POL (Politics)

POL 101 Introduction to American Politics (4 hours)

This course is an introduction to the fundamental questions of politics through an examination of the American founding and political institutions. Offered every year. 

POL 111 International Relations (4 hours)

This course is an introduction to the conduct of politics in a condition of anarchy. The central issues will be how and whether independent states can establish and preserve international order and cooperate for the achievement of their common interests in an anarchic environment. These questions will be explored through a reading of relevant history and theoretical writings and an examination of present and future trends influencing world politics. Offered fall semester.


POL 121 Introduction to Comparative Politics (4 hours)

This course traces the evolution of major theories and methodologies of comparative politics from the 1960s to present, analyzing both their distinguishing characteristics and how these theories respond to the prominent political issues and intellectual debates of their times. Topics to be covered include: political behavior, political culture, revolutions, modernization, political economy, rational choice, institutions and the state with democratization serving as an overarching theme. Offered spring semester.


POL 200 Independent Study in Politics (1-4 hours)

This course provides the opportunity for an intense study of diverse topics under the direct supervision of the instructor. The student and instructor will collaborate to develop the content of the course, which must be approved as outlined by the Independent Study Policy.  (Sec. 6.15.)

POL 201 Constitutional Law (4 hours)

In this course, we will examine the Constitution and the efforts of the United States Supreme Court to expound and interpret it. In addition to reading and briefing many Supreme Court decisions, students will examine some leading contemporary works in constitutional and legal theory. Offered spring semester in alternate years. Prerequisite: POL 101. 

POL 211 War (4 hours)

What is war? How and to what extent has it changed through the ages? Why are wars won or lost? When is war just? How will war be fought in the future, with what results? Offered alternate years.

POL 231 Asian Politics (4 hours)

This course is a general introduction to the variety of political systems in Asia, concentrating particularly on the nations of East Asia. It will emphasize the methods of comparative political study and will focus on understanding the factors that determine different political outcomes in nations that share a geographical region and many similar cultural and historical influences. 

POL 290 Special Topics in Politics (1-4 hours)
Courses of selected topics will be offered periodically as determined by the needs of the curriculum. Prerequisites can vary based on the topic selected. See individual course listings for each semester for the specific topic and any prerequisites.

POL 302 American Political Parties (4 hours)

An in-depth study of the development of party organizations in the United States and an analysis of their bases of power. Offered fall semester of alternate years. Prerequisite: POL 101.


POL 303 Congress and the Presidency (4 hours)

An examination of the original arguments for the current American governmental structure and the problems now faced by these institutions. Offered spring semester of alternate years. Prerequisite: POL 101.


POL 304 African-American Politics (4 hours)

This course is designed to provide students with an overview of the various strategies and tactics used by African-Americans to advance their economic, social and political agendas. As such, the course will provide a detailed examination of the successes and failures of the interaction between the United States political system and African-Americans from both an historic and present-day perspective. Offered every year. Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor.

POL 311 United States Foreign Policy (4 hours)

A history of American foreign policy since 1945, emphasis in this course will be on the description, explanation and evaluation of events and policies, not the study of policy-making as such. It is strongly recommended that students successfully complete POL 111 International Relations before enrolling in POL 311.


POL 321 Political Development (4 hours)

This course surveys substantive themes and theoretical debates in the study of political development including: what is meant by ‘political development,’ cultural versus structural explanations for change, whether development is driven by domestic or international influences, political transitions and the relative significance of particular groups or institutions. Readings build from theoretical touchstones from Human Nature and the Social Order II (Smith, Marx, Weber) to address contemporary cases in developing and developed countries. Prerequisite: POL 121 and COR 202, or permission of the instructor.

POL 325 Language and Politics (4 hours)

This seminar examines the role of language in politics—broadly construed as power relations—from a variety of perspectives and arguments.  Analytical approaches include: language as rhetoric, language and identity, symbolic power, and cognitive approaches. Students will gain skills in applying frameworks through group application to current political/election events and individual research papers. 

POL 331 Comparative Politics of China and Japan (4 hours)

While Japan and China have both become prominent nation-states with increasing international influence, each country has achieved this feat through very different means. This course seeks to ascertain the sources and strength of their respective development paths as well as the prognosis for their political and economic futures. Topics to be covered include: state formation, ideology and political order, political and economic institutions, economic development strategies, ‘Asian values,’ state-society relations, regional and international relations. Prerequisite: POL 121 and POL 231, or permission of the instructor.


POL 341 Political Philosophy I: Ancient and Medieval (4 hours)

This is an examination of the origins of philosophical reflection on the fundamental issues of politics, which is designed to lead to the critical consideration of the political views of our time. Among the topics discussed are the relationship between knowledge and political power and the character of political justice. Portions of the works of Aristophanes, Plato, Cicero and Alfarabi are examined. Offered fall semester in alternate years. Prerequisite: COR 201 or permission of the instructor.


POL 342 Political Philosophy II: Modern (4 hours)

This is a critical examination of the peculiarly modern political and philosophical stance beginning where Political Philosophy I concludes. Among the authors discussed are Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Kant and Kojeve. Offered spring semester in alternate years. Prerequisite: POL 341, or permission of the instructor.

POL 361 European Politics (4 hours)

This course is a factual, conceptual and historical introduction to politics on the European continent, including (but not necessarily limited to) Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Russia and the European Union. These regimes will be studied through a comparison of their social structures, party systems, institutions and constitutions, political cultures and (if possible) their domestic policies. Offered alternate years. Prerequisite: POL 101.


POL 371 Survey of Research Methods (4 hours)

This course introduces students to qualitative and quantitative methods such as surveys, experiments, archival research, hermeneutical research, case studies and causal analysis. The class will examine these research methods from several different angles including research techniques specific to each method, skills to critically evaluate such research, the epistemological considerations and practical consequences of undertaking such research. Students considering graduate school or careers that require them to sue and assess research may find this course particularly valuable. Cross-listed as CRS 415 and SOC 310. Offered spring semester in alternate years. Prerequisite: Students with junior standing or permission of the instructor.

POL 400 Advanced Independent Study in Politics (1-4 hours)
This course provides the opportunity for an advanced, intense study of diverse topics under the direct supervision of the instructor. These offerings are generally suited for junior or senior students. The student and instructor will collaborate to develop the content of the course, which must be approved as outlined by the Independent Study Policy.  (Sec. 6.15.)

POL 411 War, Peace and Security (4 hours)

An in-depth treatment of one or more of the issues introduced in International Relations. The course will be conducted as a seminar, with the emphasis on reading, discussion and research. It will address the following questions: When and why do statesmen resort to force to resolve international conflicts? When does the threat of force succeed or fail and when and how ought one to employ it? When and why do states make peace? What are the causes of conflict in the present and future? What are the prospects for peace? Topics vary from year to year. Offered alternate years. Prerequisite: POL 111 or POL 311.


POL 422 Seminar in Chinese Politics (4 hours)

This course explores the ongoing political, social and economic transformations in Communist China, with emphasis on the post-Mao era (1978 to the present). General themes include Maoist versus Dengist politics, revolution versus reform, market reform in a communist state, factionalism, central-local relations, state-society relations and China in the international order. The course also examines current political and social issues. Prerequisite: POL 121 and POL 231, or permission of the instructor. 

POL 431 Seminar in Politics and Culture (4 hours)

This will be an upper level seminar in the study of the relationship of politics and culture. Emphasis will be placed on understanding the nature and difficulties of cultural study, with particular attention to ethnographic or participant observer research methods. Focus of the seminar changes yearly but has included such topics as Judaism and Jewishness, Women and Politics and Language and Politics. Prerequisite: POL 101 or junior standing.

POL 441 Seminar in Political Philosophy (4 hours)

An intensive examination of a text or theme introduced in the Political Philosophy sequence. Among the topics have been Rousseau’s Emile, Spinoza and The German Enlightenment. Offered spring semester in alternate years. Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor.


POL 490 Advanced Special Topics in Politics (1-4 hours)

Advanced courses of selected topics will be offered periodically as determined by the needs of the curriculum. These offerings are generally suited for junior or senior students. Prerequisites can vary based on the topic selected. See individual course listings for each semester for the specific topic and any prerequisites.

Specifically, this Politics course has explored the following topics:  Moral and Political Leadership, Dealing with Diversity, Criminal Law and Citizenship in Theory and Practice.


POL 495 Internship in Politics (1-12 hours)

An internship designed to provide a formalized experiential learning opportunity to qualified students. The internship generally requires the student to have an application (which satisfies all internship requirements developed by the academic program that oversees the internship) and to obtain a faculty supervisor in the relevant field of study. All internships are graded on a Satisfactory/Unsatisfactory basis. Prerequisites are determined by the academic program overseeing the internship course.