Course Topics

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

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 252: Politics and Religion

This course will focus on both the history of the relationship between politics and religion in America 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.

POLS 247: Social Policy

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 335: Terrorism and Democracy

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.

PAID 450: Personal, Political, and Social Reconciliation in Northern Ireland

How can communities with a recent history of violence live together peacefully? This course will examine the difficult yet inspiring Northern Ireland peace process through the lives of its participants. We will explore the challenges and potential of grassroots peace building, with special attention to issues of identity, culture, and memory as challenges and the principles of forgiveness, mercy, justice, and peace as potential. An integral part of the course will be meetings with representatives of the main political parties of Northern Ireland, former members of paramilitary organizations, academic experts, police officers, members of inter-community organizations, and victims of violence. Overnight destinations include Belfast, Derry, Ballycastle, Dublin and London.

POLS 485: 2012 American Presidential Election

In this seminar we will focus on the 2012 presidential election, from two perspectives. First, we will follow closely the drama of the fall campaign, with special attention to the candidates' competing visions about the role of government and America's role in the world. Second, we will use this quadrennial national conversation to explore how well democracy is working in America. In addition to regular participation and occasional leadership in class discussions, each student will develop a research project on a course-related topic and present his/her findings to the class.