Fall 2023 Courses

POLS 102: Intro to Comparative Politics
Leah E. Gilbert, MWF 11:30AM - 12:30PM

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 201: Research Methods in Political Science
Ellen Seljan, MWF 9:10AM - 10:10AM

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.
Restrictions: Sophomore standing required.


POLS 250: Transitions to Democracy
Leah E. Gilbert, MWF 1:50PM - 02:50PM

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 30 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.


POLS 103: Intro to American Politics
Ben Gaskins, MWF 10:20AM - 11:20AM

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 302: Political Parties & Elections
Ben Gaskins, MWF 12:40PM - 01:40PM

Examination of the role of political parties as organizations, in the electorate, and in government. The evolution of parties in America and how they differ from interest groups. The intersection of race, identity, and ideology in American party systems and elections. How parties and elections are regulated by different levels of government, and the consequences of those regulations. The role of money in politics and the factors affecting polarization in the American electorate. Social choice theory and the construction and maintenance of democratic electoral processes.
Prerequisites: POLS 103.
Restrictions: Sophomore standing required.


POLS 301: American Constitutional Law: Equal Protection and Due Process
Todd Lochner, MW 3:00PM - 4:30PM

Some of the main methods, concepts, distinctions, and areas of systematic pThe 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 311: Pillars of Western Political Thought: Revolution and the Social Contract
John Holzwarth, TTH 1:50PM - 03:20PM

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.
Restrictions: Sophomore standing required.


POLS-400: Senior Thesis

Ellen Seljan 

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, & POLS-201
Restrictions: Sophomore standing required