Political Science

Paul Gardner (department head)

Political science is, in one sense, an ancient discipline. From the beginnings of human society, people have made observations about the nature of their government, the personalities of their leaders, and the consequences of governmental action. Plato, Aristotle, and a long line of great political thinkers have pondered the questions of politics and political institutions. On the other hand, political science as it is taught today is a very new discipline, which has been developed primarily in the United States in the past 100 years. During this period, scholars have attempted to move from mere observations about politics to scientific observations about politics. The goal has been to describe and explain political phenomena with greater accuracy. Political phenomena are studied at various levels—individual, group, local government, national government and international.

Required for a major:

Plan I. Thirty-two hours in the department, including POLS 130, 132; two courses in the 300-370 range; POLS 485. Students will fulfill the writing and speaking requirements by completing POLS 485 and the research requirement by completing POLS 485 and a senior project. The senior project does not have to be completed in political science. Normally a maximum of four internship hours can be counted toward the major, with the exception of the internship completed through the Washington Consortium program. In that case, all six internship credits will apply toward the major. The major is flexible, but it requires frequent consultation with the major advisor.

Students considering graduate study in political science, public policy or public administration should consider taking at least one course in economics and a statistics course.

Plan II (teaching). Same as general major requirements, except that a minimum of 24 hours must be selected from American government topics. A minimum of 34 hours of political science is required in Wisconsin. See education department for secondary education minor requirements.

Required for a second teaching area: See Education department for specific requirements. The second teaching area license is offered only in the state of Iowa.

Political Science Courses

POLS 130 American Politics

  • 4 hours
  • Fulfills: Human Behavior—Social Science Methods, Historical

An overview of the historical and contemporary practice of American politics that focuses on the nature of politics and government; the founders' ideas about the democratic republic; the constitutional theory and actual distribution of political power among the branches and levels of government; the problems and possibilities of governing America today; and the avenues available for citizen participation and influence.

POLS 132 Global Politics

  • 4 hours
  • Fulfills: Intercultural, Human Behavior—Social Science Methods

This course will introduce students to (1) global issues, with examination of themes like globalization, economic development and poverty, global warming, ethnic conflict, democratization and war, and (2) global governance, with emphasis on the role of states, nonstate actors and multilateral institutions.

POLS 171 Mock Trial

  • 0 hours

This course involves preparation by students for the annual National Intercollegiate Mock Trial Tournament. The class will meet one to three times a week, September through early April. Students will work closely with a faculty sponsor and local attorneys who will guide them in preparing the case. Course may be repeated.

POLS 237 Politics of the Middle East

  • 4 hours
  • Fulfills: Human Behavior, Intercultural, Historical

This course examines the political problems of this vital region of the world, with a focus on the Arab-Israeli conflict, the politics of oil and other resource issues, the role of religion in politics, and the question of democratization. Offered alternate years.

POLS 242 Comparative Political Analysis

  • 4 hours
  • Fulfills: Human Behavior—Social Science Methods, Intercultural, Historical

An introduction to the theories and concepts of comparative politics. Case studies cover major political systems around the world. The course will emphasize performance as well as historical, cultural and ideological bases of these diverse political systems.

POLS 243 Law and the Quest for Justice

  • 4 hours
  • Fulfills: Human Behavior

This course will explore the relation between law and justice, with special emphasis on the American legal system. Students will read both imaginative literature and classical and modern legal thinkers and explore the way criminal, civil and human rights operate both in the United States and globally.

POLS 247 Social Policy

  • 4 hours
  • Fulfills: Intercultural, Human Behavior—Social Science Methods, Historical

By focusing on current governmental efforts to reduce poverty, this course will investigate the influence of race, gender, class, ideology, demography, organized interests, and a market economy on how social policy is made in America.

POLS 252 Politics and Religion

  • 4 hours
  • Fulfills: Historical, Human Behavior, Religion

This course will focus both on the history of the relationship between politics and religion in Amercia and current political issues that are difficult to separate from a very religious and a religiously diverse nation. We will devote significant attention to how religious beliefs influence the way citizens think and act politically and about how government decisions influence religious practices. (Students may use this course to fulfill either the second Religion requirement or the Human Behavior requirement, but not both).

POLS 258 Environmental Politics and Policy

  • 4 hours
  • Fulfills: Human Behavior—Social Science Methods

In this course, students will identify and examine environmental issues confronting the United States, as well as the larger world. Students will identify and evaluate both current and proposed policies for addressing those issues. We will pay particular attention to the range of actors involved in the making of environmental policy and will emphasize the relationship among politics, economics, ethics, and science in the making of environmental policies in the United States and internationally.

POLS 335 Terrorism and Democracy

  • 4 hours
  • Fulfills: Human Behavior—Social Science Methods, Historical, Intercultural

This course will use works of social science, fiction and film to explore the following issues: the sources of modern terrorism, the political nature of terrorism and the tensions inherent in democracies between civil liberties and national security. A variety of terrorist organizations and countries will be investigated, with special attention to how the United States and other democracies have responded to terrorist attacks.

POLS 350 Economic Policy

  • 4 hours
  • Fulfills: Human Behavior

This course will examine the role of the state in the economy in democratic societies. Topics covered will include international trade policy, the government's capacity to manage the economy, the balance between state and market force and political pressures that influence economic policies. Offered alternate years.

POLS 353 Political Parties and Interest Groups

  • 4 hours
  • Fulfills: Human Behavior—Social Science Methods, Historical

An examination of the function of political parties and interest groups as links between voters and government. What has been the impact of third parties, new campaign techniques, party reforms, single issue and public interest groups, and campaign finance rules? Will American political parties decline as interest groups build strength, or will there be a new party alignment?

POLS 354 Women, Representation, and Politics

  • 4 hours
  • Fulfills: Human Behavior—Social Science Methods

This course explores the role of gender in politics through the conceptual framework of representation. Focusing specifically on women's representation, this course provides a comparative analysis of women's movements in various countries, explores the role of transnational advocacy networks (TANs) in the implementation of gender-related policies, and discusses the rise in the number of women elected to political offices across the globe and its impact on political systems. (Same as WGST 354)

POLS 355 Constitutional Law

  • 4 hours
  • Fulfills: Human Expression—Primary Texts, Human Behavior

Relying primarily on Supreme Court opinion, the course emphasizes how the Supreme Court has and should interpret the Constitution. The course examines the role of the Supreme Court and the allocation of governmental powers within the American constitutional/political system.

POLS 356 Civil Rights and Liberties

  • 4 hours
  • Fulfills: Human Behavior, Human Expression—Primary Texts

A study of the relationships between the individual and the state, emphasizing the limitations of government and the civil and political rights of individuals. Both Supreme Court cases and theoretical writings will be used. Offered alternate years.

POLS 357 Congress and the Presidency

  • 4 hours
  • Fulfills: Human Behavior—Social Science Methods, Historical

An examination of the role of Congress and the Presidency in the American political system. Included are the powers and responsibilities of both institutions, the relationship between them, struggles over power and influence, and the capacity of Congress and the President to work together to make effective public policy.

POLS 362 The Sustainability of Political and Economic Development in Latin America

  • 4 hours
  • Fulfills: Historical, Human Behavior—Social Science Methods, Intercultural

This course is a survey of the political and economic development of Latin America. When thinking about politics and economics in the region, this course will focus on the concept of sustainability and how that affects political systems, economies, and the environment in Latin America. The course will discuss what sustainability means, how it relates to the political process, and how it relates to the current and past political and economic issues faced by Latin American countries. In the course students will develop a sophisticated understanding of some of the most important environmental, economic and political issues of Latin America while paying special attention to how the concept of sustainability, broadly defined, affects these issues.

POLS 363 International Relations

  • 4 hours
  • Fulfills: Human Behavior, Historical

An examination of theories and contemporary issues in international relations and international political economy.

POLS 364 United States Foreign Policy

  • 4 hours
  • Fulfills: Human Behavior—Social Science Methods, Historical

The first segment of the course examines the evolution of American foreign policy from 19th century isolationism to global power in the 20th and 21st centuries. The second segment explores the making of foreign policy today, with focus on the alternative strategies available to decision makers.

POLS 365 American Political Thought

  • 4 hours
  • Fulfills: Human Expression, Human Behavior—Social Science Methods

An examination of how American political thinkers, leaders, and contemporary commentators have dealt with the issues of power, equality, sovereignty, and representation. The course also focuses on the relations in American political thinking between abstract political concepts and practical politics. Offered alternate years.

POLS 366 Political Thought

  • 4 hours
  • Fulfills: Human Behavior, Human Expression—Primary Texts

An historical survey of western political thought that explores competing visions of the political order. Readings will include selections from classical, modern, and contemporary political philosophy.

POLS 367 Political Leadership

  • 4 hours
  • Fulfills: Human Behavior, Human Expression—Primary Texts

Political leadership is different than other forms of leadership because politics is a unique activity. We will use biography, fiction, classical political theory, speeches, and contemporary social science writings to study the nature of political leadership. The course will pay special attention to the tension between being a good person and a good leader and will explore the idea of politics as a vocation.

POLS 485 Seminar

  • 4 hours

Open to junior or senior political science majors, the seminar will focus on major political thinkers or themes. The course will rely on discussion, student presentations, and independent projects.

POLS 490 Senior Project

  • 1, 2, or 4 hours