Course Information

Spring 2021 Courses

POLS 102: Intro to Comparative Politics

Leah Gilbert: M/W/F 11:45 am - 12:45 am

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: Intro to American Politics

Ben Gaskins: M/W/F 10:30 am - 11:30 am

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 and Interest Groups

Ben Gaskins: M/W/F 2:15 pm - 3:15 pm

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: POLS 103

POLS 305: American Constitutional Law: Civil Liberties

Todd Lochner : T/TH 2:15 pm - 3:45 pm

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,

Restrictions: Sophomore standing required

POLS 312: Pillars of Western Political Thought: The Fate of Democracy

John Holzwarth: T/TH 2:15 pm - 3:45 pm

Democracy aspires to level the political playing field, but when power is taken from the hands of elites, where does it go? How thoroughly can democratic politics transform a culture, and what, if anything, can check its influence? Is the democratic age safer from radical evil, or does it help produce fascism and totalitarianism? This course examines the pros, cons, and prospects of the democratic age, with primary emphasis on foundational thinkers from the early 19th century to the present. Readings may include Alexis de Tocqueville, John Stuart Mill, Friedrich Nietzsche, Walt Whitman, Hannah Arendt, Isaiah Berlin, and Michel Foucault, among others.

Restrictions: Sophomore standing required

POLS 316: Ethics and Public Policy

John Holzwarth: T/TH 9:55 am - 11:25 am

Rigorous consideration of controversial issues in contemporary normative political theory. Introduction to major frameworks for ethics. Topics may include abortion, euthanasia, punishment and the death penalty, multiculturalism, affirmative action, women’s rights, gay rights, animal rights, just war theory, social welfare.

Restrictions: Junior standing required

POLS 350: Congressional Politics

Ellen Seljan: T/TH 11:40 am - 1:10 pm

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.

Prerequisites: POLS 103 recommended

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, and POLS 201

Restrictions: Sophomore standing required

POLS 425: Legal Regulation of American Democracy

Todd Lochner: M/W/F 3:25 pm - 4:50 pm

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

Restrictions: Junior standing required