Courses in American Politics and Political Thought
This course examines the theoretical foundations, historical development, and current organization, structure, and activities of political parties and interest groups in the United States. The course will trace the history of U.S. parties and the development of interest groups during the 19th and 20th centuries. Students will then consider the functions that parties and interest groups play in shaping elections and public policy today. Prerequisites: POL 102 or 104 or permission of instructor.
This course is designed to introduce students to the legislative process in the U.S. Congress. The impact of the inputs (constituents, elections, interest groups, the bureaucracy, the Supreme Court, and the president) upon the congressional structure is discussed and analyzed, as well as the structure itself (rules, norms, procedures, the committee system, party leadership, congressional staff). Finally, the outputs of the legislative process are examined (policy-making, representation, and legislative oversight). Throughout the course, students will participate in an ongoing simulation of the congressional legislative process so that they can experience the challenges of crafting legislation. Prerequisite: Political Science 102 or permission of the instructor.
This course involves a systematic examination of the dynamic institution of the presidency. It includes a study of presidential power, character, leadership, domestic and foreign policy-making, the presidential-election process, as well as the interaction between the president and the media, and presidential-congressional relations. Prerequisite: Political Science 102 or permission of the instructor.
An examination of the idiosyncratic nature of the American electoral process with a focus on the role of political parties. The course includes an overview of American electoral history as well as a study of the factors influencing election outcomes, such as issues, ideology, party identification, candidate images, campaign finance, organization, and strategies. Prerequisite: Political Science 102 or permission of the instructor.
This course is designed to analyze the nature of the relationship between religion and various aspects of politics in the United States. We will begin by asking why religion and politics are so thoroughly interwoven in the United States by examining the religion-politics relationship in historical and theoretical perspective. Then we will proceed to analyze how religion affects American politics at the mass and elite levels; in doing so, we will learn a bit about a variety of other broad themes in the study of American politics. Lastly, we will consider church-state conflicts in American jurisprudence by examining some of the most hotly contested Supreme Court cases dealing with First Amendment issues.
This course focuses on the interactions among the three levels of government in the United States as well as on the institutional structures of state and municipal governments. It concentrates on the interaction among governments as a significant portion of the policy-making process. The course discusses the changing roles over time of different levels of government. Prerequisite: Political Science 102 or permission of the instructor.
This course examines the causes and consequences of various forms of inequality in the United States. Students will examine the political processes that create and maintain systems of inequality in terms of race, gender, sexuality and income. Prerequisites: POL 102 or 104 or permission of instructor.
A study of the American system of criminal justice. The major emphases of the course are the operation of the institutions and processes of the system, the constitutional rights of those accused of crime, and the social goals and consequences of criminal punishment. Prerequisite: Political Science 102 or permission of the instructor.
This course examines the role of women as voters, citizens, candidates, and leaders in American politics, grounded in theories of gender. Attention will also be given to the history of the women’s movement and the current status of women’s organizations. The course also focuses on how various public policies, including workplace issues, family issues, education issues and reproductive rights, affect women and their legal rights. Prerequisite: Political Science 102 or permission of the instructor.
An analysis of the distribution of power among the three branches of the federal government, and between the federal and state levels of government, as specified in major decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court. The Court itself will be studied as a political institution, with emphasis on its role in a democratic political system. The course also includes a study of the constitutional rights of individuals, as specified by the U.S. Supreme Court, with primary emphasis on issues of freedom and equality. Prerequisite: Political Science 102.
A study of the influence of values and ideologies upon the formation, evolution, and operation of the American constitutional and political system. In deference to the pragmatic character of American political thought, the course focuses on the writings of American statesmen as they confronted such continuing problems as the nature of the Union, the contest between economic power and democratic power, and the responsibility of government for individual and social welfare. The course concludes with a consideration of the relevance of American political doctrines for contemporary issues of public policy. Prerequisite: Political Science 102 or permission of the instructor.
A critical study of the enduring problems of political philosophy as treated by the major thinkers in the Western political tradition. The emphasis of the course is upon the fundamental choice of values which underlies the design of every system of government. The course thus examines how such writers as Plato, Aristotle, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Burke, and Marx have formulated and attempted to resolve the conflicting demands of freedom and order, law and justice, authority and obligation, and the individual and the state. Prerequisite: Political Science 102 or 104 or permission of the instructor.
This course will explore the role of the media in politics from various perspectives, providing an overview of the following: the history of the media in the United States; the legal issues that relate to the media; the impact that the media has on public opinion; the substance (or lack of substance) of the media’s coverage of the news, government and elections; biases of the news, media; political campaign advertising; alternative and newly developing forms of media; and the increasing conglomeration of the news media through mergers. Throughout the course, these issue areas will be discussed in a larger context involving questions of freedom, representation, and political participation. Students will also engage in a simulation involving the White House press corps and the presidency. There will be a field trip to Washington, DC, to visit various news outlets. Prerequisite: Political Science 102 or permission of the instructor.
Courses in Comparative Politics
This course focuses on the political and economic challenges confronted by developing countries, including democratization, gender, nationalism and regional integration, trade, foreign investment, and sustainable development. The course also examines issues of development theory and practice in developing countries of Latin America, Asia and Africa. Prerequisite: Political Science 104.
This course centers African states and the African continent within contemporary global processes and discourses. Attention is given to the structures of power in political economy, colonial relationships, independence and social justice movements, and discourses and depictions in international media and policy. Case studies of individual countries will be presented alongside specific international institutions and issues in order to interrogate the meaning of “Africa” in the world.
Courses in International Politics
This course will explore environmental issues in a global context, with particular attention paid to international cooperation, international law, and the roles of governments, institutions, NGOs and social movements. The course will also focus on the impact of environmental problems and cooperation on countries in the Global South/North.
This course is designed to provide an introduction to the history, philosophy and major debates on human rights and social justice. Students will consider the philosophical and political positions underlying the debates that are central to the promotion of human rights, including gender, universalism and cultural relativism. The course also covers contemporary issues in the international human rights and social justice movement, including the right to development and freedom from poverty, women’s human rights, minority rights, torture, slavery and genocide. Group work and the creation of a public awareness campaign are required course assignments. Prerequisite: Political Science 104 or permission of the instructor.
A study of organized human efforts made throughout history to promote international cooperation and peace. Special attention is given to the principles and rules of international law regulating national conduct in international affairs, the League of Nations, the United Nations, and contemporary blueprints for world federation and government. Prerequisite: Political Science 104 or permission of the instructor.
This course is a study of the relationship between international politics and economics. It examines theories of international political economy, including Liberal, Mercantilist, and Radical. Using these themes, the course will analyze the history of political economy, the relationship between economics and politics, trade, foreign investment, economic aid, development, dependency, interdependency, and the role of the United States in the global political economy. Prerequisite: Political Science 104 or permission of the instructor.
A brief historical survey of American diplomacy and analytical study of factors conditioning American foreign policy; the constitutional basis of U.S. foreign relations; the concept of American national interest and goals; the structure and processes of decision-making and policy-execution; the organization of, and relations among, the White House, Department of State, Department of Defense, other Executive organs, and Congress; and Americas current involvement in world affairs. Prerequisite: Political Science 102, Political Science 104, or a year of American history.
A study of U.S. foreign policy and Latin America since the Monroe Doctrine. Attention is given to the interests of Latin American nations in their relationship with each other and with other areas of the world, with special emphasis on the post-World War II period. Prerequisite: Political Science 104 or permission of the instructor.
The course seeks to expand student knowledge of important past political events and contemporary political issues related to the international relations of East Asia, including U.S.-East Asia relations; to introduce students to a new terminology based in international relations theory, including the contentiousness of some terms, major thinkers associated with these terms and theories, and how general international relations theory has been applied to the case of East Asia; and, to assist students in applying their new knowledge of terminology and theory to better understand past and contemporary political interactions in East Asia. Prerequisite: Political Science 104 or permission of the instructor.
This course focuses on contemporary conflicts and efforts at peace-building in a comparative perspective. Drawing on cases such as Bosnia, Northern Ireland, and East Timor, the course will examine the roots of conflict, theories of peace, methods of peace-building, reconciliation, and international cooperation. Simulations will be used to enable students to understand the dynamics of the peace process. Prerequisite: POL 104 or permission of the instructor.
In recent decades, the Middle East has proved to be one of the most troubling as well as important parts of the world. The war in Iraq, the standoff with Iran, the regular failure to find a diplomatic solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the continuing danger posed by Al Qaeda all testify to the intractability of the region’s problems. This course focuses on US foreign policy in the Middle East. The United States has grappled with the region’s persistent and cross cutting conflicts, and confronted fundamental questions about the use of force, the role of allies and international law. Prerequisite: POL 104 or permission of the instructor.
This course will explore the gendered dimensions of conflict, focusing on the post–Cold War period and paying particular attention to what feminists have described as the continuum of violence, from militarization of everyday living to overt violent conflict. Topics covered include the political economy of war, sexualized violence, the militarization of gendered bodies, gendered forms of cooperation with violence, and political activism.
Courses in Research Methods and Experiential Learning
An introduction to current research techniques and methodology in political science, normally taken by majors in the second semester of the junior year. The course includes a discussion of the use of theory building, hypothesis testing, survey research, statistics, and computers in empirical political inquiry. Much of the class will be interactive, as students learn basic data analysis techniques using statistical software. Students will work in groups to develop, administer, and analyze their own survey of the political attitudes of the student population of Washington College. Prerequisite: Political Science 102 and 104, or permission of the instructor. This course is required for Political Science majors.
Students enrolled in this program spend two days per week as state legislative interns in Annapolis during the three-month legislative session. They also meet and do assignments for a weekly academic seminar on campus. Students may enroll in this program only by application to the Director, and applicants must have a 3.0 GPA. Students completing the internship earn two course credits. Prerequisite: Political Science 311 or 317, or permission of the Director.
A full-time, semester-long internship in Washington, DC, with a federal government, political, or non-profit agency. Depending upon their interest and internship placement, students may attend hearings, conduct policy research, draft correspondence, monitor legislation, lobby members of Congress, and write analytical reports. Students will create an in-depth portfolio of their internship experience. Prerequisite: Political Science 102, 2.8 cumulative GPA, permission of an instructor, and successful application to The Washington Center for Internships and Academic Seminars. This course is normally open only to juniors and seniors. Twelve credits. The internship package of Political Science 427, 428, and 429 yields 16 credits towards graduation and 8 credits towards the political science major or minor.
Washington Center Interns participate in an evening seminar selected from a variety of topics offered during the semester. Students engage in class discussion and may also research seminar topics, prepare written assignments, and take examinations. Required of and limited to students enrolled in Political Science 427. Three credits.
Washington Center Interns participate in lectures, site visits, small group discussions, briefings, and other required events designed to help them understand the connection between their academic and professional goals and the special educational opportunities available through living and working in Washington, DC. Evaluations of these experiences are included in the student portfolio. Required of and limited to students enrolled in Political Science 427. One credit.
This two-credit course is offered as a complement to required delegate training for participation in an off-campus model diplomacy simulation. The course goes beyond the basics of delegate preparation (public speaking, model procedure, and familiarity with committee topics) to offer a broader framework for understanding the evolution of the practice of diplomacy, principal challenges facing diplomats today, and the role of diplomacy and the diplomat in the modern world. As part of the course, students are offered individualized feedback on their committee research for a model simulation, background information on important developments in international affairs and major international organizations, and the opportunity to reflect on the linkage between the model experience and the actual practice of international organizations in the 21st and previous centuries. Two credits. Prerequisite: application and acceptance into a Model Diplomacy program.
This two-credit course is offered as a complement to required delegate training for participation in an off-campus model United Nations simulation. The course goes beyond the basics of delegate preparation (public speaking, model procedure, and familiarity with committee topics) to offer a broader framework for understanding the evolution of the United Nations since its founding in 1945, principal challenges it faces today, and the role of diplomacy and the diplomat in the modern world. As part of the course, students are offered individualized feedback on their committee research for the model simulation, background information on important developments in international affairs and major international organizations, and the opportunity to reflect on the linkage between the model experience and the actual practice of international organizations in the 21st and previous centuries. Two credits. Prerequisite: application and acceptance into a Model United Nations program.
Students may receive course credit for an individualized internship at a political organization, under the supervision of a faculty advisor. The details of the internship and associated academic requirements will be specified in a learning contract drawn up by the student and advisor.
The department occasionally offers a course on a special topic in political science that is not a part of the regular course offerings.
Students may receive credit for an individualized course of reading and writing under the supervision of a faculty advisor. The requirements of the course will be specified in a learning contract drawn up by the student and advisor.
The Senior Capstone Experience is an independent research project on a topic of the student’s choosing, culminating in a thesis of at least 30 pages (worth 80 percent of the grade) and a poster presentation (worth 20 percent of the grade) to be presented at the department’s annual spring Senior Symposium. Theses are graded with a letter grade, which counts toward the GPA. Candidates for honors must employ primary sources, contribute some element of original research, analysis, or interpretation, and sustain an oral examination on the thesis. Candidates must have a GPA of 3.5 in their major courses to be considered for honors status. This project is required of all majors in political science.
Courses offered in the Washington College Abroad Programs
Students enrolled in Rhodes University Program in South Africa take the following courses:
This course examines the dynamics of post-World War II international political economy, financial institutions, the North-South debate, debt, development, democracy, Africa and the New World Order. Five classes per week, including one tutorial. Students who have taken Political Science 361 will not receive credit for this course. offered at the Rhodes University, South Africa, program only, in the spring semester. Prerequisite: Political Science 104. Eight credits.
This course will study the process of transformation and transition to democracy in South Africa by looking at external and domestic factors which have shaped the present reality. Particular attention will be given to the issues of democratic consolidation and policy implementation after 1994. The course will provide an historical context with which to examine the challenges facing the new democracy from gender to economic policy and international relations. At least three classes per week. offered at the Rhodes University, South Africa, program only, in the spring semester. Prerequisite: Political Science 104. Four credits.
Case studies in selected African countries looking at political economy, development, and democratization. At least three classes per week. Students who have taken Political Science 356 will not receive credit for this course. offered at the Rhodes University, South Africa, program only, in the spring semester. Prerequisite: Political Science 104. Four credits.
This course examines contemporary theories, issues and debates in the study of international relations. At least three classes per week. offered at the Rhodes University, South Africa, program only, in the spring semester. Prerequisite: Political Science 104. Four credits.
Students enrolled in The Hansard Scholars Programme in London take the following courses:
Hansard Scholars are assigned to work in most cases as research assistants to Members of the House of Commons and the House of Lords, or to the political parties and other politically-related organizations. Students write speeches, research political issues, prepare briefs, and take part in constituency work. Six credits.
This course examines the constitutional and political process in Britain with special reference to the student’s internship programs. External lecturers include leading British politicians, political commentators, and lobbyists. Three credits.
This course analyzes current policy issues, seen in their historical context and in a European dimension. Topics include the economy, social policy, education, the role of the media, and ethnic and regional problems. Three credits.
Each student works on an individually designed research project leading to a substantial paper of between 8,000 and 12,000 words. Usually, this is based on research undertaken during the internship. Three credits.