Political Science Courses

American Politics and Policy

101 Politics of American Democracy (1)
An overview of the dynamics and structure of the American political system: the Constitution, civil liberties, Congress, the Presidency, bureaucracy, interest groups, political parties, and voting behavior. Contrasts the principles of democratic action with a behind-the-scenes examination of how public policy is actually made. Dabney, Grossman, Rose.

214 Congress and the Presidency (1)
An examination of the changing roles and responsibilities of Congress and the presidency with a focus on the changing political environment and the potential for leadership. Grossman.

216 Public Policy Analysis (1)
Prerequisite: Sophomore standing. An examination as to how government decides to address problems. The stages of the policy-making process. Special attention is paid to the methods of program evaluation. Substantive policy areas are discussed, with an emphasis on social welfare, health, education, urban, and environmental protection policies. First-year students are not allowed to enroll in this course. Dabney, Grossman, Rose.

220 Interest Groups and Political Action (1)
An examination of the increasing power of interest groups in the governmental process, including case studies of successful and unsuccessful efforts by business, labor, women's groups, ideological groups and various citizens' groups to influence public opinion and public policy. Offered in alternate years. Dabney.

225 American Citizenship in Theory and Practice (1)
Focuses on the ways in which the concept of American citizenship has changed over time in response to various historical events such as the founding of the American republic, the abolition of slavery, the expansion of suffrage rights, the waves of immigration from Europe and Asia, and other circumstances. Grossman, Rose.

229 Film Images of World War II (1)
The history of the Second World War and world films made about the war from 1939 to the present. (Film fee.) Offered in alternate years. Same as History 229. Cocks, Grossman.

312 American Political Development (1)
Prerequisites: Political Science 100, 101.
Considers rotating topics: war, race, and organizational and institutional changes in historical context. Seminar themes include: the periodization of American history, national state formation, the political economy of industrialization and urbanization, and the social dynamics of continuity and change in the American political system. Grossman.

315 Presidential Campaigns and Elections (1)
Prerequisites: Political Science 100,101.
The continuing evolution of both the presidential nominating process and the fall general election campaign. A look at the role played by political parties, candidate-centered organizations, money, issues, images and the mass media in the presidential selection process. Offered in those years when the presidential election campaign is at its peak! Dabney, Staff.

317 Political Parties in the United States (1)
Prerequisites: Political Science 100, 101.
Examines the evolution of the party system in the U.S. and roles political parties play in contemporary American politics. Looks at party realignments, third party movements and advancements, party infighting and bipartisan cooperation. Addresses the question of party decline and the rise of alternative institutions of interest articulation. Dabney.

International Relations and Comparative Politics

102 Introduction to Comparative Politics (1)
Examines the political institutions and processes of countries around the world. Emphasizes how to make meaningful comparisons between systems in different countries. Covers conditions for and functions of democracy, with an emphasis on how different kinds of democracies work. Provides a framework for comparison and considers the United States in comparative perspective. Topics include the vibrancy of democracy, the centrality of political and electoral institutions, the possibility of revolution, and the power of ethnicity. Dabney.

103 Introduction to International Politics (1)
Examines and evaluates competing theoretical approaches (“paradigms”) which seek to explain inter-state war, international institutions and the global economy. Explores scholarly debates about the implications of international anarchy and national sovereignty. Focuses on the causes of violent conflict, the emergence of human rights norms and international courts, the dilemmas of humanitarian intervention, and the implications of global inequality. Part I examines competing theoretical perspectives in the discipline; Part II,approaches to studying war, violence and conflict; Part III, international institutions; Part IV, issues related to the global economy and international development. Grossman, Walling.

207 Transitional Justice (1)
How does a government build a secure, democratic society built on the rule of law and principles of human rights in the aftermath of mass atrocity? How do people live together peacefully in the aftermath of mass atrocity? Explores the set of practices, mechanisms and concerns that arise when a new government attempts to come to terms with a legacy of past human rights violations following a period of conflict, civil strife or government repression, e.g., amnesties, reparations, truth commissions, and criminal prosecutions in order to ensure accountability, serve justice, discover truth and achieve societal reconciliation. Walling.

235 American Foreign Policy (1)
Exploration of the history of American foreign policy, covering leading theories that explain its shifting style, goals, and outcomes. Grossman.

237 Controversies in Global Politics (1)
How do we achieve justice beyond borders in an increasingly complex and interdependent world? By examining different traditions of political, ethical, and legal thought, students acquire the tools necessary to make reasoned judgments about urgent political problems in international politics. These problems include but are not limited to: global poverty, human rights, immigration, global climate change, nuclear proliferation, terrorism, and sea-level rise. Walling.

256 Human Rights (1)
Introduces the key concepts and theoretical tools for understanding human rights and human rights policy in the context of the modern world. Examines human rights in a global comparative context with emphases on all the major world regions. Draws on the central theories and concepts of comparative politics and international relations to explain how and why governments protect (or fail to) human rights and to examine the intersection among citizens, governments, and non-governmental organizations that work to investigate and protect against human rights abuses. Walling.

262 Pottery and Politics: Examining the Art and Politics of Tea Culture in Japan (1)
Explores the aesthetic traditions and political history of the Japanese tea ceremony and pottery-making. Emphasizes the artistic and meditative execution of tea making with wares of art for tea making and tea consumption, in addition to the study of the practicality of tea as a vehicle for political negotiation, deliberation and social interaction in Japan. Same as Art 262. Dabney, Chytilo.

305 Government and Politics of Japan (1)
Prerequisites:Political Science 100, 102.
An examination of Japan's postwar political system: the decision-making institutions, political players and public policy processes. Also surveys political parties, political economy, political participation, culture and society in Japan. Dabney.

336 International Relations (1)
Prerequisites: Political Science 100, 103.
A study of the behavior of nations, including topics such as: national power, balance of power, deterrence, diplomacy, collective security, international law, international organization and disarmament. Grossman, Walling.

338 International Political Economy (1)
Prerequisites: Political Science 100, 103.
An introduction to the study of political economy, i.e., the reciprocal relationship between political and economic activities and institutions, through an examination of the pursuit of wealth and power in the international system. Considers the strengths and weaknesses of different theoretical, analytical and ideological approaches to understanding the international political economy in both historical and contemporary settings. Specific issues include trade, international finance, foreign investment, economic development, structural adjustments and globalization. Grossman.

352 The Comparative Politics of Developing Nations (1)
Prerequisites: Political Science 100, 102.
A survey of the principal arguments about global inequality and the developmental paths of countries outside the industrialized West. Includes an examination of the roles major powers and international and non-governmental organizations have played in the political and economic histories of developing countries. Dabney.

372 Gender, Sex and International Politics (1)
Prerequisites: Political Science 100, 103.
Explores how gendered norms and assumptions shape international politics. Introduces feminist approaches to international politics in order to answer questions like “where are the women?” and “how do women experience international politics differently than men because of their biological sex?” Also evaluates the ‘gendered hierarchies’ of international relations—gendered expectations of individuals, state and other actors. Walling.

404 Causes of War (1)
Prerequisites: Political Science 100, 103.
Explores the central issues regarding the use of military force in international politics. Why do states turn to military force and for what purposes? What are the causes of war? What renders the threat to use force credible? Can intervention into intra-state wars stall bloodshed and bring stability? How can states cope with new challenges posed by asymmetrical warfare and the threats of would-be terrorists? What are the rules and laws of war? How do states diminish the threat of war? Part I examines the causes of inter-state war and the strategies states employ to diminish the threat of war and handle its effects; Part II, the growing trend of intra-state conflict; Part III, the global governance of war, specifically the institutions, rules and norms associated with war-fighting and conflict prevention; Part IV, other forms of political violence including asymmetrical warfare, rebel insurgencies and terrorism. Grossman, Walling.

405 National Security Policy (1)
Prerequisites: Political Science 100, 103.
Explores the new security challenges facing the United States and other nations in the post-Cold War period. Introduces security studies, looking at the issue of nuclear weapons and its integration into strategic policy planning. Considers alternative ways to comprehend the concept of security and security studies in light of economic globalization, asymmetrical warfare, terrorism, democratization, the changing character of sovereignty, and the problem of weapons (conventional and non-conventional) proliferation. Grossman, Walling.

Law, Jurisprudence and Political Thought

105 Introduction to Political Thought (1)
Offers an introduction to political theory. Explores major debates within the field, both in contemporary and canonical work. Proceeds both thematically, examining such themes as liberty, justice, democracy, political resistance, and power, and historically, situating theorists' writings within the historical context in which they were written and read. Also considers the relationship between political theory, political practice and the other subfields of political science. Rose.

205 Theories of Democracy and Difference (1)
Draws on the work of contemporary political theorists to explore how democracies simultaneously uphold their commitment to equality and liberty while allowing for the inclusion of people with sometimes very different values and beliefs. To what extent should the state accommodate citizens' differences? What should states' responses be to cultural minorities whose customs may run counter to the majority's democratic values? What modes of communication best facilitate political participation by diverse community members? Is there room for accommodation of difference in the context of the legal system? Rose.

224 Constitutional Law and Politics (1)
Explores the role of the U.S. Supreme Court in political struggles over the distribution and uses of power in the American constitutional system. Covers issues including the division of powers between state and national governments, and the branches of the federal government; economic powers of private actors and governmental regulators; the authority of governments to enforce or transform racial and gender hierarchies; and the powers of individuals to make basic choices, such as a woman's power to have an abortion. Emphasizes how the tasks of justifying the Supreme Court's own power, and constitutionalism more broadly understood, contribute to logically debatable, but politically powerful constitutional arguments. Also examines the politics of constitutional interpretation. Readings include Supreme Court decisions and background materials on their theoretical, historical and political context. Rose.

322 Crime, Politics and Punishment (1)
Prerequisites: Political Science 100, 105.
Whom a society punishes and how it punishes are key political questions as well as indicators of the character of the people in whose name it acts. This course examines connections between punishment and politics with particular reference to the contemporary American situation. Rose.

324 Civil Rights and Civil Liberties (1)
Prerequisites: Political Science 100, 105.
Examines the American Constitution and some of the rights protected by it. Topics to be covered include: the role of the judiciary in protecting individual rights in a democratic context, methods of constitutional interpretation, incorporation, the right to bear arms, economic liberty, abortion and privacy rights, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of association, freedom of the press, the death penalty, and equal protection before the law. Rose.

351 Modern Political Thought (1)
Prerequisites: Political Science 100, 105.
Critical examination of the work of modern writers on enduring themes of political life. Covers such thinkers as Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Hegel and Marx, through careful reading of the texts. Explores topics such as equality, democracy, women's rights and contending definitions of freedom. Rose.

357 International Law and Politics (1)
Prerequisites: Political Science 100, 105.  
Examines international law using a broad range of analytical tools to enable students to think critically about the origins and impact of international law. How do we explain where particular laws and norms come from? How do they affect the shape of global politics and the outcomes of particular events? How often do states obey international law, and why? Also examines substantive areas of international law such as the law of armed conflict, international humanitarian law, human rights, international criminal law and environmental law. Walling.

367 American Political Thought (1)
Prerequisites: Political Science 100, 105.
Explores the history of American political ideas, and how those ideas continue to inform contemporary political thinking. Focuses on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, with principal attention given to the Transcendental Movement and the emergence and development of pragmatism. Examines this dominant thread of American thought against the backdrop of liberalism and within the context of four related themes: individualism, equality, community and democracy. Rose.

368 Liberals and Conservatives (1)
Prerequisites: Political Science 100, 105.
Examines the development of American political thought from the early twentieth century to the present. Special areas of emphasis include transformations in the American understanding of liberalism and the emergence of modern American conservatism in the post-World War II context. Explores the constitutive connections and interplay between political ideas and the concrete world of political action. Rose.

406 Privacy and the Surveillance Society (1)
Prerequisites: Political Science 100, 105.
Surveillance has become a topic of central importance for citizens and governments alike. As new technologies are developed and deployed, both by government and private entities, once conventional understandings of privacy and personhood have been permanently altered. How should relations between citizen and state, citizen and corporate entities, and among citizens themselves be understood? In what ways might human rights principles be threatened by global flows and exchanges of data? How are concepts like personhood, identity, trust and privacy being transformed and shaped through surveillance practices? How might such developments be challenged and struggled over? What implications does national security policy have for individually situated notions of human security? Topics considered will include: whether or not the state has become more authoritarian via its data collection practices and activities; what issues are raised by surveillance cultures embedding themselves into the everyday fabric of social life and social organization; and, whether there are constitutional tools available to citizens to challenge surveillance protocols and processes. Rose.

Political Research

100 Introduction to Political Inquiry (1)
Examines the history of the discipline, and surveys principal approaches to describing and explaining political phenomena, including qualitative and quantitative analysis and moving from the behavioralism of the late 1940s, to critical theories, interpretive approaches, and rational choice models of later generations, and on to postmodern critiques challenging the idea that political science can be a science. Dabney, Grossman, Rose, Walling.

Special Studies

187, 188, 189 Selected Topics (1/4, 1/2, 1)
An examination of subjects or areas not included in other courses. Staff.

287, 288, 289 Selected Topics (1/4, 1/2, 1)
An examination of subjects or areas not included in other courses. Staff.

387, 388, 389 Selected Topics (1/4, 1/2, 1)
An examination of subjects or areas not included in other courses. Staff.

391, 392 Internship (1/2, 1)
Prerequisite: Permission of department.
Offered on a credit/no credit basis. Staff.

401, 402 Seminar (1/2, 1)
Individual research within context of small group discussion and analysis of a common topic of politics. Staff.

411, 412 Directed Study (1/2, 1)
Individual research on a senior thesis under tutorial direction of the faculty. (Students must have a grade point average of 3.0 to take a directed study in political science.) Staff.

Majors and Minors

Requirements for Major

  • A minimum of nine units is required to satisfy the major in political science. The major is comprised of three streams of inquiry: American politics and policy; international and comparative politics; and law, jurisprudence, and political thought. Political science majors are required to take and pass Political Science 100 (Introduction to Political Inquiry) as the gateway course to all upper-level (300- and 400-level) courses in the major. In addition, students are required to take and pass at least one entry-level course for each of the three streams (Political Science 101; either 102 or 103; and 105). Students are also required to take and pass at least one upper-level one-unit course (at the 300 level) in each stream of inquiry. Finally, all political science majors are required to take and pass one 400-level capstone seminar. It is expected that seven of the nine units in political science will be taken at Albion College. Other arrangements can be made for bona fide transfer students and students in approved off-campus programs. Exceptions are at the discretion of the department chair after consultation with other faculty members in the department.
  • No more than one unit of 391 or 392 (Internship) may be counted toward a major.
  • All courses for the major must be taken for a numerical grade, except those offered only on a credit/no credit basis. In order for a course to count for the political science major, the student must earn at least a 2.0 in the course.
  • Political science majors are strongly encouraged to achieve basic competency in statistics (Mathematics 209 is appropriate) and at least one foreign language.

Note: First-year students may enroll in 300-level courses only with permission of the instructor.

Requirements for Minor

  • Six units in political science, including Political Science 100, and at least one 100-level course from each of the three streams of inquiry, and two elective one-unit political science courses taken at the 300 level. 

Requirements for Major with Secondary Education Certification

  • A minimum of nine units in political science, including: 100, 101, 102 or 103, 105, 216, 224, 256, and 336.
  • One elective one-unit political science course taken at the 200- or 300-level.
  • History 131.
  • No more than one unit of 391 or 392 (Internship) may be counted toward a major.
  • All courses for the major must be taken for a numerical grade, except those offered only on a credit/no credit basis. In order for a course to count for the political science major, the student must earn at least a 2.0 in the course.
  • Political science majors are strongly encouraged to achieve basic competency in statistics (Mathematics 209 is appropriate) and at least one foreign language.
  • Completion of all other requirements for teacher certification.

It is expected that seven of the nine units in political science will be taken at Albion College. Other arrangements can be made for bona fide transfer students and students in approved off-campus programs. Exceptions are at the discretion of the department chair after consultation with other faculty members in the department.

Requirements for Minor with Secondary Education Certification

  • A minimum of five units in political science, including: 101, 102 or 103, 224, 256, and 336.
  • History 131.
  • Completion of all other requirements for teacher certification.

Requirements for Social Studies Major with Elementary or Secondary Education Certification

Students interested in pursuing elementary or secondary education certification in social studies may choose to major in social studies. The detailed requirements for the major with elementary certification and secondary certification are provided in this catalog or are available from the Education Department.

Career Opportunities

An undergraduate major in political science is used by many students as a background for graduate study—and eventually employment—in such fields as law, public policy, public administration, business administration and international relations. Other fields which may be directly open to graduates are public opinion and market research, social work, municipal management, secondary school teaching, TV and radio, journalism, lobbying, criminal justice, campaign management and legislative staff work.

Department Policy for Advanced Placement Credit

Students who earn a 4 or 5 on the Advanced Placement (AP) exam in American government will receive one unit of credit as Political Science 190. This unit does not count toward the political science major but does count toward the graduation requirement of 32 units.

Introduction

The department offers students the opportunity to pursue either a major or a minor in political science. In relatively small, discussion-oriented classes, students engage with questions fundamental to the academic study of politics. For example, how does a critical engagement with politics and political thought help us to understand power in contemporary and historical terms? What sorts of power relationships do we see at work in modern institutions such as states, global capital, and the media? And, how do subordinate groups and individuals resist and transform systems of power?

In our department, we explore these questions and more, by exposing students to multiple perspectives on the most consequential, often controversial, issues of our times. Such issues may include questions of war and peace, democracy, the environment, the delicate balance between security and freedom, and the evolving conception of what it means to be a citizen. Whatever the issue before us, the goal of the department is to cultivate in its students an ability to critically examine political questions from a variety of perspectives, and enable them to better interpret their own experience of the world. As measures of our success in meeting these goals, we expect students to: demonstrate knowledge of the interconnections of political institutions, movements, concepts, and events from multiple intersecting vantage points; identify important contested assumptions, ideas, and intellectual debates in the relevant scholarly literature; and pose critical questions about power relations as they investigate key political questions in a globalizing world.

Many of our students seek to translate what they have learned in the classroom to ‘real world’ experiences beyond the campus gates, in the form of internships and service-learning activities. Upon graduation, some of our students choose to pursue graduate study in political science and related disciplines. A significant number of our graduates opt for law school. Our graduates have been uniquely successful in obtaining admission to some of the finest law schools in the United States. Finally, many of our students seek out immediate employment upon graduation, pursuing careers in teaching, public policy, business, and government-related activities.

Political Science Department Website

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