Political Science

The political science major at Wesleyan provides students with a solid background in comparative and international politics, American politics and political theory. Courses approach the study of politics from a variety of perspectives, with focuses ranging from individual political behavior to the interactions of large institutions in the international arena. In addition to becoming acquainted with the empirical findings of contemporary political science, students also examine the methods by which those findings are reached, thus strengthening their critical thinking skills and gaining a deeper understanding of the nature of knowledge itself. Students also examine the fundamental normative questions of politics. A student who graduates with a degree in political science will be well prepared to speak and write clearly and persuasively not only about what the condition of the political world is but also what she believes it should be.

Students may choose to major in political science with a pre-law track. This gives students interested in a career in law the opportunity to pursue a major course of study that gives them exposure to particular knowledge and analytical skills that will help prepare them for law school. In addition to studying politics and government, students will take courses in related areas, such as business, communication, ethics, logic, and the history of United States civil rights to develop knowledge and skills that they may use in the study of law. It should be noted that guidelines for law school admission do not designate any one particular area in which a student must major in order to be admitted to law school. This major is, therefore, not required for a student interested in law school.

Students who graduate with a political science degree will be prepared for graduate school and careers in government, public service, nonprofit organizations, journalism, and the law.

Major Program. Students who major in political science will acquire knowledge of major political events, phenomena and institution and of the theories essential for interpreting the nature and meaning of power in today's world; the analytical skills requisite for understanding political systems, both domestic and global; and the ability to express concepts concisely and forcefully through both written and oral communication. They will be familiar with the best practices associated with political science research and prepared to enter graduate programs and careers in politics and related fields.

Student learning outcomes for the Political Science Major:

I. demonstrate knowledge of major political events, phenomena, institutions and the theories and frameworks for considering political change
II. demonstrate the methodological commensurate with political analysis and research.
III. be able to apply the best practices associated with the conduct of research in the discipline of political science.
IV. demonstrate preparedness to enter graduate programs and/or to pursue careers in this area of study and related fields.


Major Requirements: Political Science ( 45 hours)

1. Core Requirements (21 hours)
POL 115 American Politics 3 hours
POL 222 Comparative Politics 3 hours
POL 230 International Relations 3 hours
POL 240 Introduction to Political Thought 3 hours
POL 300 Foundations of Political Thought 3 hours
POL 332 Research Methods in Political Science 3 hours
POL 480 Senior Research Seminar 3 hours

2. Content Requirements - American Politics: (9 hours)
POL 320 American Constitutional Development 3 hours
POL 328 United States Foreign Policy 3 hours
POL 330 State and Local Politics 3 hours
POL 356 Activism and Political Organization 3 hours

3. Content Requirements - Comparative and International Relations (9hours)
POL 305 Democracy and Democratization in the Contemporary World 3 hours
POL 319 International Law 3 hours
POL 326 European Politics 3 hours
POL 335 Developing World 3 hours
POL 342 International Organizations 3 hours
POL 351 Nuclear Weapons 3 hours
HIS 347 Modern Middle East 3 hours
HIS/POL 348 Terror and Terrorism in the Modern World 3 hours
 
4. Cognates (6 hours)
ECO 206 Economic Thought 3 hours
ECO 210 Women and Economic Development 3 hours
HIS 315 Contemporary America 3 hours
HIS 342 Modern Europe 3 hours
PHI 223 Ethics 3 hours
PHI 224 Logic 3 hours
 

Major Requirements: Political Science with a Pre-Law Track (51 hours)

1. Core Requirements (21 hours)
POL 115 American Politics 3 hours
POL 222 Comparative Politics 3 hours
POL 230 International Relations 3 hours
POL 240 Introduction to Political Thought 3 hours
POL 300 Foundations of Political Thought 3 hours
POL 332 Research Methods in Political Science 3 hours
POL 480 Senior Research Seminar 3 hours
 
2. Pre-Law Content (18 hours)
COM 202 Public Speaking 3 hours
HIS 130 The American Experience to 1877 3 hours
HIS 135 The American Experience from 1877 3 hours
PHI 223 Ethics 3 hours
PHI 224 Logic 3 hours
POL 320 Constitutional Development 3 hours
 
3. Upper-level Political Science Courses (9 hours)
POL 319 International Law 3 hours
POL 330 State and Local Politics 3 hours
POL 342 International Organization 3 hours
POL 356 Activism and Political Organization 3 hours
 
4. Cognate (3 hours)
BUS 310 Business Law 3 hours
COM 340 Persuasion 3 hours
HIS 357 African American History 3 hours

HIS 377 Seminar in Women's History 3 hours

Professional Development: Throughout her Wesleyan education each student is given opportunities to explore professional and career choices, and to develop and demonstrate the knowledge and skills essential for professional success. Each student will complete a PDE 400 Professional Development Experience and submit a PDE 401 Professional ePortfolio prior to graduation. Each student will complete assignments in the Senior Research Seminar (POL 480) that help her explore careers in the major.

Integrative Experience: Each student will complete POL 480 Senior Research Seminar. In this capstone course, political science majors will complete a significant research project in which they make connections among the various parts of their course of study and employ sound methodology.

Minor Requirements: Political Science

A minor in political science consists of 18 semester hours as follows:

Required (12 hours):
POL 300 Foundations of Political Thought 3 hours
POL 332 Research Methods in Political Science 3 hours
Two upper level POL courses 6 hours
 
Choose two courses from the following (6 hours):
POL 115 American Politics 3 hours
POL 222 Comparative Politics 3 hours
POL 230 International Relations 3 hours
POL 240 Introduction to Political Thought 3 hours
 

Political Science (POL) General Education Courses

115: American Politics.
Goal: Students will develop and utilize analytical tools and research skills for understanding, evaluating, and participating in the political process.
Content: As students investigate selected aspects of political representation and policy formation in the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of American national government, they will encounter and use a variety of tools of political analysis. Applying these tools, students will present policy recommendations, hold debates, stage mock legislative sessions, and prepare briefs for cases to be heard in the Supreme Court.
Taught: Fall.
Gen. Ed. Category: Exploring; Individuals & Communities, (SBS).
Credit: 3 hours.

222: Comparative Politics.
Goal: To develop students' ability to analyze political systems from a comparative perspective.
Content: The course examines methods of comparing political systems. In particular, the course will introduce students to the conceptual tools and models used in the analysis and comparison of political systems; types of contemporary political systems, such as liberal democracies, communist transition states, newly industrializing countries, and less developed countries; and processes of political development and political change.
Taught: Fall.
Gen. Ed. Category: Exploring; Diverse & Interdependent World, (SBS).
Credit: 3 hours.

225: Women and Politics.
Goals: To examine the status of women in today's political world from a global perspective, and to understand how women's experiences are shaped by historical, political, and societal factors.
Content: The course examines the extent to which women have participated and achieved representation in the political arena, and with what impact; analyzes how public policy affects women's lives; and evaluates critical political and social issues that women face in today's global world.
Taught: Spring.
Gen. Ed. Category: Expanding; Women's Experiences, (SBS).
Credit: 3 hours; cross-listed as WST 225.

230: International Relations.
Goal: To provide students with an introduction to the study of international relations and a basic understanding of the concepts, processes, and relationships involved.
Content: The course examines conflicting arguments about the nature of the international system, examining their assumptions, and drawing conclusions as to their validity. The course will also introduce students to a number of more recent issues and concerns that have arisen in international relations. Such factors as terrorism, globalization, unequal economic development, and environmental problems all challenge older assumptions about military might as the only real source of international power and raise questions of what opportunities for international conflict
and cooperation exist in the future.
Taught: Spring.
Gen. Ed. Category: Expanding; Diverse & Interdependent World, (SBS).
Credit: 3 hours.

240: Introduction to Political Thought.
Goal: The course will enhance the student's ability to analyze, interpret, and critique primary sources with a view to purpose, assumptions, argument, and historical context.
Content: Encountering the political and philosophical content of some of the world's major political ideologies, students read and evaluate the original contributions of modern political theorists. The focus is on liberalism, socialism, communism, fascism, communitarianism, and feminism.
Taught: Fall or Spring.
Gen. Ed. Category: Exploring; Individuals & Communities, (SBS).
Credit: 3 hours.

335: Politics of the Developing World.
Goal: To enhance student's understanding of the politics of underdevelopment.
Content: The course is thematically organized to present an overview of the field of the political economy of development. Under each theme appear several country cases, taken from all parts of the developing world. The themes include the concept of development, poverty and inequality, strategies of development, the role of foreign capital, trade and technology, economic stabilization, and democracy and development.
Taught: Alternate years.
Gen. Ed. Category: Synthesizing.
Credit: 3 hours.

348: Terror and Terrorism in the Modern World.
Goal: Terror and terrorism have been prominent features of Western political culture since the French Revolution. For the most part, modern terrorism is of European origin, and the ideas, goals, and methods of European terrorists have inspired terrorists in non-Western nations.
Content: This course familiarizes students with the ideology, motivation, and methods of numerous terrorist groups of the last two centuries in order to provide a basis for an understanding of contemporary terrorist organizations. Generally, the course will stress the motivation and goals of terrorist organizations and governments that use terror to achieve their policy goals. Specifically, we will address anarchy and revolutionary terrorism in nineteenth century Europe, European domestic terrorism in the 1960s and 1970s, twentieth century liberation and separatist movements, and Middle Eastern terrorism.
Taught: Alternate Years.
Prerequisite: None.
Gen. Ed. Category: Synthesizing.
Credit: 3 hours; cross-listed as HIS 348.
 
351: Nuclear Weapons.
Goal: To familiarize students with the development and role of nuclear weapons in the international system.
Content: This course examines the impact of nuclear weapons on politics, society and culture, focusing, although not exclusively on the American experience. Topics covered include the Manhattan Project, the atomic bombing of Japan, the impact of nuclear weapons on the Cold War, and future prospects for proliferation and terrorism.
Taught: Alternate years.
Prerequisite: None.
Gen. Ed. Category: Synthesizing.
Credit: 3 hours.


Political Science (POL) Other Course Descriptions

245: Model United Nations.
Goal: To inform students of the history and operation of the UN and to prepare them for participation in Model UN conferences through the development of oral speaking, critical analysis, and writing skills. It serves as a preparatory course for students interested in participating in Model UN conferences.
Content: The course will examine to the origins, structure, and functioning of the United Nations. Students will also be taught public speaking and debating skills, and will gain important cooperation, negotiation, critical analysis, and writing skills through the writing of resolutions on key issues facing the international community. Students will also be required to participate in simulations of UN sessions.
Taught: Fall.
Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor.
Credit: 1 hour; Credit/No Credit grade option only; course is mandatory for students who wish to participate in Model UN conferences, although that requirement may be waived by permission of the instructor. Students may repeat this course two times for a maximum of three semester hours.

300: Foundations of Political Thought.
Goal: To introduce students to political theory's treatment of central political and moral issues, such as human nature, power, community, equality, liberty, and democracy.
Content: Students will read and analyze the contributions of political thinkers including Aristotle, Plato, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Mill, Rousseau, and Marx. The course will close with an analysis of treatment of some of these issues by contemporary political thinkers.
Taught: Fall.
Credit: 3 hours.
 
305: Democracy and Democratization in the Contemporary World.
Goal: Students will the methods of political thought and comparative politics to examine the core concepts of democracy, the spread of democracy in the contemporary world and key differences between presidential, parliamentary, and semi-presidential systems.
Content: Students will examine the fundamental attributes of democratic regimes and the rise of democracy after World War II. A regime type that at one time was relatively rare has come to be seen as the norm, such that even autocratic regimes now make gestures of appearing to be democratic. Students will also examine the widely varied forms of contemporary democratic regimes.
Taught: Alternate years.
Credit: 3 hours.

319: International Law.
Goal: To provide students with an understanding of the role of international law in the relation between states and other actors in the international system.
Content: The course addresses the history and sources of international law; the rights and duties of states; the impact of international law on domestic law; the use of force; human rights; and the new International Course of Justice. It gives special emphasis to international law and its relationship to the behavior of states in the post 9/11 era.
Taught: Alternate years.
Credit: 3 hours

320: American Constitutional Development.
Goal: To explore the principles and processes that have shaped America's development as a constitutional democracy; to develop the ability to critically analyze important constitutional questions.
Content : Examines the framing of the Constitution, judicial review, and changing approaches to constitutional interpretation; separation of powers and federalism; civil liberties and civil rights, including First Amendment rights, equal protection, privacy, and criminal due process.
Taught: Alternate years.
Credit: 3 hours.

326: European Politics.
Goal: To enhance students' ability to analyze and understand contemporary European politics.
Content: The course focuses on contemporary political developments in Europe, both on the level of individual states and of the region as a whole. Topics of particular attention include the development of political institutions and modes of interest representation; the crisis of the welfare state; issues of immigration, nationalism, and identity; and the politics of regional integration in the form of the European Union.
Taught: Alternate years.
Credit: 3 hours.

328: United States Foreign Policy.
Goal: To enhance students' understanding of the institutions, interests, and events that shape the relations of the United States with the rest of the world.
Content: The course examines the institutions and ideas that shape United States foreign policy. Particular attention is paid to the period since 1945. Case studies are used to examine the diplomatic, military, and covert policies the United States has used to pursue its national interests internationally.
Taught: Alternate years.
Credit: 3 hours.

330: State and Local Politics and Policy.
Goal: The course introduces the student to the institutions, processes, and policy-making of state and local government, providing the background for understanding the role of subnational governments in the political life of the United States.
Content: The course focuses on several trends in state and local governance, including the transfer of responsibility for public programs from the federal government to states and localities, and addresses major issues and problems associated with governance, administration, and implementation of policy.
Taught: Alternate years.
Credit: 3 hours.

332: Research Methods in Political Science.
Goal: To introduce students to the scope and methods of political science. Required of all political science, history/political science, and international relations majors and political science minors; to be taken in the junior year.
Content: The course examines the different theoretical and methodological approaches of political science. Students are introduced to methods and tools of both qualitative and quantitative analysis. Over the course of the semester, students complete a major research project.
Taught: Spring.
Credit: 3 hours.

342: International Organizations.
Goal: To familiarize students with the development and role of international organizations in the international system.
Content: The course explores the role of international organization in controlling and shaping the behavior of nation-states and other actors in the international system. Students explore the history and development of international organizations, such as the League of Nations, the United Nations, and the World Trade Organization. The course also looks at the roles of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and institutions of regional integration, such as the EU.
Taught: Alternate years.
Credit: 3 hours.

356: Activism and Political Organizations.
Goal: To have students understand the role of political parties and interest groups in the American political process..
Content: This course examines organizations in the United States that seek to influence public policy outcomes, with a particular focus on parties and interest groups. Students will study the development of these institutions and the tools available to political organizations and grassroots citizens to obtain the policy outcomes they desire.
Taught: Alternate years.
Credit: 3 hours.

396: Special Topics in Political Science.
Goal: To engage in an in-depth examination of a special topic in political science.
Content: Topics vary; examples include media and politics, political theory, and problems in development.
Taught: Offered occasionally.
Credit: 1-3 hours. A student may take a maximum of six to eight semester hours (two courses) of special topics in any one field.

451: Directed Independent Study.
Goal: To provide opportunities for students to investigate special topics of interest.
Content: Topics are agreed upon through consultation between the student and the instructor and should receive the approval of the program director.
Taught: Offered occasionally.
Credit: 1-6 hours.

452/199: Field Study.
Goal: To give students an opportunity to gain actual experience in government service.
Content: Varies with work assignment. While field study hours will count toward the maximum 48 hours permitted in the major discipline, they may not be applied toward the minimum 37 hours required in the major.
Taught: By permission of the program director.
Credit: 1-12 hours.

480: Senior Research Seminar.
Goal: To provide a capstone experience for majors in which students complete a significant research project in which they make connections among the various parts of their course of study and employ sound methodology.
Content: Each student will select and carry out a significant research project on a topic chosen in conjunction with the instructor. Students will present their research at a formal defense at the end of the semester. Students will also explore career options in the major.
Taught: Fall.
Prerequisite: POL 332 or HIS 299.
Credit: : 3 hours.

499: Honors Thesis. (Fee required)
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