Political Science Immersion

Overview for Political Science Immersion

The political science immersion emphasizes the interdependence of domestic politics and international relations in the age of globalization. The immersion brings together components of American politics, international relations, and comparative politics to provide students with both national and global perspectives on politics. Perhaps most important, the political science immersion seeks to help students make sense of the increasingly complicated political environment that confronts them in their role as citizens.

Notes about this immersion:

  • This immersion is closed to students majoring in political science.
  • Students are required to complete at least one course at the 300-level or above as part of the immersion.

The plan code for Political Science Immersion is POLS-IM.

Curriculum for 2023-2024 for Political Science Immersion

Current Students: See Curriculum Requirements

Choose three of the following courses:*
American Politics
   Law & Society
This course focuses on the relationships between law and other social institutions, and examines the values and interests that are expressed in law and shaped by legal structures and processes. This course takes an explicit interdisciplinary approach to understanding law and is designed for those interested in a critical inquiry of the nature of law within a framework of a broad liberal arts education. Class 3, Credit 3 (F) Lecture 3 (Spring).
   State & Local Politics
This course is a study of politics and government on the state and local levels, as well as the relationships between these levels and the federal government. The first focus of the course is on the federal system of government, including the interdependence of the three levels of government. The course continues by examining the state level followed by a focus on local government. A final topic is policy-making, including revenues and expenditures, which again illustrate the interrelationship of the three levels. Lecture 3 (Fall).
   Artificial Intelligence and the Political Good
This course examines the political promises and challenges of artificial intelligence (AI) through the consideration of the technological trajectories and possible scenarios of advanced AI. Possible discussion topics may include: The compatibility of AI with the political principles of liberty, equality, and the pursuit of happiness to understanding what an AI arms race between countries might entail. Domestically, will the prospect of greater job automation produce mass unemployment with severe consequences? Globally, will the weaponization of AI make going to war easier? Questions like these are inherently political and the movement toward greater AI capabilities raises the more general question of whether humanity will be able to regulate, both domestically and globally, a technology that promises to surpass all technology that has gone before it. This course will seek to anticipate and prepare for the risks that advanced AI poses to domestic and global politics. The goal will be to think about how advanced AI can be prudentially oriented toward beneficial practices for the sake of the political good. Lecture 3 (Spring).
   Politics and the Life Sciences
This course examines the intersection between politics and the life sciences. The course will examine the biological approach to human behavior, paying special attention to the implications of biological explanations of behavior for political systems. Topics to be covered may include the biological approach to morality, law, and international conflict, as well as the political and policy implications of new research in the biological sciences including biotechnology. Lecture 3 (Fall).
Innovations in digital communication technologies have the potential to affect many aspects of politics and government. Beyond specific elements such as elections and delivery of government services, these developments have the potential to expand and redefine the nature of political participation and civic engagement, and to alter the structure of political power. This course examines the potential and promise of digital democracy, and attempts to separate hype from reality. Lecture 3 (Spring).
   Rhetoric & Political Deliberation
Often political deliberation requires reasoning about indeterminate subjects of public import, which do not permit us to arrive at incontestable conclusions. Even where there is compelling evidence the conclusions of political deliberation usually require rhetorical assistance. Rhetoric reflects an appreciation that the simple truth and scientific facts do not suffice in all circumstances, that citizens sometimes have to be persuaded and led through persuasive speeches to reach reasonable decisions in public life. This course examines the role of rhetoric in political deliberation through a consideration of some of the most politically important speeches in American and international politics. The course will also consider the political use of rhetorical devices as well as the differences between deliberative, epideictic and forensic rhetoric. As a writing intensive course, students will practice the writing conventions associated with the discipline and their skills in editing, revising, and reviewing their writing and the writing of their peers. Lecture 3 (Fall or Spring).
   Political Parties and Voting
Political parties are a crucial part of the democratic process, as are elections. Parties and elections serve as a critical link between citizens and their government, as parties and candidates promote policies favored by voters. This course studies parties, their history, their future and their role in the democratic process. Overall emphasis is on the degree to which parties perform or fail to perform as a link between citizens and government. Lecture 3 (Fall).
   The Congress
This course examines the role of the Congress in American government. Topics studied include elections, party organization, committees, interest-group activities and executive-legislative relations. Lecture 3 (Spring).
   The Presidency
A study of the role of the presidency in the American political system. Among the topics considered are the nomination and election processes, the evolution, expansion and limitation of presidential power, factors in decision-making and the various leadership functions performed by the president. Lecture 3 (Fall or Spring).
   American Foreign Policy
A study of the formulation and execution of American foreign policy, including the examination of the instruments, procedures, and philosophies shaping the development of foreign policy. Lecture 3 (Fall or Spring).
   Medicine, Morality, and Law
This course provides health sciences and other students with a background in the changing face of medical ethics over the last two hundred years. The course combines medical history, historical and contemporary biomedical ethics, philosophy of science, and political theory to create a framework for understanding the complexity and depth of the practitioner/patient relationship. At the end of the course, students will explore and interrogate the way in which the practical, ethical, legal, and political framework of modern American medicine supports or challenges foundational medical principles like patient autonomy and the Hippocratic Oath. Resources include works by William Osler on humanistic medicine as well as other foundational medical thinkers, classic works in bioethics, and historical and narrative accounts of the consequences of medical abuse. Examples of possible texts include archival documents related to the eugenics movement in 20th century America, letters and testimony from survivors of the Tuskegee Syphilis Study, and contemporary texts and court cases that interrogate the connection between medical practice and human values and meaning. Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
   Politics and Public Policy
A study of the politics of the policy process covering these basic questions: How do public problems get to the agenda of government? How does government formulate policy alternatives? How does government legitimate public policy? How does government implement public policy? How does government evaluate public policy? Lecture 3 (Fall).
   Political Leadership
The fundamental proposition of this course is that political leadership makes a crucial difference in the life of a nation. The course will examine how leadership may serve as either a constructive or destructive force in the pursuit of some shared, national goal or purpose. The course will consider a diverse range of leaders and their respective styles and types of leadership. Each leader will be studied in terms of his or her historical context, the means and ends each employed in the pursuit of political goals, and the particular qualities both virtues and vices each embodied as a political leader. Lecture 3 (Fall).
   Anarchy, Technology & Utopia
This course examines the way in which new technologies challenge and provide alternatives to traditional political structures and functions. The course discusses the moral status of the state through the lens of anarchic political thought, with an emphasis on the concept of consent. Themes of anarchic thought are then discussed in light of how new technologies decentralize power and challenge traditional state goals, such as regulation or state secrecy. Technologies to be discussed include social media platforms and nongovernmental, digital currency, as well as decentralized energy sources like solar and wind. The ethical and moral implications of these new technologies, the harms and benefits they present, and their use as challenges to the moral status of the state are all central themes. Lecture 3 (Biannual).
   Evolution and the Law
This course examines the evolutionary approach to law. The course will consider the relevance of evolutionary theory to the analysis of law, the roots of rule of law, the relationship between natural law and common law, as well as the strengths and limitations of the evolutionary approach to specific themes within law, such as property law and family law. Lecture 3 (Spring).
   Primate Politics
This course examines the biological approach to the study of political order. Students will learn about the basic political structures of the great apes, how they differ, and how an understanding of these primate social structures can help us understand human political behavior. Specific topics might include the biological explanations of patriarchy and matriarchy, the biology of dominance structures, and the biology of leadership choice. Lecture 3 (Spring).
   Constitutional Law
A study of the Constitution of 1787 and the manner in which it was written. The focus of the course is on the way the people have, through the Constitution, delegated powers and responsibilities of government to the Congress, the President, the Courts and the States. Selected Supreme Court opinions will be considered to shed light on how the Constitution has been read and how thoughtful citizens might read it. Lecture 3 (Fall).
   Constitutional Rights and Liberties
This course provides an introduction to the Supreme Court's legal and political reasoning on the civil rights and liberties contained in the Bill of Rights. Particular emphasis will be placed on the First Amendment as the cornerstone of a free society guaranteeing religious liberty and the right to free speech. The course will also examine how the Court has balanced constitutional rights and liberties in the First, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendments against the need for enhanced national security. Lecture 3 (Spring).
   American Political Thought
Provides a general overview of the political ideas, concepts, issues and principles which taken together compose the stream of American political thought. Examines major controversies, which have marked the developing body of the literature by examining the contributions of major political thinkers. Lecture 3 (Spring).
   Classical Constitutionalism, Virtue & Law
This course will examine the classical quest for personal and political order. It will concentrate on the foundations of classical political science and its search for the best regime. The course will also examine the classical understanding of constitutionalism, or the regime as the form for encouraging virtue through the rule of law, in contrast to the modern view that attempts to combine liberty and property. Along the way, the enduring questions of cosmology, human nature, justice and the good will be examined. Lecture 3 (Fall).
   Modern Constitutional, Liberty & Equality
This course examines the founding principles of modern constitutionalism and the modern state. Special attention will be paid to the theory and practice of the principles of equality, liberty, and consent. A major effort throughout the course will be made to consider the assessments and prescriptions for modern constitutionalism offered by American and continental political thinkers. Lecture 3 (Spring).
   Women in Politics
A study of feminist thought as it applies to the political, economic and social status of women and how it has been expressed through the women's political movement. Students study a number of public policies as they apply to and affect women and examine the opportunities for women to participate in the political process. Lecture 3 (Spring).
   Politics Through Fiction
This course explores contemporary issues facing the American and global political order through the lens of fiction. Particular attention will be paid to the grounds of sound political deliberation, the limitations of prudence and the theory and practice of American political principles both home and abroad. Lecture 3 (Spring).
   Politics Through Film
This course explores the enduring issues facing the American and global political order through the lens of film. Particular attention will be paid to the principles of sound political deliberation, the limitations of political leadership and the theory and practice of American political principles both at home and abroad. Lecture 3 (Spring).
International Relations
   Ethics in International Politics
This course examines the role of ethics in international politics. It will address topics such as humanitarian intervention, just war, the ethics of immigration, international economic justice, accountability in international development aid, and the ethical role of international organizations and non-state actors. Special attention will be given to thinkers who discuss the promise and limits of ethics in international politics and who give an account of the force of international law in establishing ethical norms throughout international political history. Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring, Summer).
   Comparative Politics
The course provides a mode of analysis for the study of political systems. Basic concepts of political science are utilized to present a descriptive and analytical examination of various political systems that can be classified as liberal democracies, post-communist, newly industrializing countries, and Third World. Particular attention is paid to the governmental structure, current leadership and major issues of public policy of those selected political systems under review. Lecture 3 (Spring).
   Tech, Ethics & Global Politics
This course examines the mutual influence of science, technology and global politics within the framework of international ethics. Contemporary debates around drones, climate change, cyber security, the Ebola pandemic, hydraulic fracturing, renewable energy, nanotechnology, biotechnology, and nuclear power reveal the field of International Relations must take scientific and technological developments more seriously. In order to comprehend the mutual influence of science, technology, and global politics, the course will examine the political project of the early moderns, who sought the removal of traditional, moral restraints on scientific and technological innovations, as well as the international efforts to regulate scientific and technological innovation beginning in the twentieth century and continuing to the present day. Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring, Summer).
   Global Political Economy
Examines the interplay between states and markets, as well as the interaction of the global economy and international politics. The course will cover political economy, political ideology, global trade, international capital investment, debt, the integration of national financial markets, and the impact of globalization on society and the environment. Lecture 3 (Fall or Spring).
   Environmental Ethics and Political Ecology
This course examines environmental issues through a variety of political and ethical perspectives. The goal of the course is to understand how the meaning of political and ethical concepts (e.g., citizenship, justice, responsibility, security, sovereignty) have been broadened or reinterpreted in light of the ascendancy of environmentalism. For instance, the course will cover questions concerning whether environmentalism has encouraged a more precautionary sort of politics, especially in regard to agricultural biotechnology, along with how it has transformed the traditional military definition of security to include new notions such as climate or food security. To address these questions and issues, the course fosters an appreciation of the ethical reasoning of the interdisciplinary field known as political ecology. An emphasis on the ethical reasoning of political ecology will facilitate a more comprehensive understanding of environmental issues through unraveling the political forces at work in environmental change at both the global and local levels. Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
   American Foreign Policy
A study of the formulation and execution of American foreign policy, including the examination of the instruments, procedures, and philosophies shaping the development of foreign policy. Lecture 3 (Fall or Spring).
   International Law and Organizations
The study of international law and organizations is the study of international cooperation and governance. The course will cover a variety of theoretical and substantive topics including the theories of international law and organizations, the historical development of international organizations, how these organizations work in practice, and whether they are effective. Emphasis will be placed on the United Nations and the role and usefulness of nongovernmental organizations in international organization. Several of the substantive issues discussed are interstate violence and attempts to address humanitarian concerns, globalizations, and the environment. Lecture 3 (Fall).
   Human Rights in Global Perspective
This course explores the theoretical meaning, both domestically and internationally, and the institutional and political aspects of human rights. Issues covered include the definition of human rights; the relationship between civil and political rights and economic, social and cultural rights; the meaning and impact of humanitarian and international human rights law; the impact of cultural relativism in the definition and assessment of the promotion and protection of human rights; the significance of different religious perspectives; the question of the legitimacy of humanitarian interventions and the effects of globalization on human rights perceptions and practices. Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
   Politics in Developing Countries
This course explores the ways in which the historical, cultural, economic and political contexts of societies of Africa, Asia and Latin America determines the patterns of their political processes. Focus is directed to such factors as history, religion, economic underdevelopment, and culture and their impact on the efforts to promote liberalization and democratization, economic and social modernization, and political and social stability. Lecture 3 (Fall).
   Politics of East Asia
This course examines the East-Asian countries using the following comparative criteria as the organizing guidelines: modern political history of the country, political economy and development, governance and policy making, representation and participation, as well as major domestic and foreign policy issues. The political prospects of the countries for the 21st century will be analyzed and discussed. Lecture 3 (Fall).
   Politics of China
This course examines the politics of China through a comparative historical analysis of key political and economic developments. It discusses the Communist Revolution, governance and policy making under the communist regime, and the reforms following the introduction of capitalism. The goal of the course is to assess China’s comparative advantages and grand strategy in international politics. (Prerequisites: POLS-210 or equivalent course.) Lecture 3 (Spring, Summer).
   International Political Thought
The course provides a general overview of international themes, ethical principles, and issues that are taken into consideration in international political thought. Possible topics may include theoretical analyses of the ideas of sovereignty, nationalism, hegemony, imperialism, global civil society, political theology, balance of power, collective security, just war, perpetual peace, and human rights. Guiding themes of the course will be a reflection upon the nature of political legitimacy in the international context and the tension between political justifications based upon necessity and those based upon justice. In reading the major political thinkers students will be encouraged to reflect upon the challenge of reconciling ethical obligations to one’s own community with those of humanity in general. Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
   Cyberwar, Robots, & the Future of Conflict
This course examines how advances in computer science, robotics, biotechnology and other emerging technologies are being applied to organized violence. Emphasized are the ways that lethal uses of unmanned aerial vehicles (drones), warbots with artificial intelligence, cyber-attacks, and other emerging technologies are changing or will change the character of war and the societies that enact it. Special attention is given to the ethical and legal dilemmas these technologies present to citizens, states, and the international community, assessing both the harm and the good that they make possible. Lecture 3 (Fall).
   Grand Strategy
Grand strategy defines the interests of a state, the means necessary to achieve and protect those interests, the threats to those interests, and the policies and military forces needed to minimize the danger posed by those threats. This course examines grand strategies of great powers from various historical eras and regions to determine the origins of grand strategy and the relationship between a great power's grand strategy and stability in international politics. The focus on a specific regime or regimes will be determined by the instructor and announced in the subtitle. The course can be repeated as the area of focus changes. Lecture 3 (Fall, Spring).
   Greece and the Political Imagination
As a region once comprised of many city-states, transformed into an empire, occupied by foreign armies, and now unified as a nation-state, Greece plays a pivotal role in the political imagination. Themes of freedom, war, justice, heroism, piety, beauty, love, tyranny, democracy, colonialism, nationalism, immigration, and sovereignty pervade its rich literary, artistic, and intellectual heritage. This course examines how these themes are expressed in literary and artistic political works that reflect the history of Greece in all of its variety. These themes are also discussed through a survey of Greek political philosophy from antiquity to the present. Lecture 3 (Spring).
   Greece and the Political Imagination
   Evolutionary International Relations
This course examines the biological explanations of international conflict. Topics will include the evolutionary approach to human behavior, international conflict, and the relevance for evolutionary explanations as an alternative or supplement to current paradigms of international relations like realism and rational choice. Finally, the course will look at what an evolutionary understanding of politics means for peace-keeping missions, global governance, and the stability of international cooperation. Lecture 3 (Fall).
   War and the State
Explores the enduring reality of war through an analysis of regional and global conflicts since the establishment of the modern international system. Key concepts include deterrence, appeasement, offensive-defensive military strategies, and international balances of power. These will be applied to several historical cases to explain why wars occur and how they might be avoided. Lecture 3 (Fall or Spring).
   Terrorism and Political Violence
This course examines the causes, methods, and responses of non-state groups attempting to establish new political orders. The combined use of violence with the tactic of terror distinguishes these groups from others seeking political change. Special attention will be given to national and international efforts attempting to resolve such conflicts. Lecture 3 (Fall or Spring).
   Comparative Public Policy
Modernization theorists predict, industrial and post-industrial societies tend to face similar public policy issues in such areas as public education, health care, public transportation, public housing and the environment. However, the political responses to these challenges have varied in significant ways in different countries. Many states have developed extensive welfare state systems, while some have put more emphasis on market-based solutions. The course seeks to explore and analyze the factors that explain these differences and assess the extent to which the different approaches succeed in meeting these policy challenges. Lecture 3 (Fall).
   Peacekeeping and Conflict Transformation
This course will provide an introduction to the dynamics of post war stabilization and reconstruction. It will address the complexities of the transformation from war to peace, including interdependent politics, security, legal and economic elements. Students will discuss these patterns in the cases in Eurasia, the Middle East and Africa. Students will learn about analysis, planning, operations, and reporting used in national and multilateral agencies. Lecture 3 (Summer).
   War, Diplomacy, and State-Building
This course will explore the process by which states disintegrate and fail, the armed conflicts that follow, and international peacekeeping and subsequent efforts to build institutions at the end of armed conflicts. It will consider cases that might include the wars of Yugoslav Succession, conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan, Africa, Syria and others. Students will consider the role of domestic and international actors, such as NATO, the US Government, the UN, and others. They will explore these efforts in readings, class discussion, debates, presentation of research, and role-playing exercises. Lecture 3 (Summer).

* At least one course must come from American Politics and one course must come from International Relations.

† At least one course must be taken at the 300-level or above.