FYS 400 The United States in the Middle East
Since the late eighteenth century, American diplomats, sailors, merchants, and missionaries have been involved in the Middle East and North Africa. This course examines the history of the complex relations between the United States and the Middle East over the last two centuries. How have American perceptions of the Middle East changed over time? How has U.S. involvement influenced state formation, regime consolidation, and people’s daily lives in the region? What were the major successes and failures of American foreign policy in the region? Students explore these questions through a variety of sources, including memoirs, documentaries, and U.S. diplomatic documents as well as scholarly books and articles.
FYS 425 Politics and Memory in Central and Eastern Europe
The twentieth century casts a long shadow over Eastern and Central Europe: two world wars, ethnic cleansing, communist dictatorships, and, most tragically, the Holocaust. Each country has its share of victims, villains, heroes, collaborators, and cowards. Efforts to make sense of this history, even after all these years, remain a topic of intense political debate. This course examines historical writings, films, and monuments to explore the politics of memory in Eastern and Central Europe, with particular attention paid to Germany, Poland, and Russia. Why does historical memory of these events continue to have such emotional and political power in this region? What choices are made in memorializing history, and what are their contemporary political implications?
FYS 452 Football, Fútbol, Soccer: The Local Politics of a Global Game
Football, fútbol, Fuβball, calcio-soccer in the United States-is a global game, with more nations participating in the World Cup than belong to the United Nations. The sport attracts the wealthiest as club owners and is played by even the poorest with nothing more than a round ball and a flat space. It has been blamed for precipitating ugly violence and credited for ethnic reconciliation. This course explores the politics of soccer, with an emphasis on how multiple identities–nationality, ethnicity, religion, class, gender–are expressed through soccer in the United States and around the world.
FYS 480 Communism
“The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains. They have a world to win.” With this rousing call to revolution in 1848, Karl Marx inspired an international movement that would destroy capitalism and replace it with a more just society. Where revolutions did succeed, however, the reality of communist rule differed significantly from Marx’s vision. This course examines the trajectory of communist theory and practice from Marx’s Manifesto, through the revolutions in Russia and China and the brutal dictatorships that followed them, through the collapse of the communist utopian vision in the late twentieth century.
FYS 522 The Least Dangerous Branch? Grappling with Judicial Power in the United States
U.S. politics seems increasingly divided by judicial power. Judicial nominees are confirmed by bare majorities in the Senate. Judicial reform, including but not limited to expanding the Supreme Court, is widely debated and characterized as either a necessity for democratic preservation or as creating a crisis that could destroy our constitutional system. How did we get here? While the scope of judicial power has been controversial since the Founding, are our present circumstances a reflection of a longstanding controversy or is something new happening? This seminar takes on these questions by exploring how and why legitimate judicial power and the capacity for the courts to support social change may be conceptualized differently by politicians, political scientists, lawyers, and the people themselves.
FYS 546 Why War?
What causes wars? Conversely, what prevents war, why do many crises end without war? Given the great costs of war to civilians, soldiers, and societies, why do states take the leap into the unknown? War’s consequences extend well beyond the battlefield, transforming societies and changing governments and borders. Over the last decades, civil wars have become frequent, but wars between states still trouble many regions and colonial wars have had persistent effects. A central question is the extent to which wars are the purposeful, rational pursuit of policy, the result of misperception, or the result of seemingly inexorable forces over which there is little control. Students examine the leading theories, their key concepts and causal variables, and the causal paths leading to war or to peace. They also consider the degree of empirical support for various theories and hypotheses. Students study a range of texts and write a range of papers, including a final research paper.
PLTC 115 U.S. Political Institutions and Processes
This introductory description and analysis of United States governmental and political institutions and processes is particularly focused on exploring the conditions and strategies for political decision making. It is organized to introduce students to common questions about and analysis of federal institutions (Presidency, Congress, Judiciary), Constitutional history and the founding, political parties, elections, voting behavior interest groups, and public opinion.
PLTC 121 Moral Questions and Political Choice
The world is growing smaller, and life in a global context involves making decisions about controversial political questions. On what basis do we make these decisions? What is the right way to think about questions of poverty, violence, women’s roles, or human rights, and how do we know? This course explores the moral questions embedded in discussions of political change. Students read a diverse range of theoretical and historical materials to think about questions of human nature, proper human interactions, justice, freedom, responsibility, and potentiality. Students also write short research papers and personal essays. The objective is to better understand the moral and political questions involved in citizenship in a global world.
PLTC 122 Government and Politics in Comparative Perspective
In this course, students consider the principal theories and methods for studying comparative politics. What is the State and how did it come about? What characterizes a democratic regime and how is it different from a non-democratic regime? How and why do some regimes become authoritarian and why do some regimes undergo successful democratic transition? What have been the primary approaches to economic development and its relationship to political development? How do countries approach redistributive economic policy? What is the role of identity in global politics? How and why do people mobilize and when does mobilization result in revolution or political violence?
PLTC 123 Introduction to Comparative Politics
Comparative politics is a broad field of study that compares issues and institutions across countries or analyzes political institutions and processes within one country. This course introduces the comparative method to interrogate four main questions: Why do countries adopt certain institutions and how do they impact politics and society? Why are some countries more democratic than others? Why are certain countries wealthier than others?
PLTC 125 States and Markets
Given the current debate over globalization, questions about the relationship between states and markets-domestic and global-have become increasingly contested. With that in mind, this course examines how the relationship between states and markets has changed over the past fifty years, exploring such questions as: What is a state? What is a market? How do markets constrain the state? To what extent can the state rein in market forces? How has the relationship between states and markets changed over time? Do states differ in their ability to influence markets?
PLTC 155 Gender, Power, and Politics
This course scrutinizes several sites where power is produced-constitutions, international politics, political theory, social movements, and globalization- in order to assess the impact of gender on the status, behavior, and authority of different political actors. Recognizing how race, class, sexuality, and citizen status matter, students consider why women are under-represented in nearly all governments and how differences in national and international settings occur. Students examine questions, concepts, and theories that acknowledge women’s political agency and help assess their influence across a range of political systems.
PLTC 171 International Politics
This course explores some of the many structures and processes that organize world politics, including the system of sovereign states, the global capitalist economy, and the varied meanings assigned to “nation” and “gender.” To examine how these structures reinforce, intrude upon, and sometimes subvert each other, this course focuses on specific case studies such as international efforts to regulate climate change, nuclear proliferation, international trade, and intellectual property rights.
PLTC 191 Western Political Theory
The course examines the relation of Western political thought to current struggles against various forms of oppression. When white Western male theorists use the language of truth and justice, law and order, or rights and liberty, do they speak for everyone? Or do their writings reinforce asymmetries of economic and social power? Students consider various responses to such questions while reading and discussing selections from Plato, Locke, Wollstonecraft, and Marx.
PLTC 203 Colorblind or Racialized? Law and Policy in the Making of Race
Is America “post-racial”? Recent media focus on police shootings, wealth gaps, and ongoing debates about immigration suggest that race and inequality continue to shape life experiences of Americans in the twenty-first century. This course examines current policy issues, asking how public and private discourses and institutional practices shape understandings of race and justice. Students consider how perceptions of race, ethnicity, and “colorblindness” are embedded in patterns of disparity and investigate alternatives that ordinary people and some political elites are posing for more judicious policy to foster equality and racial justice. Recommended background: AFR 100; PLTC 115; or one 100-level history course.
PLTC 205 State-Society Relations in the Modern Middle East
Like no other political entity in history, the modern state seeks to transform society into an image of its own making and to harness its citizens’ productive power for its own benefit. States in the Middle East, like those all over the world, have attempted this feat with varying degrees of success and failure. This course examines state efforts to dominate and shape society in the Middle East and the myriad ways that social groups have resisted, assisted, and otherwise modified state rule. Prerequisite(s): any 100-level course in politics. Recommended background: PLTC 262.
PLTC 208 Latinx Politics
This course explores the role of Latinos in the state and national politics of the United States. It begins by examining the meaning of Latino, then explores the history of Latino political organization, social movements (civil rights), and political incorporation (citizenship acquisition, registration and voting). The course considers contemporary Latino participation in U.S. politics, including modes of political organization, social movements, public opinion, the impact of Latino voters on recent campaigns and elections, and the election of Latinos to public office. Although the course gives particular attention to Mexicans, Puerto Ricans, Dominicans, Salvadorans, and Cubans, it also serves as an introduction to the broader study of ethnic politics in the United States. Recommended background: PLTC 115.
PLTC 210 International Human Rights in Africa
This course offers an in-depth survey, analysis, and assessment of international human rights as a global regime and institution. Students first learn the origins of the concept of human rights by surveying religious, traditional, and early legal documents. Then they consider different generations of human rights and the different categories and international treaties that accompany them. The course examines case studies in Africa to better understand and analyze the debates and implementation surrounding human rights. Recommended background: INDS 100 or PLTC 122 or 171.
PLTC 211 American Parties and Elections
The origins, structures, activities, and functions of parties in the American political system. Students analyze elections, voter behavior, campaign strategy, campaign finance, and the role of parties in the operation of government. Prerequisite(s): one of the following: PLTC 115, 122, or 125.
PLTC 212 Race and Mass Incarceration in the United States
This course provides an analysis of the criminal justice system with a particular focus on the centrality of crime policy to the making of race in the United States. Specifically, the course examines the war on drugs. Students consider how changes to laws and policies transformed the way we punish crime as a country, and their disproportionate impact on Black and Brown communities. Students also explore reformist and abolitionist social movements and their efforts to redress these disparities in the criminal justice system through policy change. Recommended background: PLTC 115.
PLTC 213 Great Power Politics
Since the end of the cold war, the United States has been the preeminent power in international politics, with unrivaled military strength, the largest economy, and the greatest influence on global culture. Though the United States retains its advantage in each of these areas, many believe its relative strength has declined in recent years with the increasing economic might of the People’s Republic of China and the growing assertiveness of the Russian Federation, challenging presumptions of globalization. This course considers whether earlier discussions of great power politics remain relevant to international politics today, focusing on the foreign policies of the United States, China, the Russian Federation, and the most influential voices of the European Union, France and Germany. Prerequisite(s) or corequisite(s): PLTC 171, 122, 225, or 283.
PLTC 215 Political Participation in the United States
Citizen participation lies at the heart of democratic decision making, but its importance extends well beyond formal tools like voting. This course explores the many ways in which Americans participate in politics and voice demands on the government, both formally and informally, from letters to the president to demonstrations in the streets. Students also look at who uses these tools, including the ways in which class, race, and gender affect political influence. Prerequisite(s): one of the following: PLTC 115, 122, or 125.
PLTC 216 Constitutional Law I: Balance of Powers
This course investigates the development of constitutional law in the United States, with focus on governmental structure – popular sovereignty, separation of powers, and federalism – and some basic and contested techniques of constitutional interpretation. Topics include the powers of the legislative branch, the presidency, and the judiciary; the development of judicial review; the relationship among the three federal branches; the balance of powers between the federal government and state governments; and government regulation of citizens’ economic rights. Prerequisite(s): PLTC 115 or 191.
PLTC 218 Statistics for Political Analysis
In this course, students learn how political scientists use statistics. They learn basic statistical concepts, make controlled comparisons, use statistical tests and measures of association to make inferences, and conduct linear regressions. The course develops practical skills, including the ability to use the computing program R, create graphs and perform statistical analysis using R. Students also explore the advantages and limitations of statistics as a research methodology as well as questions of research ethics. Politics majors may not count the course toward their major concentration; however, regardless of their concentration, students may count the course as one of the required courses outside of their major concentration. Prerequisite(s): one 100-level course in politics.
PLTC 219 Social Movements in Latin America
Social movements have often played key roles in Latin American politics. In the 1980s, grassroots movements against dictatorships raised hopes that poor and marginalized groups might spur processes of democratization and development. In the new democratic regimes, however, significant social and economic inequalities persist, marking political and social space in acute ways. This course explores the struggle by poor and marginalized groups for space, both theoretically and literally, through examination of rural landless movements, urban squatter movements, LGBT movements, and women’s movements in the region.
PLTC 222 International Political Economy
This course offers an introduction to the theories and debates regarding the politics of trade, multinational corporations, money and finance, and regional integration of developed and developing countries. Students explore the connections between international politics and economics both historically and in the contemporary era of “globalization.” Topics include the power of transnational corporations, the emergence and significance of the World Trade Organization, and the European Union and the role of the International Monetary Fund in the development world.
PLTC 225 International Security
War and conflict are persistent elements in international politics. There are many forms of international conflict, including global wars, local wars, terrorism, and insurgencies. This course begins by looking at the causes of war and conflict, examines forms of conflict, and ends with a look at war’s consequences. It provides some historical background, but concentrates on explaining issues in contemporary international politics. Recommended background: PLTC 171.
PLTC 230 The U.S. Congress
This course explores the U.S. Congress and legislative politics. Students examine the practice and significance of congressional elections and the organization and behavior of congressional institutions, including their historical development, with a special emphasis on the connection between electoral behavior and lawmaking.Prerequisite(s): one of the following: PLTC 115, 122, or 125.
PLTC 232 The Politics of Post-Communism
The collapse of communism in Eastern Europe and Asia provide a unique opportunity to examine why things change and why things stay the same. This course examines how Russia and at least one other post-communist country have dealt with the three fundamental challenges that all such countries had to face: the transformation of political institutions; the transformation of economic institutions; and the redefinition of national identity. Prerequisite(s): any 100-level course in politics or any course in European studies.
PLTC 236 The Global Politics of Climate Change
Few issues are likely to affect the lives of young people across the globe as much as climate change. Few issues engage more diverse social actors and present such complexities in devising a response. This course uses climate change as an extended case study to examine theories of international cooperation around climate change and examine the structures, actors, and processes of governance on a global scale. Prerequisite(s): any 100-level course in politics or any 200-level course in environmental studies.
PLTC 238 Queer Power: Political Sociology of U.S. Sexuality Movements
This course introduces students to social movement theory and interest group politics in the United States via the case study of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) politics from the immediate post-World War II period to the present, and it examines the relationship of sexuality to the racial and gender dynamics of U.S. identity-based social movements. The course traces the development of research methodologies to study collective action from early rational choice models to resource mobilization theory to new social movement models and political opportunity and process models. How the LGBTQ+ movements drew upon, expanded, and challenged foundations established by both African American civil rights and feminism is also explored. Prerequisite(s): any 100-level course in gender and sexuality studies, politics, or sociology.
PLTC 241 The European Union
This course investigates the politics of European integration and disintegration, with a specific focus on the European Union. Students examine the origins and development of the European Union and its future prospects. Will Europe grow closer together or further apart? What are the trade-offs between “social” and “market” models of integration? What are the impacts of enlargement? What is the future of the Eurozone? Does the E.U. promote regional nationalism, e.g., in Scotland and Catalonia? Why did Britain decide to “leave” the E.U.?
PLTC 243 Politics and Literature
Why would a politically-opinionated person write a piece of literature rather than a political treatise? This course explores what the literary form might reveal about politics that more formal political theory misses. Students examine four interconnected topics — gender politics, political fugitives, utopias and dystopias, and the social construction of race — to consider the advantages of narrative writing for expressing one’s political views. Readings span across space and time, from Ursula Le Guin’s The Dispossessed, and Sophocles’ Antigone to The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison.
PLTC 247 Transition and Transformation in Southern Africa
This course reviews historical legacies and contemporary dynamics of social organization as well as economic structures to identify critical features of governance and political life. The course examines factors underlying African states’ governance, semi-authoritarian impulses, social democratic forces, and consolidation of democracy. Students consider cases of political rule and citizen engagement in several of the region’s hybrid, developmental, and transforming states. Recommended background: PLTC 122, 155, 171, or 290.
PLTC 249 Politics of Latin America
This course considers how major political and economic actors, events, and ideas from the late nineteenth century to the beginning of the twenty-first contribute to strengthening or weakening democratic governance in South America today. Students consider mass politics and populism, regime breakdown and military rule, the twin challenges of democratic transitions and neoliberal economic reforms, and finally the post-transition challenges of persistent low quality of democracies and income inequality. Recommended background: HI/LL 181 and PLTC 122.
PLTC 251 Psychology of Political Behavior
In this course, students investigate how people think and feel about politics. They consider the role of underlying psychological processes in shaping political behavior of both citizens and elites. They dive into the psychological roots of political behavior, focusing on the mechanisms of how people structure their political beliefs and make political decisions, including topics such as emotion, bias, and persuasion. Students also look at politicalpsychology of groups, and examine reasons why people dislike others, the psychological origins of political conflicts, and the pathways to compromise and cooperation. Recommended background: any 100- or 200-level politics course. Some background in psychology is useful, but not required.
PLTC 257 African American Women’s History and Social Transformation
This course examines the political, social, and cultural traditions created by Black women from slavery to the present. Students consider their transformative influence on major questions and social movements. Through novels, plays, autobiography, music, and nonfiction produced by and about Black women, students explore a range of intellectual and cultural traditions. Recommended background: one course in gender and sexuality studies and/or one course in Africana.
PLTC 260 Nationalism and Nation Building
This course provides an overview of major theories on nationalism and nation building. It introduces different forms of nationalism and discusses the relationship between the emergence of modern states and the idea of national identity. Students explore how nationalism relates to state building, citizenship, different regime types, economic change, gender, and religion. Case studies are drawn from the experiences of national identity formation in countries such as France, Germany, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Iran, and India. Recommended background: any 100-level course in politics or any course in European studies.
PLTC 261 Nuclear Politics
This course explores the history and politics of the use and non-use of nuclear weapons and nuclear proliferation in international relations. Why do states develop nuclear weapons? Did the creation of nuclear weapons bring a fundamental shift in the nature of warfare and international relations? If so, how? What is the strategic and political utility of nuclear weapons? Do nuclear weapons increase the likelihood of victory in international crises? Recommended background: PLTC 171.
PLTC 262 Politics of the Modern Middle East
An introduction to the politics of the Middle East and North Africa, concentrating on the history of the Muslim world, including the rise of Islam, empires, colonialism, and the formation of modern states in the twentieth century. Students investigate different regime types, political ideologies, authoritarianism, political economy, and the politics of gender in various Middle Eastern countries, including Egypt, Morocco, Iran, Turkey, Syria, and Saudi Arabia. They also discuss prospects for democracy and liberalization in different Middle Eastern countries. Recommended background: any 100-level politics course.
PLTC 272 Oikos: Rethinking Economy and Ecology
Economy and ecology share the same Greek root: oikos, or “home.” Both name relationships that are crucial to the sustenance of life, yet these two domains often appear to be locked in mortal combat. Why is the oikos of modern life torn asunder? What is this split and how did it arise? Is reconciliation possible? If so, what might it entail? This course brings critical tools from political theory and science studies to bear on these questions, exploring a variety of attempts to rethink the relation between economy and ecology and to reconfigure the very nature of the categories themselves. Recommended background: one course in anthropology, economics, environmental studies, politics, or sociology.
PLTC 276 U.S. Foreign Policy
This course traces the historical and institutional roots of U.S. foreign policy themes. Students draw on primary documents to capture recurring debates such as imperialism vs. isolationism and free trade vs. protectionism. Students then turn to issues such as intervention, environmental policy, and other contemporary challenges. Special attention is given to the potential conflicts between an effective foreign policy and democratic governance.
PLTC 281 Terrorism, Insurgency, and Civil War
Intrastate conflicts have been the dominant form of political violence since 1945. While their number has fallen since the end of the cold war, they have caused more than 15 million deaths since 1945, and in the words of a World Bank overview, represent “development in reverse.” Beyond their enormous human cost, these conflicts impact many elements of politics, such as state building, political institutions, and the ordering of political power. This course examines the causes, dynamics, prospects for peace, and lasting legacies of political violence in a variety of cases, through a mix of reading, lectures, discussion, writing, and presentations. Recommended background: Familiarity with statistics and calculus is helpful, but not required.
PLTC 282 Constitutional Law II: Rights and Identities
An introduction to constitutional interpretation and development in civil rights and race equality jurisprudence, gender equality jurisprudence, sexual orientation law, and matters related to privacy and autonomy (particularly sexual autonomy involving contraception and abortion access). Expanding, contracting, or otherwise altering the meaning of a right involves a range of actors in a variety of venues, not only courts. Therefore, students consider rights from a “law and society” perspective, analyzing judicial rulings as well as evaluating the social conceptualization, representation, and grassroots mobilization around these rights. Prerequisite(s): PLTC 115 or 191 or any course in gender and sexuality studies. Recommended background: PLTC 216.
PLTC 283 International Politics of East Asia
This course examines the security, political, economic, and cultural relations of East Asia through a range of theoretical perspectives in international relations. The major goal of the course is to understand the character, causes, and consequences of international conflict and cooperation in East Asia. Historical comparisons are drawn between the post-World War II and post-cold war periods. The course also considers foreign policy implications for the United States. Recommended background: PLTC 171.
PLTC 284 The Political Economy of Capitalism
Political economy studies the market and the state as interrelated institutions. This course examines capitalism within its political context from two complementary perspectives. Students examine the historical evolution of social scientific thinking about the economy, in the process identifying some of the central critiques and defenses of capitalism as a system of social organization. Then they consider political economy topically, addressing a series of policy challenges thrown up by capitalism and considering multiple perspectives on how those challenges should be diagnosed and addressed.
PLTC 290 Politics of Sub-Saharan Africa
An introduction to key historical and contemporary issues in sub-Saharan Africa, including state formation, democracy, civil society, and religion. Despite the large number of countries with different histories and cultures comprising the region, sub-Saharan Africa is often too simplified as a place of civil wars, ethnic violence, corruption, and poverty. The narrow selection of topics covered by the media and our general lack of interest therefore neglect the variety of landscapes, political systems, economic growth, and society-religion relationships, among others. Students analyze the debates surrounding the region to better understand its complexities, and explore unfolding patterns of change witnessed at the opening of the twenty-first century and ways that younger and older Africans shape their own political and economic situations. Recommended background: PLTC 122 or 171.
PLTC 292 Political Freedom
What is the relationship between freedom and politics? Is politics antithetical to freedom? Is political freedom one kind of freedom among many? Can we only be free through participating in politics? In this course, students consider the idea that politics and freedom are fundamentally in tension with one another. Then they explore the notion that freedom can be pursued in different ways, including through politics. They examine the argument that freedom can only be attained in and through political action. Finally, they examine how these three different understandings of the relationship between politics and freedom might or might not apply to contemporary political controversies. Recommended background: PLTC 191.
PLTC 295 Reading Marx, Rethinking Marxisms
PLTC 297 The Household and Political Theory
Western political theories often acknowledge, either implicitly or explicitly, the importance of domestic considerations-such as child bearing, sexual relations, and issues of home economics-but rarely appreciate their political significance. And sometimes theorists who acknowledge that the personal is political miss the significance of the so-called racial classification or class position of the domestic situations they study. This course stresses close reading of theories that highlight the politics of domestic life, and considers how various Western classics (e.g., Plato, Aristotle, Rousseau, Hegel) situate domesticity. Recommended background: PLTC 191.
PLTC 301Z Race and U.S. Women’s Movements
This course considers how racial formations have developed in and influenced gendered and feminist movements. Movements examined may include woman’s suffrage, anti-lynching, civil rights, Black Power, LGBTQ+, moral reform, welfare rights, women’s liberation, and peace. Topics examined include citizenship, colonization, immigration, reproductive justice, and gender-based violence. Cross-listed in gender and sexuality studies, history, and politics.
PLTC 303 States of Emergency
Scholars and political leaders often distinguish between the “normal” flow of politics and the politics of crisis and emergency. The latter increasingly dominate contemporary politics: we live in an era of “permanent crisis.” How are crises governed? How do political and economic actors prepare for, prevent, mitigate, and manage emergencies? Who stands to profit, and who loses? Students examine case studies of various types of crisis or emergency in order to understand whether and how crises disrupt or reinforce political and economic power relations. Students participate in and analyze simulations of natural and/or manmade disasters.
PLTC 304 Intersectional Political Theory: Lesbian, Black, and Indigenous Feminisms
In the era of the Women’s March, #MeToo, and #SayHerName, “intersectionality” has become a watchword in feminist and queer politics. But what does it mean to think, act, or organize intersectionally? What conflicts and inequalities do intersectional frameworks identify? Can–or should–intersectional approaches attempt to solve these challenges once and for all? This course examines how lesbian, black, and indigenous feminists have differently encountered these challenges from the 1960s to the present. Prerequisite(s): PLTC 191.
PLTC 305 Money and Power
This seminar investigates the political power of money and finance: the relationship between money and the state, the emergence of central banks, the creation of international financial institutions, the role of money as an instrument in political lobbying, and the deepening significance of money in contemporary political discourse. How did money and debt become instruments of power and coercion? To what extent and how does money influence politics and vice versa? How are money and financial institutions regulated at the national level? How is international finance governed? What are the economic and social impacts of public debt? Does finance undermine democracy?
PLTC 306 Economic Liberalism and Its Critics
The 2008 financial crisis, extreme wealth inequality, climate change, and Brexit are a few examples of developments that disrupted what we thought we knew about political economy. For the first time in decades, big political economic ideas are back on the table. This course offers students the opportunity to conduct sustained reading of foundational texts in political economy, including works by Adam Smith, Karl Marx, Karl Polanyi, and Friedrich Hayek. What have these texts yet to teach us about both historical and contemporary political economic dilemmas? Recommended background: prior course work in the philosophical, literary, and legal studies or political economy concentrations of the politics major.
PLTC 310 Public Opinion
An analysis of controversies concerning the formation, nature, and role of public opinion in American politics. How do we arrive at political judgments, and how do those judgments affect individual and collective decisions? The course examines how social positions and identities affect judgments and decisions. Students learn the methodology of sample surveys (polls) and consider the advantages and disadvantages of alternative methodologies. Prerequisite(s): PLTC 218, ECON 250, PHYS 218, or SOC 206.
PLTC 311 Politics and Emotions
This course explores the relationship between emotions and politics. As a prelude to discussing the importance of emotions in politics, students consider how emotions can be conceptualized and categorized. They explore the traditional dualism between rationality and emotion: the relationship between emotion and reason, the interaction between emotion and cognition, and the relationship between culture and emotion. Then they analyze the place of emotions for different political phenomena. They study how emotions play a role in political participation and mobilization, legitimization, and coercion, diplomacy, war, and conflict. Recommended background: any 100- or 200-level politics course.
PLTC 313 New Technologies and Politics
In this course, students consider how new technologies shape the world of politics. Drawing on a broad set of examples from both the developed and developing world, as well as democracies and non-democracies, they study how new technologies have affected citizen participation, social movement mobilization, elections, governance, security, conflict, political development, and social justice. This course provides students with an in-depth survey of the key issues and debates surrounding new technologies and politics. Students are encouraged to explore topics of interest in further detail. Recommended background: PLTC 218 or any 100-level or 200-level course in politics.
PLTC 314 Space is the Place: Speculative Fiction and Black Radical Thought
In this course, students engage works of science fiction literature, film, and music alongside radical and revolutionary Black political thought. By considering how Black social movements in the U.S. have risked imagining the seemingly impossible, we challenge the notion that transformative social change must be conceived and brought about wholly in ‘pragmatic’ terms. Instead we come to grasp how struggles to protect and enhance the lives of Black people are necessarily speculative projects.
PLTC 315 International Cooperation
In this course students analyze the dual questions of why nations cooperate and how they cooperate. The course begins with the problems of cooperation in an anarchic world and investigates how nations overcome these problems. In the process, the course examines different analytical perspectives such as realism, liberalism, and regime theory, as well as solutions to cooperative problems proposed by game theory and negotiation analysis. Substantively, the course examines cooperation over trade issues, financial affairs, global commons, and the environment. Recommended background: PLTC 171, 222, and 234.
PLTC 318 Sports and Politics from Coubertin to Kaepernick
“It’s just a game.” Countless sports fans mutter this mantra to calm themselves in the heat of a contested sporting event. But it isn’t just a game. From the birth of the modern Olympic movement to #BlackLivesMatter protests at various sporting venues, even a cursory survey of American – and indeed global – history shows the challenge of separating politics and sports. This seminar explores how sports shaped domestic and international politics throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Students investigate how sports celebrities became intrinsically linked with the civil rights movement in the United States, the Middle East conflict, anti-Soviet resistance, and the recent movement against anti-BIPOC police violence. In addition to an in-depth survey of the key issues and debates surrounding sports and politics, students are encouraged to explore their topics of interest in further detail. Recommended background: any 100-level or 200-level course in politics or sociology. PLTC 218 (or equivalent in other discipline) will be useful but not required to enroll in the course.
PLTC 318 Sports and Politics from Coubertin to Kaepernick
“It’s just a game.” Countless sports fans mutter this mantra to calm themselves in the heat of a contested sporting event. But it isn’t just a game. From the birth of the modern Olympic movement to #BlackLivesMatter protests at various sporting venues, even a cursory survey of American—and indeed global—history shows the challenge of separating politics and sports. This seminar explores how sports shaped domestic and international politics throughout the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Students investigate how sports celebrities became intrinsically linked with the civil rights movement in the United States, the Middle East conflict, anti-Soviet resistance, and the recent movement against anti-BIPOC police violence. In addition to an in-depth survey of the key issues and debates surrounding sports and politics, students are encouraged to explore their topics of interest in further detail.
PLTC 319 The U.S. Presidency: Development and Problems
When the framers created the U.S. presidency, they created an executive office without precedent in the modern world. The course studies their objectives and evaluates how the office and power of the presidency has changed over time. Students survey the institutional development and current operations of the executive branch, examine the politics of presidential leadership, and consider the impact of the former on the latter. Attention is given to those areas of cutting-edge research in presidential studies including the managerial capacities of the Executive Office of the President, the scope and limits of unilateral action, and changing relations with Congress, the bureaucracy, and the public. Prerequisite(s): PLTC 115. Recommended background: PLTC 211, 216, or 230.
PLTC 320 Immigrants and Their Homelands
PLTC 321 Theories of International Relations
This close examination of classic texts as well as cutting-edge developments in international relations. How does the lack of a world government affect relations among states? When do states do what they believe is appropriate, and when do they do what they perceive to be expedient? What are the domestic political sources of international outcomes? How and why has the world been organized around different global economic orders? To what extent, and in what ways, does international law shape state behavior? Prerequisite(s): PLTC 171.
PLTC 323 Crime, Violence, and Security in Latin America
Despite a region-wide shift to democracy, Latin America possesses higher rates of violence in the 21st century than any other region in the world. Why? This course analyzes the root causes of crime and violence and its impact on Latin America. Through the examination of specific cases, students explore the various manifestations of crime and violence occurring in the region and responses to it by states, citizens, and private entities. Some key themes include the significance of weak and corrupt institutions; legacies of authoritarianism; police reform; the war on drugs; and the emergence of private security.
PLTC 324 Nationalism, Conflict, and Peace in East Asia
This course explores the different meanings of nationalism in international relations, including national identity, national images, and nationalistic sentiments, and how nationalism affects a state’s foreign policy behavior, focusing on East Asian countries. It provides an overview of distinct characteristics of Chinese, Japanese, Korean, and Taiwanese nationalism, and examines how and to what extent nationalism shapes important foreign policy issues: territorial disputes, alliance politics, regionalism, and nuclear proliferation. Recommended background: PLTC 122 or 171.
PLTC 326 The Politics of Authenticity
Is there such a thing as an authentic self? If so, can politics help us realize it? In this writing-attentive course, students discuss what the politics of authenticity is or might be, how it has been conceptualized in American politics and Western political theory, and why it has become an object of widespread suspicion and continuing appeal. Students examine how authenticity has been posited and contested in three different domains: in the history of Western political thought; in feminist, queer, and transgender writings; and in discussions of race. Authors include Rousseau, Freud, Butler, Malcolm X, Yoshino, and Coates.
PLTC 328 Representation in Theory and Practice
Are citizens in a representative democracy more like stage directors or probation officers? This course analyzes the purpose and limits of political representation, including the role of formal representation in democratic government, the ways citizens hold governments accountable, the responsiveness of political leaders, representation of and by women and minorities, and alternative mechanisms for ensuring accountability. Students consider theories of representation as well as historical and contemporary sources on the United States, Europe, and Latin America. Prerequisite(s): one of the following: PLTC 115, 122, 191, 211, 230, 245, or 249.
PLTC 329 Problems and Progress in U.S. Political Development
American political development (APD) is a distinct branch of American political science, which is not only credited with “bringing history” back into the study of American politics but also is explicitly concerned with how politics is constructed historically. The course is centrally concerned with how political institutions, ideas, and culture shape the actions of political actors and policy outcomes over time. Students assess the growth, development, and change of a range of political institutions and consider how their development affects social policies, including but not limited to welfare and racial justice policy. Prerequisite(s): PLTC 115 and 216 or 230.
PLTC 332 The Politics of Memory
What is at stake when monuments are built or taken down? How do different societies decide what to remember from their past, and what to forget? This course explores the politics of public memory. It examines how the stories that groups tell themselves about themselves help construct, justify, or contest relations of power within the group or between themselves and others. It also asks how such memories can be used to overcome the traumas and conflicts of the past. Specific cases are drawn from a variety of different countries, including the United States. Prerequisite(s): one 100- or 200-level politics course.
PLTC 333 State Formation, State Development, State Collapse
This course offers an in-depth analysis of the modern state. It begins with the definitional question and explores different approaches to the state. It then proceeds to historical analysis of the rise of modern states in Europe and other world regions. The third component of the course explores the relationship between states and societies, focusing on European and other cases. Finally, the course explores the extent of state weakness across the world, and explanations for variation in the strength and stability of states. Prerequisite(s): any 100- or 200-level course in politics.
PLTC 336 Explaining Wartime Violence
Genocide, torture, civilian killing, mass rape: Why do people do such terrible things to each other? Are these acts senseless, or do they have their own chilling logic? Are they the work of crazed ideologues or ordinary people? Each topic contains more puzzles: Why have democracies developed a particular style of torture? Why are civilians targeted in some wars but not others? Finally, how optimistic should we be? Should we despair, or are there sound reasons to believe that wartime conduct has improved? Can such behavior be prevented, and if so, how? Recommended background: one social science course.
PLTC 341 Political and Social Legacies of Civil Conflict
Civil wars have been the dominant form of violent conflict around the world since 1945. These conflicts impact many elements of politics, such as state building, institutional design, and the ordering of political power, and also serve as critical junctures for societal and political change well into the future. This course examines the legacies of civil wars on political and social processes, including trust, civic life, regime type, and the prospects for enduring peace across a variety of cases from around the world. Recommended background: prior coursework in the social sciences.
PLTC 344 Ethnicity and Conflict
Every day the news media brings us horrifying accounts of bloody conflict described as the result of ethnic or cultural difference. This course examines different ways to understand and investigate how such conflicts start and how they can be resolved. Are such conflicts more prevalent now than during the cold war era? If so, why? Is cultural difference really the cause of such conflicts, or is difference merely a convenient frame, obscuring more fundamental causes? What makes neighbors turn against each other? Can there be lasting reconciliation? What role should the international community play in such conflicts? Prerequisite(s): any 100-level course in politics.
PLTC 346 Power and Protest
This seminar examines theories of protest from nonviolent resistance to armed insurrection to social critique. When laws are unjust, are citizens morally obligated to obey them? What kinds of resistance tactics and protest actions are justifiable, and under what conditions? How might we understand the relationship between effective and legitimate protest? What are the promises and limitations of violence and nonviolence? Is exiting politics –– leaving a political society or refusing to participate –– a meaningful form of resistance? This seminar explores these questions by putting texts in modern and contemporary political theory in conversation with works by those who engage in forms of protest themselves.
PLTC 352 Participatory Democracy in the Americas
How far can we press the ideal of true democracy? Is the individual right to vote the apex of democratic practice, or might we strive for deeper involvement in politics and the public sphere? This course engages canonical debates on the boundaries of liberal democratic practices and casts them against innovations in democratic governance. Ideas and solutions are assessed on normative and empirical grounds with particular attention to the position of marginalized groups. In addition to seminar-style meetings, the course deploys experiential learning techniques to connect theory to praxis.
PLTC 353 Political Violence in Latin America
Why is public life in contemporary Latin America so violent? Political violence is inherent to revolutions, civil wars, and authoritarian regimes. In contrast, one of the merits of democracy is that it facilitates the peaceful allocation of resources and power. For much of the twentieth century, Latin America struggled with insurgencies, civil war, and repressive authoritarian regimes. A wave of democratic transitions in the 1980s and 1990s brought renewed hope for peace, justice, and the protection of civil liberties, but political violence persists. This course explores the puzzling persistence of violence throughout the region. Recommended background: HI/LL 181; PLTC 122, 249, s49, or another research methods course.
PLTC 360 Independent Study
PLTC 363 Women and the Women’s Movement in Africa
The depiction of Africa in Western media is often negative, dealing mostly with civil conflicts, epidemics, lack of resources, and human rights abuses. While these certainly remain a reality, they provide a limited perspective. This course strays away from such preconceptions and examines issues surrounding women in Africa, including political participation, conflict, women’s rights, and civil society. Students having taken courses in international relations, politics, and gender and sexuality studies may have an easier time understanding the theoretical framework, but such courses are not required. Prerequisite(s): one 100-level politics course. Recommended background: GSS 155, INDS 100, or PLTC 122, 155, or 171.
PLTC 365 Special Topics
PLTC 371 International Peacekeeping
Since the end of the cold war international actors, including the United Nations, NATO, and the Organization of African Unity, have taken a more active role in preventing and resolving conflicts within and among sovereign states, with mixed results. This course examines the history of international peacekeeping and the reasons for its increased relevance in the post-cold war era. It considers the different forms that peacekeeping, peacebuilding, or peacemaking have taken and the various formal and informal practices associated with such interventions. Students discuss the definitions of success in evaluating peacekeeping efforts and investigate why some efforts succeed and others fail. Prerequisite(s): any 100-level course in politics. Recommended background: PLTC 171.
PLTC 377 Experiences in Policy Process
This course offers an advanced investigation in public policy and the policy process. students apply prominent theories of the policy process to community-driven problems, emphasizing the politics of social policy. They work collaboratively with local organizations and, through research experiences, develop skills in research design, qualitative methodologies, and analysis. Collaborative work, community-based learning, scholarly writing, and oral presentation skills are emphasized. Topics include agenda setting, problem definition, the role of entrepreneurs, advocacy coalitions, policy feedback, and policy analysis.
PLTC 381 Rules, Norms, and Laws of War
What laws, rules, and norms govern war? How have societies differed in what behavior they reject and what they accept? This course investigates the role of ethical norms and societal rules in regulating the practice of warfare. Students examine the conventions of war in different societies and consider the origins and dynamics of the laws of war, why states often violate these rules and the conditions under which they comply, and the political and ethical dilemmas in enforcing them. Topics include weapons bans, protection of prisoners and civilians, targeted killings, torture, and occupation, and war crimes tribunals. Recommended background: one 200-level politics course and at least one course in the security, conflict, and cooperation politics major concentration.
PLTC 384 Crisis Diplomacy in East Asia
This course provides an overview of crisis diplomacy and conflict management among states, focusing on East Asia, exploring theories of the use of force and coercive diplomacy in international relations. How can states credibly signal their intention in diplomatic crises? When do diplomatic crises escalate into a militarized conflict? Students examine the processes and outcomes of major international crises that have taken place in East Asia, including crises among China and the United States in the Cross Strait, North Korean nuclear crises, and territorial crises between China and Japan. Recommended background: PLTC 171 and 218.
PLTC 394 Contemporary Liberalism and Democratic Action
Twentieth-century Western liberalism has faced new challenges of cultural pluralism: including people previously excluded on the grounds of race, gender, and sexuality; speaking to both sides of the widening gap between rich and poor nations; coming to terms with the rights of indigenous peoples; and reconciling capitalism and democracy. Do contemporary formulations of this diverse and venerable tradition show how to negotiate the contested terrain of twenty-first-century cultural politics? Or is Western liberalism necessarily an apologist for the exclusionary politics of a bygone era? Students read and criticize recent authors who discuss these questions against the backdrop of canonical texts. Prerequisite(s): two courses in politics.
PLTC 421 Congressional Internship
Part-time internships, primarily in local offices of members of the Maine delegation in the United States Congress. Readings and writing focus on congressional staffs, constituencies, and relations with the bureaucracy. Prerequisite(s): PLTC 115, 230, or 328. Enrollment is limited to available positions.
PLTC 456 Senior Thesis Seminar
The senior thesis seminar is an opportunity to complete the required senior thesis in politics in a seminar setting with other students who are working on related research questions. Through the seminar, students explore different research methods and the underlying logics of social scientific inquiry in the study of politics (both empirical and normative study). Students engage in peer-editing and other collaborative writing exercises and they present their independent projects at various stages of the research and writing process. The final product of this seminar is the one-semester required senior thesis. Prerequisite(s): PLTC s49 and one 300-level politics seminar.
PLTC 457 Senior Thesis
Discussion of methods of research and writing, oral reports, and regular individual consultation with instructors. Students undertake a one-semester thesis by registering for PLTC 457 in the fall semester. Majors writing an honors thesis register for both PLTC 457 and 458. Prerequisite(s): one 300-level seminar in politics and PLTC s49.
PLTC 458 Senior Thesis
Discussion of methods of research and writing, oral reports, and regular individual consultation with instructors. Students undertake a one-semester thesis by registering for PLTC 458 in the winter semester. Majors writing an honors thesis register for both PLTC 457 and 458. Prerequisite(s): one 300-level seminar in politics and PLTC s49.
PLTC S13 Immigration Reform
What should immigration reform look like? What are the obstacles to immigration reform? Students explore U.S. immigration from 1965 to the present, including both its intended and unintended consequences, analyzing the policy preferences, resources, and constraints of key stakeholders in the current immigration debate. They practice advancing these diverse perspectives vis-à-vis Congress through role-play and simulation. Based on community research, theoretical readings, and review of the policy proposals that Congress has recently considered, students experience first-hand why so many voices remain “unheard” in Congress as the reform process remains stalled.
PLTC S23 Simulating the Legislative Process
Students engage in a simulation of the federal legislative process by playing the roles of interest groups and officeholders in writing a major law. They explore the goals, strategies, and constraints of political actors in making policy. At the same time, attention is paid to the policy process generally and how in particular cases the process can be altered or subverted to suit the interests of actors. Parallels are drawn with real-world instances of contemporary congressional lawmaking. Recommended background: PLTC 115 and 230.
PLTC S24 Politics of Imagery in the Middle East
This course explores the symbolic foundations of power in the Middle East, focusing on how state rulers attempted to regulate the visual sphere within their domains by examining dress codes, architecture, monuments, state ceremonies, and diplomatic etiquette. How do state rulers present themselves in diplomatic missions and official ceremonies? Why do some states impose strict dress laws? What do state architecture and monuments tell us about the foundations of state legitimacy? Students address these questions through case studies. They also explore how social groups have responded to the official efforts to manipulate public imagery in various contexts.
PLTC S26 The Forever Wars: The Politics of U.S. Involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq
2021 marks two decades since the September 11th attacks, the starting point of U.S. military intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq. Thus, these conflicts have been underway since before the birth of most Bates students, and have deeply affected the world we live in. This course summarizes the history of these conflicts, introduces theories on conflict, and examines the decision making of key actors, to address four questions: How did the United States become involved in these prolonged conflicts? Why did the United States fail to achieve its goals? Could these results have been predicted? What lessons might be learned?
PLTC S28 The Politics of the American Far Right
What defines the contemporary American far right, and where is it headed? This course examines how the political and social landscape of the twenty-first century United States has — and has not — shaped the politics of the reactionary right. Topics include white supremacy and “identitarianism,” militia groups, the digitization of the far right, conspiracy theorizing, and the relationship between contemporary conservatism and the “radical right.” Prerequisite(s): one 100-level politics course. Recommended background: PLTC 191.
PLTC S33 Central European Theater and Politics
A study of Hungarian and Czech history, politics, and theater since about 1945. Our focus is on the impact on theater of the cataclysmic social and political changes in Central Europe since the Hungarian uprisings of 1956. Other seminal events bearing on this study are the Prague Spring of 1968, the collapse of the Soviet bloc in 1989, and the subsequent rebuilding of politics and culture in the region up until today. In conjunction with our study of history, politics, and drama, students read an array of secondary sources on the social and cultural history of post-war Central Europe. Classes will be conducted as discussions, led by the Bates instructors and Hungarian, Czech, and other Central European artists and scholars. Students maintain a journal describing and analyzing the plays, readings and other academic materials studied. Recommended background: one course in European studies, theater, or politics.