Fall 2019

Upper Division Classes

POLS-347 - LATIN AMERICAN POLITICS    Dr. Pedro dos Santos                             

Who is the president of Venezuela, Guaidó or Maduro? What’s an AMLO and is AMLO good for you? Is a Castro still running Cuba? What with all the violence in Central America? These are some of the questions we will answer in this course, paying special attention to the historical development of Latin American political institutions and their impact on the current situation in many countries in the region. This course will combine theoretical and conceptual debates in Political Science with case studies in the region to address issues related to minority representation, political violence, economic inequality, corruption, despacito, women’s issues, social movements, and other important and timely topics about Latin American politics. 


POLS-332 - U.S. CONGRESS      Dr. Claire Haeg               

Ever wondered why Congress is so polarized and why can't it get anything done? Why hasn't Congress addressed climate change or fixed health care and student loan debt? Is Congress going to impeach the president and if so, when? What are those rules and committees and debt ceilings people keep talking about? Ever wondered if there’s any way we could fix this institution that's supposed to represent the people? This class will give you the background to legislative procedures, an understanding of how congressional elections work, and discuss possible ways to reform the whole system so that you don’t have to start a revolution or move to Canada.


POLS-320C - LAW & LITERATURE    Dr.  Scott Johnson           

Murder, Mayhem, Cannibalism in Caves! Code Red!

This course takes law to the extremes by examining literary representations of law and comparing those legal themes to what political scientists and legal scholars think.  We will read short stories, novels, and plays as well as watch some movies.  We will read law review articles, legal theories, and write short papers.  We will critique each other’s presentations.  I’m looking for a few good men and women who can handle the truth.  Can you?  Do You want answers?!  Then sign up for Topics in Law, POLS 320c, Law and Literature and come prepared to discuss.  The court will wait for an answer.


POLS-358B - ETHICS IN WAR      Dr. Christi Siver                

What do Ethics Mean during a Time of War?

If General Sherman was right that "war is hell," the concept of ethics seems completely irrelevant.  However, as human society has evolved, numerous politicians, philosophers, and religious figures have agreed on the need for an ethics in war, even if they have not agreed on the content of those ethics.  Students will be introduced to formal ethical frameworks and discover the dilemmas they encounter when applying these frameworks to real world situations.  Students will compare how these ethical frameworks overlap and diverge from political values.  We will debate particular dilemmas in warfare, including which authorities can declare war and when they are justified in doing so, what methods can be used in war, and what obligations both combatants and non-combatants have.  Students will work with a basic ethics text supplemented by contemporary articles outlining modern dilemmas related to ethics of war.


POLS-358C - CONFLICT & HUMAN RIGHTS     Colin Hannigan       


Right now, there are 9 wars, 23 conflicts, and 13 violent skirmishes taking place in the world, most of them worsening in severity as time goes on. There are several more instances of growing tensions within and between states that could escalate at any moment. What causes violent conflict in the first place? What induces states to cooperate, instead? This course surveys the political science literature on international conflict, aiming to grow our understanding of the causes, conduct, and termination of interstate and intrastate violence. Students will examine conflict and cooperation from multiple levels of analysis, using a variety of methodological tools to answer critical questions about war and peace. Is there going to be a war between the U.S. and China? In Venezuela? If tensions between India and Pakistan escalate to full-scale war, who would win? Why doesn’t Assad just give in and negotiate peace in Syria? Why isn’t the United Nations intervening in Yemen? Using applied game theory and interpreting statistical models of conflict and cooperation, students will learn how to analyze power relations, domestic costs, and preferences to make inferences and predictions about the wars we wage. Funk legend (and amateur political scientist) Edwin Starr already warned that war is costly: “War. Huh. Yeah. What is it good for? Absolutely nothin’.” So, let’s put our heads together to figure out why it keeps happening anyway.