Political Science | Course Catalogue

2019-2020 Catalogue

The political science minor introduces students to the primary subfields in political science, along with a variety of methodological approaches. 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 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) Course Descriptions

POL 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.
POL 207: Sophomore Professional Development Practicum.
Goal: To provide a foundation for career and graduate school readiness through individual and group reflection and personal reflection.
Content: In the first of three professional development seminars students explore career options in their major field, develop resumes, and begin work on a career portfolio. This seminar is intended for sophomores but can also be taken by students transferring to Wesleyan with junior or senior status.
Taught: Fall.
Prerequisite: None.
Credit: 1 hour; cross-listed as HIS 207.

POL 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.

POL 225: Gender 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.

POL 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.

POL 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.
POL 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.
POL 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, Machiavellian, 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.
POL 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.
POL 306: Environmental Politics and Policy.
Goal: To introduce students to the study and practice of environmental politics.
Content: The course begins by exploring key events, concepts, and theories before focusing on debates about how to approach sustainability and environmental issues locally and globally. In particular, students will consider international governance approaches, which rely largely on the authority of nation-states, as well as alternative arrangements initiated and led by non-state actors such as NGOs, corporations, local governments and communities. Students will also employ design-thinking techniques to come up with creative and practical solutions to specific sustainability problems. 
Taught: Alternate years.
Credit: 3 hours.
POL 307: Junior Professional Development Practicum.
Goal: To prepare students for graduate school and career decisions through individual and group exercises and personal reflection.
Content: In the second of three professional development seminars, students continue research into career and graduate school options, prepare for their Professional Development Experience, reflect on transferable skills, and continue to develop their career portfolio. The seminar is intended for juniors but can also be taken by students transferring to Wesleyan with senior status.
Taught: Fall.
Prerequisite: None.
Credit: 1 hour; cross-listed as HIS 307.

POL 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.

POL 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.

POL 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.

POL 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.
POL 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.

POL 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.
POL 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.

POL 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.

POL 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.
POL 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.
POL 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.

POL 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.
POL 407: Senior Professional Development Practicum.
Goal: To prepare students to finalize their plans for graduate school and career choices.
Content: In the final of three professional development seminars, students will make their final preparations to enter graduate school or the job market. The seminar will emphasize resumes, cover letters and personal statements, transferable skills, interview preparation, graduate school testing, and career portfolios. This course is intended for seniors.
Taught: Fall.
Prerequisite: None.
Credit: 1 hour; cross-listed as HIS 407.

POL 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.

POL 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.

POL 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.

POL 499: Honors Thesis. (Fee required).

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