights, what they mean and their realization represent the foci of the course. First, we explore the foundations of the modern human-rights regime in history and theory. Next, we examine how the human-rights regime operates. Last, we study a number of human-rights issues, ranging from torture debates to women’s and children’s rights. Students perform a simulation on a major human-rights issue. This counts toward the comparative politics/international relations or seminar requirements for the major and the law and society concentration. Prerequisite: junior standing or permission of the instructor.
This course examines American environmental politics from its beginnings to the present day. Beginning with the “politics of nature” (Thoreau, Muir, Pinchot, Leopold, Carson, Abbey, Brower and various contemporary environmentalists), we subsequently turn to the “politics of pollution” (water pollution, air pollution, the toxic waste movement, Earth Day, and the Clean Air and Clean Water Acts). The course then examines a variety of contemporary issues, including the use and management of land, water and marine resources; possible responses to climate change, the politics of energy and fracking, environmental justice, and efforts to secure sustainability. Throughout the course, we focus on politics and policy at all levels, from local efforts to “green” our neighborhoods, our workplaces and our lifestyles to national-level debates in and beyond Congress over resources, resource extraction, and pollution. Reasons that some policies prove effective and others fail to do so also are considered closely, by using a variety of case studies to examine several environmental policy successes and failures. Finally, we consider broader debates on the proper relationship between economic growth and environmental stewardship. This counts toward the seminar or elective requirement for the major, the policy course for the environmental studies major and the public policy concentration. Prerequisite: junior standing or permission of instructor. Offered every third year.
This course explores the causes and consequences of international terrorism. It examines how terrorists use violence to shape identities and achieve social change, the grievances that give rise to modern terrorism, the goals of modern terrorist groups such as al-Qaida; and the potential for "catastrophic terrorism" using weapons of mass destruction. The final segment of the course explores the complex issues raised by the terrorist challenge to liberal democratic states and the rule of law. This counts toward the comparative politics/international relations or the seminar requirements for the major. Prerequisite: junior standing. Offered every two years.
This course explores the complex and dynamic relations between the state and market, the two most pervasive institutions that structure modern social life. We examine issues such as the role of state violence in constructing political and economic order, the political foundations of markets, how warfare led to the emergence of modern states and global capitalism, the political sources of economic growth and decline, and how markets can undermine states and social order. We read scholars from a diverse array of disciplines including political science, economics, history and sociology drawing on a wide range of empirical materials, ranging from medieval Europe and colonial Africa to modern Africa and the advanced industrial states. This counts toward the comparative politics/international relations or the seminar requirements for the major and the public policy concentration. Prerequisite: junior standing or permission of instructor. Offered every two years.
The post-Cold War era has witnessed horrific violence against civilians. Genocidal campaigns have consumed Bosnia, Rwanda, Darfur and Syria. "Ethnic cleansing" is now a common turn of phrase. Child soldiers are the face of countless conflicts. Too many families continue to search for disappeared loved ones. Racism in places like the United States continues to fuel economic, social and political violence against Blacks, indigenous and people of color (BIPOC).In establishing an array of transitional justice mechanisms, members of the international community have sought to curb such horrors and perhaps break the cycles of violence that perpetuate them. Such efforts have raised a number of questions. How should states and societies contend with legacies of mass atrocity? What are the appropriate mechanisms for addressing massive human-rights abuses? Should states institute war-crimes trials, truth commissions, reparations, institutional reforms (such as police reform), mobile-justice units, and “traditional” justice, or should they simply try to forget and move forward from their violent pasts? Can societies truly forget or ever move on? How do transitional justice efforts translate at the local level? What is their impact, both positive and negative? Is it possible to realize the “truth” about past violence? Is it possible to realize “justice”? And, most intriguingly, why have transitional justice efforts largely failed to materialize in the United States, despite its legacy of slavery, genocide of indigenous peoples and ongoing violence against BIPOC? Does transitional justice provide the appropriate tools to contend with abuses, both past and present? The first part of the course provides a theoretical and philosophical framework for thinking about transitional justice. We then focus on specific transitional justice mechanisms, ranging from the International Criminal Court to the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Also addressed are the impact of such mechanisms on local communities and how well they meet their intended goals. Throughout the course, we additionally compare and contrast the experience of the United States with that of other societies that have and have not employed transitional justice to confront their own legacies of mass violence. At the end of the course, we hold a transitional justice conference in which we explore the limits and potential of transitional justice, both at home and abroad. This counts toward the comparative politics/international relations or seminar requirement for the major and the law and society concentration. Prerequisite: junior standing
This course explores the People's Republic of China from a political science perspective, focusing on enduring historical and political issues as well as current challenges. Topics covered include challenges of China's 20th-century nation-building and economic development (revolution and independence, Mao's China vs. reform China), contemporary regional and global foreign relations, and the challenges of 21st-century development. The last includes a broad range of institutional and policy change (such as marketization, globalization, civil freedoms, elections and citizenship) as well as outcomes from these changes (protests, censorship, inequality, pollution, urban sprawl, consumerism and rural-urban divide). Topics remain flexible to respond to the rise of current issues, such as minorities, cyber-security, maritime borders, intellectuals, dissidents, etc. The course is organized as a seminar, with a high level of student engagement, including weekly student-run discussion. A substantial research project is required as well as an oral presentation. This counts toward the comparative politics/international relations or the seminar requirements for the major. Prerequisite: sophomore standing. Offered every three years.
International organizations are essential, yet controversial actors in world politics. At the start of the 21st century, there were over 50,000 international organizations working on an array of issues. Their work affects the lives of billions of people. Consider any contemporary war, trade dispute, financial crisis, human-rights issue or environmental concern and international organizations are likely involved, if not playing a central role. They work to halt war crimes, rebuild war-torn societies, reduce extreme poverty and disease, promote gender equality, help states mediate environmental problems and overcome financial crises. International organizations have nonetheless been subject to relentless criticism, with critics claiming that they aggravate the very problems they are supposed to solve. This course explores the role of international organizations in world politics. We look at how past and current international organizations have grappled with a host of issues, ranging from international trade to humanitarian intervention. Students learn about the origins, politics and effects of diverse international organizations, including the Bretton Woods institutions (the International Monetary Fund and World Bank), the World Trade Organization, various United Nations agencies, the International Criminal Court, civil society organizations and select regional organizations. This counts toward the comparative politics/international relations or seminar requirement for the major and the law and society concentration. Prerequisite: sophomore standing
This course examines the relationship of science and politics from early modernity to the present and considers the probable course and character of that relationship in the future. Topics may include Galileo's conflict with the church, the theory of evolution, social Darwinism and the origins and implications of nuclear weapons research. We examine a number of contemporary controversies at the intersection of science and politics, including genetic testing and therapy, intelligence testing and the IQ debates, climate change and the debates surrounding the science and politics of AIDS. We also examine the value neutrality of science, the politics of risk assessment and the proper role of scientists in shaping policy. This counts toward the seminar requirement for the major and the policy course for the environmental studies major. Prerequisite: junior standing or permission of instructor. Offered every three to four years.
This course examines "Emile," which Rousseau considered to be his most important and most comprehensive work — in brief, as the reply, point to point, to Plato's "Republic." Whereas Plato became famous for presenting an imaginary city, Rousseau presents an imaginary soul or person; his philosophical novel covers the education of Emile from birth until just after marriage. Our discussion conforms to the scope of the themes of the book: nature, economics, morality, religion, sexuality, aesthetics and politics. This counts toward the seminar requirement for the major. Prerequisite: junior standing.
Individual study in political science is available to students who want to pursue a course of reading or complete a focused research project on a topic not regularly offered in the department's curriculum. To enroll, a student must prepare a proposal in consultation with a member of the political science faculty who has suitable expertise and is willing to work with the student over the course of a semester. The proposal should include a statement of the questions the student plans to explore, a preliminary bibliography, a schedule of assignments, a schedule of meetings with the faculty member and a description of the elements that will be factored into the course grade. The student also should briefly describe any prior coursework that particularly qualifies him or her to pursue the project independently. The department chair must approve the proposal. The department expects the student to meet regularly with the instructor for at least the equivalent of one hour per week. Reading assignments vary depending on the topic but should approximate a regular departmental course in that field. Students should expect to write at least 30 pages over the course of the semester for an individual study bearing 0.5 units of credit. The chair must receive proposals by the third day of classes. Because students must enroll for individual studies by the end of the seventh class day of each semester, they should begin discussion of the proposed individual study by the semester before, so that there is time to devise the proposal and seek departmental approval.
The senior honors candidate works with two members of the department to prepare a major essay on a topic of his or her choice, which is then defended before an outside examiner in May. Students enrolled in this course are automatically added to PSCI 498Y for the spring semester. Permission of department chair required. Prerequisite: senior standing.
The senior honors candidate works with two members of the department to prepare a major essay on a topic of his or her choice, which is then defended before an outside examiner in May. Permission of department chair required. Prerequisite: senior standing.