Course Topics

Teaching in Valders

Current Courses (Fall 2017)

POLS 485: Political Science Seminar: Media and Political Analysis This course explores the role of media in the political process. Focusing more directly on traditional media (print and television) but also addressing the rise of social media, students explore in more detail the role language plays in the political process. Through class discussions and the use of content analysis (a well established methodological tradition in Communication Studies and Political Science), this course encourages students to think deeply about the role media plays in the political process. A major aspect of this course is a research paper where students use content analysis to analyze a specific issue related to media and politics, broadly defined.

IS 485: International Studies Seminar An advanced-level research and discussion course focusing on global issues as a culmination of the International Studies major or minor. Students apply multiple disciplinary perspectives to projects related to their individual IS programs and to the global themes identified in their IS major or minor plan of study.


Courses Previously Taught at Luther

POLS 130: American Politics 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 (Summer Online, Fall On Site) 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 an emphasis on the role of states, non-state actors and multilateral institutions.

POLS 185: First Year Seminar (Global Politics and Film) In this course students will be exposed to a number of influential films that help portray and/or explain global politics. More specifically, this course will use films to provide context to a number of widely discussed aspects of global politics, including, but not limited to: 1) historical events (such as World War II, the Cold War, Colonialism and neo-Colonialism, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Iraq War, the Rwandan Genocide), 2) theoretical approaches (i.e: Realism, Liberalism, Constructivism, and Feminism), and 3) important concepts (such as diplomacy, mutual assured destruction, collective security, the prisoner's dilemma, among others).

POLS/INTS 185: Revolution and Genocide: When Rules and Institutions Fail How are laws and rules created? When do political actors choose to follow or deviate from such laws and rules? Thinking of laws and rules as political institutions, this class will explore what makes these institutions stick and what makes them fail. We will use Reacting to the Past (RTTP)-a series of elaborate games, set in the past in which students are assigned roles informed by classic texts in the history of ideas-to delve into the complex discussion of institutional creation and breakdown. Using the French Revolution and the Rwandan Genocide as the two case studies, students will get in character and make decisions based on the ideologies of the day. 

POLS 239: Brazil, the World Cup and Development: Connecting Soccer, Politics, and Economics  **J-Term Abroad** Brazilians like to joke that “Brazil is the country of tomorrow, and will always be.” However, this last decade has shown that “tomorrow” may have finally arrived in Brazil. Now a stable democracy and a rising economic power, Brazil is hosting two of the biggest sporting events in the world: the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Olympics. Professor dos Santos leads this course and uses the preparations for the 2014 World Cup as the backdrop for a discussion of important themes regarding Brazil’s political and economic development. Participants will visit four of the host cities, the stadiums to be used during the World Cup, and learn about the improvements made throughout these cities in preparations for the event. As we visit these cities participants will also learn about themes/topics that are essential to understanding Brazil’s rise as a regional superpower, including: the recent oil discoveries, the agricultural boom, environmental consequences of development, corruption (especially in relation to World Cup projects), inequality, among other important topics. We will visit four of the host cities for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil (Brasilia, Rio de Janeiro, Manaus, and Recife). In each city we will visit World Cup stadiums and explore how these cities have changed to host the event. We will then connect these developments to key debates regarding the political and economic development of Brazil in the past decades.

POLS 239: Development, inequality, and Race in Brazil **J-Term Abroad** Brazil is a complex country. Blessed with abundant natural resources, it has constantly failed to transform this potential into sustained economic development. The economic growth that has happened in the past century has exacerbated long lasting inequalities that date back to the colonial period, with the legacy of slavery still looming large to this day. These inequalities, when analyzed more deeply, show that race is still a major aspect of the country’s struggle for social and economic development. This class will take students to three Brazilian cities to explore the relationship between development, inequality, and race in Brazil. By visiting the former colonial capital (Salvador in the Northeast of the country), the former imperial capital (Rio de Janeiro, in the Southeast region), and the current capital (Brasília, in the Center West region), student will learn about the historical contexts that have created Brazil as a nation while also seeing first hand the economic, social, cultural, and racial diversity of the country.

POLS 239: International Organizations In this course students will explore the role of international organizations in today’s global political landscape. By exploring the political history of key international organizations (The United Nations, The International Monetary Fund, and the European Union), students will learn about the role of cooperation in today’s globalized political and economic systems, as well as explore the limits of cooperation.

POLS 242: Comparative Political Analysis 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 339: Special Topics (Political and Economic Development of Latin America) This course will explore the political and economic development of Latin America. Drawing from four specific themes (historical background, political culture, political economy, and democratization) this course will survey political and economic systems in Latin America. This course will also use case studies to provide a more detailed portrayal of specific issues related to Latin America politics, economics, and society.

POLS/WGST 354: Women, Representation and Politics 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.

POLS 362: The Sustainability of Political and Economic Development in Latin America 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 Luther Sustainability website states that “Sustainability is about examining the world holistically and with a long-term perspective, rather than trying to solve problems independently from each other with quick fixes.” Keeping this idea in mind 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 other words, in this course you will gather 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 An examination of theories and contemporary issues in international relations and international political economy.

POLS 485 Seminar: Gender and Politics in America and Beyond In this course students will learn about the role gender plays in the political processes, focusing especially on how gender influences the role of women in the political process. Focusing on the different types of representation (descriptive, substantive, and symbolic), students will especially read and discuss the role of women’s movements (local, national, and international) and female politicians on changing policy. Debates about what is gender, what is gender-related policy, women’s rights, and women as an interest group will drive most readings and discussions.

IS 230: Introduction to International Studies An introduction to the field of international studies, focusing on global and geographical literacy and using multiple disciplinary approaches to analyze such issues as war and peace, environmental sustainability, economic development, post-Colonialism, world religions, and cultural identity.

Paideia 111 and 112: Enduring Questions A two-semester common course for all first-year students that addresses questions central to the human condition. It develops students' ability to read, write, analyze, discuss, and research by engaging with works from across the disciplines, drawn from different time periods and parts of the globe. As a signature course and a foundation for liberal learning, "Enduring Questions" is taught by faculty from all divisions of the college.

Paideia 450: Here on Earth: Vocation in a Sustainable Global Community This course explores texts, including films, that reveal the interdependence between people and communities as we strive to nurture well-being on our planet Earth. Discussion will be framed by the concept of vocation and will draw on the experiences of local individuals who are committed to some form of social sustainability in their life's work. This exploration will lead to the question, "How can educated, morally serious people discern their roles in a global community?"

Courses Taught at Other Institutions

Baker University (KS): Introduction to American Politics, Introduction to International Politics, Global Problems, Senior Seminar in International Studies, Senior Seminar in International Politics.

University of Kansas: Introduction to Comparative Politics, Introduction to International Relations, Brazilian Culture, Political Dynamics of Latin America.