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Political Science

Fall 2015 Course Information

POLS 102 Introduction to Comparative Politics
Benjamin Gaskins: MWF 10:20-11:20 Miller 102
Benjamin Gaskins: MWF 3:00-4:00 Miller 103

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 9:10-10:10pm 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 253 Public Policy
Ellen Seljan: TTH 9:40-11:10 Miller 205

Introduction to major issues in contemporary U.S. public policy, including the environment, social policy, criminal policy, education, health care, and the economy. Examination of the policy-making process, including the role of key policy makers, audiences, and institutions; methods of evaluating public policy, focusing on the difficulties of attributing causal efficacy. Students-led debates and exercises.

Prerequisites: None                                                                                  Restrictions: Sophomore standing required

POLS 301 American Constitutional Law: Equal Protection & Due Process
Todd R. Lochner: MW 3:00-4:30pm 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                                                                                  Restrictions: Sophomore standing required

POLS 302 Political Parties and Interest Groups
Benjamin Gaskins: MWF 11:30-12:30 Howard 124

The structure and functioning of political parties from the local to the national level; organization, staffing, and policy development of parties. Pluralist analysis, group theory, impact of interest group activity on the American political system.

Prerequisites: POLS 103                                                                                  Restrictions: Sophomore standing required

POLS 307 Government and the Economy
Ellen Seljan: MWF 3:00-4:30 Howard 122

A framework for analysis of the policy-making process. History, dynamics, and trends of major U.S. economic policies. The scope of American domestic policy; subsidies and aids to business, labor, agriculture, consumers; antitrust policy and the Federal Trade Commission; public-utility regulation; natural-resources policies; full employment; antipoverty and defense spending.                                                

Prerequisites: None                                                                                  Restrictions: Sophomore standing required

POLS 310 Pillars of Western Political Thought: Plato to Machiavelli
Curtis Johnson: TTH 11:30-1:00 Howard 116 

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

Political Science

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