Political Science

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PLSC 001 - Introduction to American National Government

This course takes a broad look at American national government and American politics. It begins with a discussion of founding principles and documents and concludes by looking at how government uses its power. Readings and lectures cover the governing institutions-Congress, Executive, and Courts-and the institutions that link the American people to these-political parties, interest groups, and the media. Contemporary political events are placed in the context of the theories, concepts, and arguments presented. By the end of the course students should have an understanding of how American national government is organized and the functions it carries out.  PLSC 001 will help you build a foundation for further in-depth study of government and politics, and will prepare you to make more informed choices in the political arena. 

PLSC 003 - Introduction to Comparative Politics

In this course, you will be introduced to a comparative politics model which will become the framework for our study of the major types of governments in existence today. We will learn how power is exercised in each major type of government and how different governments grant authority and seek the acceptance and legitimacy of their citizens. In doing so, we will learn about the variety of ways to organize legislatures and executive branches, the difference between presidential and parliamentary systems, and the varying roles played by the courts and other legal institutions. We will also compare the different ways of holding elections and the different functions of political parties.

PLSC 007 – Contemporary Political Ideologies

This introductory course provides a survey of the dominant traditions of political thought that inform much contemporary political debate.  It examines these traditions with respect to the ideas, doctrines and theories that they advance, the historical context from which they arose and how they have been and are continually reinterpreted in response to new conditions.

PLSC 014 - International Relations

This course will expose you to problems and puzzles that arise in the study of international relations.  We will examine the major scholarly approaches to studying these phenomena.  Among the topics that we will discuss are the nature of the international system, the causes and effects of international conflict, and the difficulties countries face in establishing cooperation. We will also focus on issues that have increased in importance since the demise of the Cold War, such as international trade, economic development, interdependence, and the global environment.  Finally, we will discuss some of the new challenges facing scholars of world politics.

PLSC 017 - Introduction to Political Theory

This course examines how the ideas of selected political theorists have been -- and continue to be--crucial for understanding how best to conduct our political lives. Following an introductory exploration of how political theorists think and write about politics, we will read selected theorists from three historical periods: ancient, modern, and contemporary. Our focus will be how these theorists respond to important questions about politics, including how their answers (and even their questions) change over time.

PLSC 020 – European Politics

The goal of this course is to introduce students to the politics and institutions of Western European countries in the period since World War II. Each week we will explore an important aspect of politics, such as political parties, elections, interest groups or social cleavages. The students will also learn about European integration and immigration, two of the most salient post-war developments in the region.

PLSC 060 - Modern Israel

This course will focus on better understanding the people of the State of Israel. We will look at what is important to them, how they see and organize themselves, and how they understand and experience the world around them. This course will focus on society and cultures in the State of Israel (the nation-state established in 1948); it will look at thecultural worldviews to be found there and at the social relations among its people.

PLSC 110 - Rights in America

This course examines rights in the United States. It does so using the context of democratic theory as a theoretical framework for understanding the importance of equality in American democracy.  The course also examines rights through the prism of the American Constitution, using that document as a political framework for understanding how the concepts of rights and equality have been translated into democratic governance.

PLSC 308 -  Introduction to Political Research

This course introduces students to the research process in political science.  It is intended to give political science majors the skills needed to conduct research in political science, or in related fields such as public policy.

PLSC 412 - International Political Economy

This  course  will  investigate  how  this  interdependence   affects  the  way  we  analyze  the  relationship between politics and economics by focusing on four key area of international political economy: trade, monetary and fiscal policies, foreign investment, and development.  

PLSC 418 - International Relations Theory

PLSC 418W - International Relations Theory

Why do actors in the international system behave and interact in the way that they do, especially in regards to conflict and cooperation?  There are many explanations for their international behavior, primarily because theorists often “see” the world differently.  In this course, we will analyze these explanations and their underlying meta-theoretical assumptions by studying a host of international relations theories.

PLSC 439 - The Politics of Terrorism

In this course, our goal is to better understand terrorism, what causes it and, by extension, how to confront it. This course is an analytical, rather than polemical, exploration of terrorism.

PLSC 442 - American Foreign Policy

In this class there will be some discussion of historical foundations of US foreign policy, some analyses of the factors that affect what American foreign policy is, and some focus on specific issues and areas of current American behavior toward the rest of the world.

PLSC 455 - Western European Politics and Government

In this course we're going to explore patterns and puzzles specific to Europe.  This will allow you to place some of your knowledge about countries you probably already know something about into theoretical perspective and expand your knowledge and understanding to other parts of Europe. After gaining historical perspective on the development of Europe’s current political systems we will use the majoritarian and consensus models of government to conduct a comparative study of present European political systems.

PLSC 456 - Latin American Politics

This course introduces students to political and economic theories of development and underdevelopment applied specifically to the Latin American situation.  We begin the course with a brief overview of colonial Latin America and its struggle for independence.  We then proceed to examine relationships between specific political, economic and social variables in order to better understand Latin American politics.  We will begin in the early 20th century and progress to the present using theories of political and economic development and democratic transitions.  This will equip you to place some of your knowledge about countries you may already know something about and expand your knowledge and understanding to other parts of Latin America.

PLSC 468 - Media and Politics

The class will likely adhere to the information outlined in this syllabus and the calendar, but adjustments may be made based on what actually transpires during the term. Remaining in the course after reading this syllabus will signal that you accept the possibility of changes and responsibility for being aware of them.

PLSC 471 - American Constitutional Law

This course is designed to be an in-depth study of institutional powers and constraints in American law. We will study the structure of government, the power of the Presidency in war time, the power to detain enemy combatants, the power of Congress to check the Executive and the limits of power faced by all three branches.

PLSC 472 - The American Legal Process

In the first part of this course, we will examine the law; why society requires and enforces laws and the purposes the law is expected to achieve. We will review the foundational principles of the judicial system, such as precedent and jurisdiction. We will examine the structure of the legal system, the hierarchy of the federal and state court systems, and the powers that these courts possess. This will take us naturally to a study of the appeals process and the impact of the appellate courts on society. Then, the second half, we will look at the players in the judicial system and at all their different roles: the attorneys, judges, plaintiffs, and defendants. Then, we will begin our study of legal process. We will examine the differences between the two major divisions of the law: criminal and civil. We will look at the types of actions that can be brought as civil charges, and examine the steps in civil litigation and in a civil trial. Then, we will look at various crimes and the process of criminal prosecution.

PLSC 480W - Congress and the Presidency

This is a course on the histories, functions, and politics of the United States Congress and the American Presidency.  The course is divided into three distinct sections.  First, we will cover Congress; next, the Presidency; and finally, an exploration of the institutional interactions with one another, the courts, the bureaucracy, and extra-constitutional entities such as interest groups.

PLSC 490 - Policy Making and Evaluation

This course provides an in-depth study of the public policy-making and evaluation processes. The course is designed to provide the organizational context in which public policy is made including the processes of public policy formulation, implementation, evaluation, and modification. This course provides a detailed discussion of the various institutions and actors involved in the policy-making process thereby providing an analytical perspective upon which to evaluate what government does, why it does it, and what difference it makes, if any.

PLSC 836 - Root Causes of Terrorism

This course explores what experts call the “root causes” of terrorism – the economic, social, political and other factors that explain why terrorism occurs, where it occurs.  Some examples of root causes of terrorism that are commonly discussed by experts and policymakers are poverty, socioeconomic inequality and discrimination, political repression, human rights violations, drugs and crime and episodes of state failure.  Root causes are useful for determining patterns of international and domestic terrorism and terrorist activity and are key to informing effective policies to counter terrorism.

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