School navigation

Political Science

Spring 2018 Course Information

POLS 102 Introduction to Comparative Politics
Leah Gilbert: MWF 11:30-12:30 Howard 102                                                       Benjamin Gaskins: MWF 10:20-11:20am Howard 202

Introduction to the central questions in comparative politics. Fundamental differences in the organization of states, democratic political institutions (presidentialism versus parliamentarianism, for example), and domestic social forces (for example, social capital, ethnic versus nonethnic identities). The impact of political organization on economic performance and social peace.

Prerequisites: None

POLS 103 Introduction to American Politics
Todd R. Lochner: MWF 9:10-10:10 Howard 259

The politics of the founding period; interactions within and among the executive, legislative, and judicial branches; the federal division of institutionalized powers; public opinion, interest groups, and political parties; the policy process in areas such as defense, welfare, civil rights and liberties, and international affairs.

Prerequisites: None

POLS 250 Transitions to Democracy and Authoritarianism
Leah Gilbert: TTH 9:40-11:10am Howard 123

Why do some countries transition to democratic forms of rule while others do not? We will investigate this question by examining not only the rise of democracy, but also the origins and persistence of authoritarianism. While the course will consider historical processes of democratization and authoritarianism, emphasis will be placed on developments in the past thirty years. This course will draw on country examples from multiple world regions to illuminate why some autocrats have fallen and others have not—even in the current “age of democratization.”

Prerequisites: POLS 102 or permission of instructor                                        Restrictions: None

POLS 252 Public Opinion and Survey Research
Benjamin Gaskins: MWF 1:50-2:50pm Howard 122

The role of public opinion in the American political process; the problem of identifying the public and the extent to which this public exercises political authority; techniques of researching public opinion. Political socialization, formation of attitudes, group differences, mass opinion, elite opinion, direct action. Research design, data collection, scaling, analysis, and interpretation of data in the context of research on polling.

Prerequisites: None.                                                                                  Restrictions: Sophomore standing required.

POLS 305 American Constitutional Law: Civil Liberties
Todd Lochner: MW 3:00-4:30pm Howard 122 

Focus on the First Amendment, particularly free speech (including areas of national security, incitement to lawless action, individual and group defamation, indecency, and obscenity), as well as criminal defendants’ rights (including Fourth Amendment search and seizure law, Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination, and Eighth Amendment prohibitions against cruel and unusual punishment in the context of the death penalty). Discussions of actual Supreme Court rulings, majority opinions, and dissenting arguments, as well as the political and historical context of those decisions in an effort to understand how and why the Supreme Court has played such an influential role in American politics and political thought.

Prerequisites: POLS 103.                                                                                  Restrictions: Sophomore standing required.

POLS 311 Pillars of Western Political Thought: Hobbes to Foucault

John Holzwarth: TTH 1:50-3:20pm Howard 114

Great works of political philosophy from early modernity to the present. Themes include social contract theory and justifications for obedience to government, revolutionary theory, the effects of democratic government on individuality and society, and the dangers of politics in the present day. Works may include Hobbes’ Leviathan, Locke’s Second Treatise of Government and A Letter Concerning Toleration, Rousseau’s Discourse on the Origin of Inequality and On the Social Contract, Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France, Marx and Engels’ Manifesto of the Communist Party, de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil, andArendt’s The Origins of Totalitarianism.

Prerequisites: None.                                                                                Restrictions: Sophomore standing required.

POLS 359 Religion and Politics
Benjamin Gaskins: MWF 12:40-1:40pm Howard 115

Measuring religiosity and how or if religious participation affects political participation. The role of the church as a political institution. Religious leaders as political leaders. Emphasis on religion in American politics.

Prerequisites: POLS 103 recommended.                                                           Restrictions: Sophomore standing required.

POLS 400 Senior Thesis
John Holzwarth, Todd Lochner, and Benjamin Gaskins

Choosing a definitive topic and narrowing it; developing a research design, doing the research, submitting drafts, revising drafts, polishing final copy. Presenting thesis to political science faculty and seniors for critique, rewrite of thesis. Final form due at end of semester. Normally taken for 2 credits in both fall and spring semesters of senior year for a total of 4 credits. A deferred grade will be issued for the first semester of the yearlong series. When the full sequence is completed, the given grade applies to both semesters.

 Prerequisites: POLS 102, POLS 103, and POLS 201.                                     Restrictions: Sophomore standing required.

POLS 435 Topics in Comparative Politics
Leah Gilbert: T/TH 1:50-3:20 Howard 133

Advanced seminar focusing on problems and concepts in comparative politics. Specific content varies; examples of topics include state failure and civil war, electoral competition and legislative behavior, migration and integration, institutional design, and ethnicity and nationalism. Assignments are organized around a substantial seminar paper (25 pages or longer).

Prerequisites: POLS 102.                                                                                  Restrictions: Senior standing required.

Political Science

Contact Us