Political Studies


POL 100: World Politics

The goal of this course is to provide students with a framework to help make sense of the 21st century global community. Topics discussed include: the differences between democratic and authoritarian states; economic, cultural or institutional preconditions for democracy; ways various political systems manage internal dissension and conflict; and the difficult transition from autocratic systems of repression to democratic systems.

POL 101: Introduction to American Politics

In this course students examine the political, social and economic institutions that make up the American political system. After discussing the theoretical foundations of the American experiment in democracy, students analyze how these theoretical foundations were translated into concrete political institutions. Through the analysis of history, current controversies, case studies and simulations students see how the institutions of the American regime come together to form a logical and rational political system.

POL 202: The American Presidency

This course analyzes the role and powers of the American president. Changes that have taken place since the framing of the Constitution and reasons for those changes, are examined. Students also examine the effectiveness of the current institution of the presidency.

POL 203: Political Ideas and Ideologies

This course explores an aspect of political life which is all around us, yet rarely studied closely: political ideologies. This course explores important philosophical questions that ideologies seek to answer, such as: What is a political community and what is its proper role in life? What is justice? How should individuals relate to the state? What is power and how should it be limited? When is change necessary and how should that change come about?

POL 204: American Foreign Policy

The United States’ road to global leadership was a twisting one that began with a nation that spurned any entangling alliances and only in the mid-20th century embraced the role of a world leader. This course surveys the political and ideological development of United States foreign relations and diplomacy from the Revolution to the present post-Cold War era.

POL 209: Contemporary Latin America

Latin America is a diverse and vibrant region and the home of some the world’s most dynamic economies and areas of great poverty. Students examine issues in Latin America today: the struggle to create a functional democracy; the war on drugs; relations with the United States; the benefits and challenges of globalization; rebel and reform movements; and the counter-revolutionary response to popular mobilizations, environmental problems, immigration and economic development and inequality.

POL 301: The U.S. Constitution

This course is a study of the U.S. Constitution, its philosophical background, the articles that provide the framework for our system of government and the changes that have occurred as a result of amendments. Special emphasis is given to various interpretations of the Constitution by the judicial branch as well as current constitutional crises.

POL 303: Politics of Sub-Saharan Africa

The goal of this course is to construct and apply a conceptual framework within which to analyze the incredibly complex and varied political landscape of the African continent. In discussing the construction, consolidation and overthrow of the colonial regime, students analyze the ways in which the colonial powers left their imprint on both the African people and the post-colonial African state. Then this course looks at the political issues currently facing the African continent.

POL 307: America in the Cold War Era, 1945-1990

This course examines the conflict between the United States and U.S.S.R and how this conflict affected American politics, culture and society. This course is devoted to the study of key events: What disputes remain regarding the historical record of this era? How did the Cold War impact the daily lives of Americans? What are the enduring lessons of the Cold War, and in what ways can these lessons be applied to the global and domestic politics of the 21st century?

POL 312: Politics of the Middle East

More than any other region in the developing world, the Middle East has experienced internal crises and stirred emotion in the West. Do crises like the persistent Arab-Israeli conflict, the rise of political Islam, the terrorist attacks of September 11th and the Gulf Wars point to something unique in the civilizations of the Middle East, or are these crises the result of political processes shared by all modern states? The goal of this course is to critically analyze a wide range of answers to this important question.