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 careers in federal, state and local government; international organizations; law; nonprofit organizations and associations; campaign management and polling; journalism; teaching; and graduate study. Students interested in politics and government may also consider several interdisciplinary majors with a substantial political science component. These majors are International Studies, Philosophy/Political Thought, and Political Economy/Public Policy. The department strongly encourages its students to participate in a study abroad experience and a Washington, D.C. or local internship.

Major Requirements

The departmental courses are organized into four groups which represent the major subdivisions within political science as recognized by the American Political Science Association: American Government, Comparative Politics, International Politics and Foreign Policy, and Political Theory. Majors will complete a minimum of ten courses in at least three subfields. Additionally, at least one writing intensive course in political science and a minimum of three courses at the 300 level or above are required for majors.

Political Science Course Descriptions 

Required Courses

101. Introduction to American National Government (B)
This course examines the constitutional foundations, institutions, and processes of American national government.  Key issues explored in the course 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.

103. Introduction to Comparative Politics and International Relations (B)
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.

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, 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.
* Note: Intended for those planning to major or minor in political science.

301. Political Science Research Methods
This course is intended to provide students with the essential methods for the analysis of political phenomena. In this course, students receive an overview of the principles of research design, as well as an introduction to the fundamental techniques involved in the quantitative analysis of data. Specific aspects of the course include quasi-experimental design, hypothesis testing, measurement and ethical considerations in the research process. The goal of the course is to provide students with the necessary training to be competent consumers of empirical analyses, as well as to give them a foundation for the study of advanced quantitative research techniques.
Prerequisites: PSC 101 and PSC 103. A course in statistics (MTH 104 or 144) is recommended.

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.
Prerequisites: Minimum of two advanced classes in Political Science (300 level or above). Required of all majors; encouraged for minors. Must be completed during the senior year.

American Government and Political Processes

Courses in the American government and political process subfield focus on the institutions, actors, inputs, and outcomes of the American political process, and the role of citizenship within the broader society.

203, 204. Civil Rights and Liberties
An examination of the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth and Eighth Amendments of the United States Constitution and their protection of the rights of criminal defendants.
*Note: Meets general academic requirement B (and W which applies to 204 only).

205, 206. Constitutional Law I
An examination of the origins 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.
*Note: Meets general academic requirement B (and W which applies to 206 only).

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.
*Note: Meets general academic requirement B (and W which applies to 208 only).

209, 210. Elections and 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.
*Note: Meets general academic requirement B (and W which applies to 210 only).

213, 214. 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. Therefore, 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 will include a number of 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.
*Note: Meets general academic requirement B (and W which applies to 214 only).

216, 217. Environmental Politics and 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 courses, 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.
*Note: Meets general academic requirement B (and W which applies to 217 only).

219, 220. Public Administration
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.
*Note: Meets general academic requirement B (and W which applies to 220 only).

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.
*Note: Meets general academic requirement B.

223. Political Organization & Democratic Voice: Parties, Interest Groups & Citizens in US Politics
This course examines the bonds between citizens, political elites, and political institutions in the United States with an eye toward examining opportunities for political voice in American democracy.  Topics include the emergence, evolution, and impact of American political parties and interest groups; the distribution of political voice across the American citizenry; the effectiveness of political participation (both electoral and non-electoral) in shaping political outcomes; and the relationships between political organization, citizenship, and democratic accountability.
*Note: Meets general academic requirement B.

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.
*Note: Meets general academic requirement B (and W which applies to 304 only). Prerequisite PSC 101, or WST 101, or permission of instructor.

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 has 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.
*Note: Prerequisite PSC 101 or permission of instructor.

309, 310. The American Judiciary
This course examines the nature and function of law, as well as the organization of the American court systems and the legal process. Consideration given to developing students’ understanding of the role of the law in American society, the organization of state and federal judicial systems, the civil and criminal court processes, and judicial decision-making and policy-making process.
*Note: Meets W when offered as 310. Prerequisite PSC 101.

311, 312. The American Presidency
The presidency is an institution that is 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. The course examines the creation of the presidency, its development as a democratic institution, the emergence of “presidential greatness” in the 20th century, and the expansion of national administrative power. A main focus is place on understanding changes in executive power over time, placing recent contemporary events in historical context.
*Note: Meets general academic requirement H, and W when offered as 312. Prerequisite PSC 101 or permission of instructor.

315. 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 exonomic inequalities through the creation of public policies. Students research the creation of legislation and explore how politics impedes achievement of policies to reduce inequality.

400. Seminar in Urban Policy and Planning
This seminar is designed as an exploration of urban politics and planning in the United States. Its purpose is to provide you with 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. The course will also focus on contemporary urban problems such as transportation, housing and crime. Finally, the course will examine the basic foundations of urban planning and their application throughout cities in the United States.
*Note: Prerequisite PSC 101 and PSC 301 Political Science Research Methods. Meets general academic requirement W.

410. Seminar in American Political Development
American Political Development is an approach to American politics that emphasizes history, political culture, and institutions as these shape the development of public policy, political conflict, and citizenship. The course draws from the disciplines of history and sociology to enlarge our understanding of state-society relationships, and it utilizes a variety of methodological approaches, including broad-based theory building and careful archival research, and a variety of competing theoretical frameworks to explain patterns of change and continuity in American politics. Students will complete a significant research project focusing on key transformations and patterns in American history and development; honors students may modify and use this project for a senior thesis.
*Note: Course limited to juniors and seniors. Prerequisites PSC 101 and 201. Two additional courses in the American government subfield are strongly recommended. Meets general academic requirement W.


Comparative Politics

Comparative Politics is the comparative study of political phenomena, including political institutions, behavior, and ideas in countries other than the United States. The sub-discipline studies the domestic politics of foreign nations with a focus on how power is organized and exercised.

230, 231. Government and Politics of Europe
This course introduces students to European politics in the post-Cold War era. The course 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. This course serves as prerequisite to European Union (370, 371).
*Note: Meets general academic requirement B, and W when offered as 231.

232, 233. Governments and 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.
*Note: Meets general academic requirement B or D.

234. Government and 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. The course will pay particular attention to reforms undertaken by President Vladimir Putin since 2000.
Note: Meets general academic requirement B.

237. Governments and Politics of Africa
This course will examine the domestic politics and international relations of Africa. In particular, the course 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.
*Note: Meets general academic requirement B or D.

244, 245. Government and Politics of Latin America
A study of the political processes within the Latin American region; the historical and cultural contrasts with North American-European politics; and the social, political and economic development problems which continue to face this region. Particular attention will be given to Mexico, Colombia, Chile, Brazil, Argentina, and a representative number of other nations in Central America, South America, and the Caribbean region.
*Note: Meets general academic requirement B or D (and W when offered as 245).

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.
*Note: Meets general academic requirement B or D.

248, 249. Governments and 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.
*Note: Meets general academic requirement D (and W when offered as 249).

420. Seminar in Regimes and 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 the various political systems of the world. Students will learn about institutions and processes that shape domestic politics in various regimes. By the end of the course, students should be able to identify, analyze and compare the different political systems of the world. Students will also learn about processes 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: PSC 103. Two additional courses in the Comparative and/or International subfields are strongly recommended.

430. Seminar in Comparative National Security Policy
This course uses a comparative approach to examine national security policy process 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, the 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: PSC 103. Two additional courses in the Comparative and/or International subfields are strongly recommended. Meets general academic requirement W.


International Politics and Foreign Policy

International Politics is the study of the interaction among nations, international organizations, and an increasing range of non-state or nongovernmental actors, such as multinational corporations, terrorist organizations, etc. International relations also seeks to explain the processes by which this wide range of actors attempt to address the increasingly broad range of security, development, and environmental issues facing the world.

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.
*Note: Meets general academic requirement B, (and W when offered as 243).

254. Globalization and 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.
*Note: Meets general academic requirement B.

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. The course 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: PSC 103. Meets W when offered as 329.

330, 331. Comparative & International Environmental Policies
The course will examine the domestic and global dimensions of environmental politics. Subjects covered in the course will include atmospheric issues, coastal and ocean pollution and multiple resource use, land resources, biodiversity, international river systems, environmental refugees, and population. The course will compare policy-making in the European Nation, ASEAN, NAFTA, and the United Nations systems.
Prerequisite: PSC 103. Meets W when offered as 331.

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: PSC 103. Meets W when offered as 340.

341. 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: PSC 103 Introduction to Comparative Politics and International Relations.

343. International Political Economy
This course explores the intersection of international politics and economics. The course focuses on the developmental challenges facing countries in the age of globalization. The course focuses not only on international actors such as the state, global corporations, and international organizations, but also on subnational actors and international relations revolving around such global issues as debt, trade, finance, and the environment.
Prerequisite: PSC 103 Introduction to Comparative Politics and International Relations.

440. Seminar in International Studies
The course will focus on an emerging issue area in international relations. Potential topics would include: democratization, cross-cultural communications, sustainable development, regional organizations, the management of international trade, conflict resolution, peace-making efforts in selected geographic regions, etc. The course will provide the students with an opportunity to engage in cooperative learning through the development of policy analyses of various aspects of selected issues in international relations.  This course may also serve as the CUE for the International Studies major. 
Prerequisite: PSC 103. Two additional courses in the Comparative and/or International subfields are strongly recommended.


Political Theory

Political theory involves the critical examination of the ideological and philosophical underpinnings of political communities, the analysis and evaluation of ideas that animate contemporary political arguments, and the interpretation of classic texts in the history of political theory.

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 19th and 20th 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.
*Note: Meets general academic requirement P (and W when offered as 261).

262. 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. Readings will be drawn from classic texts in political philosophy and literature, as well as contemporary representatives of utopian and realist thought.
*Note: Meets general academic requirement P.

264. Politics & Public Space
This course considers how ideas about the use and meaning of public space – such as neighborhoods, city streets, marketplaces, parks, 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? What forms of participation and identity emerge in the contests over public space? We also consider how social-economic forces such as suburbanization, globalization and privatization are reshaping public space.
*Note: Meets general academic requirement B.

348, 349. Democratic Theory
This course examines important contributions to the meaning and practice of democracy drawn from both classic and contemporary sources, including representatives of the liberal, communitarian, civic republican, and Marxists traditions of thought. Among the issues considered are the nature and scope of democratic citizenship; the forms of participation; civic education; deliberation and representation; issues of identity and difference; the social and economic conditions needed for democratic politics; and the structure of democratic institutions. Thinkers who may be considered are Aristotle, Rousseau, Tocqueville, Mill, Dewey, Dahl, Carole Pateman, Arendt, Havel, and other contemporary theorists.
Prerequisite: PCS 201 or PSC 260 or PSC 262 or any course in political philosophy offered in the Philosophy Department. Meets general academic requirements P (and W when offered as 349).

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: PSC 103. Meets general academic requirement P (and W when offered as 357).

450. Seminar: Modernity & Its Discontents
Does modernity have a future? Modern liberalism, socialism, and communism grew out of the Enlightenment faith in progress, reason and emancipation, each promising an expansion of freedom and equality through the human mastery of nature. Yet the catastrophes of the 20th century have revealed darker forces at work in the modern era: world wars, alienation, totalitarianism, genocide, environmental deterioration, and terrorism. This seminar considers those political and social critics who offer both a diagnosis of and a cure for of modernity’s discontents. Thinkers may include Nietzsche, Marx, Henry Adams, Freud, Max Weber, Arendt, Marcuse and Foucault.  May be used as the CUE for the Philosophy/Political Thought major.
Prerequisite: PCS 201 or PSC 260 or PSC 262 American Political Thought or PSC 262 Utopia & Its Critics or any course in political philosophy offered in the Philosophy Department. Meets general academic requirement W.


Internships, Special Topics and Independent Study

Special Topics
Courses on selected topics in political science.

960. Political Science Internship
An opportunity for selected students to gain insight into and understanding of the operations and objectives of local government agencies. Pass-fail only.

970. Political Science Independent Study/Research
Independent research on selected topics in political science.