Political Science Department

Professors: Richard Bornb, Andrew Davison (Chair), Leah Haus, Sidney Plotkin, Stephen R. Rock, Mary L. Shanley, Peter G. Stillman, Adelaide H. VillmoareaAssociate Professors: Luke Charles Harris, Katherine Hite, Timothy Longman, Himadeep Muppidi; Assistant Professors:Sarita McCoy Gregoryb, Zachariah Mampillyb, Fubing Sua,bAdjunct Professor: Richard Reitano; Visiting Instructor: Ladan Affi.

Requirements for Concentration: 10 units, including 1 unit at the 100-level in Political Science; 1 unit at the 100- or 200-level in each of the four major fields of political science, i.e., American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Politics, Political Theory; 2 units of graded 300-level work including one 300-level seminar (i.e. a course with a number in the 340s, 350s, 360s, 370s or 380s). Students are required to take I unit at the 100-level in political science, and are allowed to count up to 2 units at the 100-level in political science toward the major. No more than 1 unit of field work may be counted toward the major. After declaring a major, no course in political science may be elected NRO.

Transfer students and students taking academic leaves of absence: A minimum of 6 graded units in the political science major must be taken at Vassar.

Senior-Year Requirement: One 300-level seminar (i.e. a course with a number in the 340s, 350s, 360s, 370s or 380s)

Recommendation: Political Analysis (207) is highly recommended to all majors because it deals specifically with a basic methodology of political science.

Sequence of Courses: The department recommends that students take Modern Political Thought (270) before electing subsequent 200- and 300-level political theory courses. There is no requirement to specialize in one of the four fields, although specialization is permitted.

Advisers: The department.

Correlate Sequences in Political Science

Four correlate sequences are available in political science: one each in American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Politics, and Political Theory. 6 political science units are required to complete each sequence. With the approval of the sequence adviser, up to 2 units of political science credit transferred from outside Vassar may count toward the completion of the sequence. With the approval of the sequence adviser, a maximum of 1 unit of fieldwork may count toward completion of the sequence. Up to 1 unit of work elected NRO, taken before declaring a correlate sequence, may count toward completion of the sequence. After declaring a correlate sequence, no course elected NRO may count toward completion of the sequence.

Correlate Sequence in American Politics: Political Science 140; three courses at the 200-level in the subfield of American politics; one additional related 200-level course (to be determined by the correlate sequence adviser and the student); and a 300-level graded course in the subfield of American politics. Sequence Advisers: Mr. Born, Mr. Harris, Mr. Plotkin, Ms. Villmoare.

Correlate Sequence in Comparative Politics: Political Science 150; three courses at the 200-level in the subfield of comparative politics; one additional related 200-level course (to be determined by the correlate sequence adviser and the student); and a 300-level graded course in the subfield of comparative politics. Sequence Advisers: Ms. Hite, Mr. Longman, Mr. Su.

Correlate Sequence in International Politics: Political Science 160; three courses at the 200-level in the subfield of international politics; one additional related 200-level course (to be determined by the correlate sequence adviser and the student); and a 300-level graded course in the subfield of international politics. Sequence Advisers: Ms. Haus, Mr. Mampilly, Mr. Muppidi, Mr. Rock.

Correlate Sequence in Political Theory: Political Science 170; three courses at the 200-level in the subfield of political theory; one additional related 200-level course (to be determined by the correlate sequence adviser and the student); and a 300-level graded course in the subfield of political theory. Sequence Advisers: Mr. Davison, Ms. Gregory, Ms. Shanley, Mr. Stillman.

I. Introductory

The courses listed below are introductions to the discipline of political science and the four major fields of political science: American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Politics, and Political Theory. One introductory course is required of majors. No more than two introductory courses may be counted towards the major. Enrollment of juniors and seniors for 100-level courses by permission of the instructor only.

140a or b. American Politics(1)

An analysis of the American political system and the structures and processes by which public policies are formulated and implemented. Attention is focused upon decision making in institutions of American national government, such as Congress, the Presidency, and the Supreme Court, and upon political behavior—public opinion, voting, and other forms of political activity. Attention is also given to evaluation of selected public policies and contemporary issues, and questions of political change. Mr. Born.

140b. American Politics: A Multiracial and Multicultural Approach to U.S. Politics(1)

This course represents a multiracial and multicultural approach to the study of American Politics. It examines American social history, political ideologies, and governmental institutions. It covers a broad
range of topics including the Constitution, federalism, Congress, the judiciary, and the politics of difference in the United States. The thematic core of the class engages the evolution of the ideas of “equality” and “citizenship” in American society. Mr. Harris.

140b. American Politics: Conflict and Power(1)

An analysis of US politics as an example of the uses of conflict to uphold and/or to change established relationships of power and public policy. A main focus is on alternative theories and strategies of conflict, especially as reflected in such institutions as the constitution, court, party system, interest groups, the media, and presidency. A major focus is on the conflict implications of business as a system of power, its relation to the warfare state and the US international project. Materials may be drawn from comparisons with other political systems. Mr. Plotkin.

[ 140. American Politics: Democracy and Citizenship ](1)

This course examines tensions and conflicts surrounding contemporary US democracy within the context of a global, post 9/11 world. Issues of citizenship and immigration, liberty, security, class, race, ethnicity, and gender inform a consideration of federal government institutions and processes. Specific topics vary according to changing political events and circumstances. Ms. Villmoare.

Not offered in 2009/10.

150a or b. Comparative Politics(1)

An examination of political systems across the world chosen to illustrate different types of political regimes, states, and societies. The political system is seen to include formal institutions of government, such as parliaments and bureaucracies; political parties and other forms of group life; those aspects of the history and social and economic structure of a society that are relevant to politics; and political beliefs, values, and ideologies. Special attention is given to the question of political change and development, whether through revolutionary or constitutional process.

150a. Comparative Politics: Analyzing Politics in the World(1)

This course introduces how comparativists analyze politics within states in the world. Topics include state formation, democracy and dictatorship, political economy, social movements, revolution, ethnicity, and political culture. The course draws from both theoretical work and country and regional case studies that may include the US, Chile, China, India, Cuba, Great Britain, Iran, the Middle East, South Africa and East Asia. The course uses cases to analyze and compare basic concepts and patterns of the political process. Students should come away from the course with both an understanding of the diversity of the world’s political systems, as well as an appreciation of the questions and concepts that inform the work of political scientists. Ms. Hite, Mr. Su.

[ 150. Comparative Politics: States and Societies ](1)

The study of relations between states and their societies serves as an introduction to the field of comparative politics. Using a case study approach and sources ranging from autobiographies and poetry to traditional political science texts, the course examines domestic political processes in China, Chile, Great Britain, and South Africa. Issues studied include the impacts of history and culture on politics, the balance between coercion and legitimacy, struggles over human rights and democracy, conflicts over racial, religious, gender, and sexual orientation identities, and efforts to obtain economic opportunity and growth and how these involve and affect people in their daily lives. The central concern of the course is how people in various countries both seek to influence and are affected by their political systems. Mr. Longman.

Not offered in 2009/10.

160a or b. International Politics(1)

An examination of major issues in international politics, including national and international security and production and distribution of wealth, along with selected global issues such as human rights, ethnic nationalism and ethnic conflict, migration and refugees, environmental degradation and protection, and the impact of developments in communication and information technologies. Attention is also given to the origins, evolution, and the future of the contemporary international system, as well as to competing theoretical perspectives on world politics. Ms. Haus, Mr. Mampilly, Mr. Rock, Mr. Muppidi.

170a or b. Political Theory(1)

An introduction to the nature, types, and problems of political theory. The core of the readings consists of selections from what are considered classic works in the field. The course emphasizes the relevance of these ideas to current political developments and scholarship. Mr. Davison, Ms. Gregory, Ms. Shanley.

[ 170. Political Theory: Central Political Concepts and Practices ](1)

An examination of central political concepts and practices with reading from the history of political philosophy and contemporary thinkers. The course treats concepts and practices such as freedom, citizenship, equality, the state, revolution, the Socratic question of how best to lead one's life, conservatism, and anarchism, using readings by thinkers such as Aristotle, Machiavelli, Locke, Mill, Ghandi, Arendt, Foucault, and current authors. Mr. Stillman.

Not offered in 2009/10.

177b. Environmental Political Thought(1/2)

(Same as Environmental Studies 177b) The emerging awareness of ecological problems in the past half-century has led to a questioning and rethinking of some important political ideas. What theories can describe an ecologically-sound human relation to nature; what policies derive from those theories; and how do they value nature? What is the appropriate size of political units? What model of citizenship best addresses environmental issues? This course will address selected issues through readings in past political thinkers like Locke and Marx and in contemporary political and environmental theorists.  Mr. Stillman.

[ 178a. Political Theory, Environmental Justice: The Case of New Orleans After Katrina ](1/2)

(Same as Environmental Studies 178a) Hurricane Katrina flooded much of New Orleans, causing intense social and political problems within the city and testing the ability of citizens and governments to respond to the crisis. The course aims to interpret and evaluate those responses by reading past political theorists, such as Aristotle, Hobbes, and DuBois, and current evaluations, such as those based in concerns for environmental justice.  Mr. Stillman.

Not offered in 2009/10.

185a. Gender, Social Problems, and Social Change in the Contemporary United States(1)

(Same as Sociology 185a and Women's Studies 185a) This introduces students to a variety of social problems and the possibilities of social change. It examines general issues such as economic inequality and poverty, racial and ethnic inequality, and social inequality based on gender and sexual orientation. It then looks at the ways in which these problems manifest themselves in institutions and policies concerning education, health care, the family, the criminal justice system and the environment.  Within each of these areas of concern, we focus on the ways in which the issues relate specifically to women and gender. We also discuss social movements that have attempted to address economic, racial, and gender inequality, and concrete proposals to address the problems we study.  Ms. Leonard, Ms. Shanley.

II. Intermediate

Prerequisite: Freshmen may take a 200-level course only with the permission of the instructor, which usually requires satisfactory completion of an introductory course. For sophomores, juniors, and seniors, an introductory course is recommended but not required.

[ 207. Political Analysis ](1)

A study of the methods for collecting quantitative and qualitative data in political science. In addition to exploring the logic of scientific inquiry and methods of analysis, normative questions are raised concerning the potential biases and limitations of particular modes of inquiry. Research examples emphasize the special problems in cross-cultural validation. Mr. Born.

Not offered in 2009/10.

A. American Politics

[ 234. Media and Politics ](1)

This course explores various forms of media, including newspapers and journals, television, film, radio, and the internet as well as politics in the contemporary United States. Among the topics examined are the relationships between media and 1) electoral politics; 2) governance at the national level; 3) crime and law and order; 4) politics of race, class and gender. Ms. Villmoare.

Not offered in 2009/10.

238a. Power and Public Policy(1)

An examination of the policy consequences of power in the United States, including the role of the corporation as a policy making institution and the influence of citizens and social movements on public policy. The emphasis is on theories of power, relationships between economic and political power, and the impact of power on ideology and the structuring of policy alternatives, policy making, and policy implementation. Case studies may include policy areas such as health, environment, tobacco, technology, and mass media. Mr. Plotkin.

[ 240. The American Presidency ](1)

An analysis of the American presidency, with emphasis on recent presidents. Topics include presidential nominations and elections; the nature and use of presidential power; the institutionalized presidency; policy making in the White House; the relationship between presidents and other key political factors, e.g., the Congress, the bureaucracy, the media, and public opinion; and the role of presidential personality and style. Mr. Born.

Not offered in 2009/10.

[ 241. Congress ](1)

An analysis of the contemporary and evolving U.S. Congress, its organization, functions, and politics. Topics include congressional elections and representation; the internal life and norms of the House and Senate; the structure of power in Congress; interest groups and lobbying; presidential-congressional relations; the congressional response to selected public problems; and political change and the future of Congress. Mr. Born.

Not offered in 2009/10.

242b. Law, Justice, and Politics(1)

An analysis of the interrelationships between law and politics in civil and criminal spheres in the United States, focusing on the role of the police, courtroom participants, and prison officials. Special emphasis is given to decision making in criminal law at the local level—e.g., pretrial negotiations, bail, and sentencing. Ms. Villmoare.

[ 243. Constitutional Law ](1)

Leading decisions of the Supreme Court interpreting the Constitution of the United States, with special reference to the powers of government and the rights of individuals. Mr. Rumble.

Not offered in 2009/10.

244a. Political Parties and Public Opinion(1)

An examination of the nature and roles of public opinion and political parties in American politics, with emphasis on democratic means of political participation and influence in contemporary America. Special attention is paid to mass and elite political attitudes and behavior, techniques of public opinion polling, the impact of public opinion on policy making, recent national elections, campaign techniques and strategies, and the changing party system. Mr. Born.

246b. Civil Rights(1)

This survey course examines the causal and remedial relationship of law to racial discrimination. Following a brief historical overview of the law's engagement with race, the course considers the development of civil rights claims in a number of areas such as education, housing and employment. Competing visions of racial equality embedded in civil rights legislation, in case law and in legal discourse and theory will be evaluated as well as critiques of traditional models of anti-discrimination law. Throughout the class we will seek to assess how the legal system has accommodated racism and racial subordination as well as the extent to which racial progress is both enabled and delimited within the legal frame. Mr. Harris.

247a. The Politics of Difference(1)

This course relates to the meanings of various group experiences in American politics. It explicitly explores, for example, issues of race, class, gender, disability, and sexual orientation. Among other things, this course addresses the contributions of the Critical Legal Studies Movement, the Feminist Jurisprudence Movement, the Critical Race Movement, and Queer Studies to the legal academy. Mr. Harris.

249a. The Politics of City, Suburb, and Neighborhood(1)

(Same as Urban Studies 249) An examination of the development, organization, and practice of the varied forms of politics in metropolitan areas. Main themes include struggles between machine and reform politicians in cities; fiscal politics and urban pre-occupations with economic growth, racial and class politics; changes in federal urban policies; neighborhood politics and alternative forms of community organization; suburban politics and race/class Mr. Plotkin.

281a. Gender and Politics(1)

(Same as Women's Studies 281)
This course examines the relationship between gender and politics.  Drawing on the experiences of women in different countries, topics covered include international women's movements, state feminism, women as political candidates, as politicians and gender quotas.  Throughout the course, we remain attentive to the underlying impact of cultural and economic structures that affect women's political participation.

B. Comparative Politics

250a. African Politics(1)

(Same as Africana Studies 250a) This course introduces students to the great diversity of peoples, ideas, cultures, and political practices found on the African continent. The course first investigates the causes of the contemporary social, economic, and political challenges facing African states, then analyzes the ways in which African populations have responded to foreign domination, authoritarian government, unfavorable economic conditions, and social divisions. The course uses case studies of African countries to explore political issues within specific contexts and pays particular attention to international involvement in Africa. 

[ 251. United States: Turkey and Iraq ](1)

An analysis of the historical and contemporary political dynamics shaping politics in Turkey and Iraq. Special attention is given to various axes of domestic conflict, the circumstances of those conflicts and alternative forms of accommodation and struggle that have been adopted. Integral to this project is consideration of ongoing regional and global forces that have influenced both circumstance and possibility within each state. Mr. Davison.

Not offered in 2009/10.

[ 252. The Politics of Modern Social Movements ](1)

This course examines continuities and transformations in both the study and practice of modern political and social movements. The course explores why movements emerge, how they develop, and what they accomplish. We study several dimensions of collective action, including their organization, leadership, ideology or programmatic content, and objectives. Our case studies are rich and diverse, spanning actors and geographic regions, yet we consciously draw comparisons across the cases concerning movements' origins, the context of power relations and political positioning within society. We also seek to understand the sometimes powerful, sometimes subtle influences of social movements on the nature of socioeconomic, gender, racial, ethnic, national and transnational relations today. Ms. Hite.

Not offered in 2009/10.

253a. Transitions In Europe(1)

This course addresses change in Europe, with a focus on the former Soviet Union, particularly Russia, and the European Union. The course analyzes changes in politics and political economy that have taken place in both of these spaces in recent decades. Subjects may include the collapse of authoritarianism; democratic consolidation; the unraveling of democracy; deepening of the market; ethnicity, nationalism and post-nationalism; education and collective identity formation; historical legacies and comparative politics. Ms. Haus.

254b. Chinese Politics and Economy(1)

(Same as Asian Studies 254b) This course offers a historical and thematic survey of Chinese politics, with an emphasis on the patterns and dynamics of political development and reforms since the Communist takeover in 1949. In the historical section, we examine major political events up to the reform era, including China's imperial political system, the collapse of dynasties, civil war, the Communist Party's rise to power, land reform, the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution, and the launch of reform. The thematic section deals with some general issues of governance, economic reform, democratization, globalization and China's relations with Hong Kong, Taiwan and the United States. This course is designed to help students gain some perspectives to comprehend political issues in contemporary China. Mr. Su.

255a. Subaltern Politics(1)

(Same as Asian Studies 255a) What does it mean to understand issues of governance and politics from the perspective of non-elite, or subaltern, groups? How do subalterns respond to, participate in, and/or resist the historically powerful forces of modernity, nationalism, religious mobilization, and politico-economic development in postcolonial spaces? What are the theoretical frameworks most appropriate for analyzing politics from the perspective of the subaltern? This course engages such questions by drawing on the flourishing field of subaltern studies in South Asia. While its primary focus is on materials from South Asia, particularly India, it also seeks to relate the findings from this area to broadly comparable issues in Latin America and Africa. Mr. Muppidi.

[ 256. Ethnicity and Nationalism ](1)

(Same as International Studies 256) Conflicts over ethnic and national identity continue to dominate headlines in diverse corners of the world. Whether referring to the ethnic violence of Bosnia and Sri Lanka, racialized political disputes in Sudan and Fiji, the treatment of Roma (Gypsies) in eastern Europe, the street battles between Muslim youth and the authorities in France and Britain, and the charged debates about immigration policy in the United States, ethnicity and nationalism are at the center of politics in both the First and Third Worlds. Drawing upon a variety of different theoretical approaches, this course explores the related concepts of identity, ethnicity, race and nationalism from a comparative perspective. We examine competing theoretical approaches and assess their utility using case studies drawn from around the world across different time periods. Mr. Mampilly.

Not offered in 2009/10.

[ 257. Legacies of Violence ](1)

A comparative analysis of the legacies of political violence for both democratic and democratizing regimes. Legacies expressed through "formal" political institutions (i.e., constitutions, laws, political parties), and through more "informal", or cultural, expressions of authoritarianism (i.e., collective memories, symbolic acts and phenomena, day-to-day social relations) which together influence the scope and depth of democracy in post-authoritarian politics. Case studies include Italy, Germany, Spain, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, the former Yugoslavia, and the Czech Republic. Ms. Hite.

Not offered in 2009/10.

[ 258. Latin American Politics ](1)

An examination of major political issues and challenges facing contemporary Latin America, from ongoing processes of democratization and economic liberalization, to new efforts at regional integration and peace-keeping. The course also explores movements for socially sustainable development and citizenship rights on the part of non-governmental organizations and networks. The course uses country cases from throughout the region, including the Southern Cone, the Andes, Central America, and Mexico. Ms. Hite.

Not offered in 2009/10.

[ 259. Human Rights and Politics ](1)

(Same as Africana Studies 259) This course examines the growing international influence of human rights principles, documents, and organizations on politics. We study how human rights discourse has emerged as a major factor in modern politics and review the documents that serve as a basis for modern human rights. We look at examples drawn from Africa and the United States to explores issues such as universality versus cultural relativity in human rights discourses; civil and political rights versus cultural versus economic, social, and cultural rights; individual versus group rights; the crime of genocide; efforts to expand human rights law to include rights for children, women, gays, and lesbians and others, and the activities of national and international human rights organizations. Mr. Longman

Not offered in 2009/10.

C. International Politics

[ 205. International Relations of the Third World: Bandung to 9/11 ](1)

(Same as International Studies 205) Whether referred to as the "Third World," or other variants such as the "Global South," the "Developing World," the "G-77," the "Non-Aligned Movement," or the "Post-colonial World," a certain unity has long been assumed for the multitude of countries ranging from Central and South America, across Africa to much of Asia. Is it valid to speak of a Third World? What were/ are the connections between countries of the Third World? What were/ are the high and low points of Third World solidarity? And what is the relationship between the First and Third Worlds? Drawing on academic and journalistic writings, personal narratives, music, and film, this course explore the concept of the Third World from economic, political and cultural perspectives. Beginning shortly after the end of colonialism, we examine the trajectory of the Third World in global political debates through the end of the Cold War and start of the War on Terror. Mr. Mampilly.

Not offered in 2009/10.

[ 261. Theories of War and Peace ](1)

An inquiry into the causes of war and peace among states. Explanations at various levels—human, societal, governmental, international—are considered. The course aims at an understanding of those factors which lead individual states into conflict with one another as well as those which incline the broader international system toward stability or instability. Mr. Rock.

Not offered in 2009/10.

[ 262. India, China and the State of Postcoloniality ](1)

(Same as Asian Studies 262) As India and China integrate themselves deeply into the global economy, they raise issues of crucial importance to international politics. As nation-states that were shaped by an historical struggle against colonialism, how do they see their re-insertion into an international system still dominated by the West? What understandings of the nation and economy, of power and purpose, of politics and sovereignty, shape their efforts to join the global order? How should we re-think the nature of the state in the context? Are there radical and significant differences between colonial states, capitalist states and postcolonial ones? What are some of the implications for international politics of these differences? Drawing on contemporary debates in the fields of international relations and postcolonial theory, this course explores some of the changes underway in India and China and the implications of these changes for our current understandings of the international system. Mr. Muppidi.

Not offered in 2009/10.

263a. Critical International Relations(1)

(Same as Asian Studies 263a) The study of world politics is marked by a rich debate between rationalist and critical approaches. While rationalist approaches typically encompass realist/neo-realist and liberal/neo-liberal theories, critical approaches include social constructivist, historical materialist, post-structural and post-colonial theories of world politics. This course is a focused examination of some of the more prominent critical theories of international relations. It aims to a) familiarize students with the core concepts and conceptual relations implicit in these theories and b) acquaint them with the ways in which these theories can be applied to generate fresh insights into the traditional concerns (such as war, anarchy, nationalism, sovereignty, global order, economic integration) and security dilemmas of world politics. Mr. Muppidi.

264b. The Foreign Policy of the United States(1)

Key factors which shape the formulation and execution of American foreign policy are identified, primarily through a series of case studies drawn from post–World War II experience in world affairs. Normative issues concerning the decision-making process and foreign policy goals and means are also discussed. Mr. Rock.

265a. International Political Economy(1)

This course addresses the relationship between power and wealth in the international arena. The interaction between politics and economics is explored in historical and contemporary subjects that may include the rise and decline of empires; economic sanctions; international institutions such as the IMF; regional integration in the European Union; globalization and its discontents; mercenaries and military corporations; education and internationalization. Ms. Haus.

266a. Defense Policy and Arms Control(1)

An examination of American defense and arms control policy since 1945. Particular attention is given to the theory and practice of conventional and nuclear deterrence, and to the analysis of such contemporary issues as proliferation, the role of women and gays in the military, and the problem of economic conversion. Mr. Rock.

268b. The Politics of Globalization(1)

Globalization is increasingly seen as a new and powerful force in world politics, but there is intense debate over what this new force is and what its effects are. This course introduces students to some of the more prominent ways of theorizing globalization and explaining the politics underlying the economic, social and cultural effects it generates. Mr. Muppidi.

269b. National Model United Nations(1)

Prepares students to participate in the National Model United Nations in New York City. Students represent a country, research its history, its political, economic and social systems, and its foreign policy. There is also a comprehensive evaluation of the UN system, and the role of states and non-state actors, such as NGOs. Participation in the Model UN simulation occurs in the spring. Mr. Reitano.

Prerequisite: by permission of instructor. Application is required early in the a-term.

One 4-hour period.

D. Political Theory

270b. Modern Political Thought(1)

A study of selected modern political theorists, such as Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Marx, Mill, and Arendt. Among the themes stressed are theories of sovereignty, the development and varieties of liberalism and individualism, different theories of community, the relationships between politics and economics, and the relationship between the individual and the state. Mr. Stillman.

[ 271. Race, Gender, and Class in American Political Thought ](1)

Studies of American political theory, particularly issues surrounding the meanings of democracy, political obligation, and equality. Readings include works about the government of Native American peoples, Spanish and English colonial rule, the U.S. Constitution, the post–Civil War amendments, women's suffrage and women's rights, and the political and constitutional challenges posed by a pluralistic or multicultural society. Ms. Gregory, Mr. Stillman, Ms. Shanley.

Not offered in 2009/10.

[ 272a. Political Modernity in Turkey ](1)

(Same as Asian Studies 272) This course aims to understand contemporary meanings of political modernity in Turkey through various analytical vantage points and forms of representation. Attention is devoted to everyday life practices, relationships, and their constitutive understandings; as well as broader issues of tradition, modernity, state power, nationalism, Islam, secularization, Europe, the West, the very idea of "modern" Turkey (etc.), and significant events, concerns, and institutions associated with each. The primary readings for the course are contemporary novels related to issues of modernity in Turkey. Mr. Davison.

Not offered in 2009/10.

[ 273. Interpreting Politics ](1)

A detailed study of the philosophical underpinnings of various modes of interpreting politics: empiricism/positivism; interpretive/hermeneutic inquiry, critical theory, rational choice theory, realism, and discourse analysis. Aim is to understand the central concepts and goals of each approach, the kinds of explanations they seek to offer, and the views they posit regarding the relationship between politics and theory, on the one hand, and politics and the political analyst, on the other. Mr. Davison.

Not offered in 2009/10.

274b. The Ideology of the Islamic Revolution in Iran(1)

(Same as Asian Studies 274) This course examines the ideas of various contributors to "the Islamic ideology" of the Iranian Revolution in 1979. We shall study the political and ideological contexts in which these ideas arose, read selected texts of the primary ideologues, and, with the aid of prominent secondary literature on the theoretical import of "the Islamic ideology," consider its ongoing significance in the context of contemporary politics. Mr. Davison.

275b. Terrorism and Political Philosophy(1)

An exploration of how the resources of political philosophy can be used to analyze and evaluate terrorism. How can terrorism be defined — what are the major definitions, what are the major definitional issues, and what counts as a terrorist act? Are there tendencies in Western political thought and practice that produce a climate conducive to the discourse of terror? What are the arguments of those who advocate or justify terror and those who denounce or criticize it? How can we interpret and evaluate the use of terror by states and by non-state groups? Readings range from the seventeenth century to the present and include Hobbes, Robespierre, Arendt, Fanon, and Qutb. Mr. Stillman.

[ 276. Democratic Theory ](1)

This course acquaints upper-level students with some important recent and classic work on selected problems in democratic theory. The course explores the ambivalence about the idea of democracy, examining theories that argue for the connection between self-government and the attainment of freedom and autonomy and those theories that worry that democracy may indeed be unsustainable or against the realization of liberty and freedom. Readings may include deTocqueville, Mill, Rousseau, Dahl, Benhabib, Pateman, Putnam, Young, and Wolin, among others. Ms. Gregory.

Not offered in 2009/10.

[ 277b. Post-Orientalist Hermeneutics ](1)

(Same as Asian Studies 277b) This course examines the possibility of a Post-Orientalist hermeneutical approach to the study of "the Middle East." Emphasis is placed on an examination of selected, classical and contemporary theoretical literature in hermeneutics, Orientalism, and Post-Orientalism, including readings from main contributors to these discussions like Hans-Georg Gadamer, Edward Said, and Hamid Dabashi. In addition, the difference that Post-Orientalist hermeneutics may make in understanding will beare explored in several selected contexts of consideration drawn from issues of contemporary political significance and the instructor's own research on politics in Turkey. Mr. Davison.

Not offered in 2009/10.

[ 278. Feminist Theory, Policy Issues, and Law ](1)

Explores the relationship between selected topics in feminist theory and public policy issues in the United States. Concepts we examine in feminist theory may include autonomy, liberty, equality, privacy, citizenship, and the ethics of care, and policy issues may include family and workplace policies, marriage law (including same-sex marriage), affirmative action, pornography and sex work, and welfare reform. The emphasis throughout is on diverse theoretical perspectives and their policy implications. Ms. Shanley.

Not offered in 2009/10.

279b. Utopian Political Thought(1)

A study of major Western utopias from Thomas More's to the present, including proposed "good societies," dystopias such as Brave New World, and existing communities that are utopian or can be analyzed through utopian principles. Central themes the role and value of utopias in understanding and criticizing the present and in imagining possibilities for the future; the use of utopias to explore important political concepts and different ways of living; and the relations among utopias, dystopias, and existing utopian experiments. Mr. Stillman.

E. Other

290a or b. Field Work(1/2 or 1)

Individual or group field projects or internships with prior approval of the adviser. Students are expected to do substantial directed reading in theoretical material specifically related to the field placement prior to or in conjunction with the field experience; to develop in consultation with a faculty supervisor a set of questions based on the theoretical reading to guide the field observations; to submit a written report relating the theoretical reading to the field observations or, in lieu of a report and at the option of the department, to take a final oral examination administered by two faculty members. No more than 1 unit of field work (either 290, 291, or a combination of the two) may be counted toward fulfilling the requirements of the minimum major. The department.

298a or b. Independent Work(1/2 or 1)

Independent work is normally based on a student's desire to study with an instructor a specialized aspect of a course taken with that instructor. One unit normally entails substantial directed reading and/or the writing of a long paper and biweekly conferences with the instructor. In no case shall independent work satisfy the subfield distribution requirement. The department.

III. Advanced

Courses numbered 310-319 are advanced courses that meet twice a week and are limited to nineteen students. These courses do not require permission of the instructor for sophomores, juniors, and seniors who have taken at least one previous political science course. These courses can meet the requirement for two graded 300-level courses but do not meet the requirement of one 300-level seminar during the senior year. Seminars in the 340s, 350s, 360s, and 370s are generally limited to twelve students and require permission of the instructor. Students taking seminars are expected to have taken relevant course-work at a lower level. The content of seminars can vary from year to year depending upon interests of students and instructors. Seminars might focus on topics too specialized to receive exhaustive treatment in lower-level courses; they might explore particular approaches to the discipline or particular methods of research; they might be concerned with especially difficult problems in political life, or be oriented toward a research project of the instructor. The thesis (300, 301, 302) and senior independent work (399) require permission of the instructor.

A. Optional Senior Thesis

300. Senior Thesis(1)

A 1-unit thesis, written in the fall semester.

301-302. Senior Thesis(1 or 2)

A 1-unit thesis written in two semesters.

B. Advanced Courses

[ 310. Feminism of Color in the Law ](1)

This course examines the legal history of feminism of color in the United States. It also explores mainstream feminism's transformative impact on the law. The course considers a broad range of issues including reproductive rights, employment discrimination, sexual harassment, immigrant rights, violence against women, and affirmative action. This class is taught from a multidisciplinary perspective embracing readings from legal scholars, political philosophers, economists, journalists, lay persons, et al. Mr. Harris.

Two 75-minute periods.

Not offered in 2009/10.

311b. The Politics of Capitalism(1)

An examination of theories of the relationship between capitalism, politics and the state. Central concerns include tendencies toward fiscal crisis, war, and waste; the impact of capital on political power and the sabotage of democracy; ideology, class consciousness and the potential for resistance from below. Authors to be considered include, among others, Thorstein Veblen, Karl Marx, Max Weber, Franz Neurmann, C. Wright Mills, and Sheldon Wolin. Mr. Plotkin.

Two 75-minute periods.

312a. Studies in Environmental Political Thought(1)

(Same as Environmental Studies 312) An advanced course that studies topics at the intersection of environmental issues and political thought. Topics change yearly and may include Green Utopias; Justice and Democracy in New Orleans after Katrina; and Economic Growth and the Equitable Distribution of Water in the American Southwest. Mr. Stillman.

Two 75-minute periods.

313b. Politics in Africa: Case Studies(1)

(Same as Africana Studies 313) This advanced intermediate course offers an intensive study of the politics of a selected African country. The course analyzes the political history of the country and its formal state structures before focusing on the most salient contemporary political issues, such as democratization, corruption, and political stability, human rights and transitional justice, gender, race, ethnicity and other aspects of identity politics, and economic development and inequality. The concentrated focus on a single case allows students to explore how the diverse themes and methodologies of comparative politics are applied in a real world setting. The country of focus varies annually. Mr. Longman.

Two 75-minute periods.

[ 314. The Politics of Public and Private ](1)

This course examines the political significance of public and private in the contemporary US. Theoretical arguments as well as specific issues and contexts within which debates about public and private unfold are analyzed. Of particular thematic concern is, the privatization of governmental responsibilities and the "public" and "private" rights claims of individuals and communities. Among the issues studied are privatization of the US military and prisons, gated and other "private" communities and their relationship to the larger political communities within which they exist, intellectual property and the public domain, and the "privacy" of personal decisions. Ms. Villmoare.

Two 75-minute periods.

Not offered in 2009/10.

[ 315 Democratic Engagement ](1)

 What is democracy? How healthy is democracy in the United States and/or abroad? What counts as engagement? Is talking enough? Should citizens do more than vote? What types of activism count as engagement? This course addresses these fundamental questions in addition to those raised during our interaction over the semester. Democratic Engagement offers a community-based experience focused on observing, participating in, and documenting several different approaches to political engagement in the greater Poughkeepsie metro area. The class combines theory and practice in two ways. First, the class offers a theoretical exploration of concepts such as democracy, participation, deliberation, activism, and power through an examination of texts, articles, and films. Secondly, students employ their own gazes to evaluate engagement in action through off-campus visits, guest lectures, and participation in local politics. Students work in small teams with a local organization on a public policy issue designed by the organization for in-depth research on an advocacy project. Students complete a final report to be turned in to the organization at the end of the semester. The class also makes an end-of-the-semester presentations with community organizers and the Vassar community.

388b. Intellectual Property Law(1)

(Same as Science, Technology, and Society 388b) This course examines the legal and theoretical foundations of domestic and international intellectual property law regimes. In covering the areas of patent, copyright, trademark, trade secret and espionage law, as well as their intermingled legislative histories, students gain in-depth knowledge of the prevailing domestic doctrines, as well as an understanding of how contemporary national policy is woven into international treaties and structures of transnational governance. Mr. Bennett.

Two 75-minute periods.

C. American Politics Seminars

[ 341 Seminar in Congressional Politics ](1)

This seminar focuses on the theme of congress people and their constituents—a subject that has become quite popular among congressional scholars. While the theme is broadly construed, most of our attention is focused on congressional elections. Here we study reapportionment and redistricting, campaign finance reform, the too-often ignored subject of recruitment of congressional candidates, the role of national party organizations in congressional campaigns, the emergence of sophisticated campaign techniques, how the Republicans managed to "nationalize" the 1994 midterms and win their landslide victory, why divided party control of government has been so pervasive in the U.S., and how congress people continually cultivate the support of constituents over their entire term of office through casework and project assistance. Mr. Born.

Prerequisite: by permission of instructor.

One 2-hour period.

Not offered in 2009/10.

343a. Seminar in Constitutional Theory(1)

This seminar focuses on some core problems pertaining to constitutional interpretation, examining questions of constitutional theory and interpretation as they relate to issues of equality and full citizenship. The course discusses the nature and function of the Constitution, explores theories about how the Constitution should be interpreted, and examines the methods that interpreters use to decipher the meanings of constitutional provisions. These concerns are addressed by focusing on various dimensions of constitutional theories and decisions pertaining to questions related to anti-discrimination law. Some of the issues covered include standards of judicial review, Supreme Court interpretations of equal protection, the constitutional protection of groups as well as individuals, and the appropriateness of constitutional protections rooted in color-blind and gender-blind principles. Mr. Harris.

Prerequisite: by permission of instructor.

One 2-hour period.

346b. Seminar in American Politics(1)

The politics of rights has often been at the center of political contention and aspirations for political change in the US. This seminar explores various meanings and consequences of this politics through an examination of legal culture in everyday life, the constitution of rights discourse, cause lawyering, social movements, and the role of courts in fostering and hindering transformative change in the contemporary US. Among the issues to be considered are: ways in which law does/does not speak from, for, or to the disempowered; the character and impact of lawyers' political activism; and courts' responses to movement activism. The seminar requires everyone to participate fully in weekly discussions, to compose short papers on assigned readings, to write a research paper on subject of the student's choice related to the seminar and to present her/his findings to the seminar. Ms. Villmoare

Prerequisite: by permission of instructor, normally an intermediate-level course in American politics.

One 2-hour period.

[ 348. Seminar in Democracy and Power in America ](1)

An examination of tensions and adjustments between democratic ideals and the structures and practices of political and economic power in the United States. Mr. Plotkin.

Prerequisite: by permission of instructor, normally an intermediate-level course in American Politics.

One 2-hour period.

Not offered in 2009/10.

D. Comparative Politics Seminars

[ 352. Seminar on Multiculturalism in Comparative Perspective ](1)

(Same as Africana Studies 352) This seminar explores the political significance of cultural diversity. Based on the comparative analysis of the United States and other multicultural states, the course examines how and why racial, ethnic, linguistic, and religious identities become grounds for political action. The course examines the formation of identity groups and considers the origins of prejudice, racism, and discrimination. The course also considers peaceful means that governments can use to accommodate cultural diversity. In addition to the United States, countries studied may include South Africa, Rwanda, India, and Yugoslavia. Mr. Longman.

Prerequisite: by permission of instructor.

One 2-hour period.

Not offered in 2009/10.

355a. Seminar on Violence(1)

This seminar explores the many manifestations of political violence. Drawing from cases around the world, we examine: 1) a range of theoretical explanations of violence; 2) how governments and societies address systematic violations of human rights of their pasts; 3) organized insurgency and counterinsurgency response; and 4) extremely high levels of violence as an every day social phenomenon. The seminar attempts to address the influences, linkages, and implications of past and present violence for these societies; present and future politics and culture. Case studies come from Latin America, Africa, Southeast Asia, and the United States. Ms. Hite.

Prerequisite: by permission of instructor.

One 2-hour period.

358b. Comparative Political Economy(1)

This course surveys some classic writings in the study of political economy and examines a variety of choices countries have made in different time periods and in different regions of the world, including Europe, North America, Latin America, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. The primary objective of the course is to explore how politics and economics have interacted in the real world. By the end of the course students should also have gained familiarity with some analytical tools in the field of political economy. Mr. Su.

Prerequisite: by permission of instructor.

One 2-hour period.

[ 380. Hermeneutics and the Comparative Study of Politics ](1)

Considered by some to be a "new philosophy of science," hermeneutics has become in recent years an increasingly established approach to social and political inquiry. This seminar seeks to explicate and critically examine hermeneutical principles in the context of the comparative study of politics. What are hermeneutical approaches to understanding institutional power relations, political practices, and the character and composition of cultures and societies? And what contributions, if any, might hermeneutics make to political explanation? This seminar focuses on these questions. Illustrative studies are drawn from the instructor's familiarity with politics in the area widely characterized as "The Middle East." Significant, original, and semester-long research projects are developed out of the empirical curiosities of the participants. Mr. Davison.

Prerequisite: by permission of instructor.

One 2-hour period.

Not offered in 2009/10.

[ 381. Politics of Memory: Latin America/Comparative Perspective ](1)

(Same as Latin American and Latino/a Studies 381) This seminar analyzes theoretical debates and political processes around what has become known as the politics of memory, or "coming to terms with" violent political pasts. Readings come from a range of disciplines and explore distinct political mechanisms, symbolic acts, and day-to-day social and cultural relations that influence the construction or reconstruction, as well as the fragmentation and/or absence of political community. Case studies are primarily from Latin America but also draw from other regions. Ms. Hite.

Prerequisite: by permission of instructor

One 2-hour period.

Not offered in 2009/10.

[ 383. Global Political Thought ](1)

Conventional international relations theory derives its core concepts primarily from Western political thought. Political relations in most of the world, however, are based on ways of imagining and acting that are constituted through different and multiple languages of political, economic and social thought. Classics such as The ShahnamehThe RamayanaThe MahabharataThe Adventures of Amir HamzaThe ArthasastraThe Rayavacakamu offer textured understandings of worlds shaped by imaginations of order, justice, governance, power, authority and sovereignty. This seminar introduces students to some of these ways of thinking world politics through a careful reading of classic texts such as Popol VuhSundiata,MuqaddimahAin-e-AkbariThe Tibetan Book of the DeadThe Tale of Genji, and Journey to the West. The idea is to read these classics as global texts rather than as the essences of specific cultures or civilizations. The focus is therefore on analyzing how certain classic texts have traveled, been translated, understood, or appropriated across various historical groupings. Mr. Muppidi.

Prerequisite: by permission of instructor

One 2-hour period.

Not offered in 2009/10.

E. International Politics Seminars

360b. The Ethics of War and Peace(1)

This course considers the moral rights and obligations of states, political and military leaders, soldiers, and ordinary citizens with respect to war and peace. Taking just war theory as our point of departure, we concentrate on three major questions: (1) When, if ever, is the use of military force permissible? (2) How may military force be used? (3) Who is responsible for ensuring that force is used only at a permissible time and in a permissible manner? Students are encouraged to develop positions on these matters and to apply them to recent and contemporary cases involving the use or potential use of force. Mr. Rock.

Prerequisite: by permission of instructor.

One 2-hour period.

362a. Seminar in International Politics: Migration and Citizenship(1)

An inquiry into the causes and consequences of migration from developing countries (such as China, Mexico, the Dominican Republic and Algeria) to developed countries (e.g., The U.S., France, Britain, and Germany). The seminar first addresses different explanations for why people move across state borders, and considers the role of economic forces, smuggler networks, transnational social networks, and the legacies of colonialism. The seminar then addresses immigrant incorporation and reactions to immigration in developed countries through an analysis of such subjects as immigrant entrepreneurship in New York City, relations between unions and immigrants, citizenship policy in France, Germany, and the U.S., and the incorporation of immigrant children or the second generation. Ms. Haus.

Prerequisite: by permission of instructor.

One 2-hour period.

[ 363. Decolonizing International Relations ](1)

(Same as Asian Studies 363b) Colonial frameworks are deeply constitutive of mainstream international relations. Issues of global security, economy, and politics continue to be analyzed through perspectives that either silence or are impervious to the voices and agencies of global majorities. This seminar challenges students to enter into, reconstruct, and critically evaluate the differently imagined worlds of ordinary, subaltern peoples and political groups. We draw upon postcolonial theories to explore alternatives to the historically dominant explanations of international relations. Mr. Muppidi.

Prerequisite: by permission of instructor.

One 2-hour period.

Not offered in 2009/10.

365a. Civil Wars and Rebel Movements(1)

(Same as International Studies 365a) Since World War II, civil wars have vastly outnumbered interstate wars, and have killed, conservatively, five times as many people as interstate wars. This seminar explores contemporary civil wars from a variety of different angles and approaches drawn primarily from political science, but also other disciplines. In addition, we consider personal accounts, journalistic coverage, and films that illustrate the reality of contemporary warfare. The course is divided into three sections, each of which emphasizes the transnational nature of contemporary civil wars. First, we read a selection of differing perspectives on the causes and consequences of civil conflicts. Next, we explore literature on the organization and behavior of rebel organizations by rebel theorists and academics. And finally, we consider different case studies from different parts of the world. Mr. Mampilly.

Prerequisite: by permission of instructor.

One 2-hour period.

366b. Worlding International Relations(1)

This seminar is a writing intensive course where we explore how prominent thinkers/scholars of international relations have engaged the task of writing alternative worlds into the field of politics. Though located in the periphery, how have various thinkers imagined, articulated and taken up the challenge of crossing multiple colonial borders? While we read various authors, our focus is primarily on the act and practice of writing itself. We closely consider how those we read write, and we write and study each other's works in order to collectively think through, critique and help ourselves imagine and write into existence variously silenced aspects of international relations. Mr. Muppidi

Prerequisite: by permission of instructor.

One 2-hour period.

382b. Seminar in International Politics: Politics of Migration and Diasporas(1)

The number of migrants around the world has more than doubled since 1975.  As of 2008, there were 175 million people living in countries other than their country of birth.  This comparative course examines a number of key issues relating to migration and diasporas in the context of this intense amount of movement.  Diasporas are groups of people who originate from a particular homeland and disperse to many locations.  Diasporas also maintain links with the homeland and with other members located in other territories. 

To explore the nature and impact of diasporas and migration, this course will focus on answering three questions: First, what are the causes of migration? Second, what kinds of connections do migrants and diasporics maintain with their homelands, and what kinds of effects do these links have? This includes possible developmental and political impacts on both their host and home countries. Finally, how do the experiences of women???s migration differ from that of men?  Migration from and diasporas in India, Mexico, Somalia, South Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States will assist us in exploring these issues.


 

F. Political Theory Seminars

[ 372. Contested Rights ](1)

This course examines the concept of "rights" as it has developed in Western political thought, and contemporary controversies concerning rights. Ms. Shanley.

Prerequisite: by permission of instructor.

One 2-hour period.

Not offered in 2009/10.

[ 373. Seminar in Political Philosophy ](1)

A study of a major theorist, school, or problem in political philosophy. Mr. Stillman.

Prerequisite: by permission of instructor.

Not offered in 2009/10.

375b. Democratic Engagement(1)

What is democracy? How healthy is democracy in the United States and/or abroad? What counts as engagement? Is talking enough? Should citizens do more than vote? What types of activism count as engagement? This course addresses these fundamental questions in addition to those raised during our interaction over the semester. Democratic Engagement offers a community-based experience focused on observing, participating in, and documenting several different approaches to political engagement in the greater Poughkeepsie metro area. The class combines theory and practice in two ways. First, the class offers a theoretical exploration of concepts such as democracy, participation, deliberation, activism, and power through an examination of texts, articles, and films. Secondly, students employ their own gazes to evaluate engagement in action through off-campus visits, guest lectures, and participation in local politics. Students work in small teams with a local organization on a public policy issue designed by the organization for in-depth research on an advocacy project. Students complete a final report to be turned in to the organization at the end of the semester. The class also makes an end-of-the-semester presentations with community organizers and the Vassar community. Ms. Gregory.

Prerequisite: by permission of instructor.

One 2-hour period.

384a. Seminar in Political Theory(1)

An examination of selected theorists and problems in contemporary political theory. Mr. Davison.

Prerequisite: by permission of instructor.

One 2-hour period.

[ 385. Families, Politics, and Law ](1)

This course examines emerging perspectives on family forms and state regulation of families that have appeared in response to such developments as same-sex marriage and parenting; multi-racial families created by intermarriage and by transracial and intercountry adoption; increasing numbers of single-parent households; and reproductive technologies that enable people to procreate by using donated eggs and sperm and/or hired gestational service (and in the future, perhaps, by cloning). The course explores these issues from the perspective of theories of social justice that put concerns of race, economic class, and gender at the center of their analysis. Ms. Shanley.

Prerequisite: by permission of instructor

One 2-hour period

Not offered in 2009/10.

G. Other

399a or b. Senior Independent Work(1/2 or 1)

Independent work is normally based on a student's desire to study with an instructor a specialized aspect of a course taken with that instructor. Normally 1 unit entails substantial directed reading, the writing of a long paper, and biweekly conferences with the instructor. This course cannot be used to satisfy the requirement of 2 units of 300-level work in the major. In no case shall independent work satisfy the subfield distribution requirement. The department.