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. The current pandemic, related economic distress, and social protests have only sharpened the precarious state of U.S. democracy. 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, primarily through active, project-based group research activities, guided by political theory and empirical research in the social sciences. This class is extensively hybrid by design; it is largely remote with some in-person sessions. Remote sessions include substantial collaboration with a similarly structured first-year course being taught by a sociologist at the University of North Carolina. Williams and UNC students will work together in small groups and will present their project findings to both classes. [ more ]

PSCI 120(S)America and the World

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. The first part of the course will examine key theoretical problems that have occupied political thinkers from Plato and Confucius to Machiavelli and the American framers: What makes a leader successful? What kinds of regimes best serve to encourage good leaders and to constrain bad ones? What is the relationship between leadership and morality-can the ends justify the means? What functions does leadership fill, and what challenges do leaders face, in modern democratic states? The second half of the course will look at leaders in action, charting the efforts of politicians, intellectuals, and grassroots activists to shape the worlds in which they live. Case studies will include antislavery politics and the American Civil War; the global crises of the 1930s and 1940s; and the social movements of the 1960s and 1970s. In addition to active class participation, students will be expected to write a 5-page proposal for a research paper on a leader of their choice, a 10-page research paper, an in-class midterm exam, and a cumulative, in-class final exam. [ more ]

PSCI 126Religion, Politics, and Society: A Global Perspective

Last offered NA

In spite of predictions that religion would wither away with in the face of modernization, even casual observation indicates that it remains a powerful force in contemporary political life. Our goal is to obtain an enhanced understanding and appreciation of the salience of religion in public life. The course will be divided into three parts. The first part focuses on different theoretical approaches to make sense of the relation between religion, politics, and society, discussing especially the concept of the 'secular.' The second part discusses religion in the US society. Here, we will discuss if the American society can be called secular, the role of religion in American political culture, the relation of religion to the state, the relevance of religious interests and their mobilization, religious minorities in the United States and many other aspects of religion in the US society. The third part will take a global perspective on the relation between religion and politics. We will discuss cases of Buddhism, Christianity (Catholicism and Protestantism), Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam (Sunni and Shi'a) and Judaism. Although the study of religion and politics raises a host of deep philosophical questions, the principal aim of the course is to understand how religion affects politics (and vice versa), rather than to explore the moral questions raised by the interaction of these two forces. [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

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

Last offered Spring 2020

"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 132Contemporary Africana Social and Political Philosophy

Last offered Fall 2018

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 135(F)Politics after the Apocalypse

What shape will politics take after the apocalypse? Even before the coronavirus pandemic gave us reason to wonder if we are, in fact, living through an apocalypse, speculation about the end of the world and its aftermath pervaded recent television, movies, literature, philosophy, and critical theory. In this class we draw these works into conversation with political theories of the "state of nature" and "state of exception" to better understand what political possibilities are opened and foreclosed in times of crisis. What aspects of politics will endure the ravages of fire or pestilence? What new political realities might emerge on ground cleared by disaster? What does it say about pre-pandemic politics that we were so eager to consume stories of states falling and bands of survivors scraping together a nasty, brutish and short existence? And how will the unfolding pandemic change how we respond to these stories? Class will be driven primarily by discussion, typically introduced by a brief lecture. [ 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 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 ]

Taught by: Vincent Maphai

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PSCI 160 T(F)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; look at the way that images convey stereotypes; consider refugee camps in theory and example; and reflect on what exclusion, integration, and assimilation mean to newcomers and host populations. 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

This course will provide an overview of the central theoretical concepts and debates in the field of international relations. The first part of the course will focus on theoretical questions that have preoccupied scholars since the time of Thucydides: What are the implications of an anarchic political structure for order and justice in world politics? What are the necessary conditions for peace and stability? Is military power all that matters in determining politics among nations? What role do moral, legal, and humanitarian considerations play in the conduct of international relations? Have new norms about human rights and humanitarian intervention changed the way that states interact with each other and their populations? How do important theoretical approaches like Realism and Liberalism help us understand world politics in the 21st century? This course is not explicitly focused on current events, but since our subject matter involves theoretical and conceptual issues about the nature of world politics, all students will be required to keep up to date on important world events and policy debates. [ 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, freedom, justice, equality, democracy, neoliberalism, feminism, and violence, though the emphases will vary from semester to semester. [ more ]

PSCI 204(F, S)Introduction to Comparative Politics: Democracy, Authoritarianism, Nationalism

The comparative study of politics looks mainly at what goes on inside countries, the domestic dynamics of power and institutions and identities. The purpose is to deepen our understanding of politics. In this class we will consider a number of analytic concepts central to the study of politics generally--the state, legitimacy, democracy, authoritarianism, nationalism--to comprehend political processes and transformations in various parts of the world. We will focus particularly on three themes: what is democracy and how might it fail? Why do certain authoritarian regimes persist while others do not? How is national identity shaped by politics, and how is politics, in turn, shaped by nationalism? [ more ]

PSCI 206 TDangerous Leadership in American Politics

Last offered Fall 2018

"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 208Wealth in America

Last offered Fall 2019

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 course 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. Most readings will focus on contemporary political debates about the accumulation, concentration, and redistribution of wealth. [ more ]

PSCI 209(S)Poverty in America

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

Last offered Spring 2019

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 212From Tocqueville to Trump: Leadership and the Making of American Democracy

Last offered Spring 2020

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 ]

Taught by: Vincent Maphai

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PSCI 214(S)Racial and Ethnic Politics in America

Arguably, the dominant discourse in the presidency of Donald Trump and the battle to succeed him is about race. Race is connected to salient issues like immigration and police conduct; to politicians across the political spectrum; 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 215Race and Inequality in the American City

Last offered Spring 2020

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 216American Constitutionalism I: Structures of Power

Last offered Fall 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 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 217(S)American Constitutionalism II: Rights and Liberties

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

Many argue that the presidency has been fundamentally changed by the tenure of Donald Trump. Is this right? To study the presidency is to study human nature and individual 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 and Girls in (Inter)National Politics

This tutorial focuses on the writings and autobiographies of women who have shaped national politics through social justice movements in the 20th-21st centuries. Women and girls studied include: Fannie Lou Hamer, Shirley Chisholm, Safiya Bukhari, Erica Garner, Greta Thunberg, Malala Yousafzai, Marielle Franco, Winnie Mandela. [ more ]

PSCI 220The U.S. and Afghanistan: A 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. Within a few years, 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 easily defeat. At the same time that it was facing a more difficult military challenge than anticipated, the United States got bogged down in the process of nation-building, as well as efforts at social reform. This course examines the history of American involvement in Afghanistan, beginning with the Cold War when the U.S. used Afghanistan as a test case for new models of political modernization and economic development. We will go on to discuss the U.S. support for Islamist political parties during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan in the 1980s and the consequent rise of the Taliban, and the role of Afghanistan in the September 11th attacks and the "War on Terror" that followed. The course will conclude with a consideration of the impact and legacy of the two decades of nation-building and social reform carried out by the United States since 9/11. [ more ]

PSCI 221 T(S)Cold War Intellectuals: Civil Rights, Writers and the CIA

This tutorial focuses on US-based views of the Cold War. It examines how intelligence agencies and intellectuals, as well as government officials, viewed civil rights, human rights, and US hegemony. Readings include: Williams J. Maxwell (F. B. Eyes: How J. Edgar Hoover's Ghostreaders Framed African American Literature); James Baldwin (The Fire Next Time); Ralph Ellison (The Collected Essays of Ralph Ellison); Report to the President by the Commission on CIA Activities Within the United States (1975, VP Nelson Rockefeller, chair); Hugh Wilford (The Mighty Wurlitzer: How the CIA Played America); Hannah Arendt (The Origins of Totalitarianism; On Violence; "Reflections on Little Rock"); Frances Stonor Saunders (Who Paid the Piper? The CIA and the Cultural Cold War). Students alternate weekly between 5-page primary and 2-page secondary papers on assigned readings. [ more ]

PSCI 223(F)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 creates status used by other actors, such as international organizations, soldiers, national liberation movements, refugees, transnational air and sea shipping companies, and multinational corporations. International law is similar to domestic law, with one very crucial difference: it is not in theory 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 and legitimates their interests; 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 2019

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 225International Security

Last offered Fall 2019

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(F, S)International Relations of the Middle East

This is a course about the Middle East in international politics. The structure of the course combines political science concepts with a detailed survey of the region's diplomatic history. Classes will be taught remotely. The basic format of the course will be to combine brief lectures--either posted on the class website beforehand or given at the start of each class--with an in-depth discussion of each class session's topic. The goal of these discussions is to generate debates over the conceptual, historical, and policy significance of the subjects that we cover. Specifically, the first section of the course will cover the emergence of the Persian Gulf as an area of strategic importance in international politics; U.S. policy toward Saudi Arabia and Iran after World War II; the origins of the Arab-Israeli dispute; the June 1967 and October 1973 Middle East conflicts; Egyptian-Israeli peace; the Iranian Revolution and the Iran-Iraq War; the 1991 Persian Gulf War and its consequences; and the rise of Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, and Hamas. The second part of the course focuses on the Iraq War and its consequences; the rise of ISIS; the Arab Spring; Turkey's changing foreign relations; and the war in Syria. The last section of the course covers contemporary policy challenges confronting the Middle East. [ more ]

PSCI 228International Organization

Last offered Spring 2020

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

This course offers a broad introduction to the contemporary global political economy, 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 analyses of global trade, global finance, development, and migration, with special attention to subjects such as free trade, foreign aid, industrial policy, and border walls. We conclude the course with a look at the global pandemic and its implications for the future of global capitalism. [ more ]

PSCI 231Ancient Political Thought

Last offered Spring 2020

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 Fall 2019

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 235Survival and Resistance: Environmental Political Theory

Last offered Spring 2019

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; climate change and intergenerational equity; 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 Spring 2020

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 less than 1% of Americans have a degree from the country's top 30 colleges and universities, 39% of Fortune 500 CEOs, 41% of federal judges, 44% of the writing and editorial staff at the New York Times, 64% of Davos attendees, and 100% of Supreme Court justices do.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 intelligent--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 242The Politics of Waste

Last offered Spring 2020

Waste is not just a fact of life, it is a political practice. To create and maintain political order requires devising collective means to pile up, bury, burn, or otherwise dispose of stuff deemed dirty or disorderly: waste management is regime management. In turn, our feelings of disgust for anything deemed waste shape political deliberation and action on environmental policy, immigration, food production, economic distribution, and much more. The very effort to define "waste" raises thorny political questions: What (or who) is disposable? Why do we find the visible presence of certain kinds of things or persons to be unbearably noxious? How should we respond to the fact that these unbearable beings persist in existing, despite our best efforts to eliminate them? What is our individual and collective responsibility for creating and disposing of waste? Serious inquiry into waste is rare in political theory and political science--perhaps understandably, given that the study of politics is shaped by the same taboos that shape politics. In this seminar we will openly discuss unmentionable topics and get our hands dirty (sometimes literally) examining the politics of waste. We will take notice of the erasure of waste in traditional political theory and work together to fill these gaps. To do so, we will draw on work in anthropology, critical theory, history, urban studies, and waste management science; representations of waste in popular culture; and experiences with waste in our lives. This course is part of a joint program between Williams' Center for Learning in Action and the Berkshire County Jail in Pittsfield, MA. The class will be composed equally of nine Williams students and nine inmates and will be held at the jail. An important goal of the course is to encourage students from different backgrounds to think together about issues of common human concern. Transportation will be provided by the college. *Please note the atypical class hours, Wed 4:45-8:30 pm* [ 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 244Anti-Muslim Racism: A Global Perspective

Last offered NA

The racialization of Islam and Muslims has been constitutive to how they have been imagined in Europe and elsewhere. This course looks at how difference works and has worked, how identities and power relationships have been grounded in lived experience, and how one might both critically and productively approach questions of difference, power, and equity. It goes back to the founding moments of an imagined white (at the beginning Christian) Europe and how the racialization of Muslim and Jewish bodies was central to this project, and how anti-Muslim racism continues to be relevant in our world today. The course will not only show how Muslims were constructed as subjects in history, politics and society from the very beginning of the making of Europe and the Americas to the end of the Cold War to the post-9/11 era. Rather, it also looks at how Muslims live through Islamophobia. It looks at processes of racialization of Muslims within the Muslim community and between Muslim communities, while also considering which agencies Muslims take to determine their own future. The course draws from anthropology, gender studies, history, political science, religious studies, postcolonial studies, decolonial studies, and sociology. [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

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PSCI 245(S)South African Politics

The course deals with South African politics since the end of apartheid. The readings will address the politics, policies, and composition of the African National Congress (ANC), the growth of black economic elites and the black middle class, the persistence of poverty and extreme inequality, expanding corruption, and why the ANC continues to dominate politically in spite of unabated poverty and worsening inequality and corruption. [ more ]

PSCI 246(F)The Politics of Capitalism

Must we choose between "socialism or barbarism?" A century after Rosa Luxemburg's challenge, it is clear that socialism did not win. Does this mean that we have descended to barbarism? Tracing the path of capitalist development in the rich democracies suggests a range of responses. Some states have developed robust institutions that provide for citizens' basic needs and check the power of business; others leave the poor threatened by starvation and workers exposed to exploitation. How and why has capitalism evolved in different forms in different countries? This course addresses the politics of capitalism by examining the struggles between social groups that lead to variation in distributional outcomes and economic performance. The course concludes by investigating these struggles in light of contemporary challenges, in particular, transnational governance and technological change. [ more ]

PSCI 247(S)Political Power in Contemporary China

The People's Republic of China has experienced rapid and extensive economic, social and cultural transformation over the past forty years. Its political system, however, is little changed. The Communist Party still monopolizes power and works hard to suppress organized opposition. Political dissent has taken various forms since 1979 but the regime has found ways to repress and divert it. Yet, in spite of the state's efforts, opposition and dissent continue to bubble to the surface. The course will review the political development of the PRC since 1949 and, then, focus on the dynamics of political contention and regime persistence since the Tiananmen Crisis of 1989. [ more ]

PSCI 248 TThe USA in Comparative Perspective

Last offered Fall 2019

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 253The Tragedy of Venezuela

Last offered Spring 2020

The recent history of Venezuela offers a window into many of the most important political and economic issues faced by people in developing countries. Why does an abundance of oil seem to solve some problems while often leading to perverse economic and political outcomes? How can democracy be made to work better for ordinary people? What does it mean for a government to be truly sovereign? How does corruption grow and what can we do about it? When should we leave important decisions to technocratic experts? What does it mean today to be progressive? The course first briefly reviews Venezuelan post-Independence history, with an emphasis on the post-1958 democratic settlement. It then explores more deeply the reasons for the breakdown of this settlement, the rise of Hugo Chavez, and the decay of the "21st Century Socialist" regime under Chavez and Maduro. Materials include biographies, documentary films, short videos, economic data, and news reports. [ 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 255(S)Weaponized Leadership: Demagoguery and Populism in Contemporary Perspective

Since Donald Trump began his rhetorical assault on immigrants, the political establishment, and the free press, all in the name of "the American people," terms like demagoguery and populism have come to dominate American political discourse. Demagogues and populists are often defined as bad leaders who manipulate the emotions of their audiences for the sake of personal ambition-- leaders who turn a good thing (popular government) into something dangerous. At the same time, and as Trump has shown, many of the tactics that populists and demagogues deploy are politically effective. Protest leaders tell their audiences to get angry and to stand up and fight precisely because this kind of rhetoric can move an audience to action when rational persuasion cannot. And, many of the leaders we think of as great today were regarded as demagogues and populists during their own times. Puzzles like these point to our current political moment. How useful are terms like demagoguery and populism for understanding leadership? How have these terms been weaponized to distort politics instead of clarifying it? Should we reserve these terms for leaders who are truly bad, and if so, what counts as a "truly" bad leader (as opposed to one we just happen not to like)? Or can demagogic and populists tactics be deployed in better and worse ways? We will approach these questions through a survey of classic and contemporary writings on popular leadership, from Thucydides and Machiavelli to present-day social science. With these competing theories in view, we will read historical and biographical accounts of some of history's most controversial leaders--including Bolivar, Lenin, FDR, and Hugo Chavez--so as to better understand the popular leaders who dominate much of our politics today. [ more ]

PSCI 256(F)Coastal Communities and Climate Justice

Climate change poses extraordinary challenges to our country's coastal communities; the impacts of which will not be borne equally. Access to innovative technological, scientific, financial and legal resources is controlled by policy makers. Equal access is critical for the sustainability of our coastal communities. But fair decisions require vulnerable communities to have a voice in local climate change adaptation decisions. This seminar course will introduce you to basic concepts of climate justice in the context of our Nation's coastal communities, guided by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. The course will introduce you to fundamental coastal and ocean-based climate-induced impacts with a focus on sea level rise, ocean warming, ocean acidification and coastal infrastructure. We will examine these impacts, as well as local, state, regional and federal policy responses to them through the lens of climate justice. We will identify what's working and what more needs to be done to advance climate equity and justice in the wake of formidable global and local change. Proficiency will be demonstrated through class participation, work conducted in small group strategy exercises, discussion board posts, short research assessment papers and a final written project. There are three goals in this course: first to broaden your understanding of the disproportionate effects of climate change to underrepresented, disempowered, poor, urban and indigenous populations living in American coastal communities; second to provide you with tools to identify inequity; third, to increase your own voice to promote avenues to seek climate justice. [ more ]

PSCI 257Iran, Islam, and the Last Great Revolution

Last offered Fall 2018

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 ]

Taught by: Shervin Malekzadeh

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PSCI 258The Media and American Democracy

Last offered NA

The course examines the relationship between the press and government, its watchdog function, how social media and the Internet are changing its role, the emergence of independent investigative bodies such as Pro Publica, and the myriad ways in which the press has helped shape American history, for better or worse. The course goes behind the headlines to examine the delicate interplay between government and press, peels back the familiar classics of American journalism, but also incorporates the current conflicts and tensions between the press and government. In the new age, how does the press define or redefine balance, neutrality, the quest for objectivity, and restraint. Who is a journalist, a once relatively easy question, but one now fraught with complexity? There has been a tectonic shift in the fundamental standards and practices of the press in recent years. What are those changes and how does it augur for the future of the press and democratic institutions? [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

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PSCI 260Power, Feminist-Style

Last offered Fall 2019

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, Audre Lorde, Catherine MacKinnon, Hannah Arendt, and Patricia Hill Collins. [ more ]

PSCI 261(F)Conspiracy Theories in American Politics

The phrase "conspiracy theory" typically evokes images of paranoid cranks--of cars plastered with vituperative bumper-stickers and of people who wear tin-foil hats. To be sure, the claims that conspiracy theorists advance can be astonishing, from Pizzagate--alleging that Democratic Party officials ran a human trafficking ring out of a Washington, D.C. pizza restaurant--to the Flat Earth movement, which holds that the earth is, indeed, flat. At the same time, the persistence and power of conspiracy theories in American politics should provoke us to wonder why such preposterous-sounding notions gain traction in the first place, and who benefits from them. That conspiracy theories tend to advance a partisan or ideological view, often intended to discredit a competing movement or ideology, suggests that conspiracy theories can function as a kind of remote leadership--"leadership" without any clear leaders at the helm. This course will examine notable American conspiracy theories, such as the Kennedy Assassination theory, "9/11 Truth," and "Birther-ism," in light of recent scholarship on conspiracism, demagoguery, and populism. Our goal will be to understand the political and discursive forces that empower conspiracy theories and the functions they serve in American politics. Where and with whom do conspiracy theories originate? Why do some gain traction while others quickly wither? How can we distinguish between a conspiracy theory based on plausible evidence and one that exists simply to create chaos? And why do some conspiracy theories persist even in the face of direct public refutation? [ more ]

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 ]

Taught by: Robert McMahon

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PSCI 263America 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 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 Spring 2020

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 266The United States and Latin America

Last offered Spring 2019

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 267International Relations of the Middle East

Last offered NA

This course provides an overview of the international relations of the Middle East, with a special focus on the period from the late nineteenth century to the present. Students will learn about the region's geopolitical significance from both an historical and political science perspective. The first part of the course focuses primarily on the Middle East's impact on the international system throughout the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries, while the second part of the course examines contemporary issues. In substantive terms, the class covers the rise of the Zionist movement; the effects of the First World War on the Middle East; the international politics of the Arab-Israeli conflict; the geopolitics of the area's energy resources; the Cold War in the Middle East; the causes and consequences of the Iranian Revolution; the rise of Islamist movements; the Arab Spring; terrorism; the specter of nuclear proliferation in the area; the Syrian conflict; and the role of the United States in the Middle East. By the end of the term, students should have an enhanced understanding of the major dilemmas related to the region's place in the international system. [ 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 269The CIA and American Foreign Policy

Last offered NA

Despite an American aversion to espionage captured by Secretary of State Henry Stimson's oft-cited (yet unsubstantiated) remark, "Gentlemen don't read each other's mail," intelligence history in the United States dates back to the Revolutionary War. Still, it took the shock of Pearl Harbor for the United States to establish a permanent peacetime civilian intelligence service independent of another federal department--the Central Intelligence Agency. Since then, the agency and others which comprise the loose entity called the Intelligence Community (IC) have played a pivotal albeit intensely controversial role in US foreign and national security policies. Yet their roles and missions remain largely misunderstood and divisive, as attested to by recent debates surrounding the multiple investigations of the 9/11 tragedy, the flawed pre-war estimates of Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) capabilities, the reporting on Benghazi, the Snowden revelations, and much more. This course seeks to provide greater understanding of the relationship between intelligence and US foreign and national security policy by examining the CIA's and IC's roles and responsibilities, illuminating their history alongside the history of America and the World, assessing their successes and failures, evaluating their reforms, and correlating their behavior and capabilities with US values and institutions. Despite an American aversion to espionage captured by Secretary of State Henry Stimson's oft-cited (yet unsubstantiated) remark, "Gentlemen don't read each other's mail," intelligence history in the United States dates back to the Revolutionary War. Still, it took the shock of Pearl Harbor for the United States to establish a permanent peacetime civilian intelligence service independent of another federal department--the Central Intelligence Agency. Since then, the agency and others which comprise the loose entity called the Intelligence Community (IC) have played a pivotal albeit intensely controversial role in US foreign and national security policies. Yet their roles and missions remain largely misunderstood and divisive, as attested to by recent debates surrounding the multiple investigations of the 9/11 tragedy, the flawed pre-war estimates of Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) capabilities, the reporting on Benghazi, the Snowden revelations, and much more. This course seeks to provide greater understanding of the relationship between intelligence and US foreign and national security policy by examining the CIA's and IC's roles and responsibilities, illuminating their history alongside the history of America and the World, assessing their successes and failures, evaluating their reforms, and correlating their behavior and capabilities with US values and institutions. [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

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PSCI 271Religion and the State

Last offered Fall 2018

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 273Politics without Humans?

Last offered Fall 2019

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 ]

PSCI 274Revolutions

Last offered Spring 2019

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 ]

Taught by: Shervin Malekzadeh

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PSCI 280 T(F)Silicon Valley: Digital Transformation and Democracy

Nearly every country in the world seeks to drive economic growth by promoting digital technologies. In the twenty-first century, the universal model is Silicon Valley. But as much as tech may drive economic growth, it may also threaten democratic politics. This tutorial explores this tension. We do so in four steps by examining (1) the origins of the Silicon Valley model, (2) other countries' attempts to emulate it, (3) what it's like to work in tech, and (4) possibilities for regulating the tech sector. Each step will deepen students' understanding of tech. By engaging multiple analytical lenses, students will develop the tools to articulate the possibilities and imperatives of democratic politics in the twenty-first century. [ more ]

PSCI 281(S)Contemporary African Politics

This course is an introduction to the contemporary politics of Africa, with the aim of sparking a life-long interest in the affairs of the region. Comprised of nearly 50 countries and home to over 1 billion people, sub-Saharan Africa is remarkable in its diversity, particularly in regards to a number of outcomes central to the study of political science: how do institutions of the past shape current dynamics of political competition and economic growth? Why are some countries stable democracies while others struggle with military coups or authoritarian rule? What sparks political violence and how can countries emerge from conflict? Our focus is both contemporary and comparative, organized thematically around common political experiences and attributes across the region. We begin with the legacies of colonialism, the slave trade, and the politics of liberation. We then interrogate dynamics central to political life in Africa over the 60 years since independence: the role of ethnic diversity in shaping competition, the prominence of patronage politics, and the evolution of elections. We next assess major dimensions that have historically shaped the study of African politics, including conflict and violence, economic development, and foreign aid. The final section takes a comparative approach to some of the most pressing issues in Africa today: health crises, migration and mobility, technological revolution, climate change, and the emerging power of women and youth. [ more ]

PSCI 282(F)Africanist Project to Black Consciousness

In 1957, when it was clear the African Nation Congress was unwilling to change its multiracialist and nonracialist language in favor of Africanist pronouncements, Robert Mangaliso Sobukwe left the party and became the editor of The Africanist newspaper. Two years later he formed the Pan-Africanist Congress. Similarly frustrated that the National Union of South African Students was dominated by white liberals, in 1968 Bantu Steve Biko helped form the black-only South Africa Students' Organization and, four years later, was the key figure in founding of the Black People's Convention, created to promote black consciousness ideas within the broader South African population. This course focuses on Sobukwe's Africanist project and Biko's Black Consciousness Movement, the strategies against apartheid they promoted, and the visions of a free South Africa they imagined. [ more ]

PSCI 283Dirty Politics: Regulating Hazardous Chemicals and Wastes

Last offered Fall 2018

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 ]

Taught by: Pia Kohler

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PSCI 284(F)The Politics of Economic Crises

The dominant world economies -- the USA, China, and the European Union -- are responding to the economic risks that might arise from the coronavirus with what have become the standard responses to economic crises. They are using debt to create liquidity, demand, and uphold credit markets. As a background to understanding the reasons for and histories of these policies, this course will read several important books that deal with the Great Depression, the financial crisis a decade ago, and the risks of debt. [ more ]

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

The American Revolution produced a galaxy of brilliant and creative statesmen and intellectuals: 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 291 TAmerican Political Events

Last offered Spring 2019

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 303Authoritarian Politics

Last offered Spring 2020

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, the sources of its resilience, and its impact on global politics. 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. This segment will also explore the 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. The third part of the course will focus on the international behavior and impact of autocracies. Are autocracies more likely to initiate domestic and international conflicts? Can they effectively integrate in the global economic currents and develop their countries? Or are all forms of authoritarianism doomed to eventually result in underdevelopment, corruption and cronyism? Can Western democracies establish and maintain workable relationships with authoritarian regimes and contain their worst tendencies? This segment will examine the accumulated evidence on these issues and discuss the potential future of authoritarianism in global politics. [ more ]

Taught by: Aleksandar Matovski

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PSCI 306(S)What is Power?

What is power? Despite the importance of notions of power across the social sciences, there is a broad lack of consensus. Is power essentially domination or resistance? Is it freedom, empowerment, privilege, or oppression? Are there forms of unequal social power which are morally neutral or even good? Is power the kind of thing held by individuals, races, genders, classes, discourses, causal mechanisms, institutions, or social structures? What is the connection between social and physical power? Does power obey laws? How does power relate to technology? Or knowledge? Or agency? Or ideology? This course begins with the observation that power is often described as a causal relation--an individual's power is supposed to equal their capacity to produce a change in someone else's behavior. This suggests that the better we can understand the nature of cause and effect, the better we can understand power. Fortunately, in recent decades philosophers have made significant progress in theorizing causation. Hence, this seminar will put two very different bodies of theory in conversation: critical theory about power and philosophy of science about cause and effect. We will trace classic philosophical accounts of power and causation (in European and Chinese philosophy), as well as more recent developments in philosophy of science, political theory, and other fields. The insights we gain in this course from analyzing the nature of power should empower us to more effectively transform society. It will help students in the social sciences to understand the nature of causation in the social world, and it will help students interested in political action to better understand the nature of power. Thinkers to be considered may include: Aristotle, Amy Allen, Hannah Arendt, Bourdieu, Judith Butler, Nancy Cartwright, Foucault,Gramsci, Byung-Chul Han, Han Feizi, Giddens, Hobbes, Hume, Locke, Steven Lukes, Machiavelli, J.L. Mackie, Marx, Nietzsche, Sunzi, and Max Weber. [ more ]

PSCI 308(F)In Search of the American State

When Donald Trump campaigned in 2016 to "drain the swamp," he built on the idea held by Republicans since Ronald Reagan's 1981 pronouncement that "government is not a solution to our problem, government is the problem." Skepticism of government has deep roots and strong resonance throughout American political history. Despite this, national government has grown in scope and size for much of this history, including under both Democratic and Republican administrations. This tension over what government is doing and what it should be doing is only heightened in times of crisis, such as the moment the country is in now. This course explores the relationship between citizens and their government by examining the growth of the American state in various arenas over time, as well as the assaults on government legitimacy in recent years. We will assess traditional theories about the weakness of the 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 310New York City Politics from the Blackout to Bloomberg

Last offered Fall 2019

This course examines New York City's political history from the 1970s to the present-a period during which the city underwent staggering economic and social changes. In the mid-1970s, New York was a poster child of urban crisis, plagued by arson and housing abandonment, crime, the loss of residents and jobs, and failing public services. By the early 21st century, the city had largely met these challenges and was once again one of the most diverse and economically vital places on earth-but also one marked by profound inequality. This course will examine how New Yorkers have contested core issues of capitalism and democracy-how those contests have played out as the city itself has changed and how they have shaped contemporary New York. Broad themes will include the city's role as a showcase for neoliberalism, neoconservatism, technocratic centrism, and progressivism; the politics of race, immigration, and belonging; the relation of city, state, and national governments; and the sources of contemporary forms of inequality. Specific topics will include policing, school reform, and gentrification. As the primary assignment in the course, students will design, research, and write a 20-page paper on a topic of their choice. [ more ]

PSCI 311(F)Congress

Even before the pandemic, scholars, pundits, and the public thought Congress was in a state of crisis. Riven by polarized partisanship and gridlock, the most powerful assembly in the world seemed incapable of representing citizens and addressing problems. This seminar focuses on how Congress organizes itself to act as a collective body. In an organization comprised of equals, how and why do some senators and representatives acquire more power and authority than others? How does Congress 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 T(S)American Political Thought

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 313Race, Culture, Incarceration

Last offered Spring 2020

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 ]

Taught by: TBA

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PSCI 314How Change Happens in American Politics

Last offered Spring 2020

Does the rise of Donald Trump signal something new in the U.S.? How unprecedented is the current political moment? What might we expect to come next? 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 individuals and leadership have 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, social conservatism, and populism. 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 315(S)Parties in American Politics

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. Parties have been celebrated for linking citizens to their government and providing the coherency and unity needed to govern in a political system of separated powers. Yet they have also been disparaged for inflaming divisions among people and grid-locking the government. Critics of the two-party system have castigated the major parties for failing 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 and why have the parties changed over time? Throughout the course, we will explore such questions as: What constitutes a party? 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? How does partisanship become tribalism or hyper-partisanship, and can this be prevented? 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 319Marine Policy

Last offered Spring 2020

This seminar considers contemporary issues in our relationship with our ocean and marine environment and the critical roles our oceans and coasts play in our Nation's environmental sustainability, and ocean and coastal climate resiliency and stability. By analyzing case and statutory law and policies that relate to our rich and diverse coastal and marine environment, we critically examine the many conflict of use issues present in the coastal and marine environment. The course examines coastal zone management, climate change, fisheries, environmental justice, ocean and coastal pollution, marine biodiversity and admiralty, through the lens of coastal and ocean governance and policy-making. Semester-long independent research engages students with ocean and coastal stakeholders to develop policy strategies and solutions to contemporary issues impacting America's coastlines and oceans. [ more ]

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

Last offered Fall 2018

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 321Immigration Politics in the U.S.

Last offered Fall 2018

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 323Law and Politics of the Sea

Last offered Fall 2018

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea gathered into one place what most countries considered in 1982 to be scattered ancient laws about piracy, transit through other countries' territorial waters, jurisdiction over ships, and so forth. It also created ocean zones, with rules for each, and proposed a system for taxing firms that it licensed to exploit minerals on the high seas. This course explores the politics and practices that arise from UNCLOS. We first engage with the treaty's content and exclusions, next examine the incentives it provides states and criminals, and last assess the way that geopolitical and climate change create new opportunities and constraints for states, firms, international organizations, and activists. Cases include piracy, claims in the South China Sea, bonded labor, refugee quarantine, Arctic transit, and ocean pollution. [ 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 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 329Politics of the Powerless

Last offered NA

American politics is often unequal, and well-organized advantaged interests tend to triumph. What do disadvantaged interests do in light of these power dynamics? Give up? Compromise? Struggle on? Why do relatively powerless interests sometimes win in American politics? Is it because they have an exceptional leader? A phenomenal strategy? Fortuitous events? This course examines the political dynamics of disputes in which disadvantaged interests push for major change. We will study past campaigns and then research and discuss contemporary reform efforts. [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

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PSCI 330(S)American Political Thought in Hemispheric Context

Actors living during the Age of Revolutions witnessed an astounding number of social, political, and cultural changes. In the short period between 1775 and 1830 virtually the entire American hemisphere collectivized through insurgency movements that aimed to subvert colonial power through radical republican language. In this course we contend with the hemispheric components of the revolutionary period and the importance of Pan-American discourse at subnational, national, and international levels of politics. We trace the comparative features of American post-colonial projects by emphasizing the importance of indigenized, raced, gendered, and ethnicized imaginaries for establishing unity across colonial spaces. The end goal is to reconstruct the boundaries of American Political Thought through a similarly comparative approach that remains attune to the malleability of national boundaries, nationalities, collective histories, and international communities of the period. This course divides the development of early modern American thinking into two waves of political thought. First, the insurgency period of the mid 18th and early 19th centuries in which debates on colonial subjection frame the ends of post-colonial change. Second, in the late 19th and early 20th century when nascent American states shift toward questions of institutional design, social inequalities, and civic protections in the post-independence context. Readings may include primary works by early modern thinkers of the Americas like Simon Bolivar, James Madison, and Fray Servando Teresa de Mier. Contemporary work on republicanism, nationalism, and citizenship by theorists like Benedict Anderson, Hannah Arendt, Partha Chatterjee, and others, will provide frameworks for our discussion. Students will also engage with archival materials that better illustrate the lives of indigenous actors, slaves, mulattos, mestizos, and creoles living in the Americas. [ more ]

Taught by: Arturo Chang

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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 332 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 334Theorizing Global Justice

Last offered Spring 2020

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 335Racial Equity, Liberal Democracy, and Democratic Theory

Last offered Fall 2018

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 ]

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 2020

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 the optical systems of military drones and contemporary forms 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, cognitive science, and STS. Possible authors include Arendt, Bal, Belting, Benjamin, Browne, Buck-Morss, Butler, Clark, Connolly, Crary, Deleuze, Fanon, Foucault, Freedberg, Garland-Thompson, Hobbes, Kittler, Machiavelli, Mercer, Mitchell, Mulvey, Plato, Rancière, Sartre, Virilio, 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 2019

Hannah Arendt (1906-75) bore witness to some of the darkest moments in the history of politics. Born a Jew in Germany, Arendt lived through--and reflected deeply on--two world wars, the rise of totalitarianism, and the detonation of the first atomic bomb. She narrowly escaped imprisonment by the Gestapo and internment in a refugee camp in Vichy France before fleeing to New York. 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 "love of the world." She wrote luminously about the darkness that comes when terror extinguishes politics and the shining, almost miraculous events of freedom through which politics is sometimes renewed. In this tutorial, we will investigate what Arendt's vision of politics stands to offer to those struggling to comprehend and transform the darkest aspects of the contemporary political world. Our time and Arendt's are similarly darkened by the shadows of racism, xenophobia, inequality, terror, the mass displacement of refugees, and the mass dissemination of lies. It may be tempting to conclude from these similarities--as some recent commentators have--that we are witnessing the return of "totalitarianism" as Arendt understood it. She would be the first to refuse to use inherited concepts as if they were keys to unlock the present. Her words and her example should impel us to reject shortcuts to authentic understanding, the "unending activity by which...we come to terms with and reconcile ourselves to reality." We will turn to Arendt as an interlocutor, not a guide, as we seek to reconcile ourselves to the contingency and specificity of past and present political realities. And we will search her works and our world for embers of hope that even seemingly inexorable political tragedies may yet be interrupted by assertions of freedom in political action. [ more ]

PSCI 340(S)Why States Fail

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 ]

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 342(S)Beyond the welfare state

"Not me. Us" became a rallying cry of Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign in late 2019. Sanders' slogan reflects a vision of a robust welfare state, defined by a widespread commitment to solidarity, where citizens share social risks as well as economic rewards. But what role can the welfare state play in the twenty-first century? How have its constitutive institutions, from pensions to unemployment insurance, evolved since the post-war "Golden Age"? Is solidarity still possible? This course identifies the political conditions under which welfare states developed in the twentieth century, and examines how they have responded to globalization, immigration, digital transformation, and other contemporary challenges. If the welfare state has a future, it will look different from the past, but how? Taking up a handful of alternative paradigms, from social investment to mutual aid, we will assess different trajectories of solidarity in the twenty-first century. [ more ]

PSCI 343(F)Democratic Erosion

A central tenet of political science is that once a country reaches a certain level of political and economic development, democracy will endure indefinitely. The contemporary moment calls on us to revisit this assumption. This course explores the causes and consequences of democratic erosion through the lens of comparative politics. We ask three central questions to inform our investigation: 1) What is democracy and its alternatives? 2) How do we identify democratic breakdown? and 3) What are strategies to counteract backsliding when it occurs? Importantly, this course is not intended as a partisan critique of any particular American politician or political party. Rather, it is designed to provide an opportunity to engage, critically and carefully, with claims about the state of democracy in the US and elsewhere; to evaluate whether those claims are valid; and, if they are, to consider strategies for mitigating the risk of democratic erosion here and abroad. Readings draw from academic scholarship, media commentary, and current events as they unfold. We will address both empirical and normative dimensions of the issues, as well as learn about examples of democratic erosion around the world from early 20th century until today. As a collaborative class taught at dozens of other colleges, the course enables you to engage in debates about democratic erosion with students throughout the US and around the world. [ 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)The Meaning of Life and Politics in Ancient Chinese Thought

How can we live a good life? What standards should we use to judge how political power is constituted and used? This class will involve students in close reading of, and exegetical writing about, core texts of ancient Chinese philosophy in English translation. The purpose is to gain an understanding of a number of different perspectives on life and politics, especially Confucianism, Legalism and Daoism. 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: Yijing, Analects, Mencius, Daodejing, Zhuangzi, and Han Feizi. [ more ]

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

Last offered Spring 2019

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 348 TThe Black Radical Tradition

Last offered Spring 2019

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 2020

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 350 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 351The New Left and Neoliberalism in Latin America

Last offered Spring 2019

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

Geography 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, important cultural differences, and mixed feelings about its neighbor to the north. 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, following a modified tutorial format, we consider politics and cultural policies around Mexican national identity in the twentieth century, looking at films, journalism, popular music, and cultural criticism. Topics include the politics of race; rapid urbanization, especially in the valley of Mexico; and the cultural impact of the turn toward the north, after 1990, in economic policy. Then, after a few discussion classes on migration, organized crime, political corruption, the COVID-19 pandemic, and other issues facing the current government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador, we turn to a seminar-style discussion of student research projects. [ more ]

PSCI 354Nationalism in East Asia

Last offered Fall 2019

Nationalism is a major political issue in contemporary East Asia. From anti-Japanese demonstrations in China, to tensions on the Korea peninsula, to competitive elections in Taiwan, to debates in Japan about the possibility of a woman ascending the Chrysanthemum Throne, national identity is hotly debated and politically mobilized all across the region. This course begins with an examination of the general phenomena of nationalism and national identity. It then considers how nationalism is manifest in the contemporary politics and foreign relations of China, Japan, South Korea, North Korea 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 356(S)Leadership in American Political Development

Major change in American politics takes place when an old political order collapses and a new one emerges to replace it, sometimes through violent struggle. Before the Civil War and Reconstruction, for example, states enjoyed autonomy over most areas of politics--including whether or not to maintain slavery. Afterwards, the Federal Government began to assert itself vis-á-vis civil rights and liberties in ways it had never previously done. Relatedly, before the Great Depression, state government basically managed their own economies; but the New Deal gave the federal government power to create and manage a new, national economy. What are the deep sources of these architectonic changes? Who or what is responsible for them? And what is the best way to study them? This course will survey the alternative and competing ways in which leading thinkers and scholars answer these questions. Some argue that dynamic individuals--such as Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt--drive political change, and that change would not happen without such leaders. Others contend that these so-called "leaders" are themselves mere bi-products of impersonal forces, such as party realignments, critical elections, and social, economic, and technological changes. Our goal will be to understand these theories on their own terms, and then to evaluate them with reference to some case studies from American history. To this end, we will study theoretical writings but we will also read selections from histories and biographies that draw a more intimate, nuanced picture of the leaders, groups, and personalities involved in America's most transformative political moments. [ 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 theories of right-wing populism's appeal from both Left and Right perspectives. We will also investigate several cases of right-wing populism including France's National Front, Sweden's Swedish Democrats, Hungary's Fidesz and Jobbik, Poland's Law and Justice Party, as well as Donald Trump and the American alt-right. Finally we will entertain right-wing populism as both a cause and a symptom of a crisis in liberal democracy. [ more ]

PSCI 362 T(S)The Wilsonian Tradition in American Foreign Policy

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 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 370The Political Thought of Frantz Fanon

Last offered Fall 2019

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 372(S)CAPSTONE: Sylvia Wynter, Black Lives, and Struggle for the Human

How do we judge the value of life? What is the significance of death and arbitrary threats to our existence? Why probe modern notions of black and blackness? What defines optimism, pessimism, enslavement, freedom, creativity, and being human? Do black lives matter? This capstone seminar will explore these and related questions through an examination of the life and work of Jamaican novelist, playwright, cultural critic, and philosopher Sylvia Wynter. Methodologically interdisciplinary, the course shall examine written and audiovisual texts that explore Wynter's inquiries into the central seminar queries. We will study figures and movements for black lives whose geopolitics frame the milieu of Wynter's work. Our examination of intellectuals and activists, with their explicit and implicit engagements with Wynter, shall facilitate assessing the possibilities, challenges, and visions of black living. We will also explore the current implications of Wynter's thought for Africana political theory, Afro-futurism, social justice, human rights, and critiques of liberal humanism. In the latter half of the course, students will have the opportunity to design, conduct, and present their own final research projects. [ more ]

PSCI 373(S)Black Marxism: Political Theory and Anti-Colonialism

The seminar involves a critical engagement with key Africana political leaders, theorists and liberationists. We will examine the Pan-African writings of: Cedric Robinson (Black Marxism); Walter Rodney (How Capitalism Underdeveloped Africa), Eric Williams (Capitalism and Slavery; From Columbus to Castro); Frantz Fanon (The Wretched of the Earth); Malcolm X (Malcolm X Speaks); Amilcar Cabral (Resistance and Decolonization; Unity and Struggle); C. L. R. James (The Black Jacobins). [ 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 375Modern Jewish Political Theory

Last offered Spring 2019

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 376(F)Angela Davis: Political Theory, Activism, and Alliances

This seminar examines the political thought, activism, and iconography of abolitionist Angela Davis. The seminar involves a critical engagement with the philosopher, former political prisoner, and their relationship with other theorists, authors and activists. Readings include: Angela Davis: An Autobiography; Soledad Brother: The Prison Letters of George Jackson; The Morning Breaks: The Trial of Angela Davis; Women, Race, and Class; If They Come in the Morning. [ more ]

PSCI 382(F)The Politics of Migration: Citizen, Immigrant, Alien, Refugee

Currently 272 million international migrants live in a country different from where they were born, an increase of 78% since 1990. What are the social, economic, and political consequences of unprecedented global mobility in both destination countries and countries of origin? This class investigates one of the most polarizing and relevant issues of our time: the politics of migration. Throughout the semester we interrogate four themes central to migration politics: rights, representation, access, and agency. The course is organized with a focus on status: which "categories" of people (i.e. citizens, migrants, refugees) have differential access to rights, services, and representation and why. Drawing on political speeches, documentary films, humanitarian campaigns, and a variety of academic texts, we critically analyze how those categories are constructed, as well as the political work they do in making claims, justifying policies, and shaping public opinion. The class situates contemporary US migration policies within a global context and over time, placing the US case in conversation with considerations of migration politics and policies in countries around the world. As an experiential education course, we will (virtually) attend a US naturalization ceremony as well as interview officials from organizations working with migrants and refugees here and abroad. [ more ]

PSCI 386(F)Identity Politics: Conflicts in Bosnia, Israel-Palestine, Northern Ireland, & South Africa

Identities have been either the stakes, or the guise taken by other kinds of conflicts, in Bosnia, Israel-Palestine, Northern Ireland, and South Africa for centuries. They have led to, or expressed, political divisions, clashing loyalties, and persistent and sometimes consuming violence. They also have produced attempts by both internal and external actors to resolve the issues. This research seminar will engage the origins of the conflicts and the role of identities in them, the role of disputes about sovereign power in creating and intensifying them, the strategies for reconciling them that are adopted domestically and internationally, the deals that have been struck or have not been struck to bring peace in these societies, and the outcomes of the various efforts in their contemporary politics. The course will begin by reading about both the general theoretical issues raised by conflicts in these "divided societies" and various responses to them. After familiarizing ourselves with what academic and policy literatures have to say about them, we then will read about the histories and contemporary politics in each society. With that as background, students will choose an aspect or aspects of these conflicts as a subject for their individual research. [ more ]

PSCI 388(S)Comparative Political Economy

This tutorial considers the relationships between broad economic structures and political institutions in the modern world. We consider why and how is it that the expansion of capitalism 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 are economic crises the key to understanding the conditions under which dictatorships fall? Finally, has the emergence of a neoliberal economic order affected the organization of political society? [ more ]

PSCI 410Senior Seminar in American Politics: The Politics of Belonging

Last offered Spring 2019

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 ]

Taught by: TBA

Catalog details

PSCI 411Advanced Study in American Politics

Last offered Fall 2018

A full year of independent study (481-482) 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 412Senior Seminar: Interpretations of American Politics

Last offered Fall 2019

American politics are in upheaval, and most Americans believe the country to be headed down "the wrong track." Yet assessments of what is at the heart of the country's problems vary. Critics on the left worry that the United States in 2016 elected a proto-fascist who will consolidate white nationalist power and corporate rule. Critics on the right worry that the U.S. has abandoned the Anglo-Protestant traditions that made it strong and has entered a period of moral decay and decline. 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 them. [ more ]

PSCI 413(F)Senior Seminar in American Politics: Polarized America

With red states and blue states, partisan divisions in Congress, and even disputes about wearing masks to protect against the coronavirus, few question the fact of a polarized America. But what is the polarization about and what caused it? Is it manufactured by a political elite using the rules of the game to maintain power while ignoring the concerns of the people? Is it a capitalist strategy to divide the public in order to advance the interests of the wealthy corporate elite? Does it reflect a polity divided by racial and ethnic tensions with different visions of the nation's past and future? Does it reflect increased inequality in a fast-changing global economy? How can a government of separated institutions operate and come to collective decisions given this discord? Can the framers' vision of deliberative, representative government meet the challenges of a polarized polity? [ more ]

PSCI 420(F)Senior Seminar: The Nuclear Revolution

This is a course about international politics in the nuclear age. In broad terms, it focuses on a very basic question: Does international politics still work essentially the same way as it did in the prenuclear era, or has it undergone a "revolution," in the most fundamental sense of the word? The structure of the course combines political science concepts and historical case studies, with the goal of generating in-depth classroom debates over key conceptual, historical, and policy questions. Classes will be taught remotely. The basic format of the course will be to combine very brief lectures with detailed class discussions of each session's topic. The course will begin--by focusing on the Manhattan Project--with a brief technical overview of nuclear physics, nuclear technologies, and the design and effects of nuclear weapons. The course will then examine the following subjects: the dropping of the atomic bombs on Japan; theories of the nuclear revolution; the early Cold War period; the development and implications of thermonuclear weapons; the Berlin and Cuban missile crises; nuclear accidents; nuclear terrorism and illicit nuclear networks; the future of nuclear energy; regional nuclear programs; preventive strikes on nuclear facilities; nuclear proliferation; and contemporary policy debates. [ more ]

PSCI 441(S)Senior Seminar: 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, human rights, and economic 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 422Senior 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 423Humanitarianism as Ideology and Strategy

Last offered Spring 2020

Since the mid-1980s, humanitarianism has been one dominant way that powerful countries, organizations and people have approached disaster elsewhere. Humanitarianism aims at immediate rescue, striving to keep people alive until some solution can be found. It aims not to address crises' causes nor to assist with solutions--which it considers political--just to keep human bodies alive. Critics contend that humanitarianism produces harm, providing structural incentives for people to do more or less than they need to, and that it deepens and restructures inequality between subjects and objects. They contend also that it justifies the way of things. This course confronts humanitarianism through reading its defenders and critics, by looking at accounts by individuals and organizations, and by assessing its usefulness as an international political strategy from realist, liberal, materialist, and constructivist points of view. [ 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 431Senior Seminar in Political Theory: Rethinking the Political

Last offered NA

What is politics? The question, an important part of political theory at least since Socrates, has taken on renewed significance in recent years, as theorists have sought to rethink the political in response to twentieth century dictatorships and world wars; feminist, queer, anti-racist, post- and decolonial struggles; the transformations wrought by neoliberal globalization; the emergence of "algorithmic governance"; the recent resurgence of populist nationalism; and deepening recognition of climate crises. This seminar engages some of the major attempts at rethinking produced in the 20th and 21st centuries, particularly at those that, characterizing liberalism as masking structures of subordination and elements of conflict in political life, undervaluing the importance of citizen action and public space, or being ill-suited to altered technological and ecological conditions, seek to rework or move beyond it. In addition to those who argue for an expanded and emancipatory conception of politics, we will consider arguments against politics as primary path to improvement or focus of commitment. Authors read may include Schmitt, Strauss, Rawls, Arendt, Wolin, Rancière, Brown, Connolly, Hartman, Sharpe, Moten, Wynter, Sexton, Edelman, Muñoz, Coulthard, Simpson, Lazzarato, Haraway, Latour. [ more ]

Taught by: TBA

Catalog details

PSCI 432(S)Senior Seminar: Critical Theory

This course takes a critical look at the nexus of money and political power in the United States and world politics, using the concept of "racket society" to guide our inquiry. The theory of "rackets" was first put forward by Frankfurt School theorists in the 1940s as a way of analyzing linkages among organized crime, cartels, monopolies, corporate interests, and political institutions. Their project, which we will recreate in this course, was to trace the effects of the adaptation of the legal system (and other state institutions) to the conglomeration of capital and the concentration of wealth in a few hands. The flow of money offers insights into these deeper trends. Course readings begin with the work of Max Horkheimer, Theodor Adorno, Franz Neumann, Friedrich Pollock, and Herbert Marcuse, paying special attention to their discussion of the anti-democratic effects of money on political institutions. We will also look carefully at their critique of legal frameworks that protect the wealthy while criminalizing the poor. Although these concerns were not exclusive to the Frankfurt School, the approach they took had some unique features. Having fled Nazi Germany and re-established their research institute in exile the United States, Horkheimer and his colleagues brought an outsider-insider perspective to the problem. Among our questions are the following: How did the intellectual heritage of the Frankfurt School and their experiences in Germany shape their analysis of racket society in 1940s America? Does the theory of rackets still have analytical power today? Given the massive expansion of the U.S. economy and the role of transnational capital in driving economic globalization in recent decades, what insights might the early Frankfurt School offer critics of anti-democratic tendencies in world politics today? [ more ]

PSCI 440Challenges to Neoliberalism in the United States and Europe since the Financial Crisis

Last offered Fall 2019

After emerging from the Cold War as the unrivaled model for capitalist societies, neoliberal capitalism has been subject to a series of challenges in the aftermath of the financial crisis of 2008-10. This seminar, after discussing briefly the institutions and logic of neoliberalism, will address recent challenges to it from both the left and the right in the United States and Europe. Specifically, the seminar will address the election of Donald Trump as president, the furor around Brexit in the United Kingdom and the authority of the European Union in Europe, and challenges to the hegemony of global finance and controversies around immigration in both the United States and Europe. [ more ]

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 495Individual Project: Political Science

Last offered Fall 2019

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 496Individual Project: Political Science

Last offered Spring 2020

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 ]