PSCI 118(F)Power to the People?

Popular unrest. The resurgence of authoritarian styles and practices in politics. Democratic collapse. Political tumult around the globe in recent decades has put elites, and others, on edge as young democracies have collapsed and longer standing ones appear to be stumbling. In the United States, basic stability and democratic expansion have been accompanied by increasing citizen distrust of institutions, growing social divisions, and contestation over basic citizenship rights. Acute observers have long seen the U.S. as a harbinger of the promise and peril of modern democracies. What is the fate of democracy in the U.S.? What does that portend, if anything, for other democracies, or for the general principle of popular sovereignty--the idea that the people govern themselves? We investigate these and related questions by actively consulting political theory and empirical research in the social sciences. Our investigation will include class-time collaboration with a similarly structured undergraduate course being taught by a sociologist at the University of North Carolina and may include an optional weekend study trip. [ more ]

PSCI 120America and the World

Last offered Spring 2017

This course will help students understand the US role in the world. US wealth and military power force its leaders to make choices that no other leaders in the world confront. Students will learn to evaluate the decisions that US leaders have made on a wide range of difficult foreign policy issues, including: rising Chinese power; Russian moves in Ukraine; nuclear proliferation to Iran; terrorist threats; humanitarian disasters in Syria and Libya; and long-term challenges like climate change. We will not only describe American involvement in various international issues but also seek to understand the reasons why the US perhaps should or should not be involved, and we will see why such careful reasoning only sometimes gains traction in actual US foreign policy debates. Finally, we will assess whether US foreign policy decisions are coherent - that is, whether the US can be said to follow a "grand strategy." By the end of the course, students will develop their ability to think about foreign policy issues, improving their ability to participate in public life as engaged citizens. [ more ]

PSCI 125(F)Visionaries, Pragmatists, and Demagogues: An Introduction to Leadership Studies

This course introduces students to the major issues in the study of leadership, a central concept in the study of politics. Looking at leaders from ancient Greece to the contemporary United States, we will explore the big questions of leadership studies: What makes a leader successful? Where does legitimacy come from? What (if anything) distinguished a leader from a demagogue? Do good leaders make good followers, or vice versa? What is the relationship between leadership and morality--can the ends justify the means? Why do good leaders sometimes lead badly? How can disempowered people exercise effective leadership? What functions does leadership fill, and what challenges do leaders face, in modern democratic states? [ more ]

PSCI 127(S)America First? The Trump Era and the Future of World Politics

"America First" was a slogan and a perspective on foreign policy adopted by isolationists like Charles Lindberg in the 1930's. In the aftermath of Pearl Harbor and the Second World War, a strong bipartisan consensus emerged around the principles of liberal international internationalism and "America First" perspectives were marginalized in American politics. However, with the election of Donald Trump, the American presidency is now in the hands of someone who proudly claims the America first mantle. This course provides a historical and theoretical context for understanding what is unique about President Trump's approach to American foreign policy in the 21st century. Particular attention will be devoted to the contrast between the views of Trump and those of the American foreign policy establishment over issues such as NATO, nuclear proliferation, Russia, immigration, terrorism, free trade, and conflicts in the Middle East. [ more ]

PSCI 132(F)Contemporary Africana Social and Political Philosophy

This introductory seminar investigates the relationship between three major schools of thought in contemporary Africana social and political philosophy, namely the African, Afro-American, and Afro-Caribbean intellectual traditions. We will discuss a range of thinkers including Aimé Césaire, Angela Y. Davis, Édouard Glissant, Lewis R. Gordon, Kwame Gyekye, Paget Henry, bell hooks, Charles W. Mills, Nkiru Nzegwu, Lucius Outlaw, Oyèrónke Oyewùmi, Tommie Shelby, and Sylvia Wynter. A primary goal of the course is to provide students with the intellectual resources to decipher problems central to philosophical discourse and to allow students an opportunity to apply what they learn to critical issues in current geopolitics. [ more ]

PSCI 135Politics after the Apocalypse

Last offered Spring 2018

The zombies are coming! Climate change will destroy us! Bird-flu pandemic! To our horror and delight, reminders are everywhere that the end is near. Some of these projected apocalypses are alarmist, some fanciful...and others all too realistic. What shape will politics take after the apocalypse? What aspects of politics will endure the ravages of fire or pestilence? What new political realities might emerge on ground cleared by disaster? And what does it say about politics today that we are so eager to consume stories of states falling and bands of survivors scraping together a nasty, brutish and short existence? In this class, we reconsider what politics is and should be by contemplating accounts of its destruction and rebirth in television, film, literature, activism, social science, and critical theory. We will approach these sources as analogous to political theory's classic thought experiment of the "state of nature" and social contract. And we will consider what it tells us about our time that we are so eager to imagine ourselves at the beginning of the end. Class will be driven primarily by discussion. Students will have significant responsibility for setting the agenda for discussions through informal writing submitted prior to class. Two papers, one close-reading assignment, and one post-apocalyptic short story or video are required. [ more ]

PSCI 140Religion and Capitalism

Last offered Spring 2016

Up through the 1960s it was popular to claim that the world was becoming increasingly and inevitably secular, with the development of modern capitalist social relations as a signature cause. Today the 'secularization thesis' is largely defunct. Instead one sees the vibrant return of religion to social, economic, and political prominence in most parts of the world--at the very same time we are experiencing through globalization and the information revolution the most dramatic economic advances in a century. This course investigates the historical and contemporary relationship between culture and economics, religion and capitalism, in their most encompassing forms. In investigating this theme, our cornerstone will be Max Weber's famous argument from The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism. Along the way we will discuss both the origins of capitalist society as well as its more recent transformations through the rise of the welfare state, consumerism, and globalization. We will also discuss changes in religion under the influence of capitalism including romanticism, Pentecostalism, moralistic therapeutic Deism, and the 'God gap' between largely theist Africa, South and West Asia, and the Americas on the one hand and largely atheist Europe and East Asia on the other. The focus of the course is on Christianity in Western countries both historically and in the present, but we will spend time discussing religion (particularly Pentecostalism) and capitalism in the contemporary Global South as well. [ more ]

PSCI 141Bandits and Warlords

Last offered Spring 2016

A leading scholar once quipped that political communities "qualify as our largest examples of organized crime." He wasn't far off: governments are meant to protect their citizenry, but as the #bringbackoursgirls or the KONY 2012 campaigns reveal, sometimes they fail. Bandits emerge, racketeers flourish, and warlords replace governments. By looking at Boko Haram, Séléka rebels, Al-Shabaab, Somali pirates and the Lords Resistance Army, this course explores the conditions that lead to the collapse of government protection and its replacement by bandits and warlords. We will then use this understanding to examine prominent examples of banditry and warlordism in Latin America, the Middle East and Europe. [ more ]

PSCI 150Democracy and the State: A Comparative Study

Last offered Fall 2017

This introductory course examines major western political theories and ideologies, such as Liberalism and Marxism, and then examines their application in selected regional case studies. The social contract theories of Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau form the basis of the course. [ more ]

PSCI 160 T(S)Refugees in International Politics

Globally, refugees seem to create, and be caught up in, chronic crisis. This course evaluates how this can be--how a crisis can be chronic. We investigate who refugees are, in international law and popular understanding; examine international and national laws distinguishing refugees from other categories of migrants, evaluate international organizations' roles in managing population displacement, and consider refugee camps in theory and example. In whose interest is the prevailing system? Who might change it, and how? [ more ]

PSCI 178 TMusic and Politics

Last offered Fall 2016

This course examines how musical sound and musical discourse change, enable, and inhibit citizen formation and the functioning of a well-ordered society. We will take a very wide definition of "politics," as music can have political meaning and effects far beyond national anthems and propaganda. For instance, musical sound is often read as a metaphor for political structures: eighteenth-century commenters pointed out that string quartets mirrored reasoned, democratic discourse, and twentieth-century critics made similar arguments about free jazz. Beliefs about music can serve as a barometer for a society's non-musical anxieties: Viennese fin-de-siècle critics worried that the sounds and stories of Strauss's operas were causing moral decline, an argument that should be familiar to anyone who reads criticism of American popular music. Finally, a pervasive strand of Romantic thought holds that (good) music, by its nature, is apolitical-what might it mean to deny social relevance to an entire field of human expression? We will read classic philosophical texts on art and politics by Schiller, Kant, Schopenhauer, Marx, Adorno, and others, and pair them with contextual studies of works of Western classical music from the last two hundred years and popular music of the last hundred years. [ more ]

PSCI 201(F, S)Power, Politics, and Democracy in America

Begun as an experiment over 200 years ago, the United States has grown into a polity that is simultaneously praised and condemned, critiqued and mythologized, modeled by others and remodeled itself. This course introduces students to the dynamics and tensions that have animated the American political order and that have nurtured these conflicting assessments. Topics include the founding of the American system and the primary documents (the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Federalist Papers), the primary institutions of national government then and now (Congress, the Presidency, and the Supreme Court) and the politics of policy-making in the United States. We study structures, processes, key events, and primary actors that have shaped American political development. In investigating these topics, we explore questions such as these: How is power allocated? What produces political change? Is there is a trade-off between democratic accountability and effective governance? How are tensions between liberty and equality resolved? Do the institutions produce good policies, and how do we define what is good? [ more ]

PSCI 202(F, S)World Politics: An Introduction to International Relations

"World politics is often taken to be an arena of human interaction unto itself, where the concepts which serve us well in understanding domestic politics and our everyday public lives -- democracy, law, morality, authority -- are displaced by their opposites -- rule by the strong, use of force, raison d'état, anarchy. In particular, the discipline of International Relations claims special responsibility for analyzing and explaining this arena. But is world politics really so different? We now live in a world in which resolutions of the United Nations Security Council carry the aura of law and authority; human rights are held up as universal moral standards; international treaties regularly restrain supposedly sovereign states in regulating their domestic economies; and the vast majority of wars are now 'civil' ones. This course is about politics at the world scale and the myriad ways in which scholars and practitioners interpret and explain it." [ more ]

PSCI 203(F, S)Introduction to Political Theory

Is politics war by other means? Is it merely a practical way to meet our needs? Or is it, rather, the activity through which citizens pursue justice and the good life? And what is justice? How can it be established and secured? Where does it apply? To whom? What are the powers and obligations of citizenship? Who decides? On what basis? Political theory addresses questions such as these as it investigates the fundamental problems of how people can, do, and ought to live together. The questions have sparked controversy since the origins of political thinking; the answers remain controversial now. This course addresses the controversies, drawing examples from struggles over such matters as racism, colonialism, revolution, political founding, economic order, and the politics of sex and gender, while focusing on major works of ancient, modern, and contemporary theory by such authors as Plato, Aristotle, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Rousseau, Mill, Marx, Nietzsche, Beauvoir, Arendt, Fanon, Rawls, Foucault, and Young. Themes may include power, authority, obligation, freedom, justice, equality, democracy, liberalism, capitalism, feminism, and violence, though the emphases will vary from semester to semester. [ more ]

PSCI 204(F, S)Introduction to Comparative Politics: Nationalism, Religion, and State Power

While the field of international relations focuses on the actions of sovereign states towards one another, the comparative study of politics looks mainly at what goes on inside countries, the domestic dynamics of political power and institutions. It asks, for example, where sovereign states come from, why political life differs so much from one country to another, and how political regimes, structures and institutions change, sometimes suddenly. Thus comparative politics is often about what citizens of countries with stable and relatively effective governments take for granted (and why they may take it for granted). In this course, we will examine several broad historical-political themes: the rise of modern state structures; the emergence of capitalism; the articulation of national identities; the spread of liberalism and democracy; the roots of terrorism; and the effects of war and religion on politics. Worthwhile answers will require us to look at them theoretically, historically, comparatively, and through contemporary developments. [ more ]

PSCI 205Political Leadership

Last offered Spring 2016

This course will examine the leadership strategies of American political leaders with an emphasis on the importance of communication strategies for public sector leaders. We will study these issues by examining local, state and federal political leaders and by answering key questions specific to the political realm. We will read and watch significant speeches of American political leaders, be visited by guests with deep knowledge and insight into the world of politics and read a variety of writings by academics and practitioners on the subject. We will explore questions such as "What characteristics mark successful communication and how do leaders craft a unique and effective communications style?" and "What strategic considerations are there for female political leaders and do they have different challenges in communicating?" The first series of classes will focus on communication taking a look at some of America's best political orators, the special requirements of crisis communication and the changes that new media has brought to the practice of politics and government. We will then explore the tenets of political strategy--both in campaigns and governing. This segment of the course will take a look at the tools used in crafting a strategy and how to put together a winning coalition. The final classes in the course will explore the unique challenges and opportunities facing select sub-groups of political leaders: women, celebrity candidates and officeholders and high-achieving young political leaders--operatives and elected officials. [ more ]

PSCI 206 T(F)Dangerous Leadership in American Politics

"Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton, Ted Cruz, Bernie Sanders. What do Americans want from their political leaders?". A common assumption is that those who do it well--whether in the presidency, the parties, social movements, organizations, or local communities--are just and legitimate agents of democratic change, and those most celebrated are those who have helped the country make progress toward its ideals. Yet to rest on this is too simple as it is, in part, an artifact of historical construction. Assessing leadership in the moment is complicated because leaders press against the bounds of political convention--as do ideologues, malcontents, and lunatics. Indeed, a central concern of the founders was that democracy would invite demagogues who would bring the nation to ruin. Complicating things further, the nature of democratic competition is such that those vying for power have incentive to portray the opposition's leadership as dangerous. How do we distinguish desirable leadership from dangerous leadership? Can they be the same thing? Many who today are recognized as great leaders were, in their historical moment, branded dangerous. Others, whose ambitions and initiatives arguably undermined progress toward American ideals, were not recognized as dangerous at the time. In this tutorial, we will explore the concept of dangerous leadership in American history, from inside as well as outside of government. What constitutes dangerous leadership, and what makes a leader dangerous? Is it the person or the context? Who decides? How do we distinguish truly dangerous leadership from the perception of dangerous leadership? Does dangerous describe the means or the ends of leadership? Does it matter? Is leadership that privileges desirable ends, such as justice or security, at the expense of democratic means acceptable? Is democratic leadership in service of "dangerous" goals acceptable, and what are these goals? [ more ]

PSCI 208 TWealth in America

Last offered Fall 2015

The pursuit of wealth is an important feature of American political identity, captured by the ideas of the American dream and the Protestant work ethic. The accumulation of wealth has been lauded as both a worthy individual activity and a vital component of the nation's public interest. Yet inequality in wealth may conflict with the political equality necessary for democratic governance and public trust, leading to concerns that we are sacrificing community, fairness, and opportunity for the benefit of a small portion of the population. This tutorial focuses on questions about the public value of wealth and its accumulation, which have become more pressing now that the richest one percent of Americans own about 40 percent of privately held wealth. Some readings will be historical, particularly those focusing on American political thought and the politics of the Gilded Age, such as Andrew Carnegie's "Gospel of Wealth". Most of the readings, such as Pierson and Hacker's Winner-Take-All Politics, will focus on contemporary political debates about the accumulation, concentration, and redistribution of wealth. [ more ]

PSCI 209Poverty in America

Last offered Fall 2017

Although some protest that the U.S. is heading toward European-style socialism, social welfare programs in the U.S. differ in important ways from those in other wealthy and democratic nations. This course focuses on the adoption and development of policies to address poverty and inequality in the U.S. The issues we will explore include: What is poverty, and how do Americans perceive its dangers to individuals as well as the political community? What economic, historical, and sociological theories have been advanced to explain poverty? Why has the U.S. adopted some approaches to reduce poverty but not others? What enduring political conflicts have shaped the U.S. welfare state? [ more ]

PSCI 210Culture and Incarceration

Last offered Fall 2011

This seminar examines incarceration, immigration detention centers, and the death penalty from historical and contemporary perspectives. Students will study and examine interdisciplinary texts as well primary sources (legislature and criminal codes and writings by the incarcerated). The emphasis will be on the study of social attitudes concerning ethnic groups, gender/sexuality and class as they pertain to a "penal culture" in the United States. [ more ]

PSCI 211(S)Do the People Govern? U.S. Public Opinion and Mass Political Behavior

America's founding documents explicitly state that the will of the people is the authority upon which our government rests. But do the people actually govern, and should they? Pessimists point out that most Americans know very little about politics and lack coherent political views, are easily manipulated by media and campaigns, and are frequently ignored by public officials anyway. Optimists counter that, even if individuals are often ignorant and/or confused about politics, in the aggregate, the public sends a coherent signal to public officials, who usually carry out the public's general wishes. In addition to engaging this debate about what the public thinks about politics, we will also explore how people behave in the political realm. What are the forces that shape whether citizens pay attention to politics, vote, work on campaigns, protest, or engage in other types of political action? How do resource gaps tied to inequalities in society (such as race, class, and gender) influence political behavior? And how do institutions such as the media and campaigns encourage or discourage it? [ more ]

PSCI 212(S)From Tocqueville to Trump: Leadership and the Making of American Democracy

America's founders didn't mean to create a democracy. But since the Revolution, leaders have been fighting to make real for all Americans the promise of government of, by, and for the people. In this course, we will look at how leaders have marshaled ideas, social movements, and technological changes to expand the scope of American democracy--and the reasons they have sometimes failed. We will examine how founders such as Benjamin Franklin and James Madison envisioned the relation between the people and the government; how workers, African Americans, and women fought to participate in American politics; and how globalization, polarization, and inequality are straining American democracy and political leadership in the 21st century. We will examine leadership to better understand American democracy--and vice versa. We will ask: What explains why some leaders have succeeded where others have failed? Have some periods of American democratic politics been more amenable to particular kinds of leadership than others? What makes American political leadership distinctive in international comparison? Who, exactly, has been permitted to participate in American politics, and on what terms? How has the relation between the governors and the governed changed over time, and what factors and events have shaped those relations? How has America's democratic experiment compared with (and interacted with) democracy elsewhere in the world? Is America really a democracy at all? [ more ]

PSCI 213Transitions to Democracy

Last offered Spring 2018

Under what circumstances do authoritarian regimes democratize and what is required to sustain the liberalization of the political system? This comparative course looks at a sample of societies characterized by strong ethnic, religious or racial cleavages. [ more ]

PSCI 214(F)Racial and Ethnic Politics in America

Arguably, the dominant discourse in the election and presidency of Barack Obama and the battle to succeed him was about race. Race is connected to salient issues like immigration and police conduct; to politicians across the political spectrum, including Obama and Donald Trump; and (some argue) to virtually everything in American politics, including fundamental concepts that have no manifest racial content, like partisanship and the size and scope of government. We will evaluate the role of race as it relates to public opinion, political behavior, campaigns, political institutions, and public policy debates, with special attention devoted to the nature of racial attitudes. Most of the course will focus on the historical and contemporary relations between whites and African Americans, but we will also explore topics involving other pan-ethnic communities, particularly Latinos and Asian Americans. [ more ]

PSCI 215(S)Race and Inequality in the American City

In the past half-century, American cities have gotten both much richer and much poorer. The making of "luxury cities" has gone hand-in-hand with persistent, concentrated poverty, extreme racial segregation, mass incarceration, and failing public services-social problems borne primarily by people of color. This course will examine the political underpinnings of inequality in American cities, with particular attention to the racialization of inequality. Among the topics we will cover are: the structures of urban political power; housing and employment discrimination; the War on Crime and the War on Drugs (and their consequence, mass incarceration); education; and gentrification. We will ask: How have city leaders and social movements engaged with urban problems? How have they tried to make cities more decent, just, and sustainable? Under what circumstances has positive leadership produced beneficial outcomes, and in what circumstances has it produced perverse outcomes? We will engage primarily with political science, but also with scholarship in other disciplines, including sociology, history, geography, and legal studies, all of which share an interest in the questions we will be exploring. Students will leave this course with a deeper understanding of contemporary urban problems, a knowledge of the political structures within which those problems are embedded, and a better sense of the challenges and opportunities leaders face in contemporary urban America. [ more ]

PSCI 216(F)American Constitutionalism I: Structures of Power

How has the American Constitution been debated and understood over time? What is the relationship between constitutional and political change? This course examines the historical development of American constitutional law and politics from the Founding to the present. Our focus is on structures of power -- the limits on congressional lawmaking, growth of presidential authority, establishment of judicial review, conflicts among the three branches of the federal government, and boundaries between the federal and state and local governments. The specific disputes under these rubrics range from secession to impeachment, gun control to child labor, waging war to spurring commerce; the historical periods to be covered include the Marshall and Taney Court years, the Civil War and Reconstruction, the Progressive Era, the New Deal, the Warren Court, and the conservative ascendancy of the late twentieth century. Readings are drawn from Supreme Court opinions, presidential addresses, congressional debates and statutes, political party platforms, key tracts of American political thought, and secondary scholarship on constitutional development. Throughout the semester, our goal will be less to remember elaborate doctrinal rules and multi-part constitutional "tests" than to understand the changing nature of, and changing relationship between, constitutional power and constitutional meaning in American history. [ more ]

PSCI 217American Constitutionalism II: Rights and Liberties

Last offered Spring 2018

How has the American Constitution been debated and understood over time? What is the relationship between constitutional and political change? This course examines the historical development of American constitutional law and politics from the Founding to the present. Our focus is on rights and liberties -- freedom of speech and religion, property, criminal process, autonomy and privacy, and equality. The specific disputes under these rubrics range from abortion to affirmative action, hate speech to capital punishment, school prayer to same-sex marriage; the historical periods to be covered include the early republic, the ante-bellum era, the Civil War and Reconstruction, World Wars I and II, the Warren Court, and contemporary America. Readings are drawn from Supreme Court opinions, presidential addresses, congressional debates and statutes, political party platforms, key tracts of American political thought, and secondary scholarship on constitutional development. Throughout the semester, our goal will be less to remember elaborate doctrinal rules and multi-part constitutional "tests" than to understand the changing nature of, and changing relationship between, constitutional rights and constitutional meaning in American history. [ more ]

PSCI 218(S)The American Presidency

To study the presidency is to study human nature and personality, constitution and institution, strategy and contingency. This course will examine the problems and paradoxes that attend the exercise of the most powerful political office in the world's oldest democracy: Can an executive office be constructed with sufficient energy to govern and also be democratically accountable? How much do we attribute the shaping of politics to the agency of the individual in the office and to what extent are politics the result of structural, cultural, and institutional factors? Are the politics of the presidency different in foreign and domestic policy? How are national security concerns balanced with domestic priorities such as the protection of civil liberties? How is the office and purpose of the presidency affected by an economic order predicated on private capital? Exploration of these questions will lead us to examine topics such as presidential selection, the bases of presidential power, character and leadership issues, congressional-executive relations, the media, and emergency powers. Attention will focus largely on the modern presidency, though older historical examples will also be used to help us gain perspective on these problems. [ more ]

PSCI 219 T(F)Women in National Politics

This tutorial focuses on the writings and memoirs of black women who have shaped national politics through civil rights and human rights movements in the 21st century. Women studied include: Fannie Lou Hamer, Barbara Jordan, Shirley Chisholm, Angela Davis, Ella Baker, Kathleen Cleaver. [ more ]

PSCI 220Afghanistan Post-Mortem

Last offered Fall 2014

The United States attacked and defeated the Afghan Taliban regime over in the course of a few short weeks in 2001. Over the next decade, the finality of that victory was brought into question as the Taliban regrouped and eventually reasserted itself as a formidable guerilla army that the U.S. military could not defeat. This course examines the history of American involvement in Afghanistan, beginning in the Cold War when the U.S. used Afghanistan as a test case for new models of political modernization and economic development, through the Soviet occupation and U.S. support for Islamist political parties in the 1980s, and continuing with the most recent abortive U.S. efforts at nation-building and social and political reform. [ more ]

PSCI 223(S)International Law

International law embodies the rules that govern the society of states. It spells out who can be a sovereign state and how to become one, what states can do, what they cannot do, and who can punish transgressions. It also determines the status of other actors, such as international organizations, heads of state, refugees, transnational religious institutions, and multinational corporations. International law is similar to domestic law, with one very crucial difference: it is not enforced by a centralized, sovereign state. In most other respects, it is the same: it protects the status quo, including the distribution of power among its members; it spells out legitimate and illegitimate ways of resolving conflicts of interest; it is biased toward the powerful; it tells its members how to act to coordinate their interests and minimize direct conflict; some of it is purely aspirational, some of it necessary for survival. And like domestic law, it is enforced only some of the time, and then against the weak more than the strong. Yet, law is still where we look for justice and, perhaps, the legitimation of order. [ more ]

PSCI 224Neo-liberalism: What Is It and Why Does It Matter?

Last offered Fall 2017

We live in the era of neo-liberalism. But what does this mean? This course will focus on neo-liberalism in comparative perspective, looking mainly at the US and Europe. It will consider how neo-liberalism is defined, the role of states in making and maintaining neo-liberalism, the centrality of markets to neo-liberal conceptions, and the kinds of politics that produced and are produced by neo-liberalism. Economically, the course will look at the institutional configuration of neo-liberalism, changes in economies, growing inequality, the financial crises, and prevalence of debt. Politically, the course will address changes in the role of government, what governments do and do not do, the growing influence of financial interests, the role of identities in mobilizing support for and legitimating governments, and the impact of these developments on the status of citizenship and democracy. [ more ]

PSCI 225(F)International Security

This course deals with basic questions about war and peace. What are the major causes of war? Why do leaders choose to use violence in the pursuit of political objectives? How does the threat of war shape international politics and diplomatic outcomes? How are wars fought? What are their consequences? And why do states sometimes seek to cooperate to achieve their objectives and other times settle disputes through force or the threat of force? To address these questions, this course covers a number of specific topics: the causes, conduct, and consequences of the two world wars; the origins, course, and end of the Cold War; the influence of nuclear weapons on international security; regional conflicts and rivalries; regime type and international conflict; alliances and patron-client relationships; diplomacy; crisis decision-making; asymmetric conflicts; and great power politics, grand strategy, and international order. [ more ]

PSCI 227(S)International Relations of the Middle East

This class will introduce students to the international political significance of the modern Middle East. The basic structure of the course combines political science concepts with a detailed survey of the region's diplomatic history. Specific topics will include the role of the great powers in the area's politics; the Arab-Israeli conflict; the geopolitical implications of the Persian Gulf's oil reserves; terrorism; the causes and impact of the Iranian Revolution; the rise of Islamist movements; nuclear proliferation; the causes and consequences of the Iraq War; the Arab Spring and the Syrian crisis; and future prospects for stability in the area. By the end of the course, students will have not only gained insight into these specific issues but, more importantly, will have developed an ability to think critically and analytically about the arguments and ideas relating to the international relations of the Middle East espoused by different scholars and policymakers. [ more ]

PSCI 228International Organization

Last offered Fall 2017

Tens of thousands of international organizations populate our world. IGOs, whose members are governments of sovereigns, range from the Nordic Association for Reindeer Research to the UN and NATO; NGOs, whose members are private groups and individuals, include the International Seaweed Association as well as the International Committee of the Red Cross. We will examine where they come from, what they do, and to whom they matter, and will examine their agency, efficiency, and accountability. We cover the history, structures and functions of international organizations using case studies. [ more ]

PSCI 229(F)Global Political Economy

Thirty years ago the production, distribution, consumption and accumulation of goods, services and capital were predominantly national, organized by nation-states and within national territories. Today they all are increasingly global in scope, and nation-states find themselves more and more the subjects than the masters of mobile transnational corporations, international trade tribunals, global currency markets and natural resources cartels. All of these developments have direct and far-reaching effects on the power of states, the wealth of societies, and the life chances of billions of people around the world. This course offers a broad introduction to contemporary global capitalism, emphasizing the inherent and inseparable intertwining of politics and economics, power and wealth, the state and the market. The core of the course is made up of a broad analysis of global trade, global finance, development, and migration, with special attention to subjects such as free trade, foreign aid, industrial policy, currency wars, and refugee crises. We conclude the course with a close look at current global financial instabilities and the implications for the future of global capitalism. [ more ]

PSCI 231Ancient Political Thought

Last offered Fall 2017

The core activity of this seminar is the careful reading and sustained discussion of selected works by Plato and Aristotle, but we will also engage such other thinkers as Epictetus and Augustine, and, from a political and theoretical point of view, selections from the Hebrew Bible and New Testament. Among the questions that we will address: What is justice? How can it be known and pursued? How is political power generated and exercised? What are the social and ethical prerequisites--and consequences--of democracy? Must the freedom or fulfillment of some people require the subordination of others? Does freedom require leading (or avoiding) a political life? What distinguishes that kind of life from others? What does it mean to be "philosophical" or to think "theoretically" about politics? Although we will attempt to engage the readings on their own terms, we will also ask how the vast differences between the ancient world and our own undercut or enhance the texts' ability to illuminate the dilemmas of political life for us. [ more ]

PSCI 232(F)Modern Political Thought

This course is a chronological survey of major works of political theory from the 16th to the 20th century. In discussions and writing, we will explore the diverse visions of modernity and of politics offered by such thinkers as Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Marx, Mill, and Freud. They help us ask: What is freedom? Who is equal? Who should rule? With what limits and justifications? What form of government best serves the people? Who are the people, anyway? And on what grounds can we justify confidence in our provisional answers to such questions? Class will be primarily driven by discussion, often preceded by brief lectures. Attention to the writing process and developing an authorial voice will be a recurrent focus of our work inside and outside the classroom. [ more ]

PSCI 233Rastafari: Dread, Politics, Agency

Last offered Spring 2018

The emergence of Rastafari in the twentieth century marked a distinct phase in the theory and practice of political agency. From its heretical roots in Jamaica, Garveyism, Ethiopianism, and Pan-Africanism, Rastafari has evolved from a Caribbean theological movement to an international political actor. This course investigates the political theory of Rastafari in order to develop intellectual resources for theorizing the concept of agency in contemporary Africana thought and political theory. We will analyze texts and audio-visual works on the political economy of late colonial Jamaica, core Rastafari thinking, political theology, the role of reggae music, the notion of agency, and the influence of Rastafari on global politics. [ more ]

PSCI 234(F, S)Political Romanticism

What is Romanticism, and how does it relate to the world-changing political upheavals that emerge along with it? Romantic literature emerged around the time of the French and Haitian Revolutions, and many Romantic authors were deeply sympathetic to the democratic principles of freedom and equality that inspired such political uprisings. Yet many also questioned revolutionaries' attempts to realize such ideas by forcibly seizing control of governments. These authors became interested in art and literature as alternative means of bringing about social and political change. In so doing, they invented ideas about the political power of art that are still very much with us today. This seminar examines these ideas through readings of works of Romantic literature, philosophy, and art that brought them into the world, while also considering how arguments subsequently developed for and against political Romanticism inform today's heated debates about the relationship between art and politics. May include works by Kant, Wordsworth & Colderige, C. Smith, P.B. Shelley, Géricault, Delacroix, Turner, Hazlitt, Hegel, Marx, C.L.R James, Carl Schmitt, Walter Benjamin, and Jacques Rancière. [ more ]

PSCI 235(S)Survival and Resistance: Environmental Political Theory

Contemporary struggles to reverse environmental destruction and establish sustainable communities have prompted some political theorists to rethink longstanding assumptions about politics and its relationship to nature. Does the environment have "rights"? What, if anything, is the difference between an ecosystem and a political community? Is democracy dangerous to the planet's health? Are environmental protections compatible with political freedom? How is the domination or conquest of nature connected with domination and conquest within human societies? What does justice demand in an age of climate change? In this class, we will consider the promise and limits of political theory to illuminate present day environmental crises and foster movements to overcome them. We will engage classic texts that helped to establish political theory's traditional view of nature as a resource, as well as contemporary texts that offer alternative, ecological understandings of nature and its entwinements with politics. Class will be driven primarily by discussion. Students will have significant responsibility for setting the agenda for discussions through informal writing submitted prior to class. As a writing intensive course, attention to the writing process and developing an authorial voice will be a recurrent focus of our work inside and outside the classroom. [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

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PSCI 238(F)Economic Liberalism and Its Critics

Economic liberalism holds that society is better off if people enjoy economic freedom. Its critics point to what they believe this position ignores or what it wrongly assumes, and hence, how it would make bad policy. This course explores the relationship between politics and economics by surveying influential works of political economy. Its first part examines major thinkers in relation to the historical development of capitalism in Western Europe and the United States: the classical liberalism of Adam Smith, Karl Marx's revolutionary socialism, and the reformist ideas of John Maynard Keynes. The second part considers mid-20th-century writers who revise and critique economic liberalism from a variety of perspectives, including Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman, Ronald Coase, Arthur Okun, and Albert O. Hirschman. The third part surveys significant recent contributions relevant to the themes of the course, with applications to current public policy issues, including topics such as: power relations and autonomy in the workplace; asymmetric information and social insurance; economic inequality and distributive justice; equality of opportunity; the economics of health care; positional goods and the moral foundations of capitalism; economic nationalism and new trade theory; behavioral economics; finance and financial crises; and rent-seeking. The combination of the historical focus of the early part of the course with discussion of modern policy issues and debates in the latter part of the course permits you to appreciate the ongoing dialogue between classical and contemporary views of political economy. [ more ]

PSCI 239Science, Gender and Power

Last offered Spring 2013

This course considers debates in feminism about the relationship between science, gender and power in politics. On the one hand, shifting ideas about gender have influenced the development of the sciences through history: for example, some feminists argue that science has historically been premised upon a view of women as objects, not subjects, of knowledge. On the other hand, shifting ideas about science have strongly influenced the development of feminist theory and practice: for example, debates about reproductive rights are often couched in terms of a conflict between reliable scientific knowledge of embryos, STDs, etc. and an unscientific, patriarchal worldview. Do science and technology serve to transform or reinforce power imbalances based on gender, race, and sexuality? Should feminist theory embrace objectivity and model itself upon scientific procedures of knowledge production? Or should feminists reject objectivity as a myth told by the powerful about their own knowledge-claims and develop an alternative approach to knowledge? What is "objectivity" anyway, and how has this norm changed through history? What kinds of alternatives to objectivity exist, and should they, too, count as "science"? Rather than treating science as a monolith, we will endeavor to understand the implications of various sciences--as practiced and envisioned in various, historically specific situations--for gender and politics. Readings may include texts by Rene Descartes, Andreas Vesalius, Londa Schiebinger, Anne Fausto-Sterling, Helen Longino, Nancy Harstock, Sandra Harding, bell hooks, Donna Haraway, Mary Hawkesworth, and Octavia Butler. [ more ]

PSCI 240Theories of Comparative Politics

Last offered Fall 2015

This course deals with the concepts that organize much of the contemporary study of comparative politics. The course discusses the purposes of states, the origins of capitalism, the relationship of states to capitalism, the connection between identities, cultures, and states, and the definition and nature of power. The readings include Alexis de Tocqueville, Karl Marx, Max Weber, Karl Polanyi, Barrington Moore, Michel Foucault, and Edward Said. [ more ]

PSCI 241(S)Meritocracy

Although an infinitesimal number of Americans have degrees from Harvard or Yale Universities, 33% of the top decision makers in the second Obama administration did. So do eight of the country's nine sitting Supreme Court Justices. Is this a positive sign that the United States is governed by its most talented and capable members who have risen through hard work and equal opportunity? Or a negative one pointing to the power of a corrupt and self-selecting elite? This course explores the theme of meritocracy --- rule by the intellectually talented --- in comparative perspective. We will look at both old and new arguments regarding the proper role and definition of merit in political society as well as take the measure of meritocracy in present-day Singapore, France, and the United States. The course concludes with a focus on the current debate over American meritocracy and inequality. [ more ]

PSCI 242America and the Vietnam War

Last offered Fall 2011

Every American president from Franklin Roosevelt to John F. Kennedy sought to avoid a commitment of ground forces to Vietnam. Lyndon Johnson also feared the consequences of a massive American commitment, but he eventually sent over half a million men to Vietnam. Richard Nixon hoped to conclude a peace with honor when he assumed the presidency, but the war lasted for another four years with many additional casualties. This course examines the complex political processes that led successive American presidents to get involved in a conflict that all of them desperately wanted to avoid. We will examine both the international and domestic context of the war, as well as pay close attention to both South and North Vietnamese perspectives on the war. In addition, we will examine the long-standing arguments among both historians and political scientists over how to explain and interpret the longest and most controversial war in American history. [ more ]

PSCI 243Politics of Africa

Last offered Spring 2017

This course provides an introduction to the politics of contemporary Africa, emphasizing the diversity of African politics. It seeks to challenge the widespread image of African politics as universally and inexplicably lawless, violent, and anarchic. We begin by examining the colonization of Africa, nationalist movements, and patterns of rule in the first 30 years of independence. From there, we analyze the causes, achievements and limitations of the recent wave of political liberalization across Africa. We then consider patterns of economic development in Africa. Finally, we examine China's growing expansion into Africa and ask whether this is a new colonialism. [ more ]

PSCI 247(S)Political Power in Contemporary China

The People's Republic of China presents us with two grand political narratives: socialism and democracy. In the Maoist era, a distinctive understanding of socialism, which claimed to be a more genuine democracy, brought hope and, ultimately, tragedy to hundreds of millions of people. In the post-Mao era, Chinese politics has been driven by the need to redefine socialism in the wake of the world-historic calamities of the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution and, more recently, the end of the Cold War. The state cannot simply give up the socialist myth because without it the rationale for Communist Party hegemony evaporates. But China's rulers cannot avoid political reform, both ideological and institutional, because to do so heightens the legitimacy crisis born of Maoist failures. Within this context has emerged the contemporary Chinese democracy movement which, in all of its complexity, looks to both socialist discourse and Western practice to create a new politics that checks tyrannical abuses of state power and engenders a civil society. What is Chinese democracy now? What are its prospects and what is its relationship to the ideas of socialism? [ more ]

PSCI 248 TThe USA in Comparative Perspective

Last offered Fall 2017

Politics in the USA is often considered unique and incomparable, and US political science separates the study of American politics from comparative politics. This course overcomes this divide, considering politics and society in the United States comparatively, from a variety of viewpoints and by authors foreign and American, historical and contemporary. Important topics include: the colonial experience and independence; race relations and the African diaspora; nationalism and national identity; war and state-building; American exceptionalism, religion, and foreign policy; the role of political and economic institutions; and the origins and shape of the welfare state. (As the list suggests, the most common comparisons are with Latin America and Western Europe, but several of our authors look beyond these regions.) [ more ]

PSCI 249From Beetroot to Zero Grazing: Comparative Response to AIDS in Africa

Last offered Fall 2014

As AIDS in African countries grew from a few cases in the mid-1980s to more generalized levels by the mid-1990s, government policy varied widely. Consider that while Kenyan medical officials denied the existence of AIDS (insisting that the four deaths reported in the press were due to skin cancer), in Senegal, President Diouf openly acknowledged AIDS and launched a national prevention and control program. South African President Mbeki and his health minister questioned whether HIV causes AIDS and suggested a garlic, beetroot, and lemon concoction as treatment, while in Uganda, President Yoweri Museveni developed a successful home-grown `Zero Grazing' campaign. Why did some African governments respond early and aggressively to AIDS, while others did essentially the opposite? What has worked and what hasn't in the fight against AIDS in African countries? Has political liberalization improved the responsiveness of African governments to AIDS? In this course we aim to better understand how politics and social factors shaped African countries' responses to AIDS. [ more ]

PSCI 254Democracy in Comparative and Theoretical Perspective

Last offered Fall 2014

This course deals with what democracy means and how it is achieved. It begins by weighing competing definitions of democracy focusing on two kinds of questions. Is "democracy" a procedure or a substance and what is the relationship between democratic government and market economies? After addressing general theoretical issues, the course will consider what is meant by democracy in the United States, Latin America, South Africa, and the Arab world. [ more ]

PSCI 257(F)Iran, Islam, and the Last Great Revolution

The title and inspiration for this course comes from Robin Wright's book The Last Great Revolution. Wright argues that the 1979 Revolution in Iran completes the promise of the Modern Era, "launched in the West" but "adopted by or adapted to all other parts of the world." The overthrow of 2500 years of monarchy "paved the way for using Islam to push for empowerment." It is this empowerment, of nations and of ordinary individuals, that stands as the signal quality of modernity. The notion that post revolutionary Iran offers an alternative path to modernity is hardly conventional wisdom in the United States or Europe, where images of men draped in religious passion and women in forbidding black chadors are as common as the belief that the 1979 Revolution set Iran spinning back thirteen centuries in time. If westerners do not view Iran as entirely anti-modern, then at best they see it as a country filled with "paradoxes" and "puzzles," one in which indie rock bands play underground, figuratively and literally beneath the feet of retrograde religious fanatics, or unveiled women attend all-night parties only to slip back into proper hejab the next morning. The class will ask you to consider why these assumptions exist, whether they are the symptoms of a western civilization "clashing" with the east, and if they are exclusive to the United States or Europe. Does there also exist an "orientalism in reverse," a negative gaze of Iranians towards the west and towards their fellow, "backwards" citizens? [ more ]

PSCI 260(S)Power, Feminist-Style

This course examines one of the most important concepts in the analysis of sex and gender and efforts to envision sexual and gender justice--the concept of power--from multiple feminist perspectives. At the core of feminism lies the critique of inequitable power relations. Some feminists claim that power itself is the root of all evil and that a feminist world is one without power. Others portray the feminist agenda as one of taking power, or of reconstructing society by exercising a specifically feminist mode of power. In this course, we will look at feminist critiques of power, how feminists have employed notions of power developed outside of the arena of feminist thought, and efforts to develop specifically feminist ideas of power. Along the way, we will ask: Are some concepts of power more useful to feminism? Can certain forms of power be considered more feminist than others? How can feminist power be realized? Thinkers we will engage include Judith Butler, bell hooks, Catherine MacKinnon, Hannah Arendt, and Gloria E. Anzaldúa. [ more ]

Taught by: Greta Snyder

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PSCI 261(S)Gender and Conflict in International Relations

This course explores gender dynamics in modern conflicts from the perspective of civilian societies, state militaries and non-state armed groups. The course will look at gender roles, relations, and symbols, throughout different phases of conflict including the precursors to conflict, during a conflict, and finally in the aftermath of active conflict. We will examine contemporary security debates related to gender including violent extremism, women in the military, and post-conflict reconstruction. We also look at case studies from several regions including Uganda, El Salvador, Sierra Leone, and Northern Ireland. Gender, in this course, will be used as a lens to understand different identities in conflict and expectations for women, men, boys, and girls, as well as examine femininities and masculinities. The course will use literature from scholars in the field of gender and conflict but will also include literature on conflict that does not have a gender perspective, with the aim to encourage students to add their own gendered analysis or questioning of current theories of conflict in international relations. [ more ]

Taught by: Phoebe Donnelly

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PSCI 262America and the Cold War

Last offered Fall 2016

This course examines the rise and fall of the Cold War, focusing on four central issues. First, why did America and the Soviet Union become bitter rivals shortly after the defeat of Nazi Germany? Second, was one side primarily responsible for the length and intensity of the Cold War in Europe? Third, how did the Cold War in Europe lead to events in other areas of the world, such as Cuba and Vietnam? Finally, could the Cold War have been ended long before the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989? Political scientists and historians continue to argue vigorously about the answers to all these questions. We examine both traditional and revisionist explanations of the Cold War, as well as the new findings that have emerged from the partial opening of Soviet and Eastern European archives. The final section of the course examines how scholarly interpretations of the Cold War continue to influence how policymakers approach contemporary issues in American foreign policy. [ more ]

PSCI 264Politics of Global Tourism

Last offered Fall 2011

A decade ago, tourism passed oil to become the world's most valuable export. This arguably frivolous activity accounts for more than 10% of global GNP, and employs an enormous number of people. Tourism accounts for most of the revenue that the poorest countries receive; meanwhile, presidents and prime ministers of nuclear-capable countries beg on TV for visitors. Where are the politics in this vast, complicated industry and why is no one paying attention? This class explores various types of tourism, asking what happens in a tourist encounter, who benefits, who loses, and what changes. We will examine cases--Antigua vs. Auschwitz, Angkor Wat vs. Alaska--to help us understand the process from the points of view of the tourists, the toured-upon, and the governments and international organizations that oversee this industry. Our readings range from academic anthropology, economics, political science, and sociology (MacCannell, Veblen) to magazine accounts (Kincaid, Krakauer). [ more ]

PSCI 265The International Politics of East Asia

Last offered Fall 2015

This course examines the political, economic, and cultural determinants of conflict and cooperation in East Asia. Throughout the semester, we will examine three distinct but inter-related aspects of international relations in East Asia: Security, economy, and culture by using some core concepts and theoretical arguments widely accepted in the study of international relations. We will engage some of the central questions and issues in the current debate on East Asia. Do East Asian countries seek security and prosperity in a way fundamentally different from the Western system? Is there a single best way to maintain regional order and cooperation across regions? Will a strong China inevitably claim its traditional place under the sun? Will Japan continue to live as a nation with enormous economic power but limited military means? What is the choice for South Korea between security alliance with the United States and national reconciliation with the North? What should be done to dissuade the authoritarian regime in North Korea from acquiring nuclear capabilities and lead it to different paths toward national survival? By the end of the semester, you will gain both a general perspective and substantive knowledge on East Asian international politics. [ more ]

PSCI 266(S)The United States and Latin America

This course examines the most important political and diplomatic divide in the Western Hemisphere. The first half is a historical survey of U.S.-Latin American foreign relations from the early Spanish American independence movements through the end of the Cold War, with some emphasis on the latter. We consider how this history confirms or undermines influential views about U.S. foreign relations and about international relations generally. We also compare historical U.S. foreign policy toward the hemisphere to current policy globally. The second half covers the most important current issues in hemispheric relations: the rise of leftist governments in Latin America; the war on drugs; immigration and border security; and competition with China for influence. At the end we briefly reconsider current U.S. policies, in view of the economic and political evolution of Latin America, in historical perspective. [ more ]

PSCI 268Israeli Politics

Last offered Spring 2018

This is an introductory course on Israeli politics. Approaching questions historically, it discusses the evolution of Zionism before and after the founding of Israel, the immigration and assimilation of Jews from Arab states, and the changes in Israeli politics and society introduced by the acquisition of the West Bank and the ensuing occupation and settlements. The course also will address Israel's foreign policies, including its relationship with the USA, and the conflict with Palestinians. [ more ]

PSCI 271(F)Religion and the State

The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution begins: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." What does "religion" mean in this formulation? Should "religion" be singled-out for exclusion from government? Are "religious" reasons ever legitimate reasons for laws, policies or popular political action? Should "religious" organizations be exempt from otherwise generally applicable laws? Is "religion" good or necessary for democratic societies? In this course we will respond to these and related questions through an investigation of "religion" as a concept in political theory. Particular attention will be given to the modern liberal tradition and its critics. Coverage will range from modern classics to innovative contemporary arguments. Classics may include John Locke's A Letter Concerning Toleration, selections from Jean-Jacques Rousseau's The Social Contract, James Madison's Memorial and Remonstrance Against Religious Assessments, Immanuel Kant's Religion Within the Boundaries of Mere Reason, John Stewart Mill's Three Essays On Religion, and John Dewey's A Common Faith. More recent arguments may come from John Rawls, Alasdair MacIntyre, Nicholas Wolterstorff, Martha Nussbaum, Jeffrey Stout, Winnifred Sullivan, Brian Leiter and Andrew Koppelman. [ more ]

PSCI 273(F)Politics without Humans?

Are human beings the only beings who belong in politics? And is political involvement a unique or defining aspect of what it means to be human? Such questions are increasingly complex as the boundaries of "the human" become blurred by the rise of artificial intelligence, robotics, and brain implants: shifting attitudes towards both animal and human bodies; and the automation of economic and military decisions (buy! sell! attack! retreat!) that used to be the prerogative of human actors. How do visions of politics without humans and humans without politics impact our thinking about longstanding questions of freedom, power, and right? Can and should the link between humans and politics survive in an age in which "posthuman" or "transhuman" entities become central characters in the drama of politics? This class will consider these questions through readings, films and artifacts that bring political theory into conversation with science fiction, popular literature on the so-called "singularity" (the merger of humans with computers), science and technology studies, evolutionary anthropology, "new materialist" philosophy, and feminist theory. [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

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PSCI 274(S)Revolutions

Why do revolutions occur, or perhaps more to the point, why do they fail to occur? When do they end and what do they actually achieve? What, in other words, is so revolutionary about revolutions? This course considers whether and how revolutions differ from social movements, coups d'etats, and armed rebellions by looking at a broad range of uprisings, from the "colored revolutions" and liberating "springs" of recent years to the classical examples of the French, American, Mexican, Chinese, Cuban, and Iranian revolutions, as well as the challenging cases of Haiti and South Africa. This class seeks a subversive politics of its own. There is a certain, shiny allure to revolutions, particularly within political science. In a field committed to the dry study and explanation of social phenomena, revolutions are the sexy exception, the example of politics par excellence. Our goal ought to be to call the allure into question, to ask whether this is a merit of undeserved distinction, particularly given recent developments in Egypt and Syria, as well as the ongoing consequences of revolutions in Russia, Iran, China, many years after the fact, after the last triumphant regiment rolled through capital streets. [ more ]

PSCI 275(S)Paul the Apostle: Then and Now

The Apostle Paul is the most important thinker in the history of Christianity. He wrote much of the New Testament and was the first to formulate and articulate the basic message of Christianity. In this course, we'll first explore Paul's thought in its original context, probing what his message would have meant for the inhabitants of the Roman Empire. Special attention will be paid to Paul's contribution to ancient debates about Judaism, conversion, and ethnic difference. In addition to examining the first contexts and meanings of his writings, we'll be especially interested in the legacy of Paul's thought on modern political thought in Europe and America in the 20th and 21st centuries. In this portion of the course, we'll see how Paul's influence has shaped current theories of citizenship and sovereignty, with or without the knowledge or consent of modern thinkers and societies. The course thus explores the original significance of Paul's thought as well as his hidden influence upon the political structures of secular modernity. [ more ]

PSCI 283(F)Dirty Politics: Regulating Hazardous Chemicals and Wastes

Since consumers were first introduced to the promise of "better living through chemistry," society has had to wrestle with the impacts, often far removed in place and time, resulting from a rapid proliferation of hazardous chemicals and wastes. Policy responses, be they at the local, national or global scale, are often limited to reactionary efforts to counter releases into the environment, are constrained by the prevalent use of the technologies in question, and further bring to the fore key challenges of environmental justice and risk management. How then are we to regulate DDT without adversely affecting our fight against mosquito-borne malaria? How might we preserve the ozone layer while still maintaining the benefits of food preservation through refrigeration? How can we reap the benefits of the electronic age without condoning the steady flow of electronic waste affecting workers' health and environments in developing countries? Emphasis will be placed on understanding the politics that bring about, and allow us to address, these problems.We will be examining in particular novel policy responses, including the US' revised legislation on chemicals passed in 2016 and citizen science initiatives such as those that brought attention to the crisis of lead-contaminated water in Flint, MI. [ more ]

PSCI 285(F)The Revolutionary Generation: Galaxy of Leaders

The American Revolution produced a galaxy of brilliant politicians, statesmen, and military leaders of extraordinary courage, intellect, creativity, and character: Washington, Hamilton, Jefferson, Madison, Adams. In this seminar, we will study their astounding accomplishments--a successful war of independence, a Constitution and Bill of Rights, enduring democratic political institutions, and a nascent party system. But mostly we will focus on their ideas, for they were thinking revolutionaries. We will examine in depth and in detail their superb writings, their letters and speeches as well as Madison and Hamilton's Federalist essays. We will also read recent interpretations of the founding generation by Gordon Wood, Joseph Ellis, Bernard Bailyn, and others. [ more ]

PSCI 286(F)Russian Politics under Vladimir Putin

In 1939, Winston Churchill has famously characterized Russia as a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma. In the 75 years that followed, Russian politics has continued to defy expectations and conventional explanations. The collapse of the Soviet Communist dictatorship in 1991 has caught most observers by surprise, and has led Russia on a path of political and economic liberalization of an unprecedented scope. But despite the initial optimism, these processes produced an economic system characterized by crony capitalism and an electoral authoritarian regime--a political system that formally espouses institutions like multipartyism, parliaments and elections, but violates democratic norms in practice. Why did Russia follow this particular trajectory? Why did Russia's political and economic transition fail to produce the intended results? What are the factors that gave rise to and sustain Vladimir Putin's system? And as Russia faces extraordinary challenges again--marked by the protest wave in 2011-12, the country's economic crisis, the wars in Ukraine and Syria, and the renewed confrontation with the West--what lessons can we draw for the future? This course will explore the key perspectives on these issues. The first part of the course will provide a concise overview of Russia's historical background, the roots of the communist collapse, and the country's subsequent trajectory. It will place particular emphasis on the events, processes and legacies that shaped Russia's transition, and its cataclysms and distortions. The second part of the course will look into the rise of the Putin regime, its key pillars, and its contradictions. The third part of the course will survey the impact of Putin's regime on Russia's economy, governance, identity politics and foreign relations. In this segment, we will also examine how protests and civil society activism shaped post-Communist Russian politics, and conclude with a discussion of the scenarios for the future trajectory of Russia. The course will approach many of these topics from a comparative perspective, contrasting how political, economic and social processes in Russia diverged from other countries in post-Communist East Europe and the Former Soviet Union. The course will also take an interdisciplinary approach, integrating perspectives from political science, economics, history, anthropology, social psychology and other disciplines, as it attempts to address the key puzzles of contemporary Russian politics. To provide a more intimate understanding of the social changes and political processes affecting Russia, we will also survey key films, documentaries and other relevant sources and materials in the media and popular culture. [ more ]

PSCI 291 T(S)American Political Events

Scandals. Wars and assassinations. Contested elections, Supreme Court decisions, and constitutional amendments. As large as they loom in our daily experience and our historical memory, these sorts of events--concrete, discrete things that happen in and around the political world--are often underestimated as catalysts of political change. Indeed, in the study of American political development, we often look to complex processes and underlying causes as explanations for how and why ideas, institutions, and policies both emerge and evolve. Yet for all our focus on long-term and subtle causal mechanisms, events often serve as political turning points in ways that vary over time, last for extended periods of time, and are not always entirely predictable at the time. Beginning from the presumption that change often has proximate as well as latent causes, this tutorial focuses on events as critical junctures in American politics. Our concern with these events is not with why they happened as or when they did but, rather, with how they altered the American political order once they did--with how they caused shifts in political alignments, created demands for political action, or resulted in a reordering of political values. Over the course of the semester, we will look at ten different types of events, ranging from those that seem bigger than government and politics (economic collapse) to those that are the daily grist of government and politics (speeches), in each instance juxtaposing two different occurrences of a particular category of event. In so doing, we will seek to use controversial and consequential moments in American politics as a window into deeper questions about political change and the narratives we tell about it. [ more ]

PSCI 292Threats to the Republic: Politics in Post-Obama America

Last offered Spring 2017

When Barack Obama's successor assumes office in January 2017, they will be asked to govern an America that is out of sorts. Economic inequality on a level not seen in over a century. Terrorist attacks at home and abroad. Escalating racial violence in cities. Protests against cultural insensitivity on campuses. Social unrest over the definition of American morality and over who counts as an American. Ideological polarization that regularly brings the government to a standstill and periodically threatens financial ruin. Looming environmental catastrophes capable of provoking humanitarian crises. To what extent do these calamities pose new, existential threats to the republic? And is there anything that can be done to stop or slow them? This course interrogates the many perils that pundits and activists tell us we should worry about in 21st century America. In examining these issues, we will seek not only to understand the contours of the potentially dramatic political changes that some say await us but also to put these issues into historical context so that we may draw lessons from the crises of the past. Ultimately, our goal is to determine how worried we should be---and what, precisely, we should be worried about---as a new era of American leadership begins. [ more ]

PSCI 293(F)Leadership and Political Change

This course will examine the foundations of effective political leadership --- both transformational and evolutionary. It will balance theory and practice, case studies and student exploration to better understand how political change and policy reform is enacted in a representative democracy. The course begins with a framework to evaluate leadership, transitions to examining the importance of vision in effecting political change, moves to an in-depth look at effective communicative strategies and mobilization techniques required to realize that change, and concludes with an assessment of the prospects for leadership in the current political landscape. We will cover presidential, congressional, and military leadership and include prominent guest speakers from the world of American politics. [ more ]

PSCI 294Contemporary Russian Culture and Politics

Last offered Spring 2016

This course explores select aspects of contemporary Russian society and politics through literary works and films of post Soviet Russia. We will study the social and political settings of particular plots and opportunities not only in fiction and film but as they emerge in the lived reality of Russians since 1991. In addition to novels and short stories by some of the best contemporary Russian authors, we will read scholarly materials explaining the social and political trends characteristic of Russia's post-socialist transformation under Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin's leadership. Analysis of the political and social processes will be framed in a comparative approach, drawing on parallels and differences with countries of Eastern Europe. All course readings will be in English. Knowledge of Russian is not required. [ more ]

PSCI 302(S)Leadership in a Global World

The events and forces of the twenty-first century have fundamentally challenged our previous assumptions of how individuals relate to one another and how societal progress occurs---that is to say, of how leadership occurs in a global world. In this course we will explore different styles of leadership, followership, failure, and team-building. Over the course of the semester, we will consider topics ranging from teaching to politics, civil society to social media, all with an eye toward how individuals engage with the teams they seek to lead as well as how they engage in both short- and long-term thinking to avoid obstacles, mobilize support, and accomplish their goals. Since leadership is a phenomenon relevant to all individuals and all paths, the course will also include introspection and self-analysis of one's own capacities and weaknesses around the core questions and dilemmas of leadership. [ more ]

Taught by: Howard Dean

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PSCI 303(S)Authoritarian Politics

For most of history, human societies have been ruled by dictators of one sort or another. Despite repeated tides of democratization, over 40 percent of the countries in the world today and half its population are still ruled by non-democracies. The aim of this course is to provide a critical understanding of the dynamics of contemporary authoritarianism and the sources of its resilience. First, the course will examine the key differences between democracy and autocracy, and among different types of autocracies. The second part will investigate the means by which contemporary autocracies stay in power. In addition to traditional tactics like repression, clientelism and propaganda, we will explore how autocracies adopted economic, nationalist and populist appeals, and nominally democratic institutions like parties, legislatures and elections, to sustain their rule. The third part will focus on societies ruled by dictatorships, as well as the forces behind the waves of democratization and authoritarian resurgence. It will look at popular opinion and mobilization in autocracies, the sources of resistance, and the dynamics of protests and rebellions that sometimes topple these regimes. Throughout the course, we will explore key case studies to examine how authoritarian systems work in practice. We will also survey key novels, films, journalistic accounts and documentaries to inform class discussions and analysis. [ more ]

PSCI 308In Search of the American State

Last offered Fall 2017

Ronald Reagan's pronouncement in 1981 that "government is not a solution to our problem, government is the problem" has defined American politics for more than three decades. Skepticism of government has deep roots and strong resonance throughout American political history, yet in many ways the American state has grown steadily larger and stronger. This course explores this conundrum by examining the American state, and its growth, in various arenas. We will assess traditional theories about the weak American state in light of arguments about the state as: regulator of family and "private" life, adjudicator of relations between racial and ethnic groups, manager of economic inequalities, insurer of security, and arbiter of the acceptable uses of violence and surveillance. [ more ]

PSCI 309Problems and Progress in American Democracy

Last offered Fall 2015

"I confess," French aristocrat Alexis de Tocqueville wrote in the introduction to his Democracy in America, "that in America I saw more than America. I sought the image of democracy itself, with its inclinations, its character, its prejudices, and its passions, in order to learn what we have to fear or hope from its progress." What would Tocqueville see if he returned to America today, almost 200 years later? What types of institutions, dynamics, and processes animate American political life in the twenty-first century? With Tocqueville as a guide to thinking about political ethnography, this course investigates four central elements of political life--religion, education, difference, and crime and punishment--that simultaneously pose problems for and represent sites of progress in American democracy. For each subject, we will ask several key questions. How has that particular aspect of political life changed in the recent past? How might it change in the near future? Does it conform to how American politics is designed to work? To how we want American politics to work? Using a diverse set of readings drawn from empirical political science, contemporary democratic theory, American political thought, historical documents, political punditry (from the left and the right), and current events, our focus, like Tocqueville before us, is on teasing out both the lived experience--the character and challenges--of American democracy and examining any disconnect between that experience and the ideals that undergird it. Among the many specific questions we will consider are whether particular religious traditions might be incompatible with democratic values, the extent to which recent changes in higher education have affected the health of democratic politics, the effects of ideological polarization on democratic discourse, and the place of the jury system in securing democratic justice. Throughout the semester, we will not only approach these questions from the joint perspectives of theory and practice but also seek to enrich our understanding by exploring American democracy as it happens all around us with several exercises in the community at large. [ more ]

PSCI 311Congress

Last offered Fall 2017

In an organization comprised of equals, how and why do some senators and representatives acquire more power and authority than others? How does Congress, often considered to be the most powerful assembly in the world, organize itself so that it can act as an institution and not just a platform for 535 individuals? Why does Congress not act, especially when the U.S. confronts so many pressing problems, and how do legislators justify inaction? In what ways does this institution promote-or hinder-the legitimacy, responsiveness, and responsibility expected of a democratic governing institution? [ more ]

PSCI 312 TAmerican Political Thought

Last offered Spring 2018

From democracy to liberty, equality to community, foundational ideas -- about what makes for good government, about what constitutes the good society, about what is necessary to lead a good life -- define the American political tradition and consume the American political imagination. Designed not only to uncover these (sometimes melodious, sometimes cacophonous) values but also to place current ideological debates about them in a broader developmental context, this tutorial will offer a topical tour of American political thinking from the birth of nationalism in the colonial period to the remaking of conservatism and liberalism in the early twenty-first century. Utilizing primary source material ranging from presidential speeches to party platforms, newspaper editorials to novels, we will seek to interrogate -- reconciling where possible, distinguishing where necessary, interpreting in all instances -- the disparate visions and assessments of the American political experience offered by politicians, artists, intellectuals, activists, and ordinary citizens over the course of more than two centuries. Our focus, then, is nothing less than the story of America -- as told by those who lived it. [ more ]

PSCI 313(F)Race, Culture, Incarceration

This course explores racially-fashioned policing and incarceration from the Reconstruction era convict prison lease system to contemporary mass incarceration and "stop and frisk" policies of urban areas in the United States. Also explored will be political imprisonment in the United States. [ more ]

PSCI 314Leadership in American Political Development

Last offered Fall 2014

From the Founding to the present, the American political order has undergone incredible, cataclysmic and thoroughgoing transformations, yet it has also proven to be remarkably enduring. How can this be? Where do we find continuities and where upheavals? What accounts for the continuities, and what for the changes? What sorts of transformations have been possible, and who or what has made them possible? Finally, what are the costs of change (and of continuity)--and who pays them? The goal of this course is to assess American political change, or lack of, and to gain a sense of the role that individual leaders have played in driving change. We will examine when and how individual agency and leadership has mattered vis-à-vis broader historical and contextual factors, including economic developments, demographic change, and constitutional and institutional parameters. After examining general models of change and of leadership, we will consider specific case studies, such as civil rights for African-Americans, gender equality, labor demands, and social conservatism. We will consider some of the complicated legacies of change. Finally, we will look at arguments that America has been "exceptional"--or, unlike other countries--as well as critiques of these arguments, to help us gain an understanding of future prospects for political transformation. [ more ]

PSCI 315Parties in American Politics

Last offered Spring 2016

Political parties have played a central role in extending democracy and organizing power in the United States, yet their worth is a continuing subject of debate. In one ideal formulation, parties not only link citizens to their government, they also provide the coherency and unity needed to govern in a political system in which power is widely dispersed. But there is also an American tradition of antipathy toward parties. They have been criticized by some for inflaming divisions among the people and for grid-locking the government. For others, political parties fail to offer citizens meaningful choices; the Republican and Democratic parties are likened to a choice between "tweedledee and tweedledum." This course will investigate this debate over parties by examining their nature and role in American political life, both past and present. How have the parties changed over time? Throughout the course, we will explore such questions as: What constitutes a party? How have the parties changed over time? For whom do they function? Why a two-party system, and what role do third parties play? Is partisanship good or bad for democracy? For governance? We will seek answers to these questions both in seminar discussion and through substantial independent research projects. [ more ]

PSCI 316(S)Policy Making Process

Politics as usual. It's a phenomenon we all love to hate. But what does it mean? When government policy is decided by politics, does that mean the policy is necessarily bad? Can we get rid of politics in policy making or improve on it somehow? What would "politics as unusual" look like anyway? This class examines the policy making process with particular emphasis on the United States: How do issues get defined as problems worthy of government attention? What kinds of alternatives are considered as solutions to these problems? Why do we end up with some policies but not others? Do certain kinds of processes yield better policies than others? How should we decide what constitutes a good policy? [ more ]

PSCI 317(F)Environmental Law

We rely on environmental laws to make human communities healthier and protect the natural world, while allowing for sustainable economic growth. Yet, despite 40 years of increasingly varied and complex legislation, balancing human needs and environmental quality has never been harder than it is today. Environmental Studies 307 analyzes the transformation of environmental law from fringe enterprise to fundamental feature of modern political, economic and social life. ENVI 307 also addresses the role of community activism in environmental law, from local battles over proposed industrial facilities to national campaigns for improved corporate citizenship. By the completion of the semester, students will understand both the successes and failures of modern environmental law and how these laws are being reinvented, through innovations like pollution credit trading and "green product" certification, to confront globalization, climate change and other emerging threats. [ more ]

PSCI 318Race, Public Opinion, and Campaigns

Last offered Spring 2017

What is the role of race in American public opinion and voting? This question is at the center of American politics today, particularly during the presidency of Barack Obama and the 2016 presidential election. Some commentators argue that racial attitudes were at the center of opposition to Obama's candidacy and legislative agenda and are foremost on voters' minds in 2016. Others suggest that most Americans have moved "beyond race" and that racism explains little of modern-day partisan and electoral politics. We will explore what the empirical literature on race in political science says about this debate and others. Among other issues, we will consider the points of conflict and consensus among different racial groups, how Americans of different racial backgrounds think about other groups, and the implications of demographic change (including the growth of the Latino and Asian-American populations and the shrinking white share of the electorate) for future elections. [ more ]

PSCI 319(F, S)Marine Policy

This seminar utilizes the interdisciplinary background of the other Williams-Mystic courses to examine national and international contemporary issues in our relationship with our ocean and marine environment. This seminar takes a topical approach to the study of ocean and coastal law and policy, examining climate change, fisheries, coastal zone management, admiralty law, marine biodiversity, ocean and coastal pollution, and ocean governance. [ more ]

PSCI 320(F)Heroes and Villains: Iconic Leadership and the Politics of Memory

Americans have been arguing intensely in recent years about how we should remember the leaders from our nation's past. Does Thomas Jefferson's statue belong on a university campus? Should college dorms be named for John C. Calhoun and Woodrow Wilson? Should Harriet Tubman's portrait replace Andrew Jackson's on the $20 bill? In this course we will look at how people in the United States and elsewhere have used their leaders' images to hash out larger political issues of national identity, purpose, and membership. Why has historical commemoration gotten so contentious--or has it always been contentious? What's really at stake when we depict our leaders? How (if at all) should we reconcile contemporary morality with historical context in assessing the leaders from our past? To address these questions, we will study portrayals of some of the most famous leaders in American history--including Alexander Hamilton, Abraham Lincoln, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Our sources will include political speeches, literature, film, and journalism as well as monuments and museum exhibits; though our examples will be drawn mostly from the United States, our conceptual framework will be transnational. As a final assignment, students will write a 10-12 page paper examining the politics of memory for a leader of their choice. [ more ]

PSCI 321(F)Immigration Politics in the U.S.

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that non-Hispanic whites will no longer be the majority racial group in the U.S. by 2044. This demographic change is fueled by past and current immigration, and the politics surrounding American immigration policy have intensified as a result. Donald Trump's rise to the presidency was fueled in part by his pledge to build a wall between the U.S. and Mexico. Meanwhile, efforts to reform the nation's immigration laws have been stuck in gridlock for years. How did we get to this point and what does the future hold? Why is immigration policy so contentious? What is at stake, and what do different groups believe to be at stake? To answer these questions, we will examine immigration from a multidisciplinary lens, but with special attention to immigration politics and policy. We will examine the history of immigration to the U.S. and the policies that have shaped it; recent developments in electoral and protest politics; the policy initiatives of the Trump administration, the Republican Congress, and state and local governments; and the incorporation of immigrants into U.S. society and politics, past and present. [ more ]

PSCI 324International Legitimation

Last offered Fall 2014

In theory, self-determination means that it is those who are ruled who decide who rules them and how. In practice, not only do pervasive international, foreign and universal standards influence what type of government people believe to be acceptable and desirable, but international actors also rule directly on the legitimacy of a regime's policy or on the regime itself. Individual countries have always sought to change others, and following wars, countries have often collectively enforced peace terms. It is multilateral institutions ruling in peacetime that is relatively new. This research seminar investigates organized international, multilateral attempts to mold a delinquent country's domestic politics by enforcing extranational standards. We investigate three types of cases: UN Security Council threats and condemnations, international criminal prosecutions, and international election monitoring. All students read common secondary materials and engage in research design workshops; each will write (and rewrite) an independent research paper grounded in primary sources. [ more ]

PSCI 325International and Transitional Justice

Last offered Spring 2017

Before the 1990s, the world saw only occasional, discrete war crimes trials after major-power cataclysms. In the last two decades, trials expanded dramatically in number, scope, and philosophy. Separate Ad Hoc Tribunals for crimes in Yugoslavia and those in Rwanda, in Sierra Leone and in Cambodia are giving way to a permanent International Criminal Court, which has begun to hand down indictments and refine its jurisdiction. The UN Security Council, alongside national governments, decides on legitimacy and punishment. At the same time, worries about residual impunity or the effect that punishment might have on societies' futures has led to the development of national and social courts, as well as national military tribunals, to complement those at the international level. Meanwhile, national activists look to international apologies and reparations for models of what to demand. Examples of internationalized transitional justice abound. This research seminar examines the intent, process, meaning and consequence of these new practices, particularly in terms of national constitutions, international law, and principles of justice. [ more ]

PSCI 326(S)Security in Africa

Africa is the world's second largest and second most-populous continent. This course will explore this diverse region through the lens of human security which takes a broader understanding of security challenges and how they affect different individuals. We will begin by placing security challenges in Africa in the context of a colonial legacy and the changing nature of warfare. We will then examine specific security challenges including governance issues, gender relationships, and resource challenges, through the use of case studies. We will conclude by examining responses by the U.S. and UN to perceived security challenges in Africa. [ more ]

Taught by: Phoebe Donnelly

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PSCI 327Leadership and Strategy

Last offered Spring 2017

This class is about the role of leaders and statecraft in international relations. In particular, this course examines the relationship between political and military objectives. The aim is to identify and analyze the principal structural and situational constraints--both foreign and domestic--that limit leaders' freedom of action, and which they must manage effectively to achieve their diplomatic and military goals. The course integrates theoretical perspectives related to a range of international security issues--including the causes of war, alliance politics, nuclear strategy, deterrence, coercion, reassurance, misperception, and credibility concerns--with illustrative case studies of decision-makers in action. The basic structure of the class is interdisciplinary; the goal of this approach is to utilize key conceptual arguments to gain greater leverage for the examination of major historical decisions in national security policy. Students will be asked to analyze and evaluate the strategic choices we examine, as well as the process by which they were reached. The primary objective of the course is for students to improve dramatically their understanding of the role of leaders and strategic choice in international relations. [ more ]

PSCI 328Global Environmental Politics

Last offered Fall 2017

This seminar draws on the last five decades of international efforts to regulate the environmental commons. The process of negotiating and implementing international environmental treaties will be a core focus of the course, yet emphasis will also be placed on emerging non-state means of addressing global environmental challenges. A variety of challenges faced in global environmental policymaking (compliance, participation by civil society and industry, incorporation of science, efficiency.) will be examined through the study of several international regimes, including on climate change, endangered species, biodiversity, biosafety and mercury pollution. [ more ]

PSCI 331Knowledge and Politics

Last offered Spring 2014

Is there a form of knowledge proper to politics? What are the risks and promise of turning to the sciences to supply or guarantee that knowledge (as we do, in different ways, when we call the study of politics "Political Science" or when we call for "science-based policies")? In this class, we will engage several recent works at the intersection of political theory and science studies that reopen the question of science's proper relationship to politics. These works challenge critical theory's traditional assumption that scientific knowledge is, at best, impotent and, at worst, imperious in the context of politics. Yet in defining a more productive role for the sciences in politics, they do not take for granted that science is what its traditional advocates often took it to be: objective, dispassionate... in short, a-political. Works we will consider may include William Connolly's Neuropolitics, Isabelle Stengers The Invention of Modern Science, Karen Barad's Meeting the Universe Halfway, Bruno Latour's Politics of Nature, Mark Brown's Science in Democracy, and Joseph Rouse's Knowledge and Power. [ more ]

PSCI 334(S)Theorizing Global Justice

While economic exchanges, cultural convergence, and technological innovations have brought people in different parts of the world closer together than ever before, globalization has also amplified differences in material wealth and social inequalities. Ill health, inadequate sanitation, and lack of access to safe drinking water are increasingly common. Yet, more than ever before, the means exist in affluent regions of the world to alleviate the worst forms of suffering and enhance the well-being of the poorest people. How are we to understand this contradiction as a matter of justice? What is the relationship between justice and equality, and what do we owe one another in a deeply divided world? Course readings will engage your thinking on the central debates in moral philosophy, normative approaches to international political economy, and grassroots efforts to secure justice for women and other severely disadvantaged groups. Key theorists include Amartya Sen, Martha Nussbaum, John Rawls, Thomas Pogge, Nancy Fraser, Paul Farmer, Vandana Shiva, Majid Rahnema, and Enrique Dussel. [ more ]

PSCI 335(F)Racial Equity, Liberal Democracy, and Democratic Theory

In Ta-Nehisi Coates' best-selling book Between the World and Me, he says that in the wake of the non-indictment of former police officer Darren Wilson in the death of Michael Brown "I did not tell [my son] that it would be okay, because I have never believed it would be okay." With admissions like this, Coates stoked a long-standing debate about the prospects for racial equity in liberal democracies like the United States. In this course, we look at this debate, examining what black thinkers in particular have said about whether racial equity can be achieved in a liberal democracy founded on racial domination and why they come to the conclusions they do. Then, we examine what contemporary democratic theorists have had to say about how racial equity might be achieved and how they have sought to advance this goal through their writing. Can the strategies theorists propose and employ really aid in the advancement of racial equity? Which are more and less promising? We end by asking: Do anti-democratic means have to be employed to fully realize democracy? What anti-democratic means? Authors we will engage include Coates, bell hooks, Charles Mills, Melvin Rogers, Chris Lebron, Lawrie Balfour, and Danielle Allen. [ more ]

Taught by: Greta Snyder

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PSCI 336 TFreud and Psychoanalysis

Last offered Spring 2015

By any measure, Sigmund Freud was one of the most influential intellectuals of the 20th century. Although he was not explicitly preoccupied with articulating political principles and only rarely addressed questions of governance or policy, his assumptions, theories, and therapeutic techniques have fundamental implications for the basic questions of political theory--questions about, for instance, the sources of conflict and group cohesion, what ways of living are desirable and attainable, and the place of reason, desire, emotion, affect, and motive in the interpretation and explanation of human interaction. This tutorial offers an in-depth exploration of Freud's key writings and concepts, from his early work on sexuality and dreams through his final writings. While we will read some of the texts that most directly address conventional political topics, Freud generally has more to say to students of politics when he is formulating his fundamental views of the psyche (of the nature and role of the unconscious, of drives, etc.), and the syllabus will reflect that view. Over the course of the semester, we will consider some scholarly commentaries on specific texts as well as critical assessments of the psychoanalytic project; as time allows, we may also engage such key later psychoanalytical thinkers as Klein, Winnicott, Lacan, and Kristeva. The preponderance of the tutorial, however, will be given over to the students' own careful reading, interpretation, and evaluation of Freud's most important writings. [ more ]

PSCI 337Visual Politics

Last offered Spring 2018

Even casual observers know that appearances matter politically and that the saturation of politics by visual technologies, media, and images has reached unprecedented levels. Yet the visual dimensions of political life are at best peripheral topics in contemporary political science and political theory. This seminar explores how our understanding of politics and political theory might change if visuality were made central to our inquiries. Treating the visual as a site of power and struggle, order and change, we will examine not only how political institutions and conflicts shape what images people see and how they make sense of them but also how the political field itself is visually constructed. Through these explorations, which will consider a wide variety of visual artifacts and practices (from 17th century paintings to techniques of surveillance), we will also take up fundamental theoretical questions about the place of the senses in political life. Readings may include excerpts from ancient and modern theorists, but our primary focus will be contemporary and will bring political theory into conversation with other fields, particularly art history and visual studies but also film and media studies, psychoanalysis, affect theory, and cognitive science. Possible authors include Arendt, Bal, Barthes, Belting, Benjamin, Browne, Buck-Morss, Butler, Clark, Connolly, Deleuze, Didi-Huberman, Fanon, Foucault, Freedberg, Garland-Thompson, Harriman and Lucaites, Hobbes, Machiavelli, Kittler, Mercer, Mitchell, Mulvey, Noë, Plato, Rancière, Warburg, and Zeki. [ more ]

PSCI 338 TGarveyism

Last offered Fall 2014

This course explores the life, work, political thought, and activism associated with the Jamaican Pan-Africanist Marcus Mosiah Garvey and the transnational movement--Garveyism--that Garvey ushered into the modern world. We will investigate the founding of Garveyism on the island of Jamaica, the evolution of Garveyism during the early twentieth century across the Americas and in Africa, Garveyism in Europe in the mid-twentieth century, and the contemporary branches of the Garvey movement in our own late modern times. The implications of Garvey's conflict with W. E. B. Du Bois and the subsequent cleavages in political thought and allegiances among their respective adherents will be addressed, along with various other core issues including: the relationship between race, nation, and empire; transnationalism; the meaning of power; notions of leadership; the limitations of understanding Garveyism by the phrase "Back-to-Africa"; the moral philosophy of respect, reparation, and redemption; prophetic political theory; Pan-Africanism; the impact of Garveyism on political theological movements such as the Nation of Islam and Rastafari; women in the Garvey movement; and Garveyite strategies for forging models of political solidarity in dark times. [ more ]

PSCI 339 TPolitics in Dark Times: Hannah Arendt

Last offered Fall 2017

Hannah Arendt's writings bear witness to some of the darkest moments in the history of politics. Arendt lived through--and reflected deeply upon--the rise of totalitarianism (she was interred for a time in a Vichy-France refugee camp) and the detonation of the first atomic bombs. She was an incisive critic of capitalist exploitation and a prescient observer of the destructive potential of early developments in genetic engineering. Yet, in the face of these horrors, Arendt never lost her faith in political action as a way to express and renew what she called "the love of the world." In this tutorial, we will investigate what Arendt's vision of politics stands to offer to contemporary struggles to understand and transform the gloomiest aspects of the political present. Through writing and discussion, we will unpack the meaning and debate the relevance of two of her major works--The Origins of Totalitarianism and The Human Condition--and other essays, articles, and excerpts. We will also consider secondary sources that use Arendt's ideas to illuminate contemporary problems of environmentalism, human rights, and race. [ more ]

PSCI 340Why States Fail: Political Violence at the End of the 20th Century

Last offered Spring 2018

This course considers the origins of political violence and state failure at the end of the 20th century. It seeks to address why there was a resurgence of political violence at the dawn of the 21st century. Toward that end, we begin by considering competing explanations of political violence (ethnicity, democratization, natural-resource endowments, and predatory elites). We then move on to the empirical section of the course in which we cover case studies of state failure in parts of Eastern Europe, Africa and the Middle East. [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

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PSCI 341Modern Midas? Resource Abundance and Development

Last offered Spring 2015

Many academics, international nongovernmental organizations, international financial institutions, and the media assert that natural resource endowments--oil, gas, and diamonds--are like the touch of Midas. Yet consider that while mineral abundance promises to give countries a platform for prosperity, equity, and political stability, it often produces poor economic performance, poor populations, weak authoritarian states, and widespread conflict. Is there a resource curse, or is it possible for mineral rich countries to escape the modern counterparts of Midas? In this research seminar we revisit the debate on the relationship between mineral wealth and development, focusing on the factors and conditions that lead some resource rich countries to fail and others to succeed. [ more ]

PSCI 344 TThe Political Theory of Liberal Economics

Last offered Spring 2013

This course deals with the economic and political writings of four important economists--Adam Smith, John Maynard Keynes, Freidrich Hayek, and Milton Friedman. Although all are remembered primarily as economists, they also engaged in writing political theory. This course will examine the political assumptions and implications of their economic thought and where they agree and disagree, particularly the role they assign to the state in constructing and sustaining markets. How do they conceive of the origin of markets? What role does the state play in making, supervising, and maintaining markets? Do the economists conceive of the state in similar terms and, especially, do the more libertarian economists really proceed as if markets are self-generated and spontaneous? What is it that economic theorists have the state doing? What is their implicit theory of the state? [ more ]

PSCI 345(S)Cosmology and Rulership in Ancient Chinese Political Thought

This class will involve students in close reading of, and exegetical writing about, core texts of ancient Chinese political thought. The purpose is to gain an understanding of a number of different perspectives on politics and leadership, especially Confucianism, Legalism and Taoism. While the primary focus will be on the meaning of the texts in the context of their own times, contemporary applications of core concepts will also be considered. The class will begin with background readings, since no prior work in Chinese philosophy or history is assumed. Then the class will read significant portions of the following canonical works: The Analects, Mencius, the Daodejing, Zhuangzi, and Han Feizi. [ more ]

PSCI 346(S)Radical Theories of Political Struggle: Anti-Black Racism and the Obama Administration

This seminar reviews contemporary theories of "anti-black racism"; their articulation or assimilation within current political movements and mobilizations; and the influence and impact such theories-expressed in and/or as activism-on social justice and civil rights. Critical race theory, Afro-pessimism, feminist/queer theory and the works of the incarcerated are studied. Theorists studied include: Frank Wilderson; Angela Davis; Derrick Bell; Cheryl Harris. Students write weekly mini-reflection papers on assigned readings and collectively make analytical presentations. [ more ]

PSCI 347(F)Law of the Sea

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea gathered into one place what most countries considered in 1982 to be scattered customary international law about piracy, transit through other countries' territorial waters, jurisdiction over ships, and so forth. It also proposed a system for taxing firms that it licensed to exploit minerals on the high seas. This course explores the politics that arise from UNCLOS, first by engaging with the treaty's content (and exclusions), second by examining the incentives it provides states and criminals, and third by assessing the way that geopolitical and environmental change create new opportunities and constraints for states, firms, international organizations, and activists. [ more ]

PSCI 348 T(S)The Black Radical Tradition

The black radical tradition is a modern tradition of thought and action begun after transatlantic slavery's advent. Contemporary social science and the humanities overwhelmingly portray it as a critique of black politics in the latter's liberal, libertarian, and conservative forms. This tutorial unsettles that framing, first by situating the black radical tradition as a species of black politics, and second through expanding the boundaries of black politics beyond the United States. Central to the black radical tradition's architecture are inquiries into the concepts of freedom, race, equality, rights, and humanism; meaning of "radical"; the national-transnational relationship; notions of leadership; status of global capitalism; the nexus of theory and praxis; and revolutionary politics. We begin with examinations of these central notions and debates, and then move to investigations of the political thought of four key late modern Afro-Caribbean and African-American thinkers within the tradition: Walter Rodney, Sylvia Wynter, Cedric Robinson, and Angela Davis. [ more ]

PSCI 349 TCuba and the United States

Last offered Spring 2018

With the passing of the Castro brothers' regime on the horizon, we examine the long and deeply felt history of dependence and conflict between Cuba and its colossal neighbor to the north. It begins with the political economy of the colony, then covers the Cuba- US relationship from José Martí and 1898 through the Cold War to the present, emphasizing the revolutionary period. Tutorial topics include: sovereignty and the Platt Amendment; culture and politics; race and national identity; policies on gender and sexual orientation; social programs; political institutions; the post-Soviet "Special Period"; the evolution of the Cuban exile community in the US; and the fraught agenda of reform and generational transition. Materials include journalism, official publications, biographies, travel accounts, polemics, policy statements of the US government, and a wide range of academic works. [ more ]

PSCI 351(S)The New Left and Neoliberalism in Latin America

Recent years have seen a resurgence of the political left in Latin America. This course seeks to understand the origins of this new left, the ideas and character of its protagonists, the neoliberal philosophy it opposes, and the arena of democratic politics it inhabits today. We first read polemics from both sides, before stepping back to consider Latin American political economy, including the twentieth-century left, from a more historical and analytical perspective. With this preparation, we then look more closely at major contemporary figures and movements in Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Brazil, and other countries. After considering explanations of the rise of the left and assessments of its performance in power, we end our common readings by asking what it might mean today to be on the left in Latin America--or anywhere--both in policy and political terms. [ more ]

PSCI 352(F)Politics in Mexico

Geographical fate has decreed that the futures of Mexico and the United States will be tightly bound. Yet Mexico enters this future with a very different past, a distinctive political system, and mixed feelings about the U.S. This course has four parts differing in content and format. The first is historical and mostly lecture. It considers several themes, including the slow emergence of a stable national state and the interplay between politics and economic change. In the second section, we consider politics and cultural policies around Mexican national identity in the twentieth century; rapid urbanization, especially in the valley of Mexico; the impact of migration and the rapid development of the northern border region; and the conflict between an emerging civil society and political corruption. After a brief review of recent elections and other political events, we turn to a seminar-style discussion of student research projects. [ more ]

PSCI 352 TComparative Political Economy

Last offered Spring 2012

This tutorial provides an introduction to comparative political economy by focusing on an enduring puzzle: the spread of capitalism led to both transitions to democracy and dictatorship/authoritarianism. How is it that the expansion of markets led to the birth of democracy in some countries, but dictatorships in others? What, if any, is the relationship between economic development and the organization of power (regime type)? Does economic development lead to the spread of democracy? Or is economic crisis the key to understanding the conditions under which dictatorships fall? To answer these questions we read works by Moore, Lipset, Schumpeter, Przeworski, Rueschemeyer et al., Haggard & Kaufman, among others. [ more ]

PSCI 354 TNationalism in East Asia

Last offered Spring 2017

This tutorial examines the theoretical literature on nationalism, and then uses insights from those readings to study of the emergence and development of modern nationalist movements and national identities in China, Japan, Korea -- both South and North -- and Taiwan. [ more ]

PSCI 355 TAmerican Realism: Kennan, Kissinger and the American Style of Foreign Policy

Last offered Spring 2017

George Kennan is widely considered to be the author of the containment strategy that ultimately won the Cold War. Henry Kissinger served as National Security Advisor and Secretary of State. In addition to their distinguished careers in government, both men have published well regarded and popular scholarship on various aspects of American foreign policy, international relations, and nuclear weapons. This tutorial will first examine the nature of their relationship to both Realist and Wilsonian perspectives on American foreign relations. We will then examine their experiences as strategists and policymakers during the most crucial moments of the Cold War. One of the key questions we will seek to answer is why Kennan and Kissinger disagreed on so many important issues, ranging from the Vietnam War to the role of nuclear weapons, despite their shared intellectual commitment to Realism. Finally, we will also examine some of the more recent biographies of both men, including John Lewis Gaddis's Pulitzer prize-winning George F. Kennan: An American Life and Niall Ferguson's Kissinger: 1923-1968: The Idealist. [ more ]

PSCI 359 T(S)The Body as Property

From an ethical standpoint, human bodies are fundamentally different from objects that can be owned, acquired, and exchanged. Yet history furnishes us with countless examples of laws, administrative rules, and social conventions that treat the human body as a form of property. The institution of slavery is a particularly egregious example. But there are other examples of treating the body as property that seem more ambiguous, or even benign: the employment contract in which bodily services are offered in exchange for payment; the feminist slogan "my body, my choice"; or even the every-day transfer of bodily properties into creative projects that then become part of the things people own --- chairs, tables, houses, music, art, and intellectual property. If it is not itself a form of property, how can we explain the use of the human body to acquire possessions, create wealth, and mediate the exchange of other kinds of property? These and other tensions between the concept of property and that of humanity will be the focus of this course. How is property defined, and how far should law go to erode or reinforce distinctions between property and humanity? Course readings focus on Locke, Hegel, Marx, and critical perspectives from feminist theory, critical theory, and critical legal studies (Cheryl Harris, Alexander Kluge, Oskar Negt, Carole Pateman, Rosalind Petchesky, and Dorothy Roberts, among others). [ more ]

PSCI 360Right-Wing Populism

Last offered Spring 2018

After the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the political scientist Francis Fukuyama famously declared "the end of history". From now on only liberal democracy, free market capitalism, and global integration had a future. Everything else--including political ideology, nationalism, conservative religion, and sovereignty was consigned to the ash heap. Thirty years later the future looks seriously derailed. A right-wing populism marked by Brexit, Trump, Le Pen, and a host of "far-right" political movements in the very heartland of democratic globalizing capitalism has shaken liberal certainties. This course is an investigation into contemporary right-wing populism in Europe and North America in its social, economic, and political context. We will discuss Donald Trump and the American alt-right, Britain's UKIP, France's National Front, Hungary's Fidesz and Jobbik, Poland's Law and Justice, and other smaller right-wing populist parties in Europe. We will also research both general (globalization, multiculturalism, neoliberalism, mass immigration, unemployment, political elitism) and specific (the expansion of the European Union, the 2007-09 global financial crisis, the European debt crisis, the Great Recession, the Syrian refugee crisis) causes of right-wing populism's growing appeal over the last decade. [ more ]

PSCI 362 TThe Wilsonian Tradition in American Foreign Policy

Last offered Fall 2015

During and after the First World War, President Woodrow Wilson developed an approach to international relations that challenged the dominant assumptions of Realism. Instead of a world order marked by alliances, arms races, and wars, Wilson offered a vision of a peaceful world and the rule of international law. While America ultimately rejected the League of Nations, the Wilsonian tradition has continued to exert a powerful influence on scholars and policymakers. This tutorial will intensively examine Wilson's efforts to recast the nature of the international system, the American rejection of his vision after the First World War, and the reshaping of Wilsonianism after the Second World War. We will spend equal time in the tutorial on both the theoretical and historical dimensions of Wilsonianism. [ more ]

PSCI 365U.S. Grand Strategy

Last offered Spring 2015

This course examines how U.S. leaders have conceived of their nation's place in the world and sought to use power to achieve national objectives. We will consider military affairs, economics, and diplomacy, but the class is mostly concerned with ideas. How have leaders from James Madison to George W. Bush thought about U.S. vulnerabilities, resources, and goals, and how have those ideas influenced foreign policy decisions? How did key leaders balance competing objectives and navigate difficult international circumstances? Which leaders were successful in managing U.S. statecraft, and which were not? Which leaders developed coherent grand strategies? What lessons might we derive for our own times from studying this history? The course will sweep across American history but will not attempt to be exhaustive in any way. Rather, it will focus on certain moments that highlight changing grand strategic thought. We will carefully consider, for example, the drafting of the U.S. Constitution, continental expansion in the Manifest Destiny period, the Civil War, overseas expansion in the late nineteenth century, the presidency of Woodrow Wilson, the Second World War, the Cold War, and the "War on Terror." Possible texts include Hamilton, Madison, and Jay, The Federalist Papers; Alfred Thayer Mahan, The Influence of Sea Power Upon History; George Kennan, American Diplomacy; Richard Immerman, Empire for Liberty; Henry Kissinger, Diplomacy; James McPherson, Tried by War: Abraham Lincoln as Commander in Chief; and a collection of primary sources. [ more ]

PSCI 367(S)The Politics of American National Security

Liberal democracies face the challenge of establishing effective civil-military relations in order to protect and promote their cherished way of life while preserving civilian control of the armed forces. A lot is at stake in getting it right -- everything from national survival to the preservation of liberty. In the process, countries must decide on policies for the armed forces: should they be forced to adopt the values of the society they protect, and should the military be used to drive social change in the country? This course provides an extensive examination of American civil-military relations from the Founding era to the current day. The constitutional, legal, and theoretical frameworks for civil-military relations are explored to set the conditions for students to assess contemporary US grand strategy and the merits and consequences (including moral-ethical) of using military force to achieve political ends. The course concludes with a section on the future of American civil-military relations. [ more ]

PSCI 369The Crisis of Leadership

Last offered Spring 2018

It is now a commonplace that the liberal democracies of Europe and North America (and beyond) are facing a "crisis of leadership." In country after country, champions of cosmopolitan values and moderate reform are struggling to build sufficient popular support for their programs. These failures have created space for a politics of populism, ethno-nationalism, and resentment--an "anti-leadership insurgency" which, paradoxically, has catapulted charismatic (their critics would say demagogic) leaders to the highest offices of some of the largest nations on earth. In this course, we will seek to understand the challenges liberal, cosmopolitan leadership has encountered in the 21st century and the reasons why populist, nationalist leadership has proven resurgent. We will begin by examining institutional constraints facing political leaders: globalization, sclerotic institutions, polarization, endemic racism, and a changing media environment. Then we will look at some important factors which shape how followers approach would-be leaders: inequality and economic precarity; identity and group consciousness; notions of membership, community, and hierarchy; and declining local institutions. Our primary questions will be these: Why is transformative leadership so difficult today? How does political leadership in the 21st century differ from leadership in earlier eras? What conditions are necessary to sustain effective leadership in the contemporary world? [ more ]

PSCI 370(F)The Political Thought of Frantz Fanon

Martinican psychiatrist, philosopher, and revolutionary Frantz Fanon was among the leading critical theorists and Africana thinkers of the twentieth century. Fanon ushered in the decolonial turn in critical theory, a move calling on those both within and outside of Europe to challenge the coloniality of the age and to forge a new vision of politics in the postcolonial period. This course is an advanced seminar devoted to a comprehensive examination of Fanon's political thought. We will begin with an analysis of primary texts by Fanon and end by considering how Fanon has been interpreted by his contemporaries as well as activists and critical theorists writing today. [ more ]

PSCI 371Women Activists and Social Movements

Last offered Spring 2011

This seminar examines the role of women in "liberation movements," it focuses on their contributions to civil and human rights, democratic culture, and theories of political and social change. Students will examine multi-disciplinary texts, such as academic historical narratives, memoirs, political analyses, in critical and comparative readings of mid-late 20th century struggles. Women studied include: Mamie Till Mobley, Anne Moody, Ella Baker, Gloria Steinem, Angela Davis, Bettina Aptheker, Assata Shakur, Yuri Kochiyama, Denise Oliver, Domitilia Chungara. [ more ]

PSCI 374Shadows of Plato's Cave: Image, Screen, and Spectacle

Last offered Fall 2015

In Book VII of the Republic, Socrates famously asks his interlocutors to picture people living in a cave, bound in chains and able to see only shadows on the wall. Thus begins the presentation of perhaps the most influential metaphor in the history of philosophy. One might even claim that when Plato deployed the metaphor in an extended allegory, he constituted the fields of both philosophy and political theory. In repeatedly examining the allegory over the centuries, later thinkers have elaborated their approaches not only to Plato but also to the nature of politics and the tasks of thinking. This class begins with the Republic's cave and other key Platonic discussions of appearances, visual representation, and (literal and metaphoric) seeing, asking how Plato's approaches to image, politics, and theory/philosophy shape each other. Building on those inquiries, we next take up important twentieth and twenty-first century returns to the cave, engaging such figures as Heidegger, Strauss, Arendt, Derrida, Irigaray, Rancière, and Badiou. Finally, we examine recent theories of screen and spectacle--read both for their resonances with and departures from debates over the Platonic legacy--and case studies in the politics of both military and racial spectacles in the U.S. The question of what is an image and what images do will run from the beginning of course to the end. Beyond the authors mentioned, readings may include such authors as Allen, Bruno, Clark, Debord, Friedberg, Goldsby, Joselit, Mitchell, Nightingale, Rodowick, Rogin, Silverman, and Virilio. Insofar as it fits student interest, we will also explore the cave's considerable presence in visual culture, ranging from Renaissance painting through such recent and contemporary artists as Kelley, Demand, Hirschhorn, Kapoor, Sugimoto, and Walker, to films such as The Matrix. [ more ]

PSCI 375(S)Modern Jewish Political Theory

By the late 19th century, Jews across Europe were faced with an urgent political problem. Amidst bourgeoning national self-consciousness throughout the continent, despite the liberatory promises of the Enlightenment, Jews remained a vulnerable, segregated, and stigmatized minority population. Jews had to decide where to pin their hopes. Should they ally themselves with the liberals or the communists? Should they embrace nationalism or cosmopolitanism? Should they, perhaps, abandon Europe altogether and re-constitute themselves elsewhere? If so, should they focus their efforts on relocation to the historical land of Israel? Or could they go anywhere? Wherever they might go, should they aspire to build a modern Jewish nation-state, a semi-autonomous Jewish community, or some other arrangement? Should this coincide with the cultivation of a distinctively Jewish modern language? If so, should it be Hebrew or Yiddish? In this course we will assess various answers to these questions proffered by Jewish political thinkers in the modern period. We will pay particular attention to the construction of "Jews" and "Judaism" in these arguments. And we will ask persistently: what constitutes a "Jewish justification" for a political claim in modern Jewish political theory? Coverage will include: Jewish liberalism, political Zionism, Yiddishist autonomism, messianic quietism, and other views. We will read mostly primary sources, including texts by: Hermann Cohen, Theodore Herzl, Chaim Zhitlowsky, Franz Rosenzweig, Leo Strauss, Hannah Arendt, and many others. [ more ]

PSCI 410(S)Senior Seminar in American Politics: Interpretations of American Politics

Current assessments of the state of American politics vary widely. Though recent polls show that as many as 60 percent of Americans think that the country is headed down the wrong-track, it is not clear what that means. Critics on the left worry that the United States is on an imperial quest, extorting resources from the global many for the advantage of an elite few. Critics on the right worry that the U.S. has abandoned the traditions that made it strong and has entered a period of moral decay. What are we to make of these different assessments? What do left and right see when they survey the nation, and why is what they see so different? Any diagnosis of contemporary maladies is premised on a vision of what a healthy functioning republic looks like. Our task in the seminar is to uncover and interrogate those visions. We will do this by exploring different interpretations of American politics, each with its own story of narrative tensions and possible resolutions. We will then use our investigation of how different authors, and different traditions, understand the nation to help us assess contemporary politics and come to our own conclusions about what animates it. [ more ]

PSCI 410(F, S)Senior Seminar in American Politics: The Politics of Belonging

Although many people have described America as inclusive, political debates about belonging have often been contentious and hard-fought. This seminar will focus on the politics of belonging in America. What does it mean to be an American? If the U.S. is a nation of immigrants, why is immigration reform so difficult to achieve? Are legal citizenship and formal political rights sufficient for belonging? Or does full inclusion rest on the ability to exercise civil and social rights as well? Does income inequality threaten the political equality necessary for a strong democracy? As we examine the debates over inclusion, we will consider different views about the relationship among political, civil, and social rights as well as different interpretations of American identity, politics, and democracy. [ more ]

PSCI 410Senior Seminar in American Politics: Civic Education in America

Last offered Spring 2013

Despite the fact that, according to a recent poll by the National Constitution Center, 8 in 10 Americans believe that democratic government requires an informed and active citizenry, fewer than 4 in 10 can name the three branches of the federal government. Whether or not we regard this particular encyclopedic fact as especially important, few disagree with the idea that, when it comes to politics and citizenship, Americans are an ill-informed people. But what exactly would we want Americans to know more about? And how exactly might we get them to learn it? Taking these questions as its starting points, this senior seminar will tackle the state of civic education in America -- its promise and its pitfalls, its past iterations and its practice in contemporary times. In the first half of the semester, we will look closely at a series of debates about the goals, substance, and effect of civic education, including whether (and why) we should want it, what exactly it can and should look like (perhaps looking to civic education in other nations for meaningful points of comparison), and what sorts of effects it may have on citizens individually and the polity at large. In the second half of the semester, we will seek to put what we have learned into action, with students selecting a particular subject (an institution, a value, a process) and developing a civic education curriculum around it for introduction at several distinct grade levels in local schools. Embodying the idea that you never know something as thoroughly and meaningfully as you might until you have taught it, this seminar will seek simultaneously to deepen our own civic knowledge and practices and to cultivate more meaningful knowledge and practices in others. [ more ]

PSCI 411(F)Advanced Study in American Politics

A year of independent study under the direction of the Political Science faculty, to be awarded to the most distinguished candidate based upon competitive admissions. The candidate, designated the Sentinels of the Republic Scholar, receives a research stipend to cover costs associated with the proposed project. The Sentinels Scholar may submit her/his essay for consideration for honors in Political Science. Admission is awarded on the basis of demonstrated capacity for distinguished work and on the proposal's promise for creative contributions to the understanding of topics on the federal system of government. Anyone with a prospective proposal should contact the department chair for guidance. [ more ]

PSCI 420(S)Senior Seminar in International Relations: The Liberal Project in International Relations

The most powerful actors in the international system are liberal ones, and a liberal project around democratic states, international law and organizations, and free trade dominates the global agenda. This course is an investigation into this liberal international relations project, engaging both theory and practice. We will discuss signature liberal theorists both classic and current as well as some of their most notable critics. We will also attend to empirical evaluations of signature liberal efforts around democratization and peace promotion, international law, and economic growth and development. The course ends with a discussion of the successes and failures of the European Union as the principal embodiment of the liberal project in international relations. [ more ]

PSCI 420Senior Seminar in Human Rights in International Politics and Law

Last offered Spring 2018

The idea that all humans have rights simply because they are human-independent of anything they might do or achieve-has transformed local and international politics, probably permanently. This concept's place in international politics, its strengths and limitations, depend on how people use it. Beginning with the 18th-century's transatlantic movement to abolish slavery, we will examine international movements and institutions that have affected what human rights mean, to whom, and where. Readings draw on philosophy, history, sociology, and international relations, but as a political science class we emphasize politics. Who benefits from the idea of universal human rights? Who loses? How does this idea about individual value liberate and entrap? Does this idea ultimately reinforce American hegemony, or plant the seeds of a non-American order? [ more ]

PSCI 420(F)Senior Seminar: The Nuclear Revolution

This is a course about the "long shadow" nuclear weapons cast over the international system. In its simplest terms, the class focuses on whether international politics still works essentially the same way in the nuclear age as it did prior to 1945 or if the world has truly experienced a nuclear "revolution" in the word's most basic sense. The course begins with an examination of the key events and theories that led ultimately to the development of the world's first nuclear weapons, including some basic technical concepts and the Manhattan Project. From there, the course covers a number of topics, both conceptual and historical, that bear directly on the question of how nuclear weapons shape international politics. Specifically, the course will cover the U.S. decision to drop the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as well as the Japanese response; the body of theory and concepts that underpin fundamental debates over nuclear strategy; the U.S.-Soviet nuclear rivalry; the influence of nuclear weapons in crises; how nuclear weapons shape alliance politics; whether nuclear weapons have political utility; nuclear accidents; nuclear technologies; the problem of nuclear proliferation and the nonproliferation regime; the importance of regional nuclear powers; and contemporary issues like the North Korean and Iranian nuclear questions. [ more ]

PSCI 430What Should Political Theory Be Now?

Last offered Spring 2017

How can theorists best engage politics today? What political problems most demand or resist theorization---and is "theory" even the right genre for critical intellectual work on politics now? This course takes up such questions by considering how key recent or contemporary theorists have sketched the defining features of their political worlds. With each reading, our dual aim will be to confront pressing issues or controversies and to ask whether the works in question offer ways of thinking and writing that we should pursue ourselves. Topics may include neoliberalism and democracy; sovereignty and biopower; pluralism, individuality, and justice; technology and the specter of ecological catastrophe; the problem of evil in politics; white supremacy; and contemporary struggles over gender and sexuality. Readings will be drawn from such authors as Adorno, Allen, Arendt, Berlant, Brown, Butler, Connolly, Dean, Foucault, Galli, Honig, Latour, Moten, Rancière, Rawls, Sen, and Sexton. [ more ]

PSCI 430(F)Senior Seminar: Critical Theory

This course explores two major themes emerging from the work of theorists associated with the Frankfurt School: the critique of progress, Enlightenment and modernity, and the recuperation of certain Enlightenment ideals and hopes for progress in new, aesthetic forms. The first part of the course looks at Karl Marx's critique of alienation and reification, asking how Marx's ideas are picked up and modified in the writings of Georg Lukacs, Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno. We will also pay attention to the influence of Freud on Herbert Marcuse's critique of civilization. The second part of the course turns to the writings of Walter Benjamin and Ernst Bloch, whose efforts to reconstruct emancipatory ideals in Marxist thought have been described as "maverick" and "utopian". Among our questions: What is the price of progress? What are the prospects for freedom in modern societies, where individuality, down to the very structure of our instincts and drives, is shaped by mass culture and social institutions? Can agency and subjectivity be recovered within a "totally administered society"? What may we hope? [ more ]

PSCI 430Senior Seminar: Dignity

Last offered Fall 2015

Over the last few decades, the concept of dignity has become one of the most contentious and emotive terms in democratic politics. Policy battles over embryonic stem cell research, abortion, physician-assisted suicide, life-sustaining treatments such as mechanical ventilation, and the constitutionality of the death penalty have all been fought out on the grounds of human dignity. But what exactly does dignity mean? Is it an existential demand for respect? A moral, intangible quality of a person? A set of legally guaranteed rights of citizens? This course examines some of the strongest attacks on and defenses of human dignity, both in theory and in practice. The emphasis will be on the role of dignity in shaping modern ideas of democracy, citizenship, and human rights. Readings construct a genealogy of dignity that includes Aquinas, Pico della Mirandola and Kant. Contemporary theories of dignity will be explored through the work of Drucilla Cornell, Jürgen Habermas, Martha Nussbaum, Jeremy Waldron, and the dignity jurisprudence of Canada, Germany, Namibia, South Africa, and the United States. [ more ]

PSCI 440(F)Senior Seminar: Power, Identity, and Culture

This is a course about remembering. This is a class about how we learn to forget. Above all, it is about power--power close to the bone, power made sublime, how power is made and unmade. This course takes as its central thesis the claim that power, external and objective, is also internal and subjective, invisibly working to shape understandings of who we are even as it performs the visible rituals of bureaucratic regulation typically associated with states and governments. To take this claim one step further, we'll hypothesize that immaterial and invisible forms of domination are power's most effective form even as they are the most difficult to measure and understand. Alternating between case and theory, looking at power both naked and sublime, we will examine the struggle by state and elite actors to shape subjectivities through culture and identity formation in order to secure quiescence and rule. Close attention will be paid to how socializing agents, including schools and educational systems, media and film, families and local communities, shape and reshape efforts to have ordinary citizens internalize what Stuart Hall describes as "the horizon of the taken-for-granted," those ruling ideas and beliefs that consist "of things that go without saying because--- they come without saying." The course is set up as a deliberate conversation between the works of Antonio Gramsci, Michel Foucault, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Stuart Hall, as well as their interlocutors and critics, most notably James C. Scott. The trajectory of this literature carries us from domination "thinly" centered in class and mediated by culture, to power completely de-centered from material forms of rule. Though each author is distinct, if heterodox, in his approach to the question of power, Gramsci, Foucault, Nietzsche, and Hall are bound together by the shared belief that power is relationship, between class and culture, culture and identity, state and society. [ more ]

PSCI 440Senior Seminar in Comparative Politics: The Syrian Maelstrom

Last offered Fall 2017

This course deals with the civil war in Syria. It begins by investigating the nature of the Syrian society and the evolution of the Assad regime. It then discusses the challenges to the regime, both Islamist and democratic in the Arab Spring. With that as background, the course will examine the domestic, regional, religious, ethno-sectariain, and global dimensions of the civil war. It will consider the place of Syria in the Iranian-Saudi competition, the role played by neighboring states and actors, the position of the American and Russian governments, and the rise of ISIS. [ more ]

PSCI 440Senior Seminar in Comparative Politics: Political Development

Last offered Fall 2016

The role of the United States in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and its adventures and misadventures in reconstituting order in those countries, have directed attention back to the dynamics, approaches, and debates in political development. This senior seminar in comparative politics critically examines the theories and problems of political development by focusing on three major topics in the sub-discipline: state formation, nationalism, and democratization. Drawing on both historical and contemporary cases, we consider the conditions that lead to strong and weak states, inclusive and exclusive nationalist mobilization, and democratic and autocratic government. [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

Catalog details

PSCI 493(F)Senior Thesis: Political Science

The senior major, having applied for and been accepted into the honors program during the second semester of the junior year, will devote the senior year to researching and writing a substantial and original work of scholarship, under the supervision of a faculty mentor to be assigned by the department. The final work will be submitted for evaluation by a committee made up of the faculty supervisor and two additional readers to be chosen by the department, in consultation with the supervisor. Thesis writers will not only work with their advisors but will participate in a weekly honors seminar supervised by a faculty member in political science. The seminar (which is one component of the 493-W31-494 designation and not a separate course) will provide a focused forum for the exchange of ideas among the honors students, who will regularly circulate sections of their theses-in-progress for peer review and critique. The faculty seminar leader's primary role is one of coordination and guidance. [ more ]

PSCI 494(S)Senior Thesis: Political Science

The senior major, having applied for and been accepted into the honors program during the second semester of the junior year, will devote the senior year to researching and writing a substantial and original work of scholarship, under the supervision of a faculty mentor to be assigned by the department. The final work will be submitted for evaluation by a committee made up of the faculty supervisor and two additional readers to be chosen by the department, in consultation with the supervisor. Thesis writers will not only work with their advisors but will participate in a weekly honors seminar supervised by a faculty member in political science. The seminar (which is one component of the 493-W31-494 designation and not a separate course) will provide a focused forum for the exchange of ideas among the honors students, who will regularly circulate sections of their theses-in-progress for peer review and critique. The faculty seminar leader's primary role is one of coordination and guidance. [ more ]

PSCI 495(F)Individual Project: Political Science

With the permission of the department, open to those senior Political Science majors who are not candidates for honors, yet who wish to complete their degree requirements by doing research--rather than taking the Senior Seminar-in their subfield of specialization. The course extends over one semester and the winter study period. The research results must be presented to the faculty supervisor for evaluation in the form of an extended essay. [ more ]

PSCI 496(S)Individual Project: Political Science

With the permission of the department, open to those senior Political Science majors who are not candidates for honors, yet who wish to complete their degree requirements by doing research--rather than taking the Senior Seminar--in their subfield of specialization. The course extends over one semester and the winter study period. The research results must be presented to the faculty supervisor for evaluation in the form of an extended essay. [ more ]