Political Science Courses

(See below for specific course descriptions.)

Political Science is a discipline that aims to understand, analyze, and evaluate governmental institutions, public policy, political ideas, and collective action within societies and among nations. By introducing students to the tools of the discipline -- its theories, concepts and research methods -- the study of political science enables students to explore the power relationships, social-economic conditions and ideological commitments that shape political action and public argument in a diverse and globally interdependent society. The Political Science Department takes seriously the mission at the heart of the liberal arts education: cultivating thoughtful, articulate, active, and responsible citizens. In doing so, the Department offers courses and research experiences emphasizing the development of writing skills, critical thinking, and active and intelligent engagement with issues affecting contemporary public life.

Political Science students develop an array of skills and experiences that lead to graduate studies and/or careers in federal, state and local government; international organizations; law; nonprofit organizations and associations; campaign management and polling; journalism; and teaching.

Political Science students are strongly encouraged to study abroad, to participate in the Lutheran College Washington, D.C. semester, and to complete an internship. Language study is strongly encouraged.

Major Requirements

All majors will complete at least 10 courses (including the core courses), at least one of which must be a writing intensive course.  Introductory courses, including PSC 201 Political Ideologies, and PSC 301 Political Science Research Methods should normally be completed by the end of the sophomore year.  Majors must maintain a 2.00 GPA in political science courses to remain in good standing in the proram.

In addition to the Core Classes, in close advising with department faculty, students will complete five advanced courses, at least two at the 300 level.  Three of the five advanced courses must be completed in one thematic are; at least one course must be completed in two additional thematic areas.  Courses cannot double count across thematic areas.  PSC 490 CUE: Senior Capstone Seminar is open to seniors only.  The CUE is normally offered once per year, during the Spring semester.

Core Courses Require for the Major

  • PSC 101 - Introduction to American National Government 1 course unit
  • PSC 103 - Introduction to Comparative Politics & International Relations 1 course unit
  • PSC 201 - Political Ideologies 1 course unit
  • PSC 301 - Political Science Research Methods 1 course unit
  • PSC 490 - CUE: Senior Capstone Seminar 1 course unit

Thematic Areas

  • Policy Studies
  • States, Conflict, and Culture
  • Problems in Democracy
  • Institutions and Processes
  • (In)Equality, Justice, and Power
  • Citizenship and Political Engagement


Political Science Course Descriptions 


PSC 101 - Introduction to American National Government
This course examines the constitutional foundations, institutions, and processes of American national government.  Key issues explored include relationships between, and powers among, the main institutions of government - Congress, the Presidency, the Judiciary; citizenship and political behavior; campaigns and elections; political parties; the media; interest groups; and a range of contemporary public policy issues.
Meets general academic requirement SL.

PSC 103 - Introduction to Comparative Politics & International Relations
The course provides a basic introduction to core concepts and problems in the fields of international relations and comparative government.  Key issues explored in the course include how and why nation-states apply their power to act cooperatively, why they occasionally resort to violence to settle disputes, and how and why states differ in their organization and in their relationship between citizen and government.
Meets general academic requirement SL.

PSC 201 - Political Ideologies
An examination of the philosophical and historical foundations of major political ideologies of the modern era.  Students will investigate how ideologies make claims about human nature, history, and the state; how they attempt to understand the relationship between socio-economic conditions and the state; how they envision a just political order; and how they prescribe and justify programs of action.  Among the ideologies examined: liberalism, civic republicanism, conservatism, socialism, communism, anarchism, nationalism, fascism, Nazism, fundamentalism, and feminism.
Intended for those planning to major or minor in political science.

PSC 205 - Constitutional Law I
An examination of the origins of and limitations on judicial review; the constitutional sources of national authority with special focus on the nature and scope of the commerce and tax powers; the constitutional limitations on presidential and congressional power; and selected First Amendment freedoms.
Meets general academic requirement SL.

PSC 207, 208 - Constitutional Law II
An examination of the incorporation of the Bill of Rights; the rise and demise of substantive due process; the concept of state action; federal enforcement of civil rights; the nature and scope of equal protection of the law; and selected First Amendment freedoms.
Meets general academic requirement SL (and W when offered as 208).

PSC 209 - Elections & Campaigns in the United States
This course examines American elections, campaigns, and voting behavior within the broader context of political representation and electoral systems.  Attention is provided to the rules, strategies, and behaviors governing elections in the United States and the internal and external factors influencing the American voters' decision-making process.  Ongoing political campaigns will play a major role in this course with students engaged in numerous exercises related to the various elections taking place during the semester.
Meets general academic requirement SL.

PSC 213 - Public Health Policy
The course is a survey of contemporary issues related to the provision of public health policies in the United States.  From disease control to the provision of health insurance, government plays a central role in the field of American health care.  This course provides attention to numerous aspects of government interaction in the area of health policy, including the funding of research, regulation of pharmaceuticals, management and prevention of epidemics, and the provision of medical insurance.  The class is designed for students interested in pursuing careers related to public health or with a general interest in the field.  Course requirements include research projects and required service experiences in local health care locations, such as Allentown's health department and local medical clinics.  The class will also include a simulation that examines the decision making process that is used by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) in addressing a potential outbreak of an infectious disease.
Meets general academic requirement SL.

PSC 216 - Environmental Politics & Policymaking
A study of recent and contemporary U.S. environmental policy and its formulation.  The course examines the political and institutional settings and constraints on the formulation of environmental policy, including the role of the President, Congress, the courts, bureaucracy, state governments, and interest groups.  Attention will also be given to theoretical issues as they arise out of, and influence, the policy making process.  In addition, the course will examine the interaction of global environmental problems and domestic policy making.
Meets general academic requirement SL.

PSC 219, 220 - Public Administration & Policy Implementation
An examination of the theory and practice of managing the public sector with emphasis on the politics of administration, organization structures, communications, decision-making systems, budgeting processes, and personnel management.
Meets general academic requirement SL (and W when offered as 220).

PSC 221 - Government Regulation of Business
An examination of the legal framework (the legislatures, the courts, and government agencies) and business's major legal responsibilities as established in the following subject areas: administrative law, the Bill of Rights, antitrust, labor relations, employment discrimination, federal consumer protection, and regulation of environmental quality.
Meets general academic requirement SL.

PSC 223 - Political Organization & Democratic Voice: Parties, Interest Groups, & Citizens in U.S. Politics
This course examines the bonds between citizens, political elites, and political institutions in the US with an eye toward examining opportunities for political voice in American democracy. We will discuss American political parties, interest groups, and social movements as these matter to four emergent issues: gun control, immigration, populism, and the midterm elections.
Meets general academic requirement SL.

PSC 230, 231 - Government & Politics of Europe
This course introduces students to European politics in the post-Cold War era.  It focuses on political, economic, and social continuity and change in Western, Southern, and East-Central European nations.  Taught from a broad regional perspective, the course will analyze the role of institutions and actors in shaping the dynamic political processes in the nations of Europe.  Special attention is given to their economic and political interactions and their ramifications for the European integration process.
Meets general academic requirement SL (and W when offered as 231).

PSC 232 - Governments & Politics of East Asia
Analysis of the contemporary political systems of East Asia, primarily China and Japan, in their social and cultural settings, historical background, and dynamics of modernization.
Meets general academic requirement SL and DE.

PSC 237 - Government & Politics of Africa
This course will examine the domestic politics and international relations of Africa.  In particular, it will explore common problems faced by these states, including the formation of viable political systems, the implementation of policies to promote economic development, and the conduct of viable foreign policies.  The course will also examine the effect of historical culture, economic conditions, and colonial penetration upon the formulation and conduct of public policy in Africa.
Meets general academic requirement SL and DE.

PSC 242, 243 - Introduction to Conflict & Peace Studies
This is an introductory course in the interdisciplinary field of conflict and peace studies which examines different approaches to conflict definition, management, and resolution.  Fundamental issues of peace, war, conflict, and violence are discussed from a variety of perspectives within the political science and international studies paradigms.
Meets general academic requirement SL and DE (and W when offered as 243).

PSC 246 - Developing Nations
A study of the politics of developing nations, their struggles to overcome poverty and underdevelopment, their efforts at nation-building, and their impact in the world.  The challenges and dilemmas of modernization and contending theories about the causes of underdevelopment and appropriate development strategies will be discussed.
Meets general academic requirement SL and DE.

PSC 248, 249 - Governments & Politics of the Middle East
This course will examine the domestic politics and international relations of the Middle East.  In particular, the course will examine the effect of historical culture, economic conditions, and colonial penetration upon the current political conditions of the area.
Meets general academic requirement SL and DE (and W when offered as 249).

PSC 254 - Globalization & Social Justice
Interdependence and globalization have brought the world closer to American citizens.  As their lives become more inter-connected with the dynamics of international market and political forces, the traditional distinctions between local and global concerns begin to fade.  The events of September 11th, wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the cycles of anti-globalization social mobilization have made us acutely aware that national security or national economic prosperity can no longer be conceived apart from the international context.  As issues concerning Americans become more "intermestic", the avenues and scope for affecting socioeconomic and political transformation also change.  The course aims to further student understanding of the complex phenomenon of globalization and its impacts.  We will analyze how citizens, as social actors, respond to the new challenges posed by globalization.  Students will look at how issues of global socioeconomic and political justice are addressed by various citizen groups, social movements, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in areas as diverse as human rights, environmental concerns, cultural diversity, and economic welfare.
Meets general academic requirement SL.

PSC 258, 259 - Contemporary Protest in the Middle East
This course applies theoretical frameworks drawn from sociology, political science, and the study of social movements to analyze several recent instances of contentious politics in the Middle East and North Africa.  In particular, students will analyze the protests over the contested Iranian presidential elections in 2009, the Arab Spring protests in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, and Syria, as well as several important moments of contention in Turkey, including the Gezi Park protests, as well as Kurdish protests calling for Turkish intervention in Syria.  
Meets general academic requirements SL and DE (and W when offered as 259).

PSC 260, 261 - American Political Thought
An examination of the major political ideas and ideological arguments influencing the development of political institutions and democratic practices in the United States.  Attention is given to the debates leading to the ratification of the Constitution as well as to important nineteenth and twentieth century political figures and intellectuals who challenged and reshaped our understanding of the Constitution and the American Founding.  Consideration is also given to contemporary political thought such as feminism, multiculturalism, and environmentalism.
Meets general academic requirement HU (and W when offered as 261).

PSC 262, 263 - Utopia & Its Critics
An examination of utopianism and realism as contrasting modes of political thinking.  By examining the works of thinkers such as Plato, Thomas More, Bellamy, and Morris, the course will consider the meaning, justifications, and functions of utopian thought, both as a blueprint for a just society and a genre of social criticism.  The course will consider anti-utopian or realist thinkers such as Thucydides, Machiavelli, and Hobbes who insist on a sober assessment of power as the basis of political and social order.
Meets general academic requirement HU (and W when offered as 263).

PSC 264 - Politics & Public Space
This course considers how ideas about the use and meaning of public space, such as neighborhoods, city streets, marketplaces, parks, and public monuments, frame political conflicts on issues such as social justice, environmental protection, and historical preservation.  We examine how laws, socio-economic forces, and cultural values give shape to public spaces and how such spaces are transformed by the political struggles over their access, control, and meaning.  We consider questions such as:  What is public space?  How is it constructed, interpreted, and contested?  Who defines the boundaries between public space and private property?  Who has the right to access public space?  We also consider how social-economic forces such as suburbanization, globalization, and privatization are reshaping public space.
Meets general academic requirement SL.

PSC 301 - Political Science Research Methods
This course is intended to provide students with the essential methods for the analysis of political phenomena.  Students receive an overview of the principles of research design as well as an introduction to the fundamental techniques involved in the quantitative and qualitative analysis of data.  Specific aspects include quasi-experimental design, hypothesis testing, measurement, and ethical considerations in the research process.  The goal is to provide students with the training to be competent consumers of empirical analyses as well as to give them a foundation for the study of advanced quantitative research techniques.
Prerequisite(s): PSC 101 Introduction to American National Government; IST 101 Introduction to International Studies or PSC 103 Introduction to Comparative Politics & International Relations.  MTH 119 Statistical Analysis is recommended.

PSC 303, 304 - Gender, Politics, & Policy
Gender both shapes and is shaped by politics.  This course explores this fundamental proposition in the context of several primary themes, including feminist political activism in historical perspective; women in American electoral politics (both mass politics and as political elites); globalization and gender equity; and gender and public policy.  A major portion of the course is devoted to considering contemporary public policy issues through the lens of gender - as it intersects with race, class, and other social divisions - focusing on policies such as welfare, sexual harassment, reproduction and women's health, and gender discrimination in sports, education, and the military.
Prerequisite(s): PSC 101 Introduction to American National Government or WST 202 Topics in Women's and Gender Studies, or another Women's Studies Course, or permission of instructor.
Meets general academic requirement SL (and W when offered as 304).

PSC 305 - U.S. Congress
This course addresses several empirical and analytical questions about Congress and the legislative process:  What does Congress do?  How do members of Congress get elected and stay in office?  How do legislators "represent" us?  How does the institution of Congress function as a lawmaking body?  What really matters in congressional decision-making processes?  How have Congress and congressional lawmaking changed throughout U.S. history?  In brief, this course is organized around the history, members, workings, and future of the U.S. Congress.
Prerequisite(s): PSC 101 Introduction to American National Government or permission of instructor.

PSC 309 - The Supreme Court and Social Change
This course explores the Supreme Court and its role in the U.S political system.  It covers different theories of legal mobilization to understand how the Court affects social change and U.S. politics, whether through direct or indirect influence or a combination of both. It examines how the Court is not insulated from political, cultural, and economic forces and how these larger structural forces influence the Court's decision-making at key historical moments in the context of major constitutional controversies (e.g., slavery, Reconstruction, civil rights, etc.).
Prerequisite(s): PSC 101 Introduction to American National Government.

PSC 311, 312 - The American Presidency
The presidency is an institution shaped by historical, systemic, and contextual factors.  This course examines the intellectual and historical roots of the American presidency, its possibilities and limitations in relation to other political institutions, and its relation to the citizenry.  It examines the creation of the presidency, its development as a democratic institution, the emergence of "presidential greatness" in the twentieth century, and the expansion of national administrative power.  A main focus is placed on understanding changes in executive power over time, placing recent contemporary events in historical context.
Prerequisite(s): PSC 101 Introduction to American National Government or permission of instructor.
Meets general academic requirement SL (and W when offered as 312).

PSC 315, 316 - Inequality & U.S. Public Policy
This course explores the intersection between economic and political equality.  The class begins with an examination of traditional theories of inequality in the U.S.  During the semester we explore ways in which our national and state governments attempt to reduce social and economic inequalities through the creation of public policies.  Students research the creation of legislation and explore how politics impedes achievement of policies to reduce inequality.
Prerequisite(s): PSC 101 Introduction to American National Government.
Meets general academic requirement DE (and W when offered as 316).

PSC 328, 329 - International Law & Organization
The course will study the development and role of international law and international organizations (the United Nations, regional, and functional organizations) in the regulation of interactions among nation-states.  The view of Western, communist, and less developed states toward these institutions will be examined.  It will focus on issues such as the rights and obligation of states, treaty law, and the role of international organization in maintaining the peace and promoting the improvement of the physical conditions of humankind.  Students will be expected to provide brief analyses of hypothetical cases in international law plus an in-depth analysis of an issue facing international organizations.
Prerequisite(s): PSC 103 Introduction to Comparative Politics & International Relations or IST 101 Introduction to International Studies.
Meets general academic requirement W when offered as 329.

PSC 330, 331 - Comparative & International Environmental Policies
The course will examine the domestic and global dimensions of environmental politics.  Subjects covered will include atmospheric issues, coastal and ocean pollution and multiple resource use, land resources, biodiversity, international river systems, environmental refugees, and population.  It will compare policy-making in the European Union, ASEAN, NAFTA, and the United Nations systems.
Prerequisite(s): PSC 103 Introduction to Comparative Politics & International Relations or IST 101 Introduction to International Studies.
Meets general academic requirement W when offered as 331.

PSC 339, 340 - Theories of International Relations
A critical analysis of the current and historical theories of international relations, including the nation-state system, balance of power, and societal and governmental factors predisposing nations to peace and war.  The course will also explore emerging theories of decision-making at the national and international level as well as the growing role of transnational relations.
Prerequisite(s): PSC 103 Introduction to Comparative Politics & International Relations or IST 101 Introduction to International Studies 
Meets general academic requirement W when offered as 340.

PSC 341, 342 - American Foreign Policy
A study of the evolving nature of the formulation and conduct of American foreign policy, including the impact of an emerging international civil society on the policy formulation process since World War II.  The course will emphasize contemporary issues, such as North-South relations, defense, humanitarian intervention and disarmament, international trade, as well as emerging issues, such as international resource management, pandemic disease control, and transnational organized crime.
Prerequisite(s): PSC 103 Introduction to Comparative Politics & International Relations or IST 101 Introduction to International Studies.
Meets general academic requirement W when offered as 342.

PSC 343 - International Political Economy
The course examines the complex relationship between politics and economics in the global system.  Students will analyze inter-connected themes, such as the relationship between power and wealth, the politics of international trade and international monetary management, globalization's impact on international, regional, and national economies.  There is a particular focus on the theories and practice of international development.
Prerequisite(s): PSC 103 Introduction to Comparative Politics & International Relations or IST 101 Introduction to International Studies.

PSC 348, 349 - Democratic Theory
Examines important contributions to the meaning and practice of democracy drawn from both classic and contemporary sources, including representatives of liberal, communitarian, civic republican, and Marxists traditions of thought.  Among the issues considered are the nature and scope of democratic citizenship, forms of participation, civic education, deliberation and representation, issues of identity and difference, social and economic conditions needed for democratic politics, and structure of democratic institutions.
Prerequisite(s): PSC 201 Political Ideologies or PSC 260, 261 American Political Thought or PSC 262, 263 Utopia & Its Critics or any course in political philosophy offered in the Philosophy Department.
Meets general academic requirement HU (and W when offered as 349).

PSC 355 - Climate Change & Sustainable Development in Bangladesh
This team-taught course examines the impact of climate change on economic, social and political development by focusing on the nation of Bangladesh.  In addition to introducing students to the science and politics of climate change, the course also examines the specific environmental, economic and social challenges confronting Bangladesh's political development since its independence; investigates the environmental and social consequences of state-sponsored development strategies, especially recent market-based "neo-liberal" policies; and evaluates new "sustainable development" strategies that are emerging as a response to the challenges posed by climate change.
Meets general academic requirement DE and IL.

PSC 356, 357 - War & Justice
This course considers the relationship between international relations, statecraft, and ethics through an examination of the just war tradition in Western political thought.  The moral arguments of both ancient and contemporary theorists of just war will be examined along with their application to modern conflicts such as World Wars I and II, Vietnam, and the Persian Gulf War.
Prerequisite(s): PSC 103 Introduction to Comparative Politics & International Relations or IST 101 Introduction to International Studies.
Meets general academic requirement HU (and W when offered as 357).

PSC 358, 359 - Islamist Radicalism as Ideology and Political Praxis
This course explores how Islamist radicalism informs political praxis.  In other words, the course is interested in how religious doctrines function as political ideology in order to shape political subjectivities and justify political practices.  Particular attention will be paid to analyzing and understanding specific examples of, and changes in Islamist ideology.  Students will read both primary source documents, including speeches, letters, and statements of Islamist radicalism, as well as political science analyses of Islamist radicalism in order to offer informed interpretations of texts, and understand how Islamist radicalism is similar to and differs from other radical political ideologies.  
Meets general academic requirements SL and DE (and W when offered as 359).

PSC 374, 375 - Government & Politics of Russia
The course evaluates in-depth the contemporary political, economic, and social changes in post-Soviet Russia.  Students will analyze the challenges facing Russia's transition to markets and democracy.  We will look at how the legacy of the Soviet experience impacts the democratization and marketization processes in Russia today.  Students will also study and evaluate the efficacy and viability of the new institutions regulating political and economic life in post-Soviet Russia.  The course will focus on the political struggles surrounding institutional choice and policy making in contemporary Russia, and it will pay particular attention to reforms undertaken by President Vladimir Putin since 2000.
Meets general academic requirement SL (and W when offered as 375).

PSC 400, 401 - Seminar in Urban Policy & Planning
This seminar is designed as an exploration of urban politics and planning in the United States.  Its purpose is to provide an improved understanding of the workings of urban political systems and the mechanisms by which government attempts to manage urban environments.  The course will examine both historical and contemporary aspects of urban politics with an emphasis on the evolution of governmental arrangements in the last century.  It will also focus on contemporary urban problems such as transportation, housing, and crime and, finally, will examine the basic foundations of urban planning and its application throughout cities in the United States.
Course limited to juniors and seniors.
Prerequisite(s): PSC 101 Introduction to American National Government or ECN 101 Principles of Macroeconomics or SOC 101 Introduction to Sociology .
Meets general academic requirement SL (and W when offered as 400).

PSC 420 - Seminar in Regimes & Regime Changes
The course is designed to introduce students to modern democratic, authoritarian, and totalitarian political systems (regimes).  We will study how power is organized and exercised in various political systems of the world.  Students will learn about institutions and processes that shape domestic politics in various regimes and that explain why and how political regimes change.  The course will analyze the causes of breakdown as well as consolidation of democratic and non-democratic regimes. Iraq will be used as a case study.
Prerequisite(s): PSC 103 Introduction to Comparative Politics & International Relations or IST 101 Introduction to International Studies. Two additional courses in the Comparative and/or International subfields are strongly recommended.

PSC 430 - Seminar in Comparative National Security Policy
This course uses a comparative approach to examine national security policy processes in the United States and a selected group of countries.  Students will engage in policy analyses that examine the impact of a range of factors-including the international system, size of the state, historical and societal factors, governmental system, bureaucratic politics, and individual personalities-in determining the national security policies of these states.
Prerequisite(s): PSC 103 Introduction to Comparative Politics & International Relations or IST 101 Introduction to International Studies. Two additional courses in the Comparative and/or International subfields are strongly recommended.
Meets general academic requirement W.

PSC 490 - CUE: Senior Capstone Seminar
The CUE: Senior Capstone Seminar provides an in-depth examination of questions central to contemporary research and scholarship in Political Science.  Students will examine seminal works that have significantly contributed to the field, explore contemporary theories and concepts on issues such as power, ideology, globalization, and citizenship, and develop the analytical tools of the discipline needed for advanced studies.  In addition, the seminar positions students to synthesize the full range of their curricular experiences as Political Science majors and to make meaningful connections to the contemporary political world.  Required of all majors; encouraged for minors.
Must be completed during the senior year.
Prerequisite(s): Senior standing,  PSC 101 Introduction to American National Government, PSC 103 Introduction to Comparative Politics & International Relations, PSC 201 Political Ideologies, PSC 301 Political Science Research Methods, and at least one course (preferably two) at the 300 level in Political Science.

PSC 960 - Political Science Internship
Political science internships provide opportunities for students to link the academic study of politics with experience outside of the classroom while gaining important work and professional skills, exploring possible career options, and facilitating networks. Political science is an interdisciplinary field, and as such, internships may include government, nonprofit, community, educational, health and legal fields with relevance for American politics, international relations and global politics, or law.  Students are required to meet with the instructor occasionally during the semester and to participate in an online learning community with other political science students taking internships.  Internships require 9 to 12 hours per week on-site for one course unit.
Pass/fail only.
Prerequisite(s): Permission of instructor required.

PSC 970 - Political Science Independent Study/Research
Each independent study/research course is to be designed in consultation with a faculty sponsor.