Political Science



Political Science

» Course Offerings

Course Offerings


One unit of credit equals four semester hours.

Bidisciplinary Courses
Political Science Courses

Bidisciplinary Courses

BID 205 Understanding Politics through Literature
This course will examine different political and economic systems, social and cultural institutions, their impact on citizens and the role citizens play in policy decisions through civic engagement. Understanding literature as both a reflection and shaper of culture, this course will employ literary texts as a critical lens to examine the above topics as well as the intricacies of the political process and the impact of political discourse on local, national and world affairs. Simultaneously, students will explore the complexities of the literary texts themselves to understand the power of narrative within the human experience.

BID 308 European Union and Cities: Regional Integration and Urbanization in the European Union
The European Union has a major impact on international business and politics, the workings of the European governments that comprise it and the lives of millions of Europeans. Through immersion in the life, culture and politics of European cities, students will gain an in-depth understanding of the development of the institutions, policies and policy-making process of the European Union and their impact on cities. The course examines European cities with a concentration on the history, politics, governing and urbanization of the European Union. Contemporary issues of European cities and the policy initiatives that attempt to deal with them will be highlighted. Special attention will be paid to the processes of globalization and the impact these processes are having on European cities and EU public policy initiatives.

BID 330 Federal Politics and Media Ethics
This course is offered in conjunction with The Washington Center. Students will examine issues and implications of the next administration, more specifically, factors that shape the relationship between the President and his/her administration, the executive branch and Congress and that set priorities and influence policymaking. Students will investigate the ethical relationship between the media and federal politics, the question of the ethical responsibilities of a free press, the changing role of the individual voter in a media-saturated culture and the challenges (foreign and domestic) facing newly elected federal officials. Students will visit several sites around Washington, D.C., including embassies, think tanks, media organizations, the Newseum and Capitol Hill. These field trips, as well as lectures and discussions led by politicians, journalists and professors from around the country, allow for an in-depth look at the relationship among ethics, politics and the media. Permission of the instructors required.

BID 335 Psychology and Political Philosophy of Gender
A universal feature of human civilizations has been to distinguish between persons in terms of gender. This course will examine these gender distinctions through two different lenses: psychology and political philosophy. Psychology approaches the study of gender as it is manifested in our thoughts and in our behavior. Political philosophy critically examines and challenges the principles at work behind gender differences, principles such as biology, socialization or male power structures. Both psychology and political philosophy study the implications of these gender differences for how we live, how we think, how we moralize, and how we do politics. Ultimately, two controversial questions will ground the curriculum of this course: What is gender? And, what is the future of gender? Responding to these questions requires an interdisciplinary approach which explores both the reality of gender in society and human psychological processes and which openly theorizes about other possibilities.

BID 357 Feminist Poetry
Feminist poetry challenges, via its content and literary forms, hegemonic power and oppres- sion. In its content, feminist poetry interrogates our gendered social and political order from the perspective of those on the margins. The subject matter expresses the value of women’s experiences, re-inscribes their political, social and personal identities, and represents a collective voice of contestation and opposition against patriarchal oppression. In its form, feminist poetry affirms the ability of women poets to create within the boundaries of classical forms and also as initiators of new and innovative poetic forms. This course will examine the content and form of a variety of feminist poems from the perspective of language and literary technique, as well as feminist theories. The course will be structured to prompt the exploration of concepts central to feminism and politics. These will include such concepts as: woman, patriarchy, sex, maternity, lesbianism, private and public, equality, and power. Particular poems will be used to introduce and further the discussion of each concept. Class activities will center on an exploration of the concept at hand as well as an analysis of the poem or poems.


Political Science Courses

POL 150 Introduction to Politics
This course provides a college level introduction to the subject of politics. Students examine major theories, concepts, and themes across the subfields of political science and are challenged to think critically and analytically about politics.

POL 201 American Federal Government
An introduction to the essential principles and fundamental structure of the American system of government.

POL 202 American State and Local Government
An introduction to state and local government and their basic roles in the American federal system. Special attention is given to the problems of cities, villages, counties, townships,
and other units of local government.

POL 240 Law and Politics
This course introduces students to the law as part of the systematic study of social and behavioral phenomena. The course introduces students to issues, practices, and theories of American public law. Fall Term, odd-numbered years. 

POL 300 Urban Politics
This course is an analysis of the problems and the achievements of metropolitan areas including suburbs as well as cities. The course centers upon the growth, the issues and problems and the evolution of politics essential to growth, civility, economic prosperity and the contributions of American civilization.

POL 301 Comparative Politics: The New Europe
This course is a comparative study of the political institutions, processes and policy outcomes across European states and the European Union from post-WWII to the present. Topics examined include executive, legislative and judicial structures; provincial government; political culture; political socialization; citizen participation and interest groups; parties and elections; and economic and foreign policy. Fall Term.

POL 302 Politics of Developing Nations
A comparative study of politics in Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Middle East. Topics may include imperialism and colonialism, nationalism, poverty and inequality, tradition and modernity, revolution, women, and strategies for growth and development. Spring Term.

POL 303 Politics of the Middle East
An analysis of the major issues and problems that dominate the Middle Eastern political scene. A consideration of the region’s involvement in international affairs as well as an examination of the indigenous concerns of people and states in the region.

POL 305 The American Presidency
This course examines the constitutional foundations of the presidency, the organization of the executive branch, the selection process, the various roles and characteristics of the president, the president’s relationship with both formal and informal institutions, and the president’s impact on public policy. Prerequisite: POL 201 or permission of the instructor. Fall Term, every other even-numbered year.

POL 306 Politics of International Relations
This course explores the major theoretical perspectives and predominant issues in international politics. It analyzes and applies realist, and liberal and post-modernist approaches to the dynamics of the international system, focusing on how these approaches explain conflict and cooperation between states. Topics addressed include superpower relations, military conflict and terrorism, globalization and development, ethnic conflict and nation building, environmental degradation and the role of the United States in world affairs. Fall Term.

POL 307 American Foreign Policy
An examination of the making and implementation of American foreign policy. This course begins with a review of the history of American foreign policy, focusing on patterns in foreign policy goals and instruments, and highlighting key persons, ideas and events. It proceeds to an assessment of the international and societal influences on U.S. foreign policy, an examination of the roles of governmental institutions in the formulation of U.S. foreign policy and an analysis of the theories political scientists put forth to explain foreign policy decision-making. Throughout the course focuses on controversial issues in contemporary U.S. foreign policy. Spring Term.

POL 310 International Organizations
This course is designed to provide an orientation to several international organizations, and particularly the United Nations. The course is intended to teach students about the history, functional roles, and decision-making processes within selected international organizations. Students will encounter global problems such as economic, environmental, human rights,
and security issues and will carefully study specific international treaties, conventions, and
legal interpretations that address those problems. To enable students to better understand the challenges and accomplishments of international organizations, the course will culminate in an off-campus national simulation experience of the United Nations. POL 306 recommended. Spring Term, every other year.

POL 314 Classical Political Thought
In this course we will examine political philosophy from its birth in Ancient Greece to the dawn of modernity. Specific attention will be given to the works of Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, Aquinas and Machiavelli. Throughout we will explore the relationship between philosophy and politics, reason and passion, and the individual and the community. We will ask such questions as: What is justice? What is the best form of government? What does the citizen owe to the political community? Spring or Fall Term, every third term.

POL 315 Modern and Contemporary Political Theory
This course focuses on the nature and purpose of political association as it has been understood since the birth of modernity in the 16th century through the present day. Specifically, we will study five movements which characterize the modern and postmodern theoretical and political world: Liberalism, Conservatism, Socialism, Feminism and Post-Modernism. We will read selections from John Locke, Edmund Burke, Karl Marx, John Rawls, Catherine MacKinnon and Richard Rorty. Each of these thinkers offers a different and enlightening, yet distinctly modern/contemporary perspective, on the human political condition. Spring or Fall Term, every third term.

POL 319 American Political Thought
American political thought reflects the revolutionary attempt to balance the traditional political goal of order with the call for individual liberty. This attempt to balance order with liberty revealed another possible value for politics—equality. The history of American political thought, and American political practice, is a history of an attempt to balance order with liberty and liberty with equality. In this course, we will examine a variety of American voices, key texts and movements, which have helped to shape this evolution. This entails an examination of American statespersons as well as American political philosophers. Spring or Fall Term, every third term.

POL 320 Congress
This course explores the dual nature of Congress—a lawmaking institution and an assembly
of local representatives—through the examination of the constitutional foundations and evolution of Congress, the election process, the organization of the legislative branch, formal and informal congressional rules and procedures, Congress’s relationship with both formal and informal institutions, and its policymaking role in public policy. Prerequisite: POL 201 or permission of the instructor. Fall Term, every other even-numbered year.

POL 351–353 Mock Trial I, J & II
This course offers students an opportunity to learn firsthand about the American legal system with a special emphasis on courtroom civil and criminal trial procedures. The course prepares students for local, regional and national mock trial competitions under the sponsorship of the American Mock Trial Association (AMTA). Through discussion, lectures, role-playing opportunities and competitions, this course will stimulate students’ abilities to think critically about the foundations of the American legal system and to participate as informed citizens. Courses may require regional and/or national travel.

Mock Trial demands participation in three contiguous terms beginning in Fall Term, extending over January Term and ending with the Spring Term. Mock Trial I is offered in the fall for 1.00 credit, if taken for credit. Mock Trial II is offered in the spring for .50 credit, if taken for credit. Mock Trial I and Mock Trial II are each repeatable for credit twice. May be taken for non-credit. May count for a maximum of two credits toward the major and must be taken for credit to count toward the major. Students who complete a full year of Mock Trial are eligible for the Experiential Learning designation in the Integrated Curriculum. Students who complete a full year of Mock Trial for credit are eligible to receive the Oral Communication tag in the Integrated Curriculum. Prerequisite: permission of the instructor.POL 354 Mock Trial Spring Only This section is for students who have not completed Mock Trial I. Students joining this Spring Term only course play a limited role on the team. Prerequisite: permission of the instructor. Spring Term.

POL 360 Public Policy and Administration
An examination of the nature of public administration in the United States and its influence upon the formulation as well as the implementation of national domestic policy. The political and administrative forces that shape policy are studied in such areas as economic, environmental, and education policy.

POL 401 Feminist Political Theory
Feminist political theory began in a challenge to the political order by those who questioned the liberal promise of freedom and equality. It grew to challenge the economic, social, reproductive, sexual, and finally, global order—all from the perspective of persons marginalized in every sphere of private and public life. This course will trace these evolving challenges to contemporary private and public life, exploring social and political reality from the perspective of those at the margins, those who are “other."  Particular attention will be devoted to the various feminist concerns about the distinctions between theory and practice, public and private, equality and difference. Course content and pedagogy will call into question any singular, exclusive notion of identity, giving class members the opportunity to recognize and learn from others and their diverse cultural and political experiences. Pre-requisite: junior standing required or permission of the instructor. Spring Term, every other year.

POL 402 Political Justice
This course will examine the multiple meanings of justice as it has evolved in western political philosophy and  as it is challenged by non-Western traditions and global circumstances. The course begins with the notion of justice as harmony, in which political justice reflects personal and social justice, and will contrast this with the notion of justice as power, as the product of an agreement between people and enforced by the state. The course will also contrast this with the more contemporary notion of justice as fairness, and conclude with a look at recent challenges to the modern attempt to separate political justice from social justice and global justice. Also examined is the multiple meanings of justice as it is used in contemporary society and everyday discussion. Prerequisite: junior standing or permission of the instructor. Spring Term, every other year.

POL 406 Politics of International Economic Relations
The interplay between politics and economics in international economic relations is examined. Topics include the international trade monetary system, multinational corporations and technology transfer, foreign aid and the debt crisis, the North/South conflict, and North/North trade. In addition, special “focused” topics of contemporary relevance are introduced in a seminar format. POL 306 recommended. Spring Term, every other year.

POL 411 Constitutional Law I: Civil Liberties
The focus of this course is the First Amendment and Civil Liberties. Through a review of U.S. Supreme Court cases, we will trace the various interpretations of the U.S. Constitution and the Amendments by examining the concepts of freedom of religion, speech, press, assembly and the right to privacy. Prerequisites: junior or senior standing and POL 201 or permission of the instructor. POL 240 is recommended. Spring Term, every other year.

POL 412 Constitutional Law II: Civil Rights
The focus of this course is Civil Rights. Through a review of U.S. Supreme Court cases, we will trace the various interpretations of the U.S. Constitution and the Amendments that apply to topics such as the rights of the accused, search and seizure, racial discrimina- tion, gender and juvenile issues, rights of prisoners and poor people, and political participation. Prerequisite: junior or senior standing and POL 201 or permission of the instructor, POL 240 is recommended. Spring Term, every other year.

POL 413 Constitutional Law III: Constitutional Structures, Powers and Federalism
The focus of this course is constitutional structures. Through  a review of U.S. Supreme Court cases, we will trace the evolving interpretation of the U.S. Constitution by examining the framework, powers and functions of our federal system. We examine the concepts of constitutional and judicial politics, separation of powers, federal-state relations and economic liberties. Topics include judicial review, domestic conflicts, emergencies and foreign affairs, the commerce clause, taxing and spending powers, the contract clause, the takings clause, the police power, and substantive due process. Prerequisite: junior or senior standing and POL 201 or permission of the instructor. POL 240 is recommended. Every third year as needed.

POL 440 Special Methods: Teaching Political Science
For those students who seek accreditation to teach political science in secondary schools. Prerequisite: SEC 300, SEC 310. Fall Term.

POL 445 Senior Seminar
This seminar serves as a capstone experience for political science majors and is to be taken
in the fall of a student’s final year. The seminar seeks to foster in students the abilities to 1) analyze contemporary political problems utilizing political science concepts, methodologies and theories; and 2) conduct and present scholarly research on contemporary political problems. In their capstone research paper, students will explore an important political problem from the perspective of one of the subfields and methodologies in political science. Through a focus on research design and methodology, information literacy, and process and conventions of writing in political science, the seminar will provide the supportive framework for students to complete
the senior research paper.

POL 452 Special Topics in Political Science
.50 or 1.00 credits
This course will allow students to pursue advanced study in political science beyond the regular departmental offerings. Repeatable for credit.

POL 468 Internships
.50 or 1.00 credits
Credit to students who are employed by government agencies, legal offices, and institutions, or by interest groups and political campaigns. Students are expected to understand the relationship of their field experience to the discipline of political science and to demonstrate this understanding in written and oral reports to the faculty supervisor. Internships can be graded with letter grades if a written research paper is completed under faculty direction. Otherwise the grade will be P/NP. Repeatable for credit. Permission of department chair is required. The prerequisite for field experience is the completion of at least two courses in political science, or the consent of the chair of the Department of Political Science. One of the prerequisite courses must be either POL 201, 202, or 300.

POL 492/292 Independent Study
Approval of the political science instructor is required. Repeatable for credit.

POL 495 Honors Independent Research
.50 credit
This course gives Honors Program students the opportunity to design and implement a significant research project in the field of political science culminating in an appropriate public dissemination of research methods and findings. This research must build upon previous coursework taken within the major or minor, facilitating faculty supervision and guidance. Repeatable for credit. Permission of the faculty supervisor and the director of the Honors Program required prior to registration.

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