PURCHASE COLLEGE CATALOG 2016–18
Draft in progress
The Political Science Program: Courses
The West Meets the Non-West
POL 1120 / 4 credits / Alternate years
An examination of historical events, social movements, and intellectual ideas that have shaped modernity from 1500 to the present. The focus is on the evolution of ideas that have influenced both Western and non-Western civilizations.
Introduction to U.S. Politics
POL 1570 / 3 credits / Fall
An introduction to the institutional and ideological components of the American political system, with an emphasis on the broad spectrum of values and sources of power that, when taken together, support and challenge the foundations of American pluralism. Films, field trips, and guest lectures complement the standard classwork.
Governments and Politics Worldwide
POL 2010 / 4 credits / Alternate years (Spring)
An introduction to current political systems. The course examines political structures and processes (e.g., parliaments, political parties, elections, legislation, and formation of governments in different political systems) and analyzes the ideological foundations of these systems (e.g., liberalism, socialism). Discussions include social, economic, and political priorities set in each system; their strengths and weaknesses; and the impact of structural constraints.
Introduction to International Relations
POL 2020 / 4 credits / Fall
Examines contemporary international relations from both theoretical and empirical perspectives. Topics include East-West conflicts and the Cold War; the balance of power; colonialism, the Vietnam War, and the North-South issues; and the emerging new world order.
Women and Politics
POL 2040 / 4 credits / Alternate years
Theoretical, historical, and empirical analyses of the relationship between women’s private roles and socialization, and their integration into politics. Topics include changes in the laws affecting women, the impact of feminism on the quality of political discourse and political action, and the vexing problem of the “gender gap.”
West African Politics and Literature
POL 2070 / 4 credits / Fall
Using African novels and social science literature, both the insights of the artist and the analytic models of the social scientist are employed in the discussion of African politics and political systems. Topics include the impact of Western colonialism and imperialism on traditional African societies, the evolution of new African cultures, the widening gulf between elites and masses, and the role of the African storyteller in articulating African issues.
POL 2080 / 4 credits / Alternate years
An introduction to the impact of environmental laws and policies on the fair treatment of people of different races and incomes in the U.S. Global climate change, nuclear energy, and public responsibility for the environment constitute the center of a political and legal analysis of the relationship of citizens and government to the environment.
Citizens Living Under Islamic Laws
POL 2105 / 4 credits / Alternate years
Focusing on South Asia and the Middle East, this course examines how postcolonial Islamic states currently use “Islamic laws” to negotiate power and control with their citizens. Examples include Hudood, Zina, and blasphemy laws, which result in fatwas (religious decrees) that sometimes lead to extrajudicial killings.
Islam: Culture and Politics
POL 2115 / 4 credits / Alternate years (Fall)
Islam, a popular world religion, is not well known or understood in the U.S. In the public mind, it is typically associated with violence, jihad, and terrorism. This course introduces the origin and main principles of Islam and analyzes its development as a civilization and a political ideology. Topics include secularism, women’s rights, social justice, and democratization in relation to the philosophical and political divisions within Islam.
Race and Politics
POL 2130 / 4 credits / Alternate years (Fall)
Decades after the civil rights movement of the 1960s, the United States remains a nation beset by racial inequalities, divisions, and tensions. This course examines some of the major issues in U.S. race relations today and their political expression.
Political Theory I: Plato to Machiavelli
POL 2170 / 4 credits / Alternate years (Spring)
The first half of a two-course survey of Western political thought. The course concentrates on the classical and medieval contributors to political discourse like Plato, Aristotle, Augustine, and Aquinas, and concludes with early modern thinkers like Machiavelli and Calvin.
Political Theory II: Hobbes to the Present
POL 2180 / 4 credits / Alternate years (Spring)
The second half of a two-course survey of Western political thought. Themes characteristic of the last 500 years of political theory include liberalism, feminism, nationalism, and revolution. Theorists typically read are Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Mill, Marx, and a 20th-century theorist.
Politics and the Media
POL 2210 / 4 credits / Special topic (offered irregularly)
An examination of the media’s impact on political life in the U.S. and its role in shaping public opinion. Both electronic and print media are surveyed and analyzed in terms of their impact on power, legal rights, and ethical obligations. Attention is also given to the media’s influence on political parties and how it shapes political attitudes and influences elections.
Beyond Voting: Democracies, Elections, and Participation
POL 2340 / 4 credits / Special topic (offered irregularly)
An in-depth survey of how redistricting, campaign finance laws, term limits, and other processes and laws have an impact on elections and affect democracy in the U.S.
Free Speech, Heresy, and Gender in Islamic Societies
POL 2350 / 4 credits / Alternate years (Spring)
In Islamic societies, heresy charges against women and men are leveled for different reasons, including Islamists“ opposition to democracy, modernity, and women“s education and their employment. Instances of heresy leveled by Muslims against Muslims are studied.
Politics in American Democracy
POL 2360 / 3 credits / Spring
Covers the basics of the U.S. political system. Topics include Congress, the presidency, political parties, interest groups, social movements/activism, civil rights, civil liberties, and public policy. Students engage in a hands-on project related to a current issue, illustrating one or more of the topics studied. Students may not earn credit for both POL 1570 and 2360.
Courts, Judges, and Politics
POL 2600 / 4 credits / Alternate years
The judicial process and the function of the courts in a modern democratic system. Using Supreme Court cases, documents, and readings from academic journals, the course examines how judges, lawyers, and litigants act and react to create both law and public policy.
America on Film
POL 2610 / 4 credits / Alternate years
Examines American social and political history during the last half of the 20th century and the early 21st century as represented in films. Such topics as dissent, censorship, war and peace, and the role of government as creator and arbiter of culture serve as the conceptual center of the discussion.
Culture, Identity, and Political Behavior in American Politics
POL 2650 / 4 credits / Spring
An introduction to political behavior in the U.S., tying together concepts of culture and identity to see how these social themes affect political outcomes in elections and participation in political activity. Public opinion, socialization of the electorate, the growth of political institutions, and the current state of political participation are analyzed.
ENV 3030 Refer to Environmental Studies Courses for description.
POL 3040 / 4 credits / Alternate years
Drawing on several historical cases and theoretical works, the course examines in detail the underlying causes of revolution, revolutionary strategies, and the aftermath of revolutions in the Third World.
Sex, Politics, and Health
POL 3045 / 4 credits / Spring
Though people think of health as having biological roots, health and illness actually have social and political origins. This course examines women“s health policy, the women“s health movement, and the differences between the health care needs of men and women. Topics like access to the health care system, poverty, Medicaid/Medicare, managed care, breast cancer, women and violence, HIV/AIDS, and medical research are investigated.
American Constitutional Law
POL 3050 / 4 credits / Alternate years
Introduces the historical and political debates that resulted in the adoption of the U.S. Constitution. Case law and collateral readings relevant to the construction of the U.S. constitutional government are used to explore theories of jurisprudence, structures of courts, aspects of litigation, the nature and scope of judicial review and constitutional adjudication, and the role of the judiciary in the maintenance of national power.
Recommended prior course: POL 1570 or 2360
U.S. Foreign Policy Since 1945
POL 3070 / 4 credits / Spring
A study of American foreign policy since the end of World War II. U.S. involvement in Vietnam serves as a case study for studying the Cold War, the war in Iraq, and the issue of terrorism, and analyzing how foreign policy has been formulated. Topics include the powers of the president vis-à-vis Congress in the formulation of foreign policy and the role of public opinion.
Race, Gender, and the Law
POL 3090 / 4 credits / Alternate years
The legal dimensions of race and sex discrimination are examined. Fourteenth Amendment decisions of the Supreme Court and related federal antidiscrimination law are the focus of study.
Recommended prior course: POL 2040 or 3050
Queer Politics in the U.S.
POL 3095 / 4 credits / Alternate years (Spring)
Students explore lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) social and political movements and how they have fought for and achieved certain social, political, and legal rights in the U.S.
Immigration: Policies, Problems, and Politics
POL 3130 / 4 credits / Alternate years (Fall)
The United States prides itself on being a nation of immigrants, but has never made it easy for the newly arrived. This course examines the policies, problems, and politics affecting immigration to the U.S. today. Topics include causes of immigration, immigration law and the undocumented, and patterns of assimilation.
Civil Liberties and Civil Rights
POL 3160 / 4 credits / Alternate years
An introduction to the constitutional doctrines of rights and liberties as they have been articulated through First Amendment decisions of the Supreme Court. Relevant political analyses of the impact of court decisions and federal legislation on individual rights are included.
Recommended prior course: POL 1570, 2360, or 3050
POL 3230 / 4 credits / Alternate years
An examination of the institution of the American presidency, its relationship to the other branches of government, and the significance of particular presidents’ “stamp” on the office and U.S. policy. Topics include the impact of the media on the presidency, executive privilege, psychological explanations of presidential character, and the changing role of the president’s spouse.
Gender and Health: International Issues
POL 3245 / 4 credits / Alternate years
Examines health concerns on an international scale and analyzes how gender is interwoven with these concerns. The roles of international agencies are explored, with emphasis on their support (or lack thereof) of the health needs of various populations. The role of the U.S. in the implementation of programs through funding issues, restrictions on the use of funds (the “global gag rule”), and other strategies is also analyzed.
Islamic State, Gender, and Sexuality
POL 3255 / 4 credits / Alternate years (Spring)
An examination of how notions of gender and sexuality are defined in the postcolonial Islamic state. Laws, customs, and cultural practices that enforce control are investigated in South Asian and Middle Eastern contexts.
Political Protest and Ideologies
POL 3290 / 4 credits / Alternate years (Spring)
A survey of major political upheavals and belief systems that have shaped and shaken the modern world. In addition to the origins, social foundations, and variants of liberalism, socialism, communism, anarchism, fascism, and feminism, discussions include examples of anti-imperialist, antiracist, and nationalist movements and ideologies from Third World countries and ethnic minorities in the West.
Development and Politics of Latin America
POL 3300 / 4 credits / Alternate years (Fall)
An overview of major political structures, problems, and ideologies, concentrating particularly on South America. The first half of the semester discusses problems of land tenure, industrialization, and urbanization. The second half examines contemporary politics in detail, using one South American country as a case study.
Politics and Memoir
POL 3307 / 4 credits / Alternate years
A study of memoirs by male and female authors, politicians, activists, and ordinary citizens describing childhood, communities, social changes, and revolutions. Works are drawn from South Africa, South America, Asia, Cuba, and the U.S. The rubric is the non-West’s interaction with the West, a north-south divide.
Radical Organizing and Embodied Politics in the U.S.: Promises of the Political
POL 3330 / 4 credits / Fall
An exploration of the extent to which linkage can be made between self-development and a radical concept of democracy. Relationships among personal identity, social location—race, gender, and class—and locality of political action in the U.S. are analyzed so as to develop a definition of an embodied politics that renews the promise of political action.
Constitutions and Rights: U.S. and China
POL 3315 / 4 credits / Special topic (offered irregularly)
Focuses on the origins of rights in the U.S., with emphasis on judicial review and the judicial construction and interpretation of individual and human rights. Constitutional theories and practices used in U.S. constitutional courts and scholarship are examined. A comparative approach to constitutions and the development of transnational theories of human rights are then considered in the context of current changes in Chinese legal and political institutions and discourse.
Recommended prior course: POL 1570 or 2360
United States/Latin American Relations
POL 3340 / 4 credits / Special topic (offered irregularly)
It is difficult to understand the culture and politics of Latin America, in particular the Caribbean basin, without examining the role of the U.S. While the U.S. has generally seen its role in Latin America as that of a protector, many Latin Americans have perceived the U.S. as a heavy-handed superpower. The first half of the course provides a historical overview of U.S. interests and interventions, and how these have shaped Latin American societies. The second half examines contemporary problems and issues.
Cuba, Latin America, and the U.S.
POL 3361 / 4 credits / Alternate years (Fall)
The course revolves around the international political and economic dynamics that have existed historically between the U.S. and Cuba. Although the course emphasizes the post-1959 era (the Castro years), readings introduce students to the imperial relationship that evolved in the early 20th century. Topics include foreign policy, war, human rights, the U.S. embargo, and the politics of Fidel Castro.
Health Care Crisis
POL 3400 / 4 credits / Special topic (offered irregularly)
Why does health care cost so much? Why are so many people without health insurance? Why do so many racial/ethnic disparities in health exist in the U.S.? These and other questions are examined as the current crisis in the U.S. health care system is investigated and proposals for reform are evaluated.
Politics of South Asia
POL 3430 / 4 credits / Alternate years
Examines the politics of Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Kashmir, and Afghanistan. The British occupation from 1857 to 1947 is studied, together with the partition of Pakistan and India. Issues of religion, caste, gender, and militarization are an additional focus. Nuclear states, Pakistan, and India are also part of class discussions.
Polarized Politics: Congress
POL 3465 / 4 credits / Alternate years
While providing a comprehensive understanding of Congress, this course specifically examines the oversight and investigative role of Congress, the influence of political parties, and how elections and partisanship influence decision-making. Questions addressed include: How do the rules and norms that govern the House and the Senate differ? How has redistricting created a more polarized climate?
Prerequisite: POL 1570 or 2360
Society and Public Policy
SOC 3565 Refer to Sociology Courses for description.
POL 3570 / 4 credits / Alternate years
Although human rights have become a significant theme in international relations, ethnic slaughter and political repression continue to afflict the world. This course examines relevant theoretical issues and practical problems, including: How are human rights viewed from different cultural, political, and religious perspectives? In a multicultural world, can common ground be found to address human rights? What is the relationship between sovereignty and the pursuit of human rights?
Human Rights and Literature
POL 3573 / 4 credits / Alternate years (Spring)
An exploration of various perspectives on human rights. Students examine some modern nation states in relation to geographies of identity and human rights. Global literature is read in colonial and postcolonial contexts that describe state control through the infringement of citizenship and rights of speech, thus violating basic human rights.
The Literature of Political Violence
POL 3580 / 4 credits / Alternate years (Spring)
Discussions surrounding political readings that reflect ideological violence, the terror of state power, and the response to state power by individuals and groups. Historical and contemporary events are discussed (e.g., the Spanish Inquisition, the Nazis, military dictatorships, World War I, colonialism and imperialism in Africa, genocide in Rwanda, life and death in North Korea, presidential abuse of power in the U.S.).
Immigration Debated: A Seminar
POL 3665 / 4 credits / Alternate years
A detailed examination of theories, issues, and policy debates about immigration, taught in a seminar format with student-led discussions. In the first part, students examine general immigration issues, including history, impact on the economy, and traditional hostility toward immigrants. The main body of the course focuses on current immigration policy and reform, and the last part is built around student papers.
Prerequisite: Permission of instructor
Politics and Religion in America
POL 3670 / 4 credits / Alternate years
Religion in America has been at the heart of politics from the Puritans to the Christian Coalition. This course addresses the historic role of religious thinking as a significant part of American political traditions (e.g., natural rights, civil liberties, liberal individualism). Students also investigate the contemporary emergence of religion-based political interests as formidable players in the construction of the nation’s political agenda.
The Middle East
POL 3740 / 4 credits / Fall
An analysis of the politics of Israel and Palestine. The struggle between Israel and Palestine and the involvement of Jordan, Syria, Egypt, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia are covered, as well as the role of the U.S. Issues and potential solutions are discussed.
Money, Power, and Democracy
POL 3780 / 4 credits / Alternate years (Spring)
The meaning of democracy is examined in European and other democratic states. The course investigates who controls the sources and instruments of power and how public policies are made. The limits and problems of contemporary liberal democracies are studied, as is the problem of democratization in developing countries.
Junior Seminar in Political Science
POL 3880 / 4 credits / Spring
A springboard to preparation for the senior project that integrates (a) critical thinking in research—developing appropriate topics, grappling with supporting evidence, and working on hypothesis testing and probabilities; (b) writing—understanding what a research paper is, how it is developed and organized coherently, with emphasis on developing an outline, introduction, and literature review; and (c) conducting research—learning data-gathering techniques and analytic skills with emphasis on conducting interviews, qualitative and quantitative data analysis, and using primary data. The use of surveys, participant observation, and multiple research practices is also discussed.
Prerequisite: POL 1570 or 2360, and any four additional courses required for the political science major, completed with a grade of C or higher
Internship in Political Science
POL 3995 / Variable credits / Every semester
Students identify relevant agencies, community groups, etc. that provide an opportunity to gain practical experience. Students work with an appropriate faculty member as the academic sponsor and the Career Development Center in the structuring of the internship agreement.
Tutorial and Independent Study
POL 3996 and 3997 / Variable credits / Every semester
Faculty members are available for independent study and tutorials on a selected basis in areas not covered by regular coursework.
Political Science Senior Seminar I and II
POL 4885 and 4890 / 1 credit (per semester) / I: Fall; II: Spring
In this scholarly community of political science majors in their senior year, ideas and methodologies relevant to specific senior-project topics are probed. Two semesters are required (POL 4885 and 4890). Limited to political science majors.
Prerequisite (for POL 4890): POL 4885
Corequisite: SPJ 4990 (fall) and 4991 (spring)
Senior Project I and II
SPJ 4990 and 4991 / 4 credits (per semester) / Every year
Students are required to submit a senior project in order to complete the major in political science. Students work with individual members of the faculty to develop a project design that focuses on some substantive or methodological problem of political science. Must be taken for two semesters (8 credits total).
Prerequisite: POL 3880, completed with a grade of C or higher
Corequisite: POL 4885 (fall) and 4890 (spring)
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