Political Science Department Courses
PSC 211 S – U.S. Political System, 4 credits. E. This course serves as an introduction to the American system of government. Primary emphasis is on the constraints placed upon political activity by our constitutional system, the development and maturation of political institutions, recent trends in political behavior, and the overall representative nature of our system of government.
PSC 241 H – International Politics, 4 credits. E. This course explores basic concepts and theories in international politics through a historical overview of the evolution of the international system. Special emphasis will be given to changes that have transpired in the system and issues currently shaping international politics.
PSC 250 – Pre-May Seminar, 2 credits. D.
PSC 256 S – Comparative Politics, 4 credits. E. This course is an introduction to the concepts, approaches, issues and debates that animate the field of comparative politics. The focus is on the study of politics in countries other than the United States and on making comparisons across geographical space and historical time. Students will become familiar with different kinds of regimes and states and gain an appreciation of the forces that shape politics in diverse contexts.
PSC 300 – May Seminar, 4 credits. MS.
PSC 311 S – Methods and Techniques of Political Analysis, 4 credits. E2. Students learn to conduct scientific investigations of political phenomena by conducting and testing theories of individual interest. Emphasis is placed on the use of analytic tools and techniques such as computers and statistics, and on the interpretation of their output, rather than on the derivation and calculation of statistics.
PSC 328 – The Politics of Development, 4 credits. E1. Even as living standards have risen dramatically for some people and countries, large parts of the world remain desperately poor. Spurring economic development and lessening global inequalities are two of the central challenges of our time. This course will explore the political forces and processes that shape global and local efforts to promote development, while also evaluating the effectiveness of noteworthy development initiatives.
PSC 332 G – U.S.-China Relations, 4 credits. E1. This course provides an overview of the evolution of U.S. relations with China since the early 1800s, including early trade relations, efforts to isolate China after the People’s Republic of China was proclaimed in 1949, and the impact of the developments at Tiananmen Square in 1989. Contemporary topics to be discussed include China’s continuing economic reforms, regional and global security issues, human rights, and the status of Taiwan.
PSC 338 – Chinese Politics, 4 credits. E2. The rise of China as an economic giant and aspiring superpower has made the country a powerful actor in global affairs. This course will equip students with a sophisticated understanding of China’s political history and current domestic political situation so that they may be astute observers and analysts of trends in China and of China’s engagement with the world.
PSC 350, ENVR 350 – Environmental Policy and Politics, 4 credits. E1. The course is designed to enhance understandings of the natural world, of environmental politics and policy, and to hone skills needed to become effective actors in the policy realm. A wide variety of learning techniques – field experiences, policy simulations, practitioner guest speakers, among others – will help us attain these goals.
PSC 352 – U.S. Foreign Policy, 4 credits. D. This course is intended to provide a historical survey of U.S. foreign policy primarily since World War II. Particular emphasis will be placed on the principles, interests and theoretical perspectives shaping American foreign policy throughout this period. Attention will also be devoted to the problem of formulating foreign policy for a post-Sept. 11 era.
PSC 360 G – International Security, 4 credits. D. This course explores evolving concepts of security and possible responses to security threats including, but not limited to, the threat and use of military force. Although a portion of the semester is devoted to the study of U.S. national security issues, this is not exclusively a course in U.S. national security policy. Security will be explored from international and global perspectives as well. Attention will also be devoted to the emergence of so-called non-traditional threats to security (e.g. economic instability, environmental degradation, human rights violations, ethnic conflicts and organized crime).
PSC 362 – Constitutional Law, 4 credits. E. The case method is used to study and analyze the Constitution of the United States as it has been interpreted by the Supreme Court. Freedom of speech and religion, civil liberties, and due process in criminal cases are among the topics considered.
PSC 363 – Constitutional Law II, 4 credits. D. The case method is used to study and analyze the Constitution of the United States as it has been interpreted by the Supreme Court. Federalism, separation of powers, and regulation of the economy are among the topics considered.
PSC 365, ENVR 365 G, Z – Global Issues, 4 credits. E2. This course examines two general categories of global issues – sustainable development and ecological sustainability – and the various interpretive perspectives that offer understandings of each. Integrating the contributions of several disciplines, we examine the historical origins and future trends of these problems, their causes and consequences, and their potential solutions. In addition, students will learn a variety of transferable skills, including the ability to construct policies and negotiate differences among competing interests.
PSC 367, ENVR 367, SCAN 367 G, S – Arctic Environmental Governance, 4 credits. E3. Discussion of environmental challenges through the perspective of the nations of the Arctic: the Nordic countries, the U.S. and Canada, the Russian Federation and the six circumpolar Arctic indigenous nations (e.g., the Saami, the Inuit). Students will look at the nations themselves and examine environmental policymaking within the nations encircling the Arctic, and the attempt to strengthen the environmental governance among those nations in the Arctic Council. Students will have the opportunity to play a variety of real life roles, from scientist to diplomat, from activist to analyst.
PSC 380 – Special Topics, 2 to 4 credits. D. Courses covering various topics of interest in this particular discipline are offered regularly. Contact department or program chair for more information.
PSC 381 – Political Parties and Interest Groups, 4 credits. A1. This course explores the actions of political parties and organized interests as they seek to affect policies by presenting candidates for election, soliciting and contributing funds to those candidates, lobbying, engaging in demonstrations, and a host of other means. Students will study the two-party system, the role parties play as instruments of governance, minor parties, the organizational maintenance of interest groups, and group influence, among other topics.
PSC 386, SPAN 386 – Modern Spain: A Critical Look, 4 credits. E1. Offered as part of the fall semester program in Segovia, Spain, this course examines a series of moral and ethical questions raised by modern Spanish history, from the Spanish Civil War and a study of the ideologies in conflict, the participation of American volunteers in the Abraham Lincoln Brigade, U.S. government policy during the war, aspects of the 36-year dictatorship of General Francisco Franco, population movements, the political assassination of Franco’s hand-picked successor, Basque nationalism and ETA terrorism (the latter of which originated during the Franco regime), to the Spain after the transition to democracy, the Spain of the European Union and the global world. Prerequisite or co-requisite: SPAN 321 – Composition and Conversation in Cultural Contexts
PSC 388 – Campaigns and Elections, 4 credits. D. The course goal is to help students become skilled political participants. Learning techniques, (e.g., political games and simulated campaigns, electoral and survey data analyses) and actual campaign work provide students with the opportunity to hone their political skills and gain the insights necessary for effective political action.
PSC 390 – Cooperative Education, 1 to 8 credits. E.
PSC 393 – Public Policy, 4 credits. E2. This course explores the nature and content of a select number of American public policies, with a special emphasis on comprehending the values that underpin their making. Students are asked to evaluate current policies and proposals for reform, and are put in a position to encounter the consequences of these policies by engaging in an off-campus policy-related service experience. Prerequisite: PSC 111 – People in Politics or PSC 211 – U.S. Political System
PSC 402 – Jurisprudence, 4 credits. A2. This is a course about legal reasoning or, more correctly, about how judges decide cases. It is not primarily a course describing empirically how judges typically decide cases, but one about how judges can and should justify their judicial choices. The primary focus is on legal reasoning in federal appellate courts, especially the U.S. Supreme Court. Prerequisite: PSC 362 – Constitutional Law
PSC 411 – Political Philosophy, 4 credits. E. This course is a history of political philosophy from Plato to Nietzsche. Substantial portions of the following texts are read and analyzed: Plato’s “The Republic,” Aristotle’s “Politics,” Hobbes’ “Leviathan,” Locke’s “Second Treatise of Civil Government,” Rousseau’s “Discourse on the Origin and Foundations of Inequality,” Engels’ “Socialism: Utopian and Scientific” and Nietzsche’s “On the Genealogy of Morals.” These texts help students understand the differences between ancient and modern political thought, as well as the origins of the major alternatives of 20th-century politics – liberal democracy, socialism and communism, and fascism.
PSC 433 – American Presidency, 4 credits. A1 (2011-2012). This course focuses on how presidents seek to provide leadership in a constitutional system that fragments power and puts explicit checks on presidential action. As students examine presidential leadership, they will study the founding, structure and development of the office; how presidential candidates seek office; the relationship of the president to other actors in the political system; and the impact of personal characteristics on presidential behavior. Prerequisite: PSC 211 – U.S. Political System
PSC 441 G, Z – Ethics and International Relations, 4 credits. D. The role of ethics or morality in international relations is the primary focus of this course. The potential for moral choice in the realm of international politics is explored from a variety of theoretical/philosophical perspectives, as well as through particular foreign policy dilemmas. Specific issues that may be addressed include: military and humanitarian intervention; human rights; nationalism and self-determination; the erosion of state sovereignty; terrorism; and weapons proliferation.
PSC 480 – Independent Study, 1 to 4 credits. D. This course provides an opportunity for individual students to conduct in-depth research of a particular topic under the direct supervision of a faculty member. Contact the department or program chair for more information.