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Political Science

Fall 2014 Course Information

POLS 102 Introduction to Comparative Politics
Leah E. Gilbert: MWF 9:10-10:10 Howard 208
Leah E. Gilbert: MWF 10:20-11:20 Miller 208 

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 11:30-12:30 Miller 105
Benjamin Gaskins: MWF 12:40-1:40 Howard 202

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 301 American Constitutional Law: Equal Protection & Due Process
Todd R. Lochner: Tues/Thurs 11:30-1:00pm Howard 124
The U.S. Supreme Court and judicial review from 1787 to the present. The court’s landmark constitutional decisions, as well as the theory and techniques of constitutional interpretation. The court’s authority within the wider political and social context of American government, with emphasis on the court’s jurisprudence in the areas of equal protection (including segregation and desegregation, affirmative action, gender discrimination, and sexual orientation discrimination) and due process (including privacy and abortion rights). 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

POLS 302 Political Parties and Interest Groups
Benjamin Gaskins: Tues/Thurs 9:40-11:10 Howard 203
Constitutional foundations and the unfolding of various concepts of legislative power throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, and into the 21st century. The dynamics of Congress, its staffing, and how it and individual members manage different visions of legislative power. Other branches of government examined to illuminate the functioning and malfunctioning of the legislative branch.

Prerequisite: POLS 103

POLS 310 Pillars of Western Political Thought: Plato to Machiavelli
Curtis Johnson: MWF 11:30-12:30 Howard 124                                                Great works of political philosophy from ancient Greece and Rome, early Christianity, and the Renaissance. Themes include the foundations of morality and justice, the role of hierarchy in politics, and the role of politics in cultivating human excellence. Works may include Thucydides’ History of the Peloponnesian War; Plato’s Apology, Crito, and Republic; Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics and Politics; Augustine’s City of God; and Machiavelli’s The Prince, among others.

Prerequisites: None                                                                                  Restrictions: Sophomore standing required

POLS 314 Russian Politics in Comparative Perspective
Leah E. Gilbert: Tues/Thurs 1:50-3:20 Howard 253                                          How unique are politics in Russia? Can the tools of comparative political analysis help us understand the complexities of Russian politics? This course will investigate these questions by studying Russian politics in a comparative perspective. Although this course will begin by examining Russia’s political development in the early 20th century, emphasis will be placed on developments in the post-communist period. Throughout the class, close attention will be placed on the ways that Russia is both similar to and different from countries in the “West,” former communist countries, and countries at Russia’s same level of economic development. We will then use this information to untangle how Russia is ruled today. Students can expect to read predominantly scholarly articles, but will also be exposed to various materials from novels, news media, or films.                

Prerequisites: POLS 102

Restrictions: Sophomore standing required

POLS 400 Senior Thesis
Todd R. Lochner: Location and Time TBA
Leah E. Gilbert: Location and Time TBA

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.

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