SPECIAL TOPICS FOR SPRING 2014

 

 PSC 321-009  International Security—Dr. Frazier

 

This course examines major topics and issues surrounding the concept of international security.  As such, the focus of the course is on the components of international security including:  security dilemmas, deterrence, arms control, nuclear weapons, international terrorism, military strategy, the use of force and regional security.  Each of these components are assessed through various theoretical contexts as well, allowing the student the opportunity to develop a well rounded, basic understanding of international security and its importance to the study of international relations.

During this semester, one of the primary goals in this course will be to assess the relevancy of the term “international security” as a useful concept for many of the security issues faced by states in the international system.  For example, is international terrorism really a component of international security or is this more of a concern for only a few countries?  As a way of answering this type of question, the student will become familiar with the regional security approach, contrasting this approach with traditional ways of thinking about international security.  The end goal of such an endeavor is to provide the student with the skills necessary to make an informed decision about the usefulness of the two perspectives in managing and/or resolving security issues.  Finally, this course will push the student to begin thinking about how countries and their citizens can resolve those security dilemmas that threaten their societies.

 

PSC 321-012  African Politics—Dr. Kerr

 

This course introduces students to the politics of contemporary Africa.  It challenges the dominant representations of the continent as conflict prone, economically underdeveloped, and politically unstable.  Instead, the course presents Africa as a dynamic region comprised of fifty-four independent states with diverse political and economic realities.  Students will explore core topics such as ethnic politics, democratization, economic development, formal and informal institutions, public opinion and behavior, as well as the role of Africa in global affairs.  These themes are examined through a variety of learning materials and collaborative learning methods that expose students to dominant theoretical approaches and political science methodologies.  

 

PSC 321-014  Social Science in Dark Times:  Peace and Conflict in the Twentieth Century—Dr. Levine

 

This course surveys the emergence of peace and conflict studies in the context of the particular catastrophes of the twentieth century:  industrial war, economic crisis, genocide and decolonization.  It is generally acknowledged that politics — and international politics in particular — is uniquely difficult to study in an academic-theoretical framework.  Despite this, the field of peace and conflict studies — international relations, international political economy and sociology, war studies and peace science — has grown enormously over the past eight decades.  Why, and for what? One answer may be found in character of those catastrophes themselves:  the sense that we now permanently live, as the poet Bertolt Brecht put it, “in dark times.”  Accordingly, this course will move between historical, imaginative and theoretical fiction, exploring particular traditions and approaches to war and peace through their generative political and cultural framework: the “dark times” that motivated scholars and theorists to try to make sense of them.

 

PSC 321-018  American Public Policy—Dr. Patton

This course provides a broad overview to public policymaking in the United States.  In addition to learning about the policy process, we will discuss numerous policy issues.  Examples include genetically modified food, internet regulation, financial misconduct, gun violence, immigration, same-sex marriage, and the Affordable Care Act.  Classes will be a combination of lecture, discussion, and in-class activities.

PSC 321—020  Law and Judicial Advocacy—Mr. Todd

 

This course is designed to prepare members of the Mock Trial Team for competitions, providing them with instruction in courtroom advocacy, trial procedure, and the rules of evidence.  Enrollment in the course is by permission of the instructor only.

 

*PSC 321—021  Introduction to Environmental Policy—Dr. Spears

 

This introductory environmental policy course reviews major developments in environmental regulation in the United States, considered in a global context.  Readings examine the evolution of U.S. environmental policy, the form and function of social institutions used to govern human-environment interactions, including markets, state and civil society, and conventions, norms, and morals.  U.S. and U.N. legal structures, agencies, and NGOs are addressed, with attention to comparative regulatory frameworks.  The “new institutional approach,” “resource regimes,” and various incremental and transformative institutional reforms are discussed.  The impact of economic and cultural factors—including class, race, gender, and location—on resource use and other policy decisions affecting the physical and built environments will be explored.  Evolving institutional approaches to energy use, such as sustainability, “wise use,” adaptive management, and resilience are examined.

*PSC  321-022  Social Inequality—Dr. McKnight

 

                This class is cross-listed with AAST 352, for which there is a description in the online catalogue.

 

PSC 422-002  (W) The Politics of Poverty—Dr. Fording

 

In this course we will examine one of the most enduring and consequential social problems in the United States – poverty. The course is divided into three sections. In the first section, we will primarily focus on the conceptualization and meIasurement of poverty, as well as the demographic groups that are most likely to suffer from high poverty rates. In Part II of the course we will review alternative explanations for poverty, focusing on the distinction between individual and structural explanations. In the third and final section of the course, we will review in detail the major government programs aimed at alleviating poverty, as well as the politics surrounding them. We will examine their structure as well as their effectiveness. Throughout the course, we will not only focus on American poverty, but we will also study how poverty, as well as anti-poverty programs in the U.S. compare to those in other industrialized countries.

 

PSC 422-003  (W)  Political Theory and the Politics of Interpretation—Dr. Choi

 

                Several intellectual movements in the early twentieth century called the study of political values into question and stirred controversies over how the social sciences should seek to explain human phenomena.  This course introduces students to the major responses that continue to influence how political values are debated, how the study of politics works, what assumptions it might make, and what goals it might have, as well as what its underlying philosophies and methodologies might be.    The study of meanings is integral to the study of politics, but considerable debate remains over what meanings are, how they operate in society, and how they are best interpreted.  This course will teach students how diverse assumptions about individuals, society, and scientific knowledge inform diverse approaches to gaining knowledge about the social and political world.  This course will also equip students with a theoretical foundation for designing and conducting their own research.

 

PSC 422-005  (W)  Israel, Palestine, and the Politics of Jewish Fear—Dr. Levine

 

Scholars both within Israel and abroad have long discussed that state’s extreme concern with national security issues; its ‘culture of national security.’  Both critics of Israeli policy and those sympathetic to it, moreover, understand that culture as something essential or unique.  Israeli security concerns may be explained in psychological terms (as a feature of Jewish collective memory and historical trauma); in religious-strategic ones (Jews as a ‘nation that dwells alone’ and thus wants for allies); or in political-sociological ones (as producing a unique combination of institutions, stresses and burdens).  But in all these cases, the assumption of a uniquely “Jewish” form of fear serves as the primary point of analytical departure.  In this seminar, we consider these assumptions and their consequences.  What stereotypes about Jews and Israelis, Arabs and Palestinians, does it ‘smuggle in?’  What conversations does it stifle or suppress?  What if we consider Israeli security concerns in broader terms:  as a symptom of broader strategic and existential problems which are general to world politics in the late modern era?  Note: this is an advanced research seminar.  While there are no prerequisites, some background knowledge of the Middle East, and of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in particular, will be helpful; so will strong reading and writing skills.  Readings will be extensive, and students will be expected to attend regularly and participate actively.  Writing intensive.

 

*cross-listed courses

 

 

                                PSC 437 and 446 are also  W courses.