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Political Science

Course Information

Spring 2020 Courses

POLS 102 Introduction to Comparative Politics
Benjamin Gaskins MWF 10:20-11:20am JRHH 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 non-ethnic identities). The impact of political organization on economic performance and social peace.

Prerequisites: None

POLS 103 Introduction to American Politics
Todd Lochner MWF 11:30-12:30am JRHH 102 and
Ellen Seljan TTH 9:40-11:10am JRHH 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 255 Law, Lawyers, and Society
Todd Lochner MW 3:00- 4:30pm JRHH 122  

The role of law and legal institutions in the American political system. Examination of institutional actors such as lawyers, judges, and juries, as well as an examination of discrete case studies such as “mass torts” and the criminal justice system. What features define the American legal system; how does this system compare to those of other countries; what are its respective advantages and disadvantages?

Prerequisites: POLS 103. Sophomore standing required.

POLS 305 American Constitutional Law: Civil Liberties
Todd Lochner MW 6:00- 7:30pm JRHH 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 310 Pillars of Western Political Thought: Plato to Machiavelli
John Holzwarth TTH 1:50-3:20pm JRHH 122

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. Sophomore standing required.

POLS 346 State and Local Politics
Ellen Seljan TTH 11:30am-1:00pm JRHH 258

Examination of the operation of state and local governments. Using a comparative methodology, students will gain an understanding of how differences in political institutions among state and local governments substantially affect policy outcomes. The course will also examine how state and local politics and policymaking both complement and interact with the federal layer of government.

Prerequisites: POLS 102 and POLS 301. Sophomore standing required.

POLS 359 Religion and Politics
Benjamin Gaskins MWF 12:40–1:40pm JRHH 114

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. 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 402 Problems in Political Theory 
John Holzwarth TH 6:00-9:00pm JRHH 258

Advanced analysis of a specific problem, theme, or concept intriguing to political theorists. Specific content varies. Themes have included revolution, utopia, the American founding, Nietzsche, identity and self-creation, and the
philosophy of history.

Prerequisites: None. Junior standing required. Open to sophomores only with
consent of instructor.

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Fall 2020 Courses

POLS 102 Introduction to Comparative Politics

Leah Gilbert MWF 10:20-11:20am Miller 208                                                                                                 Benjamin Gaskins MWF 11:30am- 12:30pm JRHH 102

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 non-ethnic identities). The impact of political organization on economic performance and social peace.

Prerequisites: None

POLS 103 Introduction to American Politics
Todd Lochner MWF 9:10-10:10am JRHH 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 201 Research Methods in Political Science
Ellen Seljan MWF 9:10-10:10am JRHH 122

POLS 301 American Constitutional Law: Equal Protections and Due Process
Todd Lochner MW 3:00-4:30pm JRHH 122

POLS 307 Government and the Economy
Ellen Seljan TTH 9:40-11:10am JRHH 242

POLS 311 Western Politics: Revolt and the Social Contract
John Holzwarth TTH 1:50-3:20pm JRHH 114

POLS 325 European Politics
Leah Gilbert TTH 11:30am-1:00pm JRHH 203

POLS 351 Presidential Politics
Benjamin Gaskins TTH 11:30am-1:00pm JRHH 243

POLS 435 Topics in Comparative Politics
Leah Gilbert MW 3:00-4:30pm JRHH 114

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