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Politics and Government Course Offerings

A listing of offered courses follows with prerequisites.  Please note that some courses do have additional fees associated with them.  The credit value of each course is represented by the number in brackets.

Core Courses
Area One: American Politics and Government
Area Two: Comparative Politics and Government
Area Three: International Politics
Area Four: Political Theory
Area Five: Law and Politics
Special Courses

Core Courses


POL 100 American Government [3]

This survey course provides the foundation for understanding American government as it exists at the beginning of the 21st century. It deals with the organic background and contemporary reality of our federal republic governed under a written constitution. The established structures of government—Congress, president, bureaucracy, and courts—are studied, together with the less formal political structures, such as public opinion, parties, pressure groups, media, and voting—all of which act to grant our government the authority to act. The policies emerging from the systematic interplay of forces from within the government itself, from the states and the people of the nation, and from other nations of the world are studied and evaluated. This course fulfills a general education requirement.

POL 105 Politics [3]

A comparative, cross-cultural examination of how decisions are made and carried out in the public context. Issues include observing and analyzing how different political systems decide on the distribution of political benefits and responsibilities. The systems involved range from local to international political units and their laws and institutions.

POL 201 Conduct of Political Inquiry [4]

Survey and study of the problems, pursuits, and methods of contemporary political science. Investigation of the content, nature, method, and significance of political science as a field of inquiry. Prerequisite: POL 105 or permission of instructor. M 114 recommended.

POL 400 Capstone Seminar [3]

A senior seminar that encourages students to integrate the concepts learned over the course of their major. The focus varies from year to year. The seminar requires a substantive research project. Prerequisites: Senior standing and a major in politics and government, political economy, or international studies; or permission of instructor.

Area One: American Politics and Government


POL 210/AFS 210 Urban Politics [3]

Examination of the political process of the contemporary American city from precinct to city council and city hall. Considers such topics as the social and economic characteristics of urban population and leadership; economic and ethnic groups, and conflicts; and the interplay of interest groups, political parties, and government in response to problems of contemporary urban life.

POL 213/AFS 213 Race and Politics [3]

This course explores the politics of race in the United States. Special emphasis is placed on the relations between African Americans, Latinos and Latinas, and European Americans. We will discuss the meaning of race and racism; the history and consequences of racial inequality; and different strategies to seek redress for racial inequality. Prerequisite: Any 100-level POL or AFS course, or permission of instructor.

POL 310/CMM 310 Political Communication [3]

Analysis of the contemporary political campaign as an epiphenomenon of modern mass media. Exploration of methods of public opinion measurement, techniques employed to mobilize or modify attitudes and the links between attitude and the act of voting. Democratic theory assumes informed consent, freely given. This course examines the engineering of consent. Prerequisite: POL 100 or CMM 110, or permission of instructor.

POL 311 Parties, Interest Groups, and the Democratic Process [3]

The activities, organization, techniques, and significance of political parties and interest groups. Political parties and interest groups, in similar but distinct ways, serve as vital channels linking the American people and their government. The course will emphasize the impact of parties and interest groups in the context of the American democratic process. Depending on the instructor, the focus, as between interest groups and political parties, will vary from year to year but emphasis on the importance of organized groups in democratic theory will be constant. Prerequisites: POL 100 and POL 105, or permission of instructor.

POL 312 Campaigns, Elections, and Voting [3]

This course is an introduction to the theory and practice of campaigns and elections. Factors that contribute to voters’ decisions are analyzed. Campaigns and elections at federal, state, and local levels are examined. When circumstancespermit, students are encouraged to take an active part in ongoing political campaigns. Their campaign work is expected to be an integral part of their learning experience; real-world validation of academic theory. Prerequisites: POL 100 and POL 105, or permission of instructor.

POL 313 American Public Policy [3]

An in-depth discussion of American public policy formation, implementation, and evaluation. Special emphasis is given to the political process that surrounds policy formation. Health, housing, poverty, and education policies are among those surveyed. Prerequisite: POL 100 and POL 105, or permission of instructor.

POL 314 Congress and the Presidency [3]

Examination of the United States Congress and the United States presidency as political institutions. Topics include legislative process, the committee system, the role of interest groups, the growth of the executive power and authority, the bureaucratic establishment, and executive-legislative relations. Prerequisites: POL 100 and POL 105, or permission of instructor.

POL 317/GS 317 Gender, Power, and Politics [3]

Explores politics as a gendered activity. The course examines how gender affects opportunities for political participation as well as our evaluations of political actors. The course focuses on gender and politics in the United States; however, comparative material is included where appropriate. Prerequisite: POL 100, POL 105, or GS 100; or permission of instructor.

POL 419 Seminar in American Politics and Government [3]

Examination of selected topics in American politics, government, law, depending on the interests of the instructor and class. Major emphasis is on independent research in seminar papers. Prerequisites: Junior or senior standing and a previous course from the American Politics and Government area, or permission of instructor.

Area Two: Comparative Politics and Government


POL 120 Comparative Politics [3]

Introduction to the tools, major approaches, and goals of comparative political analysis. Consideration of value orientations and biases, and survey of issues of comparative politics, including development (or change), violence, stability, integration. Prerequisite: Any 100-level course or permission of instructor.

POL 222/AFS 242 Politics of the Third World [3]

An interdisciplinary examination of the colonial origins, Cold War/post–Cold War context for emergence as independent states, and contemporary political issues in the two-thirds of the world we call the Third World. Emphasis on the meaning of development and obstacles to attaining it. Consideration also of internal colonialism, or “the Third World in our backyard,” such as Native Americans, ex-slaves, and immigrants from the Third World living in developed countries. Prerequisite: Any 100-level POL course or permission of instructor.

POL 321 Political Change [3]

Theories of development and underdevelopment in the so-called Third World of former colonies. Emphasis on relationships among political and socioeconomic factors and on the interplay between domestic political structures and external factors, such as investment, aid, and globalization. Prerequisite: POL 105 or permission of instructor. POL 220 or POL 222 recommended.

POL 322 Politics and Government of Russia [3]

This course examines the political development of modern Russia as it emerges from the ashes of the Soviet Union. Among the topics covered are leadership struggles, social problems, and Russia’s attempt to find its place in the international system. Prerequisite: POL 105 or permission of instructor. POL 220 recommended.

POL 323/AFS 323 Caribbean Politics [3]

Analysis of contemporary Caribbean politics. Focus on problems of decolonization, race, and class against the historical backdrop of colonialism and slavery. Prerequisite: POL 105 or permission of instructor. POL 220 or POL 222 recommended.

POL 324 European Comparative Politics and Government [3]

As the European Union continues to develop and expand, this course examines European politics on both the Union and state levels. On the Union level, the course focuses not only on the institutions and processes of the Union but also on the problems that could possibly impede the further development of the Union. On the state level, the course focuses on comparative analysis of the constitutional principles and political processes of a variety of countries, most commonly including the United Kingdom, France, and Germany. Prerequisite: POL 105 or permission of instructor. POL 220 recommended.

POL 421 Political Violence [3]

Survey of politically related domestic violence and an examination of theories seeking to explain political violence, with emphasis on revolution, ethnopolitical violence, and terrorism. Prerequisites: Junior or senior standing and POL 105, or permission of instructor. POL 220 or 222 recommended.

POL 429 Seminar in Comparative Politics and Government [3]

Presentation of interpretive and analytic student papers, with emphasis on independent research. Topics include constitutionalism, electoral systems, parties, the executive, interest groups, authoritarian government, change, stability, development, modernization. Prerequisites: Junior or senior standing and a previous course from the Comparative Politics and Government area, or permission of instructor.

Area Three: International Politics


POL 130 International Relations [3]

Development and analysis of contemporary international politics. Elements of national power; methods and politics of conflict and resolution; nationalism, regionalism, internationalism. Prerequisite: Any 100-level course or permission of instructor.

POL 330 American Foreign Policy [3]

Development and analysis of the principles, instruments, and conduct of American foreign policy. The international involvement of the American people and government. Case studies of military, political, and economic issues. Prerequisite: POL 105 or permission of instructor. POL 230 recommended.

POL 331 International Organizations and Law [3]

Public and private institutions and processes for international cooperation in such fields as security, economics, health, social welfare, global and regional organizations. Also, the nature and functions of rules, standards, and principles by which states have agreed to govern their relations; arbitration, adjudication; international law in peace and war. Prerequisite: POL 105 or permission of instructor. POL 230 recommended.

POL 332W Politics of War [3]

Investigates general causes and effects of war. Examines such topics as children and war, the impact of weapons of mass destruction, and new forms of warfare. Includes analysis of ancient conflicts through Vietnam and both Gulf Wars. Prerequisites: POL 100 or 105, and POL 230; or permission of the instructor. (Writing-intensive course)

POL 439 Seminar in International Relations [3]

Presentation of interpretive and analytic student papers on topics of international relations, including nationalism, intervention, war, international law, and organization. Prerequisites: Junior or senior standing and a previous course from the International Politics area, or permission of instructor.

Area Four: Political Theory


POL 240 Democratic Theory and Its Challengers [3] An examination of the problems of defining a democratic political system, with special emphasis on how different modes of organizing economic life influence the prospects for such a system. Readings are both historical and contemporary, covering thinkers as diverse as Karl Marx and Milton Friedman. This course satisfies a writing-intensive requirement when listed as POL 240W. Prerequisite: Any 100-level POL or PHI course, or permission of instructor. (Writing-intensive course)

POL 340 Political Theory: Ancient and Medieval [3]

Examination of ancient and medieval political theorists who helped shape the Western tradition of political discourse about such topics as human nature, justice, natural law, and the origin and purpose of the state. This course satisfies a writing-intensive requirement when listed as POL 340W. Prerequisite: POL 105 or PHI 110, or permission of instructor.

POL 341 Early-Modern Political Theory [3]

Examination of political theorists of the early-modern era whose ideas have directly influenced our contemporary notions of freedom, equality, consent, community, property, and history. Readings from, among others, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Marx, and Nietzsche. This course satisfies a writing-intensive requirement when listed as POL 341W. Prerequisite: POL 105 or PHI 110, or permission of instructor.

POL 342 American Political Thought [3]

Examination of American thinking about the nature of politics from the colonial era to the present day. The course explores the theoretical underpinnings of the Constitution, the development of democratic ideas, and distinctive American responses to race and gender differences. This course satisfies a writing-intensive requirement when listed as POL 342W. Prerequisite: POL 105 or PHI 110, or permission of instructor.

POL 343 Late-Modern Political Theory [3]

Examination of political theories since 1900, including liberal, postmodern, feminist, libertarian, communitarian, and conservative thought. Readings from, among others, Freud, Schmitt, Camus, and Fanon. This course satisfies a writing-intensive requirement when listed as POL 343W. Prerequisite: POL 105 or PHI 110, or permission of instructor. (Writing-intensive course)

POL 449 Seminar in Political Theory [3]

Presentation of interpretive and analytic student papers on topics in political theory. Topics selected according to the interest of the instructor and class. Prerequisites: Junior or senior standing, and either a previous course from political theory area or PHI 210; or permission of instructor.

Area Five: Law and Politics


POL 250 Law and the Justice System [3] An examination of law as a political and social force. The course emphasizes description and evaluation of contemporary American legal institutions and processes, although comparisons with the legal systems of other countries are provided where appropriate. An effort is also made to compare the formal and procedural ideals of the U.S. judicial system with its actual operation. Prerequisite: POL 100, or POL 105, or SOC 170; or permission of instructor.

POL 351 Criminal Law and Procedure [3]

An overview of contemporary criminal law in the United States, including the common-law roots of the U.S. justice system and constitutional controversies concerning criminal procedure. Prerequisites: POL 100, and either POL 105 or SOC 170; or permission of instructor.

POL 353W/GS 353W Gender, Law, and Policy [3]

This course explores gender discrimination in American law. It examines how law has defined and continues to define appropriate behavior for women and men. Although the course emphasizes recent legal developments, it also considers major historical developments and the role of law as an agent of social change. Prerequisites: POL 100; and POL 105, GS 100, LAH 201, or SOC 170; or permission of instructor. (Writing-intensive course)

POL 450 Constitutional Law [3]

Introduction to legal reasoning and to a constitutional understanding of the American federal system by analytical reading of Supreme Court decisions. The focus is on the powers of the legislature, the executive, and the judiciary; and the shifting balance of federal and state powers. Prerequisites: Junior or senior standing, POL 100, and either POL 105 or SOC 170; or permission of instructor. POL 250 recommended.

POL 451 Civil Rights and Liberties [3]

A judicial case study of the nature and extent of individual freedoms, rights, and immunities in the United States, especially as protected by the Bill of Rights of the Constitution. Prerequisites: Junior or senior standing, POL 100, and eitherPOL 105 or SOC 170; or permission of instructor. POL 250 recommended.

POL 452 Jurisprudence [3]

The nature of law, legislation, and the judicial process as illuminated by legal philosophers and theorists, whose original works are read comparatively. More specific focus is applied to such concepts as tort, crime, property, and contract. Prerequisites: Junior or senior standing, POL 100, and either POL 105 or SOC 170; or permission of instructor. POL 250 recommended.

POL 453/SOC 473 Crime, Law, and the Administration of Justice [3]

This interdisciplinary seminar focuses on major issues of current interest in criminal justice. It examines selected topics from administrative, governmental, and sociological points of view. The course relates theory and research to the practical problems of applying knowledge in criminal justice. Prerequisites: Senior standing and 9 credits of courses required for criminal justice, or permission of instructor.

POL 459 Seminar in Law and Politics [3]

In-depth examination of selected topics in law and politics. Major emphasis is on independent research in seminar papers. Prerequisites: Junior or senior standing and a previous course from the law and politics area, or permission of instructor.

Special Courses


POL 279/HIS 229/JS 229 The Holocaust [3]

Interdisciplinary lectures, readings, and discussions of the roots, details, and consequences of the Holocaust. Historical, intellectual, moral, political, legal, and psychological dimensions of the Holocaust as a phenomenon of its own and as an aspect of genocide. Prerequisite: HIS 100 or any 100-level POL course, or permission of instructor.

POL 290, 291, 390, 391, 490, 491, 590, 591 Special Topics in Politics and Government [all 3]

Topics vary from semester to semester in accordance with timeliness, the needs of the politics and government curriculum, and availability of specialists in such areas. Prerequisites vary by topic.

POL 376/HIS 306/JS 306/SOC 306 Archaeology of the Land of Israel [3]

This course provides students with an overview of the chronological and cultural structure of the archaeological periods from the third millennium through the Byzantine period, with emphasis on the Roman and Byzantine eras. The course includes fieldwork in Israel, lectures, workshops on material culture, museum tours, and field trips. Daily field-school instruction is from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. (total: 15 days of excavation). Lectures and workshops take place each afternoon. Beyond these required activities, a primary objective of the course is a research paper to be completed during the spring or summer following the return to the United States. This course is linked to an integrated companion course, Archaeological Field Methods and Material Culture. All students will complete field- and class work for both courses.

POL 377/HIS 307/JS 307/SOC 307 Archaeological Field Methods and Material Culture [3]

This course is an introduction to excavation techniques and material culture. It includes principles of excavation and recording, material culture identification/processing, and field-study tours. Early synagogues and church architecture serve as foci for analysis. This course contains a full introduction to the methodology of Near Eastern archaeology from the Bronze Age to the Iron Age, practical instruction in ceramic typology and Semitic inscriptions, and a survey of Hellenistic, Roman, and Byzantine society. Daily field-school instruction is from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. (total: 15 days of excavation). Lectures and workshops take place each after-noon. This course is linked to an integrated companion course, Archaeology of the Land of Israel. All students will complete field- and class work for both courses.

POL 381, 382, 481, 482 Student Internship in Politics and Government [1–3, 1–3, 1–3, 1–3]

Academically supervised internships for qualified juniors and seniors in politics and government. Among the agencies in which such work may take place are courts, police departments, probation departments, legal assistance, consumer protection, environmental protection, the governor’s office, human rights commissions, and the legislature. Students may propose other internships. Prerequisites: GPA of 2.5, junior or senior status, POL 105, and permission of a faculty supervisor; or permission of department chair.

POL 383, 483 Independent Studies in Politics and Government [3, 3]

Research projects in areas of politics and government of particular interest to a student, guided and directed by a member of the faculty, customarily leading to a scholarly composition by the student. Prerequisites: POL 105, a GPA of at least 3.0 in the major, junior or senior standing, and permission of sponsoring faculty member.

POL 392/IS 392 Special Topics: International Studies [3]

Study of current international events, developments, and trends. Viewed from global, comparative, and multidisciplinary perspectives, topics include ethnicity and cultural diversity, art, music, literature, theater, cinema, religion, and political and economic events. Prerequisites vary by topic.

POL 474/SOC 424 Political Sociology [3]

A sociological examination of power and politics. Particular emphasis is placed on the relationships between the state, economy, and civil society. Topics include the development of the modern state, the impact of globalization on welfare state policies, civic and political participation, and ethnic and racial politics. Prerequisites: SOC 110 or POL 105, and at least junior-level status.
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