International Politics: Why does Iran continue to develop its nuclear program despite all of the sanctions and diplomatic efforts to get it to stop? Does the rise of China present a security threat to the United States…or an opportunity? Why can’t European countries come to a lasting agreement on how to solve their fiscal problems? This class seeks to address why global cooperation can be so difficult even if most of the world shares similar goals of peace and prosperity. We will start by taking an historical approach, tracing major events in world history from the Peloponnesian War to the Cold War and examining how these events changed (or haven’t changed!) the way we think about how to overcome international conflict. We will then examine the ways in which globalization and development have created new opportunities and new challenges for international cooperation on issues from security to economic growth and from human rights to the health of the natural environment. Course website.
Political Science Research Methods: This course focuses on how we go about collecting evidence in order to provide answers to important social, political, and legal questions. We will cover a range of quantitative and qualitative methods, from direct observation to surveys to statistical analysis. But more importantly, we will pay attention to how good research design allows us to draw helpful conclusions about the world we live in while flawed methodologies can yield misleading results. Upon successful completion of PS222, I expect you will be able to be able to critically evaluate information presented to you as “research” in your future careers in policy, advocacy, law, or simply as engaged global citizens. Course website.
Political Economy: As the presidential election heats up this fall, economic issues are at the forefront of political debate. Can government help reduce unemployment? How much should citizens be expected to pay in taxes? Is universal healthcare possible? … Desirable? … and at what cost? And how did we get into this global financial mess in the first place? This course will be centered around these questions. We will start with a broad overview of the history of economic interactions and the development of the capitalist, market economy. We will cover basic principles of micro and macro economics and then investigate what these principles tell us about the impact of government policies from taxes and deficits to regulation and social provisioning. We will also look at how politics and economics interact, and why the advice of economists sometimes (often?) falls on deaf ears. Finally, we will explore the international dimensions of political economy with specific emphasis on the global economic crisis and the challenge of global development. Course website.
Peace, War, and Security: This course offers a broad overview of security challenges facing policymakers, activists, and citizens in the 21st century. We will begin with a “traditional” approach to security studies, examining questions surrounding the causes of war, the art of strategy, and the logic of deterrence. We will then move on to address the complex threats posed to security in the 21st century: from nuclear proliferation to environmental conflict, from terrorism to transnational organized crime, and from genocide to nonviolent resistance. Finally, we will explore methods for addressing these security challenges including negotiation and conflict resolution processes, multilateral peacekeeping operations, and the use of force in counterterrorism and counterinsurgency. By the end of the course, students are expected to demonstrate not only a deep understanding of each of these concepts, but also an ability to place contemporary challenges in their broader historical contexts and to evaluate the costs and benefits of potential policy responses.