Political Science Course Descriptions

University Seminar Courses (US)

232 Mock Trial Workshop (4 credits) This University Seminar provides students the opportunity to participate in and explore the principles behind the American litigation process. Organized around a single employment discrimination case, students take on the principal legal roles such as plaintiff, defendant and witnesses, and they examine all the steps of a lawsuit – investigating the case; interviewing the client; preparing the pleadings; taking discovery; preparing for trial. Working on their own and in groups, students learn specific legal principles relevant to the case such the particulars of torts and contracts. The course also explores the broader interdisciplinary basis of the American legal system, making connections between such fields as business, psychology, political science, and history. Note: US232 can count toward the Pre-Law minor.

Political Science Courses (PS)

101 American Politics (4 credits) This overview of the American political process as an experiment in self-government considers the nature and character of Americans and their democracy. It examines parties, elections, voting, the presidency, Congress and the courts through readings, films, lectures and discussions.

110 Law and the Legal Process (4 credits) This introduction to criminal law, civil law, constitutional law and legal reasoning examines legal education, due process, courtroom participants and alternatives to trials in the framework of the pursuit of justice. (Note: Pre-Law students should take this course in their first year.)

150 Comparative Politics (4 credits) This comparison of the political culture and governmental structure of various nations with one another and with the United States examines the established and emerging democracies of Europe and the Americas, post-communist countries, and the developing nations.

201 Political Science Research and Writing (4 credits) This course provides students an intensive introduction to discipline-focused research and writing in Political Science. Students are introduced to a variety of types of primary and secondary sources. They learn about how to search for and locate these different sources, how to evaluate them, and how to utilize the sources in their research-based writing. Students learn how to develop research projects from the initial topic of interest through to the final written product; this work includes the generation of research proposals, re-drafting of papers, and practice in formulating different kinds of arguments depending on audience, sources, and written form.

211 Terrorism and Counterterrorism (4 credits) This course is intended to provide students with an introduction to the contemporary context of terrorism and counterterrorism as phenomenon in the modern world. The first part of the course analyzes terrorism as a political tool. The second part of the course provides a transition into the study of counterterrorism. The course provides a solid foundation for the study of terrorism, focusing on the history, root causes, objectives and tactics of terrorist groups. Recognizing that the motivation of terror groups varies, this course addresses the “ideologies of terror” as well as the sociology, psychology and economics that inform the operational realities of the terrorism organizations. Topics in the second part of the course include preventing terrorism through identification of terrorists groups and the assessment of adequate law enforcement strategies and tactics, including intelligence gathering and analysis.

212 The Modern Middle East (Also listed as HS 211) (4 credits) This survey of the history, culture, religion and politics of the region in the modern era includes study of the growth of nationalism and creation of sovereign states, the Arab-Israeli conflict and the Palestinian problem, war, terrorism, and the impact of foreign powers.

215 Gender Roles and Family Policy (4 credits) This course is an examination of civic obligations and gender differences in political participation, political candidacy and public service at the local, state and national levels. It introduces domestic family issues such as education, pregnancy, childcare, poverty and violence. It includes an experiential learning or community service component.

218 Criminal Law and Procedures (4 credits) This course examines the prohibitive conduct and necessary intent of the most commonly charged criminal statutes. The course utilizes case law to interpret the elements of these criminal statutes and demonstrating the analytical framework necessary to prove the criminal charges. From a procedural standpoint, the course examines the general rules of law pertaining to: prohibitive/permitted search and seizure, the exclusionary rule, probable cause, right to counsel, and the fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine.

220 American Constitutional Law (4 credits) This is an examination of the constitutional foundations and development of America’s governmental institutions through analysis of leading Supreme Court cases. It studies the principles of constitutionalism, federalism, separation of powers, civil liberties, civil rights and judicial review. Students read, brief and report on cases to the class.

225 Politics of the Developing World (4 credits) This introduction to the major concepts, issues and challenges of politics in the Developing World examines the legacy of colonialism, regime types, civil-military relations, corruption, ethnicity, religion and culture, the debt crisis and economic development using examples from countries from Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. Prerequisite: PS 150 or permission of the instructor.

228 Latin American Politics (4 credits) This is an examination of the politics of Latin American nations, including the transition to democracy from an authoritative regime, the breakdown of democracy, the pressure for economic and social reforms, and the relationship between democracy and development. It focuses on the political, economic and social challenges facing Brazil, Chile, Cuba and Mexico. Prerequisite: PS 150 or instructor permission.

230 Health Care and Environmental Policy (4 credits) This is an examination of governmental regulations and policy development in terms of participants, agenda setting, enactment, implementation and cost/benefit evaluation, with consideration of issues such as health research and technology, universal health insurance coverage, health-care quality and cost control, natural resource management, toxic waste disposal, global temperature change and trading of pollution credits. 

US232 Mock Trial Workshop (4 credits) See University Seminars listing above.

240 United States Foreign Policy (4 credits) This is a study of foreign policy components, such as the President, State and Defense Departments, Congress and the CIA and how they combine in foreign policy formulation. It analyzes current American foreign policy toward various global areas.

241 International Relations (4 credits) This is a survey of the development and major characteristics of the state system; the elements of national power; the instruments of international relations; and their general application within the international community. It focuses on the major theories of the field as well as specific current policy challenges.

243 Introduction to Peace and Conflict Resolution (4 credits) This course introduces the concepts and techniques of conflict resolution, beginning with interpersonal relationships, but focusing primarily on the international community. It provides an introduction to international organizations and international law. The class uses case studies of actual conflicts and simulates the United Nations.

245 Political Thought (Also listed as PL 245) (4 credits) This is a survey of political theory through the classic writings of Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Bentham, Marx, Rawls and others. It includes rights, the public interest, social contract, liberty, equality and justice.

250 Inequality in Modern America (Also listed as HS250) (4 credits) During the last three decades, American citizens have grown increasingly unequal in terms of income and wealth. Economic inequality is now greater than at any other point in American history except for the Gilded Age, and it continues to escalate. Far greater economic inequality exists in the United States today than in other western, industrialized nations. This new inequality began to emerge soon after the “rights revolution” had achieved the demise of formal, legal discrimination, but economic divisions now reinforce many of the old divisions of race, ethnicity, and gender, undermining the promise of greater equality. This course will examine inequality in modern America, focusing primarily on economic inequality. We will explore that state of inequality in the U.S. and the evolution of economic inequality over time. Further, we will investigate the relationship between economic inequality and political inequality, examining how economic inequality affects civic engagement and political participation. Finally, we will explore how and why participation matters for representative democracy, public policy, and governance.

270 Introduction to Security Studies (4 credits) The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the ideas, concepts and theories of security. What does it mean to be secure as a state? As a person? From war and terrorism, to crime and environmental threats, this course studies and analyzes the various issues that dominate security agendas in the 21st century.

280 International Model United Nations (2 credits) This is a unique course with a travel component and an opportunity for the students to research and represent another nation’s perspective on controversial issues in a United Nations simulation, sponsored by Harvard University. In recent years, this course has traveled during spring semester for about a week to China, Switzerland, Taiwan, The Netherlands, Canada, and Mexico. Pass/Fail. Travel expenses vary. No more than 4 credits total can be earned for Model U.N. programs. Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor. No first-year students.

285 Selected Topics in Political Science (2 or 4 credits; Fall, Spring) In this exploration of selected topics, such as Politics and Film, topics vary according to the mutual interests of students and faculty. Two-credit courses meet for one-half semester. May be elected for more than one topic.

311 Introduction to International Law (4 credits) This course provide a comprehensive overview of the role and function of international law in the world system, emphasizing its history, structure, and ability to mitigate conflict. Participants examine the major components of international law, with particular emphasis on human rights and the law of armed conflict. Subjects covered include the use of force, arms control, detention and torture, terrorism, war crimes, and self-determination. This course utilizes reading, research, discussion and simulations, to assist participants in applying legal concepts to current international situations. Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor.

324 Pre-Law Intern Program (2 credits) This central course of the Pre-Law program introduces the daily routine of the legal profession. It includes observation of courtroom proceedings and participation in legal research. It requires a minimum of five contact hours per week during a 10-week internship with a legal firm or other placement. A learning contract is required. Prerequisite: Junior standing; or permission of the pre-law adviser.

330 American Political Thought (4 credits) This is an examination of ways in which American political thinkers, leaders and contemporary commentators have dealt with the issues of power, equality, sovereignty and representation. It focuses on the relationship between abstract political concepts and practical politics in American political thinking. Offered in even years. Prerequisite: Junior standing; or permission of the instructor. PS 101 American Politics strongly recommended.

335 Politics of Russia and East Europe (4 credits) This course examines the disintegration and collapse of communism in the Soviet Union and East Europe from Stalin to Gorbachev and Yeltsin. It explores the fears, the frustrations and the hopes of the people of these emerging democracies as they face political, economic and social reconstructive tasks of enormous magnitude. Prerequisites: PS 150 and PS 241 or permission of the instructor.

340 The Judiciary (4 credits) This is an examination of the roles of courts and judges, especially Supreme Court justices, in the American political system. It includes the recruitment and socialization of judges, the political framework in which they function, the factors that influence their decisions, and the impact of their decisions on the American political system.  Prerequisite: Junior standing; or permission of the instructor. PS 101 American Politics strongly recommended.

350 The Presidency (4 credits) This analysis of the nature and role of the American presidency examines the contemporary institution of the presidency and its effectiveness. It discusses the sources of presidential power, the constitutional basis of the presidency, the role of the executive office and the White House staff, and the relationship between personality traits and the exercise of presidential power. Prerequisite: Junior standing; or permission of the instructor. PS 101 American Politics strongly recommended.

360 The Congress (4 credits) This is a comparison of the styles of legislators under varying circumstances: winning election, retaining home voter support, adapting to Congress and legislative peers, relating to leadership, bargaining with interest groups and meeting the press. It evaluates the goals of legislators and their relationship to the executive and debates whether Congress deserves its poor public image. Prerequisite: Junior standing; or permission of the instructor. 

370 International Human Rights (4 credits) Since the end of the Cold War, one of the major challenges facing the international community has been the interrelated problems of defining human rights and protecting those rights. The rhetoric of humanitarian intentions, unfortunately, often has served as a cover for the actual neglect of human rights. This course examines the nature and evolution of human rights, the problems entailed in humanitarian action, and the potential for building a viable international human rights regime. Prerequisite: Junior or senior status.

375 Constitutional Law II: The First Amendment (4 credits) The U.S. Constitution through its First Amendment influences the expression of our citizenry and defines our most basic rights to freedom of speech, religion, press, and association. The U.S. Supreme Court continually defines the scope and extent of these rights. This course conducts an in-depth study of Supreme Court case law to provide students a learned understanding of their First Amendment rights. Topics covered include: defining speech, understanding the propriety of government suppression/regulation of speech, identifying the places available to exercise free speech, defining association, exploring the freedom of press, and understanding the religion clauses. The course provides particular benefit to a student interested in attending law school or graduate school for political science/government or a student interested in gaining a better understanding his or her rights. Prerequisite: PS220.

380 Political Internship (2 or 4 credits) In this internship in Philadelphia or elsewhere, selected in consultation with faculty advisers according to special interests, placement possibilities include federal, state and local government agencies; community organizations; political campaigns; public and private institutions; and other agencies dealing with political concerns. A learning contract is required. Pass/Fail. Credit may vary depending upon the scope of the commitment and the provisions of the learning contract. Prerequisite: Junior standing; or permission of the instructor.

385 Special Studies in Political Science (2 or 4 credits) In this in-depth exploration of selected topics, such as Literary Perspectives on American Politics or a seminar on a specific nation or area, topics vary according to the mutual interests of students and faculty. Two-credit courses meet for one-half semester. Prerequisite: Junior standing; or permission of the instructor. May be elected for more than one topic.

389 Independent Study This directed in-depth reading and research is devoted to specific topics in political science and government. Prerequisites: Junior standing, 3.0 GPA in the major and overall, and permission of the chairperson and instructor concerned.

403 Culture and Conflict (4 credits) Cultural differences among members of any group are frequently the source of misunderstanding and can lead to conflict. This course analyzes variables, trends, communication and conflict. Its focus is to gain cultural self-awareness, a new framework for understanding others, and strategies to make progress through differences. Specific cultures and conflicts are analyzed, compared and contrasted. Cross-listed as IP 503. Undergraduate enrollment may be limited.

411 Introduction to International Law (4 credits) This course provides a comprehensive overview of the role and function of international law in the world system, emphasizing its history, structure, and ability to mitigate conflict. Participants examine the major components of international law, with particular emphasis on human rights and the law of armed conflict. Subjects covered include the use of force, arms control, detention and torture, terrorism, war crimes, and self-determination. This course utilizes reading, research, discussion and simulations, to assist participants in applying legal concepts to current international situations. Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor.

420 International Security (4 credits) The purpose of this course is to advance a thorough and in-depth analysis of international security issues, themes, theories and cases. The course examines security from three levels of analysis: the international system, state- and domestic-level politics, and individual decision makers. Within each level of analysis, the course studies various theories used to explain the sources of instability and stability in order to understand what drives state and actor behavior in terms of: foreign policy, war, cooperation, and expansion. It also looks at central themes in international security and a few cases where theories can be applied to help us understand crises, conflicts and instability. The course addresses questions such as: What are the main threats to international security? How are these threats addressed or not by state and international actors? Why do states have, or not, nuclear weapons, and what role do international organizations and non-state actors play in security? Prerequisites: Permission of the instructor. PS 241 is strongly recommended.

421 International Organizations (4 credits) This course covers the role of international organizations in conflict management and resolution, including intergovernmental organizations, regional organizations and nongovernmental organizations. Cross-listed as IP 521. Undergraduate enrollment may be limited. Prerequisite: PS 241 and senior standing or permission of the instructor.

422 Conflict Resolution in Deeply Divided Societies (4 credits) This course focuses on understanding the phenomenon of conflict and war in deeply divided societies and to differing paradigms for building peace. The course first lays a foundation for interpreting the diverse landscape that has increasingly given rise to violent conflict during the transition to globalization and liberalization in the aftermath of the Cold War. The course then applies these perspectives to different concepts of peace building using current perspectives from the field of conflict resolution and from selected case studies of international and regional efforts to resolve conflict in divided societies. Cross-listed as IP 522. Undergraduate enrollment may be limited. Prerequisite: PS 241 and senior standing or permission of the instructor.

433 Conflict Transformation (4 credits) This practicum in the mediation process examines the range of strategic choices available for managing conflict, including techniques that have proved most constructive in the field of peace and conflict resolution: consensus-based mediation. The first part of the course introduces students to differing approaches to managing and resolving conflict, how the mediation process works, and the variety of contexts in which it is likely to be used with success. The second part of the course is devoted to designing and conducting a mediation on a selected case in contemporary international relations. Cross-listed as IP 533. Undergraduate enrollment may be limited.

443 Peace Perspectives of World Religion (4 credits) Although religious differences often create barriers to peace making, and at times people create conflict in the name of their religion, all the major religious traditions also have roots that go deep into the soil of peace making and peaceful living. This class explores the roots of peace making in Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, Indigenous American Religions, and others, and from these roots builds bridges of common ground, understanding and acceptance of the other. In addition to the five major religious perspectives studied, students have an opportunity to explore a religious tradition of their own choosing and present a paper on it for class. The class includes lectures, large- and small-group discussions, role plays, visiting speakers, videos, and student presentations. Cross-listed as IP 543. Undergraduate enrollment may be limited.

490, 491 Senior Thesis Seminar (4 credits each; 490 in fall only, 491 in spring only) This is a supervised preparation of a senior thesis on a topic selected by the student. The course includes opportunities for integration and reflection, collaborative learning, peer review, career workshops, and public oral presentation of the senior thesis. It reviews methodology in political science and incorporates outside evaluation, primary sources, and original research. Prerequisites: Senior standing in Political Science; MA 141 Elementary Statistics recommended.


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