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Political Science

Spring 2017 Course List

POLS 102 Introduction to Comparative Politics
Leah Gilbert MWF 10:20- 11:20am JRH 202 and MWF 12:40- 1:40pm JRH 259

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
Benjamin Gaskins MWF 11:30-12:30 and 1:50- 2:50pm JRH 102

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 201 Research Methods in Political Science
Ian McDonald MWF 12:40 – 1:40 JRH 115


Introduction to the methodological principles and issues in political science research, using readings within and beyond political science. Identifying variables and mechanisms, developing and testing theories, collecting and measuring data, and assessing a study’s ability to achieve causal inference. Introduction to different approaches to research, including experiments, case studies, and regression analysis. Strongly recommended for sophomores or juniors who have declared a POLS major, as this course is a prerequisite for thesis and some senior capstone courses.

Prerequisites: POLS 102 or POLS 103. Sophomore standing required.

POLS 302 Political Parties/Interest Groups
Benjamin Gaskins TTH 9:40 – 11:10am JRH 101

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 102 or POLS 103. Sophomore standing required.

POLS 305 American Constitutional Law: Civil Liberties
Todd R. Lochner T/TH 1:50-3:20 JRH 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. Sophomore standing required. 

POLS 307 Government and the Economy
Ian McDonald MW 3-4:30 JRH 244

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. Sophomore standing required.

POLS 311 Pillars of Western Political Thought: Revolution and the Social Contract
John S. Holzwarth T/TH 1:50-3:20 JRH 124

What makes state authority legitimate? What, if anything, can warrant revolution as a means of political, social, or economic change? This course examines the origins of liberalism in early modern ideas of legitimacy, rights, and obligations, with primary emphasis on foundational thinkers from the crucial period between 1648 and 1848. Readings may include Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Edmund Burke, Thomas Paine, Immanuel Kant, Karl Marx, and Martin Luther King Jr., among others.

Prerequisites: None. Sophomore standing required.

POLS 318 Civil Society
Leah Gilbert  T/TH 11:30 - 1:00 JRH 253

Analysis and evaluation of how civil society and social capital have promoted and shaped a variety of outcomes such as democratization and government performance. Students will critically analyze works from diverse regions of the world such as North America, Western Europe, Eastern Europe, and Asia. In-class activities and a semester-long project will step students through the research process on a core concept within the subfield of comparative politics

Prerequisites: POLS 102. Sophomore standing required.

POLS 351 Presidential Politics
Ian McDonald MW 3:00 - 4:30 JRHH 245

Constitutional foundations and the unfolding of various concepts of executive power throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. The dynamics of the presidency and the extent to which one person can be held responsible for expanded responsibilities. The organizational models and practices of 20th-century presidents. Other branches of government examined to illuminate the functioning and malfunctioning of the executive branch.

Prerequisites: POLS 103 recommended. Sophomore standing required.  

POLS 400 Senior Thesis
Benjamin Gaskins, John Holzwarth

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. Sophomore standing required.

POLS 425 Legal Regulation of American Democracy 
Todd R. Lochner MW 3:25 - 4:50 LRC Room 5

The legal regulation of the American political system. The equal protection concept of voting rights, particularly the “One Person, One Vote” rule and the Voting Rights Act, and federal campaign-finance regulation. Additional topics include the constitutional rights of political parties and the law relating to ballot propositions. Discussion of descriptive and normative issues. This course is taught at the law school.

Prerequisites: POLS 301. Junior standing required. 

Political Science

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