Admission & Financial Aid

Admission & Financial Aid


Amherst College Courses

Amherst College Courses


Political Science

Professors Basu†, Bumiller, Corrales*, Dumm, Machala, and Sarat (Chair); Associate Professor Obert*; Assistant Professors Mattiacci*, Paul, and Ratigan; Karl Loewenstein Fellow and Visiting Associate Professor Picq; Karl Loewenstein Fellow and Visiting Assistant Professor Salcedo; Karl Loewenstein Fellow and Visiting Lecturer Basileus Zeno; Postdoctoral Fellows and Visiting Assistant Professors Loggins and Williams; Stint Fellow Hammar; Visiting Assistant Professors Ette and Pleshakov; Visiting Lecturer Falk.

*On leave 2021-22.†On leave fall semester 2021-22.‡On leave spring semester 2021-22.

Curriculum of Major Requirements in Political Science

What do we mean by politics? Amherst’s Department of Political Science treats the study of politics as a liberal art, offering students new perspectives on political phenomena. The Department offers a diverse range of courses in three broad areas of study: 1) Political Theory, 2) Domestic Politics and State–Society relations, and 3) International Politics and Practices. Our courses engage theoretical assumptions that underlie political life and examine different institutional arrangements and political practices. They provide the resources by which students can critically evaluate and engage contemporary political life.


Majoring in Political Science requires the completion of 9 courses. These courses are grouped into four distinct categories as follows:

100 Level Courses - Introductions:

These courses emphasize writing, critical reading, and analytical interpretation and introduce students to the study of politics from a variety of perspectives. The department recommends that these courses be taken in the first and second year, or immediately following the declaration of the major. These courses may be offered in either lecture or seminar format.  FYSE courses taught by members of our department can also count toward introductory courses.

200 Level Courses - Surveys:

These courses survey broad topics in the study of politics. They engage students in the study of different institutions, countries, regions, theories, and modes of political thought. They focus on such key phenomena as power, justice, order, conflict, mobilization, and development. These courses may be offered in either lecture or seminar formats.

300 Level Courses - Research Seminars:

Research Seminars in politics allow students to deepen their own inquiries into politics. They encourage students to develop research skills through examination of debates and topics in politics. Students should take at least one of these courses in their second or third year to facilitate subsequent work in the Department’s thesis program. These courses have prerequisites, limited enrollment, and may have a substantial writing requirement.

400 Level Courses - Specialized Seminars:

Specialized seminars might include in-depth investigations into specialized or conceptually complex issues, may utilize new pedagogical approaches, may require more engaged forms of writing than lower-level courses, and may allow students to design and implement research in novel settings. These courses have prerequisites and limited enrollment.


Prior to declaring a major in Political Science, students should have completed the following:

At least 2 courses in Political Science, one of which should be at the 100 level.

Majors in Political Science must take 9 courses:

Of the 9 courses, students must take a minimum of 6 within the Political Science department at Amherst College, at least one from each of the four levels (but no more than two 100 level courses will be counted toward the major).

Majors may also include among courses to complete the major 1 course from outside the discipline of political science. Such a course should be designated as counting toward the major at the end of registration, or, if the course is completed prior to declaring the major, at the time of the declaration.

Credits are available for study abroad, 5 college courses, and transfer students.

No courses in political science taken under the pass/fail option will count toward completion of major. EXCEPTION: Courses taken in the spring 2020, fall 2020, and spring 2021 semesters with a Pass grade will count toward the major.

In total, majors in Political Science must complete 9 courses for rite, or 11 for honors (a result of 2 additional thesis research courses in the senior year), in courses offered or approved by the Amherst College Political Science Department.

Please note:  We made important changes to the requirements for the major approved on July 28, 2020.  These changes apply exclusively to the classes of  2021E, 2021, 2022E, 2022, 2023E and 2023:

The number of required courses for the major has been reduced from 9 to 8.

The number of courses that must be taken in the Department has been reduced from 6 to 5.

Flexibility with the distribution requirement.  Our current policy requires students to take one department course at each level.  We will now allow juniors and seniors to petition to have either a 200- or a 300-level class count for a level above.  If you are interested in this option, here are the steps:

Obtain the approval of the faculty member teaching the class.  This involves negotiating with your professor the additional work and standards required to meet the higher level.

Obtain approval from your Political Science faculty advisor.

Have your faculty member and advisor send an email to the chair and Theresa Laizer confirming their approval. 

Regrettably, your transcript cannot be adjusted to reflect.


Students intending to write a thesis must successfully complete at least 1 Political Science research seminar (300 level course) before the conclusion of the second semester of their junior year. 

Students who wish to be considered for graduation with Departmental Honors in Political Science must have an A- cumulative average or higher after six semesters.  Prospective applicants should consult with members of the Department during their junior year to define a suitable Honors project and to determine whether a member of the department is competent to act as an advisor and will be available to do so.

Information about topics that faculty members would like to advise on is posted on our website. We will give preference to working with students whose research interests coincide with our own.  In assigning advisors for honors work, in addition to the expertise/interests of the faculty, we will also consider equitable distribution of the workload and student preferences. Permission to pursue projects for which suitable advisors are not available may be denied by the Department.

Five College Professors who regularly teach in our department may serve as primary advisors or as second and third readers. In assigning second and third readers, the principal advisor shall play a primary role. Colleagues from other departments at Amherst or in the Five Colleges may serve as second and third readers. Only one member of a thesis committee may be from another department at Amherst or from the Five Colleges.

The Department Chair will organize three meetings for juniors who hope to do honors work, in December, February and April. Students should attend as many of these meetings as possible. Those who are studying abroad should communicate with prospective thesis advisors before leaving and while abroad.


Students must take a minimum of 6 courses, at least 1 at each level, from within the Political Science Department at Amherst College. Students who are enrolling in elective courses taught abroad for one semester may count 2 elective political science courses toward the major; they may count up to 3 elective courses if they are abroad for 1 year. 

Students may take up to two courses in political science from Smith, Hampshire, Mt. Holyoke, and the University of Massachusetts. Such courses must 1) be taught by someone with a degree in political science or have substantial political content; and 2) not be redundant with other courses already taken. The chair of the department will decide which 5 College courses will be given credit toward the major. 

For transfer students, the Department will accept up to three courses for the major from the school from which they transferred.  We may waive the introductory course requirement if the transfer student has had an equivalent course.

For students coming to the College with a BA we will accept 4 courses and waive the introductory course requirement.


Decisions regarding credit or requests to vary the requirements for completion of the major shall be made by the Department Chair.  

108 China: Continuity and Change

(Offered as POSC 108 and ASLC 108) This is an introductory intensive writing course on China. As such, we will focus on the fundamentals of reading and writing to help students develop clear and persuasive writing styles. We will also pay close attention to understanding and critiquing academic sources. Students will be expected to engage in frequent in-class writing and attend regular writing consultations.

Chinese politics is replete with tensions between opposing forces: modernity and tradition, economic growth and societal protections, central government and local government, top-down mandates and bottom-up pressures, ideology and expertise, state control and market forces, continuity and change. This course examines these tensions and their effects on state-society relations and authoritarian governance during communist party rule in China (1949-present). We will learn how to apply different reading strategies to examine a variety of sources that shed light on these tensions, including speeches, films, government documents, news media, and academic sources. Through frequent short papers, students will incorporate different types of evidence to make compelling arguments regarding the strategies that the Chinese party-state has used to maintain stability amid myriad challenges.

Limited to 12 students. Admission with consent of the instructor. Fall semester. Assistant Professor Ratigan.

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020, Fall 2021, Fall 2022

109 Pandemic Politics: Democracy versus Disease

This course welcomes students from all backgrounds who want to reflect on the political, economic, social, cultural, and ethical questions that the Coronavirus pandemic raises. Pandemics develop non-randomly because pathogens exploit vulnerabilities in political systems, markets, and societies. As a result, pandemics hold up a mirror in which polities and societies can see their true face. What does the Coronavirus pandemic show us about who we are? What can we learn from it? How does COVID-19 intersect with other challenges, such as poverty, environmental change, inequality, migration, terrorism, and technological shift? The course combines news coverage with political and interdisciplinary analysis and uses examples – past and present – from around the world. We will compare COVID-19 to other pandemics, including the Black Plague, cholera, the Spanish Flu of 1918, Ebola, SARS, and HIV/AIDS, to understand how pandemics shape politics, markets, societies, culture, and the arts. Studying pandemic politics allows us to tackle big questions of political science in a new light. What institutions are better equipped for handling global public health emergencies? Do liberal democracies perform better than dictatorships? Does globalization provide a fruitful framework? How does a virus become a security threat, and what does biosecurity entail? Can a pathogen undermine liberal democratic order? What and whom are we willing to sacrifice in our efforts to fight the pandemic? We will also talk about the future. What will our world look like after COVID-19? Will the disease lead to a retreat into isolationism and nationalism, or will it deepen international cooperation, interdependence, and globalization? Will it lead to democratic backsliding, or will it foster an era of renewed civic engagement, activism, and participation? Classes include informal conversations with guest speakers (political scientists, historians, epidemiologists, art historians, local artists). This course satisfies requirement 2 for the IR Five-College Certificate.

Limited to 25 students. Fall semester. Assistant Professor Paul.

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2022

112 The International Politics of Climate Change

Can countries come together to address the challenges of climate change? And if so, which negotiation techniques are more likely to be successful, and why? Does one solution fit all, or would it be better to rely on different formats for pairs of states? This course employs a diverse set of learning techniques to address these timely questions in international politics. First, we will build on cutting-edge academic research to investigate the mechanisms through which climate change puts each country’s economy and political stability under duress. Then, we will utilize role-playing analysis techniques to have each student embrace the perspective of one key international actor (such as the U.S., the United Nations, China, Ghana, Kenya, the World Bank, etc.) and devise a strategy for that actor to decrease the challenges that climate change poses to its economic and political stability. Finally, we will use simulation techniques to reproduce international negotiations to reduce CO2 emissions. Each student, while representing a key international actor and advancing the national interest of that country, will try to mitigate the impact of climate change on the recurrence of violence and war. The aim of the course is to wrestle with the fundamental contradiction between the global scale that international efforts to tackle climate change require and the region-specific challenges that climate change impose on each country’s economy and political stability.

Limited to 18 students (10 spots reserved for first-year students). Omitted 2021-22. Assistant Professor Mattiacci.

Other years: Offered in Spring 2023, Spring 2024, Fall 2024

113 International Relations vs the World: Myths and Evidence

The recent COVID-19 pandemic has ignited fierce debates on the state of international relations. Pundits and occasional observers often debate the state of international relations---how freely people and goods can or should move across borders, what organizations such as WHO can really achieve, which countries are truly powerful, the real reasons why countries can or cannot cooperate on global challenges such as COVID-19 or climate change, and so on. In each of these debates, evidence, either qualitative or quantitative, counts. But what, exactly, counts as evidence? Diving into recent debates in international relations emerging from COVID-19, the class will evaluate the evidence used to support such claims. We will focus in particular on the political origins of most of the evidence used in these debates, explaining why such origins matter and how they can shape debates. The goal of the class is for students to become literate about the ways in which data are used and to begin leveraging evidence to engage in their own story-telling. This class will leverage interdisciplinary partnerships with other classes. This class fulfills requirements 1 and 2 of the 5 College IR Certificate.

Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2021-22. Assistant Professor Mattiacci

122 Power and Relevance of International Organizations. The Case of the UN and Other IOs.

This course provides an introduction to the role and impact that international organizations (IOs) have on modern world politics. Since their proliferation in the twentieth century, IOs have become an essential part of the global economic and security commons. Much has been discussed about their relevance in bringing peace and stability, and whether they challenge the supremacy of the nation-state in international relations.

Through carefully selected readings and numerous audio and video documentaries, we will study the key concepts and theories that make up the main academic literature on IOs today. Special focus will be given to the United Nations System: its history, structural organization, and impact on a wide variety of areas, including decolonization, economic development, conflict management, human rights, and the environment. Other IOs examined more briefly will be the Organization of American States, and the European and African Unions. Finally, some thoughts will be given to the rise of international non-governmental organizations.

Limited to 25 students. Spring semester. Karl Loewenstein Fellow and Visiting Assistant Professor Salcedo.

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2023

131 Wars and Refugees

Can one country intervene militarily against another to prevent it from abusing its own citizens? And should countries always offer asylum to those that are persecuted in their own country? The recent migration flow to Europe from war-torn Syria has emphasized the timely nature of these complex questions that constitute the impetus for this course. The course is divided into two parts. In the first part, the course will explore the way in which the concept of "human rights” has often provided a rationale for international intervention in civil conflict, at times constituting a theatre of prime superpower competition. The course will then look at what happens after the end of those conflicts, to investigate the ever vexing quandary of refugees and migration, and the challenge such phenomena pose to international cooperation.

Limited to 20 students. Admission with consent of the instructor. Omitted 2021-22. Assistant Professor Mattiacci.

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2016, Spring 2018

135 Justice

(Offered as POSC 135 and EDST 135) This course will explore the meaning of justice and its realization in everyday life. We will consider individuals’ perceptions of justice and the significance of the concept in the relationship between citizens and government. We will examine how social movements attempt to seek justice and how this quest for justice defines their strategies and goals. And finally we consider how efforts to seek justice are realized, delayed, or blocked in institutional settings, such as in workplace organizations, prisons, state bureaucracies, and the courts. The course will be taught in an “Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program” format, enrolling equal number of students from Amherst College and a Prison. This course will be taught at a local jail. 

Admission with consent of the instructor. Limited to 12 students. Spring semester. Professor Bumiller.

Other years: Offered in Spring 2021, Spring 2022, Spring 2023, Spring 2024, Fall 2024

145 Work

(Offered as POSC 145 and EDST 145) This course will explore the role of work in the context of American politics and society. We will study how work has been understood in political and social theory. We will also consider ethnographic studies that explore how workers experience their lives inside organizations and how workplaces transform in response to changing legal regulations. These theoretical and empirical explorations will provide a foundation for reflections about how work structures opportunities in democratic societies and how re-imagining work might unleash human potential. The course will ground these questions about the role of work in the context of American politics and society. At the broadest level we will ask: Do citizens in a liberal society have a right to engage in meaningful work and earn a living wage? What is the changing nature of work in a neoliberal society? What are the goals of the state in regards to the production of a future workforce? What are the impacts of employment discrimination, occupational segregation, and wage disparity based on race or gender?

Limited to 18 students. Fall semester. Professor Bumiller.

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Fall 2021, Fall 2023

147 Displacement and Migration from/in the Middle East

Migration has a long and important history in shaping the cultures, economies, and politics of the MENA region (Middle East and North Africa). This course will address specific topics related to displacement in and from the region and the framing of humanitarian and aid responses to displacement, including both refugees and internally displaced populations (IDPs). Drawing on a comparative perspective, we will trace politics and history of migration and displacement from the nineteenth century to the contemporary “refugee crisis” and how they shaped the region. Together, we will examine the following questions: What was the significance of “Little Syria” in Boston and New York and what explains the rise and fall of the Syrian Ottoman communities? How have host countries in the MENA region responded to refugees and migrants, and what explains the variations of politics of hospitability or hostility after the War on Iraq and the ongoing conflicts in Syria, Libya, and Yemen? What is “climate refugee” and what are the links between environmental factors and human mobility in the MENA? One of the main meta-questions we will be asking throughout this class is about representation. How can we better prepare ourselves with knowledge of issues and of representational formats to engage in meaningful work around displaced people? How did problematic forms of Orientalized representations of people from the MENA influence politics and public opinion in Western countries (including the US under the Trump era)? In this course, students will gain an in-depth knowledge about the role of migration in the MENA region and will develop an array of analytical tools for understanding the multiple drivers of migration as well as the impact migration has on societies, domestic politics, international relations, and local and regional economies.

Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-22. Karl Loewstein Fellow and Visiting Lecturer Zeno.

2024-25: Not offered

152 Guns in American Politics

This course will address the politics of gun ownership, as well as the meanings of guns in American civic life. Focusing on the philosophical, social, legal, institutional, cultural, and economic lenses through which Americans have made sense of the role of firearms in American politics, this course will use firearms policy to explore a range of questions: how has our understanding of self-protection changed or not over time? What was the role of the Second Amendment in the making of the Constitution? How do we make sense of the controversies and debates that have surrounded the “right to bear arms” and its interpretation in legal and historical scholarship? How does mobilization around guns and gun rights reflect and shape racial, ethnic, and gender identities? Where and when do such mobilizations occur? In what ways are U.S. policies and attitudes actually exceptional among developed countries? In this sense, guns serve as a way of putting into sharp focus deeper questions about the institutional and social contexts of belonging and exclusion in U.S. politics.

Limited to 30 students. Omitted 2021-22. Associate Professor Obert.

Other years: Offered in Fall 2022, Spring 2024

154 The State

Most humans live in territories that are controlled by a state. Why do different nations have different types of states? Why are some states more repressive than others, more war-prone than others, better promoters of development than others, more inclusive than others? How can we make sense of the varied reactions to state domination, ranging from active support to negotiated limits to apathy to vigorous contestation? Does globalization make states more or less democratic, more or less efficient, more or less able to promote development?

This course goes to the heart of current debates on the “state of the state.” How significant is the state in an era in which its sovereignty is increasingly challenged both by global and domestic forces? What ought to be the proper role of the state in the twenty-first century? These questions are central to the current debates taking place—in the U.S. and abroad—on the extent to which countries should open up their economies, privatize social services, incorporate minorities and immigrants, recognize gay marriages, counterbalance U.S. pop culture, accommodate religious fundamentalism, etc. We will explore these questions by studying political theorists and empirical cases from around the world.

Limited to 30 students. Admission with consent of the instructor. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Corrales.

Other years: Offered in Fall 2014, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2024

160 Sexualities in International Relations

(Offered as POSC 160 and SWAG 160) From abortion to gay rights, sexuality is deeply entangled in world politics. As LGBT rights become human rights principles, they not only enter the rights structure of the European Union and the United Nations but are also considered a barometer of political modernity. If some Latin American nations have depicted their recognition of gay rights as symbolic of their progressive character, certain North African nations have depicted their repression of homosexuality symbolic of their opposition to western imperialism. The results of sexual politics are often contradictory, with some countries enabling same-sex marriage but criminalizing abortion and others cutting aid in the name of human rights. This course explores the influence of sexual politics on international relations. We analyze how women and gay rights take shape in the international system, from the UN to security agendas, and evaluate how sexuality shapes the modus operandi of contemporary politics.

This course fulfills a requirement for the Five College Reproductive Health, Rights and Justice (RHRJ) certificate.

Limited to 25 students. Fall semester. Karl Loewenstein Fellow and Visiting Associate Professor Picq.

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2019, Fall 2020, Fall 2021, Fall 2022, Spring 2024

170 Building Nation-States, Markets, and Democracy in Europe

This course examines the making of modern politics in Western and Eastern Europe, tracing the development of nation-states, markets, and democratic institutions from the Middle Ages to the European Union. It sheds light on key questions driving contemporary political debates around the world: How are strong states built? What explains the success or collapse of democracies? When are revolutions successful? Why do some countries transition successfully to capitalism and democracy, while others do not? How can political systems overcome social, ethnic, and religious divisions, and cope with transnational pressures? How can international security be improved? The course provides an introduction to European politics and reveals how the legacies of the past often shape the politics of the present. We cover feudalism, absolutism, revolution, industrialization, democratization, and European integration. Specific topics include state and nation-building, mass democracy, economic development, capitalism and the welfare state, East-West divides, Cold War and post-Cold War political trajectories, the European Union, security, and migration. The course draws on cases from Western Europe, Northern Europe, Southern Europe, and Eastern Europe.

Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2021-22. Assistant Professor Paul.

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018

200 Topics in International Relations

This course will attempt to analyze and illuminate the leading theories of international relations (IR) today, as well as the evolution of the international relations discipline as a whole. It is meant to encourage a critical attitude towards all theoretical perspectives discussed, not only to familiarize students with the major paradigms of IR, but also to appreciate what the “international” means and how, if at all, it can be demarcated from “domestic” politics. In addition, the course will examine numerous complex international and global challenges which humankind faces today. Topics vary from year to year and will include such issues as the relations of the US, the world’s sole superpower, to the newly emerging geopolitical and/or geo-economic centers of power, namely China, Iran, India, Russia, and the European Union; regional and ethnic/religious conflicts, nuclear proliferation, transnational terrorism, refugee and migration flows, global environmental degradation and climate change, demographic stress, as well as socioeconomic and cultural globalizations.

Limited to 18 Students. Spring semester. Professor Machala.

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Spring 2022

205 Fascism

This course is an exploration of the political form of the modern state known as fascism. We will examine fascism’s roots in political economy, war, ascriptive group identity, legislative and executive forms, political parties, and social movements, paying special attention to how it has been theorized as it emerged during the twentieth century in Europe, and its current resurgence as an idea and practice in Europe and the United States in the twenty first. Among the authors we may read will be Hannah Arendt, Theodor Adorno, Karl Polanyi, Ernst Cassirer, Franz Neumann, Carl Schmitt, Adolf Hitler, Walter Benjamin, Filippo Marinetti, Richard Hofstadter, Sheldon Wolin, Steven Bannon, Judith Butler, and William Connolly.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Dumm.

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2023

207 The Home and the World: Women and Gender in South Asia

(See SWAG 207)

208 Power and Politics in Contemporary China

(Offered as POSC 208, ASLC 208, and EDST 208) This course provides an introduction to the major institutions, actors, and ideas that shape contemporary Chinese politics. Through an examination of texts from the social sciences as well as historical narratives and film, we will analyze the development of the current party-state, the relationship between the state and society, policy challenges, and prospects for further reform. First, we examine the political history of the People’s Republic, including the Maoist period and the transition to market reforms. Next, we will interrogate the relations between various social groups and the state, through an analysis of contentious politics in China including the ways in which the party-state seeks to maintain social and political stability. Finally, we will examine the major policy challenges in contemporary China including growing inequality, environmental degradation, waning economic growth, and foreign policy conflicts.

Limited to 25 students. Spring semester. Assistant Professor Ratigan.

Other years: Offered in Fall 2013, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Spring 2020, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Fall 2024

211 The Political Theory of Liberalism

This course is a survey of Western liberal political theory from its 17th-century origins through some of its contemporary expressions. Among the thinkers whose works we may read are Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Mary Wollstonecraft, Ralph Waldo Emerson, John Stuart Mill, Isaiah Berlin, John Rawls, Stanley Cavell, and Judith Shklar.

Omitted 2021-22. Professor Dumm.

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2013, Fall 2015, Spring 2019, Spring 2021

214 Geopolitics and American Foreign Policy

(Offered as POSC 214 and HIST 215 [US/TE]) The goal in this course is to examine the geopolitics which lies at the intersection of international relations and foreign policy. But what is geopolitics and why is it as often berated as it is embraced by American politicians and policy elites alike? Over the past two centuries, what part has geopolitics played in the currents of world politics and in the conduct of American foreign policy? What role has geopolitics played in the post-Cold War era, after the demise of the Soviet Union and the ostensible triumph of liberal capitalism? Using the methods of diplomatic history and political science, this course will explore critical moments and themes in American foreign policy. Our overall aim is to better understand today’s position of the United States in world politics as well as present domestic controversies over the character of America’s global role. This is also a period which has been characterized by growing tension between two sets of political power dynamics: one is dominated by a territorial logic of power that has as its basis the direct control of specific territory, people and resources; the other is dominated by a more diffuse logic of power that derives from the command of “de-territorialized” global political, economic, technological and cultural forces which emanate from states as well as stateless groups with a global and transnational reach. In an attempt to better understand world politics in the age of America’s preponderance, the course will ultimately examine how American presidents have understood and navigated between these two sets of political power dynamics in articulating and conducting foreign policy, and how the American public and elites have facilitated or complicated this task.

Limited to 25 students. Fall semester. Professor Machala and Professor Emeritus G. Levin.

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2015, Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2018, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

215 Democratic Backsliding

According to many scholars, the world is experiencing a democratic recession. Since the 2000s, many established democracies are undergoing erosion in their democratic institutions, even transitioning to autocracies. Also, fewer autocracies and semi-authoritarian regimes are transitioning to democracy. During the Cold War, most threats to existing democracies came from the military or non-state actors, such as insurgents or extremist movements. In this era of democratic backsliding, most serious threats to democratic rule stem from the very winners of democracy—incumbent presidents who came to office by winning elections. This course tries to understand the extent of this democratic erosion worldwide—its dimensions, causes, and possible ways to address it. Readings will draw from theoretical, comparative, historical, and case-based works. Students will also work on independent research projects and class presentations.

Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Corrales.

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2024

216 International Relations Gone Viral

This class offers an introduction to the study of international relations in the age of a pandemic. In its exploration of both classic and cutting-edge research, the class sheds light on enduring debates in studies of global politics. Thus, this class will address foundational puzzles in international relations while tracing the unfolding of the recent pandemic, including: when are countries more likely to cooperate while facing global crises? When do crises ignite nationalism, thus pushing countries to compete for resources? When is global trade more likely to come to a halt, and why? How do major crises proliferate across issue areas, affecting cooperation on other areas such as climate change? What is the origin and the purpose of multilateral international organizations such as the World Health Organization? When do such organizations fail or succeed? What are the implications of framing the COVID-19 pandemic as a “war”? This class fulfills requirements 1 or 2 for the IR Five-College Certificate.

Limited to 20 students.  Omitted 2021-22. Assistant Professor Mattiacci.

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2022

219 Introduction to American Politics

Political life in the United States is undergoing an historic transformation.  Growth in inequality and partisan polarization, changes in the global military and economic order, social movements like Black Lives Matter and #MeToo, new forms of protest and political contestation, demographic shifts, climate change and now a pandemic are creating opportunities for democratic renewal but also placing institutions under strain.  This is a team-taught course with multiple members of the Department. This format allows the class to balance a shared exploration of key themes of US politics -- the founding and constitution of the nation, questions of legitimacy and development of American institutions, the role of gender, class, race and sexuality in American political life, and the position of the US in the world -- with more focused discussions of current events.
Each week will thus be organized into two distinct parts. First, all students will develop a basic understanding of American political institutions through online or pre-recorded lectures.  Second, smaller groups will engage in an interpersonal discussion over the material covered in the lecture but connected to specific issues.

Plenary meetings will take place Tuesdays online. Section meeting times, topics, instructors and format (online or hyflex) will vary. Students will sign up for both the plenary session and their preferred section. Students will also be polled to identify their second and third choices for sections. The department reserves the right to move students to different sections for balancing purposes. The department will do its best to accommodate students' top preferences.
Section 01 and 02: Protest and Violence in American Politics. Professor Obert. Section 03: The Role of White Supremacy in American Politics. Professor Wise. Section 04: The Rise of Democratic Disillusion. Online only, Professor Dumm. Section 05: American Exceptionalism and the Position of the US in the World. Professor Machala. Section 06: Democratic Backsliding in a Comparative Context. Professor Corrales. Section 07: Race and Policing in US Politics. Professor Bumiller.  

Omitted 2021-22. Associate Professor Obert and other Political Science Faculty Members.
2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2023, Fall 2023

221 From Lynch Mobs to the Killing State: Race and Punishment in the United States

Other than war, punishment is the most dramatic manifestation of state power. Whom a society punishes and how it punishes are key political questions as well as indicators of a state's character. The character of punishment in the United States has been shaped, throughout American history, by race and racism. This course considers the connections between punishment, race, and politics in this country. We will ask how far we have come in the journey from lynch mobs to the killing state. We also will consider whether we punish too much and too severely, or too little and too leniently, and the ways race has shaped the ways we punish. We will examine the politicization and racialization of punishment and examine particular modalities through which the state dispenses its penal power. Among the questions to be discussed are: Does punishment express our noblest aspirations for justice or our basest racialized fears and desires for vengeance? Can punishment ever be an adequate expression of, or response to, the pain of the victims of crime? When is it appropriate to forgive rather than punish? How do race and racial antagonism shape the answer to that question? Throughout we will try to understand the meaning of punishment in the United States by its intimate connections to this country’s racial history.

Limited to 40 students. January term. Professor Sarat

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in January 2022, Spring 2022

223 The Politics of Race in American Society

This course in Race and Ethnic Politics is designed to examine the contemporary influence of race in American politics while also exploring their historical antecedents. Issues concerning race affect how Americans think of political candidates, political policies, and their views concerning Americans who are not a member of their own racial groups. Moreover, issues relating to race has implications for political parties, elected officials, and public policy debates. This course will also provide students with an overview of the major theories and empirical approaches to the study of intergroup attitudes. While doing so, we will spend a considerable amount of time in understanding, dissecting, and extending major theories developed in the Race and Ethnic Politics subfield. Although focusing principally on matters relating to African Americans, where possible and proper, we will also make comparisons to other racial/ethnic groups. Each class will include both lectures and student-led discussion. The course assumes a basic knowledge of statistics and familiarity with American Politics.

Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Visiting Assistant Professor Williams.

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2022

224 The Politics of the American Right

This course examines the politics of the contemporary Right in the United States. We will explore historical shifts in ideologies of the Democratic and Republican parties, political conflicts in such arenas as race, gender and class; the politics of immigration; abortion rights; immigration policies; religious freedom; and foreign policy. Using primary sources taken from conservative, reactionary racist and nationalist figures as well as studies of the far Right, we will examine some of the forces that have led to its rise in the Trump era, including neoliberal economic policy, Christian fundamentalism, and the evolution of media of mass communication.

Limited to 75 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Dumm.

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

231 The Political Economy of Petro States: Venezuela Compared

This is a modified version of POSC 232, The Political Economy of Development. The first half of the course is identical to 232, but the second half will have a different focus: the political economy of oil. This section will explore the extent to which oil is a “resource curse,” the neo-structuralist notion that an abundance of a natural resource, in this case oil, is detrimental for development because it distorts economic incentives (away from diversification) and distorts politics (by facilitating corruption, raising the stakes of power-holding, increasing the chance for abuse of state power, and weakening society’s capacity to hold the state accountable). We will examine these hypotheses by focusing on Venezuela, one of the world’s leading oil producers. Until the 1980s, Venezuela was considered an example of democratization. In the 1990s, Venezuela became instead a paradigmatic case of policy incoherence. In the early 2000s, under the Hugo Chávez administration, Venezuela became a case of political polarization, and some argue, rising authoritarianism. The second half of this course will assess whether the resource-curse theory provides the best account of Venezuela’s politics since the 1980s. To address this question, we will: (1) compare the resource-curse argument with other competing theories of development that might account for Venezuelan politics; and (2) compare the Venezuelan case with other cases in Latin America, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. This course fulfills requirements for the Five College Certificates in Latin American Studies and International Relations.

Not open to students who have taken POSC 232. Admission with the consent of the instructor. Limited to 35 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Corrales.

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2012, Fall 2014, Spring 2017, Fall 2018, Fall 2020, Fall 2023

235 Globalization Through the Lens of Border Culture

This course will look at globalization through the lens of border culture, a term that refers to the "deterritorialized" experience of people when they move or are displaced from their context or place of origin. How are people’s experience of belonging and understanding of identity affected by borders within the realms of language, gender, ideology, race, and genres of cultural production as well as geopolitical locations? What does it mean to live between two cultures—an experience that in 2019 might well represent the nature of contemporary life? We will explore these questions by examining the political and aesthetic impact of global processes such as the unprecedented turbulence of migration, the persistent threat of terrorism, and the perplexing influence of communications technologies. Readings will include the voices of artists, critics, historians, cultural theorists, anthropologists, and philosophers, including Gloria Anzaldúa, Arjun Appadurai, Homi Bhabha, Michel Foucault, Guillermo Gómez-Peña, Derek Gregory, Trinh T. Minh-ha, Nikos Papastergiadis, Edward Said, Gianni Vattimo, and Eyal Weizman.

Limited to 24 students. Fall semester. Visiting Lecturer Falk.

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2022, Spring 2024

236 Introduction to International Relations

This course will attempt to analyze and illuminate the leading theories of international relations (IR) today, as well as the evolution of IR as a discipline. It is meant to encourage a critical attitude towards all theoretical perspectives discussed, not only to familiarize students with the major paradigms of IR, but also to appreciate what the “international” means and how, if at all, it can be demarcated from “domestic” politics. In addition, the course will examine numerous complex international and global challenges which humankind faces today. Topics will include such issues as the relations of the US to the newly emerging geopolitical and/or geo-economic centers of power, namely China, Iran, India, Russia, and the European Union; regional and ethnic/religious conflicts, nuclear proliferation, transnational terrorism, refugee and migration flows, global environmental degradation and climate change, demographic stress, as well as socioeconomic and cultural globalizations.

Limited to 25 students. Omitted 2021-22. Karl Loewenstein Fellow and Visiting Assistant Professor Salcedo.

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2023

238 Ethical Imagining

In the 1990s, the importance of ethical exploration in cultural production was often described as a shift from the representation of politics to the politics of representation.  More recently, Canadian cultural theorist and psychoanalyst Jeanne Randolph has explored how we ethically act while participating in a culture of abundance, opulence, and consumerism. This course will explore ethics as a subject in the work of contemporaries across different media and disciplines, and across different cultures. It will consider ethical imagining as a cultural practice—how the imagination is elusive, contingent, yet exceedingly precious, and how it helps us understand changes in human relations that have evolved with twentieth century and twenty-first century materialism. Readings include: Giorgio Agamben, Jane Bennett, Jane Blocker, Octavia Butler, Ann Cvetkovich, Jean-François Lyotard, Kevin Quashie, and Jeanne Randolph.

Limited to 24 students. Omitted 2021-22. Visiting Lecturer Falk.

Other years: Offered in Spring 2023, Fall 2024

247 Power, Politics, and the Middle East

The Middle East is often represented as a region plagued with endless wars, ethnic and religious violence, superstition and ignorance, subjugation, and authoritarianism, but what is the Middle East? What explains the prevalence and persistence of these views among politicians, journalists and even academics? How has Eurocentrism and Orientalism influenced our understanding of the historical development of Arab cultures, politics, and societies? How were states formed during and after colonization? What explains “sectarianism,” and the resiliency of authoritarian regimes in the region? Why did the “Arab Spring” happen, and what hope is there for people’s movements in the region? How and why do ordinary people revolt against authoritarianism in the Middle East? How has American foreign policy facilitated the rise of Islamist movements, such as ISIS and al-Qaeda? This course aims to provide students with a critical perspective of regional politics by examining these key questions and debates surrounding the study of Middle Eastern politics, power, and knowledge production. We will integrate case studies of the region and engage with theoretical and conceptual debates. Throughout the course, we will use as sources the vast expanse of literature produced and explore representations of the Middle East and North Africa in popular culture, including films, documentaries, media, and political discourse. This course assumes no prior background knowledge of the region and is thus suitable for students with varying levels of familiarity of Middle East politics.

Limited to 18 students. Fall Semester. Karl Loewenstein Fellow and Visiting Lecturer Zeno.

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021

248 Cuba: The Politics of Extremism

(Offered as POSC 248 and LLAS 248) The study of Cuba’s politics presents opportunities to address issues of universal concern to social scientists and humanists in general, not just Latin Americanists. When is it rational to be radical? Why has Cuban politics forced so many individuals to adopt extreme positions? What are the causes of radical revolutions? Is pre-revolutionary Cuba a case of too little development, uneven development or too rapid development? What is the role of leaders: Do they make history, are they the product of history, or are they the makers of unintended histories? Was the revolution inevitable? Was it necessary? How are new (radical) states constructed? What is the role of foreign actors, existing political institutions, ethnicity, nationalism, religion and sexuality in this process? How does a small nation manage to become influential in world affairs, even altering the behavior of superpowers? What are the conditions that account for the survival of authoritarianism? To what extent is the revolution capable of self-reform? Is the current intention of state leaders of pursuing closed politics with open economics viable? What are the most effective mechanisms to change the regime? Why does the embargo survive? Why did Cubans (at home and abroad) care about Elián González? Although the readings will be mostly from social scientists, the course also includes selections from primary sources, literary works and films (of Cuban and non-Cuban origin). As with almost everything in politics, there are more than just two sides to the issue of Cuba. One aim of the course is to expose the students to as many different sides as possible.

Limited to 30 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Corrales.

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Spring 2015, Spring 2023

258 Left, Right and Center

In recent years, public debates in the United States have become considerably less civil, with name-calling and tribal sentiments overwhelming amicable partisan relationships. The proliferation and amplification of voices, a result of the rise of social media and the ubiquity of the 24-hour news cycle, elevate extreme and superficial positions over those more thoroughly considered and thoughtful. Thus, all political discourse now appears suspect as biased, and all positions seem to be adopted from a particular agenda or ideology. This course begins by identifying key features of American political ideologies in the thoughts of Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau. It then turns to the historical development of conservatism and progressivism in the United States to understand the rational core of these disagreements. The goal of the course is to prepare students to navigate political debate in a civil and thoughtful way.

Fall semester. Visiting Assistant Professor Ette.

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2020, Fall 2021

262 The Affective Interface

The Affective Interface explores a range of issues concerning the technologized body—though none more urgent than the political implications surrounding life itself. The course considers the relationship of the mind and body to technology in contemporary culture between 1990 and 2020. We will discuss the profound implications of the merging of genetic code and digital code, consider how our understanding of what an apparatus is has changed, interrogate the influence of social media, delve into work made by artists who collaborate with scientists, and reflect on the ethical and political implications of creating  new forms of plant and animal life. Readings may include the voices of artists, writers, scientists, historians, cultural theorists, and philosophers, including Giorgio Agamben, Sarah Ahmed, Jane Bennett, Rosi Braidotti, Patricia Clough, Donna Haraway, Jean Francois-Lyotard, Kim Stanley Robinson, Sandy Stone, Adrian Tchaikovsky, and Craig Venter, among others.

Limited to 24 students. Fall semester. Visiting Lecturer Falk.

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2023

270 European Union Politics: Integration and Disintegration

What is the European Union? How and why did it start? Where is it headed? Will it become stronger and grow into a full-fledged United States of Europe? Will it become weaker and join the ranks of typical international organizations, following the various crises it has confronted on several dimensions: economic, migration, political - in particular, concerning its impact on sovereignty, democracy, identity, and legitimacy? The EU has evolved from its original ambitions as an economic regional integration project towards a geo-political entity, becoming a multi-level governance structure with its own constitution, currency, court, and form of citizenship, with powerful institutions, increasingly porous internal borders and a common external border. The experiment succeeded to such an extent that countries in other parts of the world have been considering ways to emulate the EU model and adapt it to their region. Some have argued that the EU is sui generis, an unprecedented supranational structure that should be studied as such (some have referred to it as an “unidentified political object”). Others have relied on scholarship on international organizations and comparative federalism to include it on a continuum ranging from international organizations to confederations and federal states. Yet others have turned to the distant past to find equivalents, arguing that the EU resembles a “neo-medieval empire” (Zielonka).

This course tackles the big questions concerning the EU’s past, present, and future, and discusses their ramifications for European and world politics. How far and deep can the EU project expand? Is the EU sufficiently democratic? Does it represent member-states' and citizens' interests effectively? How should it be reformed? Will European integration benefit or suffer after Brexit? Can the EU withstand the pressures of global economic competition and the rise of new economic giants like China? Can it find solutions to the migration crisis without compromising its defining features: porous internal borders and freedom of movement for goods, capital, services, and people on its territory? Will it overcome internal divisions between East and West, between new members and the old core of advanced industrialized democracies? This course introduces students to the concepts, theories, and empirical resources needed to examine European integration and enlargement. We will survey the history and development of the European integration project to understand its institutional framework and relationship with member-states in different policy areas. We will assess the major theories of EU integration in light of current events. We will delve into specific EU policy areas (economic and monetary union, security, migration, external relations, etc.) to understand how the EU shapes the lives of its citizens. We will also study the EU’s relationship with the United States, the United Kingdom, and the rounds of enlargement towards Southern and post-communist Central and Eastern Europe, which have all played an essential role in shaping what the EU is today.

Limited to 25 students. Spring Semester. Assistant Professor Paul.

Other years: Offered in Spring 2023

301 Terrorism and Revolution: A Case Study of Russia

Russia was among the first nations in the world to face political terrorism when in the 1870s the leftist People's Will group launched the hunt for Tsar Alexander II. The terrorist trend continued into the twentieth century; in 1918, the Socialist Revolutionary Party attempted to assassinate Lenin. Eradicated by Stalin, terrorism resurfaced in the 1990s, when Russia found itself under attack by Chechen separatists. Legitimacy of political terrorism as the last refuge of the oppressed has been actively debated in Russia for more than a century, and the fact that terrorist groups in question ranged from proto-Marxists to the pseudo-Islamic has made Russian discourse on terrorism uncommonly rich. We will be using a variety of primary sources, such as terrorists’ manifestos and memoirs, as well as conceptual critiques of terror, starting with Dostoyevsky’s novel Demons. First, we will wrestle with the definition of “terrorism” as opposed to “terror.” Second, we will explore the place of terrorism in a revolutionary movement and war. Third, we will look at the counter-terrorism measures applied by the Russian government in the past and now. A case study of terrorism in Russia will hopefully help us to answer a number of questions that are highly relevant today.

Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Visiting Assistant Professor Pleshakov.

Other years: Offered in Spring 2023, Spring 2024

303 Violence and American Democracy

What is the relationship between violent conflict and democracy in American politics? Many — including the Founders — argue that democratic or representational practices like voting and elections, the rule of law, and federalism can serve as a way of shaping and controlling the negative effects of disputes and violent behavior. Others note that rather than managing conflicts, those practices can engender or induce political disputes and violence. Could violence actually be a constitutive part of American political life? Using a series of case studies of key historical and contemporary moments of conflict in American politics (riots, strikes, wars, repressions, etc.), this class will investigate this question, trying to make sense of why participation in politics in the United States has often taken a violent and conflictual form.

Requisite: At least one POSC course numbered 200 or above. Limited to 20 students. Not open to first-year students. Omitted 2021-22. Associate Professor Obert.

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2012

307 States of Extraction: Nature, Women, and World Politics

(Offered as POSC 307 and SWAG 307) The global energy boom has increased states’ dependency on commodities across the world. From the Arctic to the Amazon, nation-states are putting large territories up for sale in an effort to turn nature into ‘quick cash.’ The unparalleled levels of extraction are accompanied by unparalleled violence against women, with levels of femicide on the rise in most of the world. Governments have expanded the extractive frontier, mining highlands, damming rivers, and clearing forests without prior consultation. As ecosystems are collapsing, contaminated and set ablaze, nature defenders activate social resistance to defend their territories, lifeways and nature. Many of these defenders are women, who are fighting the commodification of nature as well as their own bodies and work. We analyze the extraction of resources in nature and women as two sides of a coin, positing the fight against the climate crisis and gender equality as complementary processes.

This class offers an activist approach to study political ecology with a gender lens. We analyze the politics of extraction at large: the class discusses water struggles and extractive industries like oil and agribusiness from the Philippines to Peru, Indigenous resistance on the ground and the legal advocacy pushing for the rights of nature framework. We use the work of feminist economists like Silvia Federici and analyze the leadership of women defenders like Berta Caceres to explore the ways in which extraction of nature and bodies are fundamental aspects of capitalist states. The course engages theoretical tools and comparative perspectives to grasp current debates in political ecology, gender studies, and indigenous politics to help students identify alternatives for the future. It also seeks to foster a critical inquiry to bridge lasting divides between academia and activism in local and global contexts.

Requisite: Political Science majors must have taken two prior courses in POSC. Limited to 20 students. Not open to first-year students. Omitted 2021-22. Karl Loewenstein Fellow and Visiting Associate Professor Picq.

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2024

313 Reading Politics

Hegel once remarked that "To read the newspaper is the modern man's morning-prayer." What may be captured in this seemingly obvious observation is a proposition that political understanding of current events is difficult to sustain without daily reading of a newspaper; that reading itself is a dynamic activity, involving interpretation; that all interpretation is, in effect, translation because in any act of reading, the reader inevitably forms a judgment as to what the text is saying. A century and a half later, Paul Sweezy wrote [E]veryone knows that the present will someday be history…[and believes] that the most important task of the social scientist is to try to comprehend it as history now, while it is still the present and while we still have the power to influence its shape and outcome.”

In the spirit of these observations, this seminar has a three-fold aim: (1) to introduce the habit of reading a newspaper daily; (2) to encourage an in-depth reading of current political events in the U.S. and around the world from an interdisciplinary perspective by drawing upon the theoretical and methodological tools which students have encountered in their college courses across many social science disciplines; and (3) to help students recognize the multitude of fascinating researchable social science topics imbedded in an active reading of the daily press. This groundwork will enable class participants to develop and formulate viable research designs, make normative and causal arguments as well as address rival hypotheses in a research paper which will be due at the end of the semester.

The specific newspapers may vary from year to year. In 2017-18 students read the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and a newspaper of their choice, selected from a list of newspapers in English from around the world.

Requisite: The seminar is open to qualified second-semester sophomores and juniors who have taken at least six social science courses in college, including two in POSC, and at least four additional courses from at minimum two other social science departments. Participants should seriously anticipate writing a thesis during their senior year.

Admissions with consent of the instructor. Limited to 14 students. Not open to first-year students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Machala.

Other years: Offered in Fall 2022, Fall 2024

320 Rethinking Post-Colonial Nationalism

Nationalist fervor seemed likely to diminish once so-called Third World nations achieved independence. However, the past few years have witnessed the resurgence and transformation of nationalism in the post-colonial world. Where anti-colonial nationalist movements appeared to be progressive forces of social change, many contemporary forms of nationalism appear to be reactionary. Did nationalist leaders and theoreticians fail to identify the exclusionary qualities of earlier incarnations of nationalism? Were they blind to its chauvinism? Or has nationalism become increasingly intolerant? Was the first wave of nationalist movements excessively marked by European liberal influences? Or was it insufficiently committed to universal principles? We will explore expressions of nationalism in democratic, revolutionary, religious nationalist, and ethnic separatist movements in the post-colonial world.

Omitted 2021-22 Professor Basu.

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2009, Spring 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Spring 2016, Fall 2019

321 Populism in the Era of Global Capitalism

For over a generation now, populist social movements and political parties have resisted globalization. During the ascendance of globalization (1980s–2000s), leftist populism took the lead in mobilizing opposition to globalization, not only by marginalized groups but also by the general public. In the current period, however, the rise of powerful strains of right-wing populism have begun to take over these struggles. We will examine why this has happened as well as explore why far right movements that were once marginal political forces have begun to successfully challenge leftist and even centrist political parties to form influential new populist parties.

We will analyze how in representative democracies across the world, trust in public institutions and established political parties has all but collapsed because of the inability or disinclination of governing elites to address popular anxieties and societal demands concerning inequality, immigration, globalization and the upheaval in labor markets.

Related themes to be addressed include the relationship between right and left wing populism and representative democracy, the ideological, organizational, and policy differences between right wing and left wing populism, the relationship between populist moments and populist parties (which comes first?), the transnational dimensions of populism as well as populism’s impact on the dynamics of world politics.

We will also explore the class, ethnic and gender composition of populist movements and the role charismatic leadership plays in populist movements and parties. Although our inquiry into the character, strength and weaknesses of populism in this era of crisis in global capitalism will primarily be theoretical and conceptual, empirical illustrations will include, but not be limited to, India and the United States.

Limited to 25 students. Not open to first-year students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Basu.

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Fall 2018

329 Sovereignty, State and Empire

This course delves into the theoretical and historical coexistence of states and empires, focusing on how sovereignty and related concepts have been conceived in different contexts. Ideas about the sovereign state have been highly influential when depicting and analyzing modern political order and authority. Other modern polities have however coexisted with the sovereign state. The most prominent of these polities is empire. Sovereign states and empires have frequently been portrayed as entities guided by contending principles of rule and authority. Nonetheless, the early modern era, which in the history of political thought traditionally has been depicted as the emergence of state sovereignty, coincides with the establishment of transoceanic empires with extensions never before seen. This European imperial endeavor is a striking example of how states were faced with a reality that did not always match the ideas that eventually would be associated with sovereignty. The focus of this course is not primarily on the relation between state and empire as a question strictly confined to the past. The course rather emphasizes how notions about contemporary state sovereignty and the rule of modern empires continue to share fundamental dilemmas concerning political order.

Requisite: Previous course(s) within Political Science. Not open to first year students. Limited to 18 students. Spring semester. Stint Fellow Hammar

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

330 The Politics of Protest

Can popular protests affect social change? This course examines protest and other forms of popular resistance by asking questions such as: How do people bring about social change from the grassroots? Under what conditions are social movements successful? What are the implications of popular movements for democracy, good governance, and citizenship? We will study a range of popular movements and acts of resistance, including peasant protest, workers’ rights, anti-globalization protests, women’s movements, and democracy movements. We will also explore various approaches to research on contentious politics, such as interviews, participant-observation, and surveys. Students will conduct independent research throughout the semester, culminating in a final paper.

Requisite: One course in POSC or its equivalent. Experience writing a research paper preferred. Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-22. Assistant Professor Ratigan.

Other years: Offered in Fall 2018, Fall 2024

331 Political Psychology

Since Plato and Aristotle, many thinkers have asked what motivates political behavior and influences political judgment. This course explores the assumptions that underlie studies of individual and group political behavior. We will begin by examining the motivations of citizens’ political decisions (i.e., why do voters favor one candidate, public policy, or political party) and the actions of leaders (i.e., why they support or stigmatize social groups, express hostility to other nations, advocate particular policies). We will then take a close look at psychological concepts such as framing, selective exposure, motivated reasoning, priming, social identity, and self-interest and ask how they help us to better understand both historical and contemporary political outcomes. We will also explore different methods of collecting data and measuring political and psychological processes. This course will focus primarily on studies of American politics, but whenever possible we will examine comparative case studies.

Requisite: At least one POSC course (200 level or above). Sophomores and above. Not open to first year students. Limited to 20 students. Fall semester. Visiting Assistant Professor Williams.

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021

335 The Political Theory of Michel Foucault

This course will explore aspects of the political theory of Michel Foucault., examining different areas of his researches, across different eras of his intellectual life. This year we will read some of his late works, in which Foucault focused on the ancient idea of parrēsia or “truth-telling,” and examined what he considered to be the ethical obligation parrēsia entails, especially the virtue of courage. To do so we will first read The Care of the Self, his final authored book, and then engage in close readings of his final two years of lectures at the Collège de France, 1982-83, and 1983-84 (entitled in English, The Government of the Self and Others and The Courage of Truth) as well as some of his public lectures from those same years. Along with these texts, we will also read some ancient Greek and Roman texts that he discussed in those lectures, including Plato’s Apology, Crito, and Phaedo, as well as Laches, and Plutarch’s Dialogue on Love.

Requisite: Must have taken two prior courses in POSC. Limited to 20 students. Not open to first-year students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Dumm.

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2019

336 Democracy in Latin America

(Offered as POSC 336 and SPAN 336) This is an introduction to the study of modern Latin American politics. The overriding question is: why have democracy and self-sustained prosperity been so difficult to accomplish in the region We begin by examining different definitions of democracy. Thereafter, we discuss three democracy-related themes in Latin America.

First, we focus on explaining similarities, specifically, common historical and institutional legacies that might have hindered democratic and economic development in the region. The second part of the course focuses on explaining differences. Despite similar historical legacies, the countries of the region developed different political systems after World War II. Some countries became democratic while others did not. We examine hypotheses to explain these differences. The third part of the course examines major democratic and undemocratic trends since the 2000s: current problems of democracy, the return of statism and populism, the difficulty of creating accountability, abuses by majorities and abuses by minorities, re-electionism, extractivism, the rise of religious conservatism and LGBT rights, diasporas, drugs and crime.

Language of instruction: Classes will be conducted in English. Students wishing this course to count for their Spanish major will work mostly with materials in Spanish and write all their assignments in Spanish.

Requisite: For Political Science majors, no pre-requisites. For Spanish majors, Spanish proficiency at advanced low (as per ACTFL standards) is required. Limited to 30 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Corrales.

Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, Fall 2022, Fall 2024

337 Democracy's Discontents

In this course we explore historical and contemporary discontents of liberal democracy through the lens of racial and economic injustice in the United States. The constitutional principle of equality on which liberal democracy is based seeks both to protect the rights of minorities and to enable its citizens to realize their full potential. However, persisting racial and economic injustices expose the project’s fragility and raise questions about whether its procedural and structural foundations are sufficient to accomplish these goals. Our exploration is informed by several questions: What is liberal democracy? Is liberal democracy the form in the best position to secure human flourishing? If not, what form or forms are? What do the racial and economic injustices within our democracy tell us about the meaning of “the people” and dissent, core features of liberal democratic thought? To what normative (i.e. ideal or desirable) standards of democracy should we aspire?  Through close reading of a diverse group of thinkers including Frederick Douglass, W.E.B. Du Bois, Claudia Jones, Sheldon Wolin, Saidiya Hartman, Iris Marion Young, Nancy Fraser, Will Clare Roberts, Lawrie Balfour, Toni Morrison, Jason Frank, Cedric Robinson, among others, we will explore liberal democracy’s limitations as well as how it can be reconstructed to more effectively embody its ideals.

Requisite: At least one POSC course (200 level or above). Sophomores and above. Not open to first year students. Limited to 20 students. Fall semester. Postdoctoral Fellow and Visiting Assistant Professor Loggins.

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021

344 Drones, Satellites, Cyberwar: Technology and National Security

How does technology change the ways in which we fight wars? Can innovations such as computerized systems, drones, or even social media make wars less deadly? Or do these technologies increase instead the probability that states will fight? To tackle these questions, this course will adopt a chronological structure and we will study some of the major military innovations in the past seventy years. Topics include important moments such as the aerial power revolution, nuclear weapons and the MAD strategy, the “CNN Revolution” in the 1990s, the spread of social media as a tool of public diplomacy for insurgents, the drones’ “war of precision,” and also the recent debate over cybersecurity. Throughout the course, we will parse out two types of technology advancements: those that change the most fundamental aspects of war (such as leaders’ objectives in the conflict and their cost/benefit calculations on whether to become involved or not) and those that merely alter the way the war is fought.

Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2021-22. Assistant Professor Mattiacci.

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Fall 2019

352 History of International Relations

This course seeks to give a comprehensive view of the historical evolution of international relations (IR) from 1919 to the present. Through extensive readings and numerous audio and video documentaries, students will be able to examine and analyze the main events that shaped and influenced world politics since the early twentieth century. Students will be able to appreciate how remarkable political leaders, along with huge contending forces, such as democracy, communism, fascism, poverty, populism and globalization, to name but a few, have forged the world and the international system in which we live.

Each topic will be accompanied by a selection of some of the most representative texts written by well-known historians and IR scholars. Special emphasis will also be placed on the use of historical primary sources; thus, all analysis of the main historical and political events will be complemented by relevant primary sources, such as public or private documents or memoirs.  In this way, students will be provided with direct and unfiltered insight into the event itself, as well as the culture and idiosyncrasy of the period under scrutiny.

The course seeks to enhance students’ knowledge of history and especially the behind-the-scenes dynamics of diplomacy and IR.

Requisite: At least one POSC course numbered 200 or above. Limited to 20 students. Not open to first-year students. Fall semester. Karl Loewenstein Fellow and Visiting Assistant Professor Salcedo.

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Fall 2021

353 Public Discussion and Liberal Democracy

Democracy refers to the rule of the people. But who exactly are the people? This course examines how the people, understood as a publicly discussing, political entity, evolved with the expansion of the voting franchise. It then considers what the notion of public discussion means in the Social Media Age. The course will explore public discussion as a concept in the history of political thought, focusing on a variety of European and American thinkers. The first third of the course studies several nineteenth-century English and French theorists who grappled with the fate of liberalism in the face of mass democracy. The second part revisits the famous debate, during the Progressive Era, on the role of public opinion in establishing and sustaining democracy in the United States. The course concludes with a look at what public discussion means in an age of big data, individualized advertising, a fragmented media landscape, and social silos.  

Requisite: At least one POSC course numbered 200 or above.  Not open to first-year students.  Spring semester. Visiting Assistant Professor Ette.

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2022

360 Punishment, Politics, and Culture

Other than war, punishment is the most dramatic manifestation of state power. Whom a society punishes and how it punishes are key political questions as well as indicators of its character and the character of the people in whose name it acts. This course will explore the connections between punishment and politics with particular reference to the contemporary American situation. We will consider the ways crime and punishment have been politicized in recent national elections as well as the racialization of punishment in the United States. We will ask whether we punish too much and too severely, or too little and too leniently. We will examine particular modalities of punishment, e.g., maximum security prisons, torture, the death penalty, and inquire about the character of those charged with imposing those punishments, e.g., prison guards, executioners, etc. Among the questions we will discuss are: Does punishment express our noblest aspirations for justice or our basest desires for vengeance? Can it ever be an adequate expression of, or response to, the pain of victims of crime? When is it appropriate to forgive rather than punish? We will consider these questions in the context of arguments about the right way to deal with juvenile offenders, drug offenders, sexual predators (“Megan’s Law”), rapists, and murderers. We will, in addition, discuss the meaning of punishment by examining its treatment in literature and popular culture. Readings may include selections from The Book of Job, Greek tragedy, Kafka, Nietzsche, Freud, George Herbert Mead, and contemporary treatments of punishment such as Foucault’s Discipline and Punish, Butterfield’s All God’s Children, Scarry’s Body in Pain, Garland’s Punishment in Modern Society, Hart’s Punishment and Reasonability, and Mailer’s Executioner’s Song. Films may include The Shawshank Redemption, Dead Man Walking, Mrs. Soffel, Minority Report, and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Sarat.

Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2019, Spring 2021, Spring 2023, Spring 2024

361 Constitutional Democracy in the Weimar Republic

Liberal democracy is under threat today. The parallels drawn to the rise of National Socialism in the 1930s no longer seem farfetched. Hitler’s eventual seizure of power marked the collapse of the Weimar Republic (1919-1933), Germany’s first real experiment with a democratic regime. This course explores crucial political debates during the Weimar era regarding the nature of its constitution. As the United States addresses similar concerns--economic instability, creeping authoritarianism, and fervid nationalism--that plagued the Weimar Republic, Americans have much to learn from those earlier discussions. We will consider how German legal scholars answered questions such as: What is democracy? Where does the source of political authority in a constitution come from? What is the relationship between liberalism and democracy? Is democracy compatible with capitalism? How can fundamental rights be protected in a democratic constitution? By the end of the course, students will possess a greater knowledge of the theories and practice of constitutional democracy. They will also deepen their understanding of the historical conditions that make democratic failure possible.

Requisite: At least one POSC course numbered 200 or above. Not open to first-year students. Omitted 2021-22. Visiting Assistant Professor Ette.

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2021

370 Cyberpolitics

This seminar examines how the digital age (the third industrial revolution) has transformed politics around the world, in democratic and non-democratic contexts. Information and communication technologies (ICTs) change how people, states, and non-state actors interact. Technology creates new access points and vulnerabilities, new windows of opportunity and new politically salient actors, new political behaviors and types of participation. The course includes four modules: e-democracy (online social capital, digital citizenship, hashtag movements, online electoral campaigns, election hacking and "fake news," participation, information/disinformation strategies - e.g. the use of troll farms and bot armies to undermine democratic processes and trust in open societies); cyber security (cyberwar, cyberattacks, defense, terrorism, surveillance, privacy); online revolutions and authoritarian resilience (regime change, democracy promotion, censorship, ); and beyond borders (social movements and hacktivism, crypto currencies, global markets and tech giants, etc.).

The course asks four big questions:

1.     How does digital technology transform democracy and democratic politics?

2.     How does the Digital Age influence national and international security?

3.     Do ICTs undermine or strengthen nondemocratic regimes?

4.     What political, economic and social changes occur at the subnational and supranational level as a result of new technologies?

We use current issues and cases (e.g. disinformation campaigns/fake news ops, #BlackLivesMatter, #MeToo/#NiUnaMenos, the Arab Spring, online radicalization, the Snowden revelations, net neutrality, Internet centralization & decentralization, Anonymous ops, Internet censorship and surveillance in China, Stuxnet, ransomware cyberattacks, Amazon as a business model, AI, virtual reality etc.) to analyze how cyberspace reshapes politics, societies, markets, communities, as well as political science as a discipline. You will gain a rigorous and sophisticated understanding of the relationship between technology and politics, and its various facets. The course will teach you how to develop expertise and design a research project on a topic of your choice: you will learn how to turn a general interest into a research question; how to read, summarize, and engage with relevant scholarship on the subject; and how to move from reading what others have to say about your topic of interest towards producing new knowledge of the kind that forms the basis for an original research paper or honors thesis. For students potentially interested in working towards a senior thesis, this seminar provides a much-needed analytical and methodological foundation. 

Limited to 20 students. Fall semester. Assistant Professor Paul.

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2023

374 Rights

(Offered as POSC 374, LJST 374, and EDST 374) This seminar explores the role of rights in addressing inequality, discrimination, and violence. This course will trace the evolution of rights focused legal strategies aimed at addressing injustice coupled with race, gender, disability, and citizenship status. We will evaluate how rights-based activism often creates a gap between expectation and realization. This evaluation will consider when and how rights are most efficacious in producing social change and the possibility of unintended consequences.

This course fulfills a requirement for the Five College Reproductive Health, Rights and Justice (RHRJ) certificate.

Requisite: One introductory POSC course or its equivalent. Limited to 15 students. Spring semester. Professor Bumiller.

Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2013, Fall 2014, Spring 2023, Fall 2024

380 Kremlin Rising: Russia's Foreign Policy in the 21st Century

This course will examine the foreign policy of the Russian Federation of the past twenty years. As a successor state Russia has inherited both the Soviet Union's clout (nuclear arms, a permanent seat on the U.N. Security Council) and Soviet debts—monetary, psychological, and historical. What are the conceptual foundations of Russian diplomacy? Can we deconstruct Russian nationalism so as to examine its different trends and their impact on foreign policy? Do Russian exports of oil and gas define Russian diplomacy, as it is often claimed? Is there any pattern in the struggle over resources and their export routes in continental Eurasia?

Requisite: A previous POSC course. Limited to 20 students. Fall semester. Visiting Assistant Professor Pleshakov.

Other years: Offered in Fall 2022, Fall 2023, Fall 2024

382 Understanding 9/11. And on the 20th anniversary, preparing for the next 9/11.

The events of September 11, 2001 shaped a generation. This course/seminar will explore how 9/11 has impacted every element of our politics, national defense, foreign policy, public health, economic division, pop culture and more, ever since that fateful day. We will examine the timeline of that day—and the policy debates and decisions that followed and have shaped American (and global) life since. Drawing from a range of sources and special guests with first-hand lived experience, this course will have a special focus on national defense, military and foreign policy elements—and span the early Congressional debates, the Authorization for the Use of Military Force, the invasion of Afghanistan, the debate around the use of torture, the invasion of Iraq, the health impacts domestically, and the many lessons learned—and not learned. We’ll then turn to the future, and ask: “What is the next 9/11?” We’ll shift to dissect and discuss rising threats including new pandemics, domestic terrorism, cyberwarfare and new frontiers for combat including the Arctic and space. 

Requisite: At least one POSC course (200 level and above). Sophomores and above. Not open to first-year students. Limited to 20 students. Fall semester. Visiting Lecturer Rieckhoff

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2021

403 Social Policy in China

(Offered as POSC 403 and ASLC 403 [C]) After three decades of unprecedented economic growth, China is facing a new phase of development in which social policy issues such as healthcare, social security, and environmental degradation are taking center stage in the national dialogue. This course will provide students with the substantive knowledge and analytical tools to critically examine these issues, evaluate current policies, and propose feasible alternatives within the Chinese context. The semester begins with an overview of state-society relations in contemporary China, including the processes of policy design and implementation. The Chinese government emphasizes an experimentalist approach to policymaking, resulting in an important role for research, think tanks, and policy evaluation tools in the development of policy. Then, the course will examine the major social policy areas in China: health, education, poverty alleviation, social security, and environmental policy. Throughout the semester, students will also learn the tools of policy analysis, which they will employ in an independent research project on a policy problem in China. This course will enable students to think about social policy design and implementation in the context of the challenges inherent to a non-democratic, developing country with pervasive corruption and weak legal institutions. Thus, this course would be of interest to students seeking to study Chinese politics at an advanced level or those who plan to pursue a career in social policy and development more broadly.

Requisite: Previous experience or coursework related to China strongly preferred. Previous coursework in the social sciences will be an asset. Limited to 20 students. Omitted 2021-22. Assistant Professor Ratigan.

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2015, Fall 2015

407 Contemporary Debates: Engendering Populism

(See SWAG 400)

410 Senior Honors Seminar

The senior honors seminar is designed for students who are writing theses in the Political Science department. We will begin by students refining their research proposals to ensure that they are asking clear, researchable questions, defining the scope of their projects, and demonstrating the significance of their topics. The instructor will then work with students in conducting literature reviews, pursuing feasible research strategies, and developing appropriate methodologies. We will consult with the research librarians and members of the Writing Center. Students will do several short writing assignments pertaining to their theses over the course of the semester. They will work in groups, either in person or remotely, under the supervision of the instructor, for the entire semester. The final project will be one to two draft thesis chapters. Students who enroll in this seminar will also work separately with their thesis advisors.

Open to students who have been accepted into the Political Science honors program. Limited to 26 students. Fall semester. Assistant Professor Ratigan.

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2022

411 Indigenous Women and World Politics

(Offered as POSC 411 and SWAGS 411) Indigenous women are rarely considered actors in world politics. Yet from their positions of marginality, they are shaping politics in significant ways. This course inter-weaves feminist and Indigenous approaches to suggest the importance of Indigenous women’s political contributions. It is an invitation not merely to recognize their achievements but also to understand why they matter to international relations.

This course tackles varied Indigenous contexts, ranging from pre-conquest gender relations to the 1994 Zapatista uprising. We will learn how Indigenous women played diplomatic roles and led armies into battle during colonial times. We will analyze the progressive erosion of their political and economic power, notably through the introduction of property rights, to understand the intersectional forms of racial, class, and gender violence. Course materials explore the linkages between sexuality and colonization, revealing how sexual violence was a tool of conquest, how gender norms were enforced and sexualities disciplined. In doing so, we will analyze indigenous women’s relationship to feminism as well as their specific struggles for self-determination. We will illustrate the sophistication of their current activism in such cases as the Maya defense of collective intellectual property rights. As we follow their struggles from the Arctic to the Andes, we will understand how indigenous women articulate local, national, and international politics to challenge state sovereignty.

This course fulfills a requirement for the Five College Reproductive Health, Rights and Justice (RHRJ) certificate.

Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-22. Karl Loewenstein Fellow and Visiting Associate Professor Picq.

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2021, Fall 2022

412 Quirky Citizenship: Autism in the Political Imagination

This course will explore how autism as both a medical diagnosis and a social category has gained significance over the past forty years. The course will situate the study of autism in the broader framework of the disability rights movement. We will consider the evidence for its characterization as an “epidemic” and how medical experts, parents, and autistic individuals have challenged and collaborated with each other. The study of autism will also be viewed in relation to wide-ranging political concerns, including vaccination and public health, economic costs of care, gender identities, and the growth of bio-medical power.

This course fulfills a requirement for the Five College Reproductive Health, Rights and Justice (RHRJ) certificate.

Requisite: An Introductory course in POSC or its equivalent. Limited to 18 students. Fall semester. Professor Bumiller.

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2023

415 Taking Marx Seriously

Should Marx be given yet another chance? Is there anything left to gain by returning to texts whose earnest exegesis has occupied countless interpreters, both friendly and hostile, for generations? Has Marx’s credibility survived the global debacle of those regimes and movements which drew inspiration from his work, however poorly they understood it? Or, conversely, have we entered a new era in which post-Marxism has joined a host of other “post-”phenomena? This seminar will deal with these and related questions in the context of a close and critical reading of Marx’s texts. The main themes we will discuss include Marx’s conception of capitalist modernity, material and intellectual production, power, class conflicts and social consciousness, and his critique of alienation, bourgeois freedom and representative democracy. We will also examine Marx’s theories of historical progress, capitalist exploitation, globalization and human emancipation.

Requisite: Two of POSC 213, 413 and 480. Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Machala.

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2008, Fall 2009, Spring 2011, Fall 2013, Fall 2015, Spring 2017, Spring 2021

417 Railroads, Rifles, and Rockets: Technology and State Power

This research seminar investigates the links between the material and political worlds in the U.S. and around the world. In particular, it tries to understand the way that technology and material objects have constrained and enabled the making of state power, while also being the product of policy choices. Since states are not merely abstract institutions, but also constellations of things like weapons, highways, computers, railroads, buildings, monuments, and even paper, to understand how infrastructure affects state formation (and vice versa), we need to explore the links between the construction of political authority and technological life as tied up in a complex process of socio-material evolution and stasis. Drawing from a wide variety of works (including literature from historical sociology, social studies of science, “big history,” anthropology, political economy and economic development, among others), this seminar will thus explore historical and contemporary case studies and theoretical accounts of the influence of key infrastructural technologies on political development from around the world, as well as examine the often incomplete attempts of historical states to redeploy or construct technological systems to extend their authority.

Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-22. Associate Professor Obert

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Spring 2020

421 Indigenous World Politics

Indigenous peoples are dynamic political actors in national and global contexts. They have secured their rights in international law, first through Convention 169 at the International Labour Organization (1989), then with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (2007). They have created innovative political forums and organized global social movements. Global indigenous politics are forging major changes in the international system, thereby disordering conventional understandings of sovereignty.

This course locates indigeneity at the core of international relations and examines indigenous politics from the Andes to the UN. We study international law securing rights for indigenous peoples and analyze indigenous experiences such as the Arctic Council and the election of Bolivian President Evo Morales. The course also explores the epistemological implications of indigenous rights for our understanding of politics. The consolidation of plurinational states in the Andes and indigenous parliaments in the Arctic change the locus of the political, and principles of self-determination challenge Westphalian notions of sovereignty to redefine territoriality.

Limited to 15 students. Omitted 2021-22. Karl Loewenstein Fellow and Visiting Associate Professor Picq.

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Fall 2017, Fall 2020

431 Health Policy in China

(Offered as POSC 431 and ASLC 431) This intensive course will examine Chinese politics through the lens of health policy, from the founding of the People’s Republic of China through the Covid-19 pandemic. We will examine questions such as: Why has healthcare been a persistent challenge for an ostensibly communist ruling party? How has Chinese health policy changed over time and what has remained the same? How has healthcare been impacted by the vicissitudes of Chinese politics? How have Chinese politics shaped the country’s responses to the covid-19 pandemic? And how is the pandemic likely to impact Chinese politics? The course will include short research assignments that will take varied forms such as papers and presentations. This course will be online. 

Recommended requisite: Previous experience or coursework related to China is strongly preferred. Previous coursework in the social sciences will be an asset. Limited to 20 students. January semester. Assistant Professor Ratigan.

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in January 2021, January 2022, Spring 2022, Spring 2023

432 Amazonia in International Relations

(Offered as POSC 432 and LLAS 332) This class proposes Amazonia as a site to think about world politics. The Amazon, imagined as a place of nature rather than modernity, is invisible in the study of International Relations (IR). Yet, its experiences are deeply interconnected with international dynamics. The modern world has long been influencing Amazonia, and Amazonia has in turn contributed much to forging what we now refer to as the global North. This class identifies international dynamics at play in Amazonia through different historical moments, from shaping western sovereignty in the sixteenth century to the rubber boom of the twentieth century and drug trafficking today. We show how Amazonian peripheries have contributed to forging the political economy of what we refer to as the core of world politics. This class engages with empirical approaches to Amazonia as well as theoretical debates about IR, disrupting the global division of labor in knowledge production and opening fertile grounds to think critically about IR.

Requisite: At least one POSC course (200 or above). Limited to 18 students. Not open to first-year students. Fall semester. Karl Loewenstein Fellow and Visiting Associate Professor Picq.

Other years: Offered in Fall 2024

440 Marxist Theory for Uncertain Times

Periodically, both individual societies as well as the larger world in which they are situated face complex, profound and alarming uncertainties and crises.  The opening paragraph of the Communist Manifesto emphasizes that in such uncertain times, social conflicts would often end “either in a revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes.” Antonio Gramsci reminds us that in such times, “[T]he crisis consists precisely in the fact that the old is dying and the new cannot be born; in this interregnum a great variety of morbid symptoms appear.”  Today we may well be witnessing one such disconsolate period. In this seminar we will study the ways various twentieth-century as well as current Marxist thinkers (Theodor W. Adorno, Louis Althusser, Antonio Negri, Cornel West, Angela Davis, Nancy Fraser, John Bellamy Foster, and Slavoj Žižek, to name just a few) approach this complicated subject.

Limited to 15 students. Spring semester. Professor Machala.

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in January 2021, Spring 2022

470 International Migrations and Politics in the Era of Globalization

We live in an era of mobility: movement of goods, services, capital, ideas, culture, and–most importantly–people. International migrations reshape politics, markets, and societies. They generate challenges and opportunities for individuals, families, communities, businesses, political parties, governments, and international organizations. Many current political debates revolve around questions concerning transnational movement: How can states manage migratory flows, both effectively and ethically? Do international migratory flows erode sovereignty? Do they generate democratic deficit? Does migration boost economic growth, becoming a bottom-up engine of contemporary modernization that helps rural communities and developing countries? Or, on the contrary, does migration perpetuate and exacerbate domestic and global inequalities? Does it deplete human capital or does it facilitate knowledge transmission? Does diaspora participation strengthen or weaken democracy? Does transnationalism amplify or moderate nationalist tendencies?

This course examines migrations around the world, in both sending and receiving countries. We will study the impact of migration on citizenship, identity, state sovereignty, security, democracy, development, elections, and social capital. The course explores the theories and realities of international migration in this globalization era. Readings cover cases from North America, Europe, South America, Asia, Africa, Australia, and the Middle East. We will compare trends to gain a full picture of human mobility, present and past. We will examine migration across space (cross-nationally) and over time, in historical perspective. The course follows the two key dimensions of migration research. We ask two sets of questions: Why do people move? and How do migrations shape the world in which we live? We examine how democracies and authoritarian regimes deal with different types of migration: e.g. voluntary and involuntary, documented and undocumented/irregular flows. The course will help you design, develop and conduct political science research.

Requisite: At least one POSC course (200 level or above). Limited to 18 students. Not open to first-year students. Spring semester. Assistant Professor Paul.

Other years: Offered in Fall 2024

480 Contemporary Political Theory

A consideration of twentieth- and twenty-first-century Western political theory. Topics to be considered include the fate of modernity, identity and difference, power, representation, freedom, and the state. This year’s readings may include works by the following authors: Freud, Weber, Benjamin, Heidegger, Arendt, Derrida, Foucault, Berlin, Butler, Connolly, and Agamben.

Limited to 20 students. Spring semester. Professor Dumm.

Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022, Spring 2023, Spring 2024

486 U.S.–Latin American Relations

Can small and non-powerful nations ever profit from a relationship with a more powerful hegemon? Who gains and who loses in this type of asymmetrical relationship? This seminar attempts to answer these questions by looking at the relations between the U.S. and Latin American nations. The seminar begins by presenting different ways in which intellectuals have tried to conceptualize and analyze the relations between the U.S. and Latin America. These approaches are then applied to different dimensions of the relationship: (1) intra-hemispheric relations prior to World War II (the sources of U.S. interventionism and the response of Latin America); (2) political and security issues after World War II (the role of the Cold War in the hemisphere and U.S. reaction to instability in the region, with special emphasis on Cuba in the early 1960s, Peru in the late 1960s, Chile in the early 1970s, The Falklands War and Nicaragua in the 1980s); and (3) economic and business issues (the politics of foreign direct investment and trade, and the debt crisis in the 1980s). Finally, we examine contemporary trends: the emerging hemispheric convergence, economic integration, drug trade, immigration, the defense of democracy regime, and the re-emergence of multilateral interventionism.

Limited to 18 students. Omitted 2021-22. Professor Corrales.

2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2015, Spring 2019, Spring 2021, Spring 2024

490 Special Topics

Independent reading course.

Fall and spring semesters. The Department.

Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Spring 2012, Fall 2012, Spring 2013, Fall 2013, Spring 2014, Fall 2014, Spring 2015, Fall 2015, Spring 2016, Fall 2016, Spring 2017, Fall 2017, Spring 2018, Fall 2018, Spring 2019, Fall 2019, Spring 2020, Fall 2020, Spring 2021, Fall 2021, Spring 2022, Fall 2022, Spring 2023, Fall 2023, Spring 2024, Fall 2024

498, 498D, 499 Senior Departmental Honors

This course is open only to seniors majors who have been accepted in the Political Science Honors program and have departmental approval.

Spring semester. The Department.

Other years: Offered in Spring 2012, Spring 2013, Spring 2014, Spring 2015, Spring 2016, Spring 2017, Spring 2018, Spring 2019, Spring 2020, Spring 2021, Spring 2022, Spring 2023, Spring 2024