Political Science

POLS 110 Political Questions

What is just? What is right? Are human beings equal? In what ways should we be free? To what degree must we obey the state? What are our duties to others? Is “big government” compatible with individual liberty? This course explores these and other fundamental political questions concerning freedom and authority, rights and obligations, peace and war, moral obligation and selfishness, faith and reason. It will also delve into contentious public policy problems (e.g., income inequality, affirmative action, sexual discrimination), each of which poses moral and practical difficulties.

POLS 151 United States Politics

What is the foundation of government in the United States? What are its purposes? How is the constitution of government designed to achieve those purposes? How well does it in fact fulfill those purposes? Major topics and controversies include the nature of politics, individual liberty and constitutionalism, the federal structure of government, elections and political parties, interest groups, representation, Congress, the Presidency, the Judiciary, civil rights and liberties.

POLS 205 Introduction to Public Policy

In short, public policy includes whatever government chooses to do or not to do. As such, this course will explore the reasons why government acts, how government acts, and the types of actions it takes. The course is not designed to convince you whether particular public policies are good or bad, but to think carefully and analytically about why they exist and how they function. The course is not about any particular public policy.

POLS 206 Urban Politics and Policy

A critical introduction to urban America’s fiscal and racial problems, formal and informal political processes, power structures, and alternative futures. We will also discuss problems and processes
of policy formation in the urban system.

POLS 207 Race and Ethnic Politics

A general survey of minority politics in the United States. We will explore the historic and contemporary importance of race and ethnicity in American politics, particularly in relation to political institutions, political parties, voting coalitions, representation, and public policy. Attention is paid to how the structures of the American political system disadvantage minority groups as they attempt to gain the full benefits of American society.

POLS 208 Media and Politics

An investigation of the power of media in American society and the interaction between media, institutions, political actors, and the public. Topics covered may include the evolving role of media as an institution in the political system, media ownership, media bias, race and gender in media, media fragmentation, the relationship between media and public opinion, the role of news and advertising in political campaigns, media coverage in crisis and wartime, and the impact of new media on society.

POLS 209 Evil, Benevolent, or Benign?: The Role of Bureaucracy in a Democracy.

While there are many objectives for learning in this course, the primary objective of the course is to expose the class to provocative arguments about bureaucracy and challenge our established notions of what a bureaucracy is and how it performs. In order to achieve this objective, however, we will begin first by discussing what a bureaucracy is. We will then consider how public bureaucracy is or is not different from private bureaucracy. Next, we will explore several well-known theories of bureaucratic behavior and performance. The goal is to not only understand what these theories are, bu

POLS 211 Politics and Literature

This course explores how literature (and the arts generally) express political ideas and pursue political purposes. Topics and readings vary but they include: literary depictions of political causes, political crises, war and peace, leaders and followers, conflicts of individuals and society, and the competing demands of nature and civilization. Authors read in this course might include: Sophocles, Shakespeare, Defoe, Stendahl, Austen, Dickens, Melville, Hawthorne, Twain, Robert Penn Warren, Ralph Ellison, Don DeLillo, Phillip Roth and Tom Wolfe. Not offered every year.

POLS 212 American Political Thought and Statesmanship

A survey of the ideas and controversies in American political thought and development from the Puritans to the present. Topics may include: the philosophical origins of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, selfishness and morality, federalism, the democratization of politics, equality and slavery, laissez-faire capitalism and the welfare state, the civil rights movement, and the redefinitions of freedom and equality by, for example, the new left and feminism. Not offered every year.

POLS 214 Modern Ideologies

What are all these “isms” that pervade political discourse? What does it mean to be a liberal (or a “progressive”), a libertarian, conservative, communitarian, socialist, or feminist? Where do liberal and radical feminists agree and disagree? Why is a democratic socialist not a Marxist and vice versa? Is “environmentalism” a comprehensive political stance? Should there be a “green” party? What separates a nationalist from a “fascist”? Generally: what ideas, perspectives and principles account for these divergent doctrines that compete to organize the political world?