PSC = Political Science SOC = Sociology HIS = History
IDS = Interdisciplinary PHIL = Philosophy ECON = Economics
Fall 2017 Course Descriptions
Ruth O’Brien – American Political Thought (AP)
PSC 72100 – 3 credits (CRN# 36607)
Tuesday 11:45am – 1:45pm
American Political Thought is one of the core subfields in the American Politics field. It can also be counted as part of the political theory concentration. This seminar asks the big questions: What is justice? What is equality? What does it mean to be free? It does so in historical perspective, breaking the periods down into perspectives provided by the revolution; founding, civil war; Social Darwinist; bourgeois individualist; progressive; industrial capitalist, New Deal; and identity politics periods. Original texts ranging from: James Madison’s Federalist Papers; John Dewey’s The Public and Its Problems; Malcolm X’s Autobiography to Gloria E. Anzaldua’s This Bridge Called my Back will be read. In addition, to concentrating on the standard interpretations of these texts, some radical interpretations will be emphasized, particularly black feminist thought. In addition, the seminar gives more weight to the latter half of American political thought written about capitalism and identity politics in the late-19th and 20th centuries rather than the founding or the civil war eras in the 18th, early, and mid-19th centuries.
Sanford Schram – American Politics: Theories and Core Concepts (AP)
PSC 72001 – 3 credits (CRN # 36252)
Monday 4:15pm – 6:15pm
This seminar surveys the major scholarly debates in the study of American politics today. It draws on prominent theoretical perspectives for understanding empirical issues regarding: (1) the history of American political development; (2) the constitutional and institutional structure of American government in its contemporary form; (3) the structure of power and the behavior of political elites; and (4) ordinary people’s political behavior as manifested in studies of public opinion and political participation broadly construed. As a seminar, course emphasizes dialogue about assigned readings. Students are to be active participants in the conversation. Each student will lead one session. The course is designed to help students prepare for the doctoral exam in American politics and to acquire the background to teach American politics at the undergraduate level. The course will regularly address issues and problems in teaching an undergraduate American politics survey course.
Stanley Renshon – The Modern Presidency: FDR to Trump (AP)
PSC 82001 – 4 credits (CRN # 36257)
Thursday 6:30pm – 8:30pm
Crosslist with IDS 81650
The American presidency holds a central, if paradoxical position in American politics. Since its creation, supporters for a strong presidency have viewed it as the primary source of “energy,” “decision,” and “activity” in American political life. Moreover, over time, the modern presidency has amassed so much power while becoming a singular focus of public expectations that it has more than fulfilled these expectations. That “success,” however, has become a mixed blessing. The more powerful presidents have become, the harder it has been for them to succeed. It has become increasingly clear that how the president exercises executive power is just as important as having it. Moreover, simply accruing power does not necessarily translate into effective political leadership or successful governing.
Using policy, politics, leadership and public expectations as four core frames of analysis, this course examines how and why the modern presidency developed as it did from a revered to a contested institution. We will examine how the men who occupied the office shaped it, tried to make use of it, in some cases misused it, and in others were undone by it. Among the topics to be covered are: the changing nature of presidential leadership; issues of governance in a divided electorate; and how modern presidents have tried to navigate the increasingly fractured relationship between wining office and governing, and the very consequential and controversial presidencies of Barack Obama and Donald Trump and what they suggest about the nature and direction of American politics.
Susan Woodward – Basic Theories & Concepts in Comparative Politics (CP)
PSC 77902 – 3 credits (CRN# 36238)
Monday 4:15pm – 6:15pm
Students are strongly encouraged to take this course the first semester in their graduate program, if possible. This seminar is a graduate-level introduction to the literature in comparative politics. It can serve as a survey or review for advanced students as well. Because the key theories and concepts are also key political science concepts and theories, it is not exclusively intended for those majoring or minoring in comparative politics; all are welcome. It is not a course in methods or methodologies of research. The focus is on substantive topics within comparative politics: the role of concepts and theoretical approaches, the state, political regimes (e.g., democracy, authoritarian government) – origins, stability, and transition, political institutions, revolution and civil war, collective action, identity politics, institutions of political participation, the state and economic development, and the global context of domestic politics and policy.
Students in this seminar will vary in their goals depending on the extent of their prior knowledge of the subject matter, their particular substantive interests, and their field specialization within the discipline. Overall, the course should prepare them (1) to think, articulate orally, and write theoretically: to identify a theory in a reading, define its key concepts, articulate its causal mechanisms, and evaluate its empirical demonstration; (2) to know the evolution of questions, concepts, and theories within the discipline of comparative politics so as to understand those theories better and to analyze their limitations and biases; (3) to pass the first exam in comparative politics comfortably; and (4) to feel solidly grounded in the questions and literature of comparative politics so as to identify areas of further interest and specialization and to begin to prepare a dissertation proposal. These goals are basic, foundational; many other benefits for critical thinking and analysis will also result, including bonding and camaraderie among students in the seminar (as previous participants can recount), but the foundation comes first. Requirements include reading the assigned material prior to each class meeting, active participation in class discussion, three brief written essays summarizing and analyzing the readings on one substantive topic in the syllabus, and a final examination.
Till Weber – Applied Quantitative Research Correlation, Comparison, Causality (CP/M)
PSC 89101 – 4 credits (CRN# 36248)
Tuesday 6:30pm – 8:30pm
Statistics show that students who take statistics classes are professionally more successful, socially more popular and physically more attractive than their peers. So, which side are you on now? Alternatively, perhaps you are more interested in the analytical value of statistics, which is no less profound. Knowing about the powers of quantitative analysis will make you ask questions about politics you might otherwise never have considered. With a manageable kit of statistical tools you can uncover structure in the political world where before was only fog or chaos. Even better, while learning all these wonderful things you will also fulfill the methods requirement of the doctoral program. The course follows the credo that comparison is at the heart of all analysis. While this might be particularly appealing to “comparativists,” we consider comparative politics as a universal method of inference, not as a subfield of the discipline. The class is equally valuable for all substantive specializations concerned with empirical regularities and causal explanations. Distilling causality from regularity is the job of comparison. This is of course a widely shared aim, and the quantie world has some particularly neat tricks in store. You do not need to be a math whiz to master these (this instructor is living proof).
Our approach will be hands-on and pragmatic. The course cuts across the conventional division of basic and advanced statistics to facilitate the immediate implementation of diverse quantitative designs. Everyone is welcome irrespective of prior statistical training. If you are currently conducting quantitative research, feel encouraged to bring your problems to class. If you are considering collecting your own data, use the opportunity to anticipate the challenges waiting down the road. If you believe that quantitative methods inherently reproduce capitalist exploitation, help us liberate oppressed regression coefficients from the clutches of neoliberal positivism. Alternatively, if you are just looking for something new, come along to get inspiration and pick up versatile skills. Over the course of the semester, students will enjoy the quantie boot camp™, conduct their own quantitative research, present their work in class and produce a final paper. The instructor actively supports each project and makes sure that it builds on and advances the methodological expertise of the student(s) involved. Credit will be awarded for achievement relative to initial proficiency.
Mark Ungar – Democratization (CP)
PSC 77903 – 3 credits (CRN# 36256)
Thursday 6:30pm – 8:30pm
For the first time, a majority of the world’s countries have adopted democracy, making democratization a key focus of political science. Drawing on the histories and current developments in each region, this course comparatively assesses the quality of democratic regimes around the globe by examining the range of weaknesses (such as in the rule of law, economic policy, and the balance of power) and challenges (such as corruption, crime, and inequality) that trap most regimes in a grey area between transition and consolidation. The critical analysis of democratization that the class undertakes will also strengthen understanding of comparative and international politics more broadly.
Kenneth Erickson – State & Society (CP)
PSC 87801 – 4 credits (CRN# 36255)
Wednesday 6:30pm – 8:30pm
Seminar/colloquium on social movements, civil society, and the state. Readings and discussion cover historical and contemporary cases of social movements, contentious politics, and participation by civil society. In the contemporary era of democratic transition and consolidation, the course examines contentious popular and opposition movements that seek to revise the very nature of citizenship, particularly by expanding citizens’ rights of participation so as to include formerly excluded people and groups, and to win benefits for them. It also examines the role of such movements in transitions to democracy, and the impact of democratization on the movements themselves. My Latin American politics survey courses employ a top-down perspective, emphasizing the role of state institutions and political elites. This seminar examines many world regions and takes a bottom-up perspective, focusing on participation by worker, peasant, popular, feminist, indigenous, religious, and other sectors of civil society and ideological and political oppositions.
Contemporary scholarly interest in social movements and civil society developed in the 1970s and 1980s, when a body of literature on “New Social Movements” emerged in response to changing political realities, as “post-materialist” environmental, peace, and women’s movements developed in Western Europe and North America; as opposition to authoritarian rule crystallized in Latin America; and as unrest challenged the weakening communist party-states in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. This literature, inspired by the work of scholars and activists, began to gain recognition by North American specialists on Latin America only in the late 1980s and early 1990s. In Latin America, scholars and activists raised very optimistic normative expectations that contentious social, economic, and political engagement by hitherto oppressed and excluded lower strata would create new, superior, forms of participatory democracy. The disappointing, or at best mixed, results on these headings prompted a sobering normative reappraisal by scholars, then a reappraisal of that reappraisal, followed by a focus on “contentious politics” by one school and on participatory politics within democratic institutions by others. In sum, in their empirical work on various world regions, researchers advanced a seemingly dominant interpretive paradigm and then, under challenge, refined it more than once. The trajectory of concepts covered will illustrate this process while providing students with an array of useful interpretive tools.
The first portion of the course will be a colloquium devoted to a close reading and discussion of the conceptual and case materials that should catalyze or orient individuals’ research projects. I will open each session by asking students to set the agenda for discussion on the assigned materials, agenda points they will have posted on Blackboard’s discussion board by the previous evening. The final portion of the course will be devoted to presentation of students’ research projects. Several days before the presentation, students will distribute via the discussion board a brief written précis of the project and other relevant documents to enrich discussion.
Peter Romaniuk – Global Terrorism (IR)
PSC 86207 – 4 credits (CRN# 36242)
Monday 6:30pm – 8:30pm
In the period since the attacks of 11 September 2001 in the United States, terrorism has become a permanent fixture on the international security agenda, as well as being a primary domestic security concern for many states. Terrorist violence and state responses to terrorism have had broad and deep impacts on international relations and on human security. Prior to 9/11, and in the years since, the strategies and tactics of terrorism (and counterterrorism) have continued to evolve. Today and into the future, knowledge of global terrorism is critical for students and scholars seeking to understand international security. This course is an advanced-level survey of terrorism and the politics that surround it. The course aims to: prepare students to become informed and critical consumers of claims to knowledge about terrorism, whether they are manifested in scholarship, policy, popular debates in the media, or elsewhere, and; advance student’s capacity to produce robust social science research about terrorism and counterterrorism.
Zachary Shirkey – Basic Concepts & Theories in International Relations (IR)
PSC 76000 – 3 credits (CRN# 36239)
Tuesday 2:00pm – 4:00pm
The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the different theories and concepts that scholars use to understand and explain world politics. The course examines the major theories in the field of International Relations (IR) and some of the central theoretical debates. Throughout the course, the relevance of specific theories and theory in general for how we make sense of world politics will be critically assessed. The focus of this course will be theoretical rather than empirical. Thus, each class will be devoted to an in-depth discussion of a different theoretical perspective in IR, focusing on its key concepts, foundational assumptions, and central arguments.
Peter Liberman – Security Studies (IR)
PSC 76400 – 3 credits (CRN# 36247)
Tuesday 4:15pm – 6:15pm
This course examines contemporary theory-testing research in security studies. Topics examined include the sources of peace and war, coercion, strategy, arms races, alliances, and international institutions designed to control arms and conflict. The focus is on states, but we will also examine insurgencies and terrorism insofar as these have international reach. The works studied represent diverse methodologies and theoretical approaches; each week’s readings address a common question (or a set of related questions) using different theories and methods. This is not a security policy course per se, but most of the work examined focuses on questions whose answers would help policymakers (not necessarily U.S. ones) make important decisions about peace and security.
The course has seven main goals:
· To familiarize students with a wide range of leading theories on international security issues.
· To develop students’ understanding of multiple methodological approaches employed in contemporary international relations research.
· To enhance students’ ability to critically analyze political science research, especially in the field of international security.
· To improve students’ ability to critically analyze security policy issues and debates.
· To enhance students theoretical reasoning and their writing, verbal communication, and critical thinking skills.
· To help students identify promising research projects.
· To prepare students to answer international security questions on the PhD First Exam in International Relations.
Jack Jacobs – Marxism (PT)
PSC 80302 – 4 credits (CRN# 36244)
Monday 2:00pm - 4:00pm
This course, which will be conducted as a seminar, will be devoted to discussing and critique the ideas of Karl Marx and some of the major thinkers who have been influenced by Marx. We will begin by exploring Marx’s analysis of alienation, his understanding of history, and his notions of the state and of class. We will turn next to discussing both Marxism in the era of the Second International, with particular attention to the Revisionist Debate between Eduard Bernstein and Rosa Luxemburg, and – on the 100th anniversary of the October Revolution of 1917! The political ideas of Vladimir Lenin. I intend, in a somewhat later section of the course, to devote particularly sustained attention to the development of Western Marxism, including the contributions of figures like Lukacs, Korsch, Horkheimer, Adorno, Benjamin, and Marcuse, many of whom attempted to explain why the revolution predicted by Marx had not (yet) taken place. Finally, we will end this course by examining Marxist thought in the latter portions of the 20th century, and the first years of the 21st. I expect that we will cover a work by Louis Althusser, and hope to discuss relevant portions of the thought of Slavoj Zizek. Throughout the semester, we will engage in a close examination of key texts, and will debate the extent to which the ideas we will discuss (and the controversies which they generated) can be explained by knowledge of the contexts in which they arose. We will also explore the degree to which the ideas of the thinkers whose works we will read help to illuminate contemporary issues.
Susan Buck-Morss – Walter Benjamin (PT)
PSC 80602 – 4 credits (CRN# 362500)
Monday 4:15pm – 6:15pm
In-depth readings of a wide range of Walter Benjamin’s writings in historical-political context, from World War I and the Bolshevik Revolution, to World War II and the Vichy Regime. We will focus on philosophical method. What in his way of working escapes certain modern and post-modern dead-ends of theory? Excerpts from all 5 volumes of his Selected Works will be consulted.
Richard Wolin – The Outcome of German Classical Philosophy (PT)
PSC 71902 – 3 credits (CRN# 36240)
Monday 6:30pm – 8:30pm
The course will primarily focus on the nexus between philosophy, reason, and, autonomy. We will also examine the substantive arguments that the school’s leading representatives have set forth, with special attention to the “healing” role of both reason and the aesthetic dimension. If thought and being are sundered in real life, art and reason offer the prospect of making the world whole once more. Thus, in German Classical philosophy, aesthetic consciousness often plays what one might describe as a redemptory or reconciliatory function. In his “Discourse on Language” Foucault warns us appositely that, “Truly to escape Hegel involves an exact appreciation of the price we have to pay to detach ourselves from him. It assumes that we are aware of the extent to which Hegel, insidiously perhaps, is close to us; it implies a knowledge that permits us to think against Hegel, of that which remains Hegelian. Thus we have to determine the extent to which our anti-Hegelianism is possibly one of his tricks directed against us, at the end of which he stands, motionless, waiting for us.” Foucault’s insightful caveat will, in many respects, function as our interpretive watchword as we seek to decode and reconstruct German Idealism and its innovative contemporary legacies.
Carol Gould – Socialism and Democracy (PT)
PSC 80302 – 4 credits (CRN# 36258)
(Cross list with PHIL 77900)
An exploration of core issues at the intersection of socialist theory and democratic theory, and of the prospects for rethinking democratic socialism for the 21st century. The seminar will draw on literature from the history of both Marxist/socialist and liberal democratic thought and will go on to consider leading critiques of both traditions. We will then focus on key conceptual problems in delineating new democratic and cooperative forms of social, economic, and political organization, including worker self-management; structural injustice and ecological justice; the question of markets, coordination, and distribution; the problem of scale (local, national, and global); and the role of feminist notions of reproduction, recognition, and care. Readings will include, among others, works by Karl Marx, Rosa Luxemburg, Emma Goldman, Peter Kropotkin, Karl Kautsky, Hannah Arendt, Franz Fanon, Robert Dahl, C. B. Macpherson, Carole Pateman, Andre Gorz, Erik Olin Wright, Jane Mansbridge, G. A. Cohen, Nancy Fraser, and Elizabeth Anderson.
Leonard Feldman – Modern Political Thought (PT)
PSC 70200 – 3 credits (CRN # 36253)
Wednesday 4:15pm – 6:15pm
This course will examine key texts of modern Western political thought and the different ways they have been interpreted by contemporary political theorists. We will concentrate on works by Hobbes, Locke, Montesquieu, Mill and Nietzsche. Some questions that will guide us include: If the period we loosely and contentiously describe as modern places stress on the problem of value, how do modern political systems gain and maintain legitimacy? What particular institutions are justified and on what basis? What are the affective dimensions of political order and political disorder? How are visions of political subjectivity linked to political orders and who is excluded from political subjectivity? Does modernity signify an age of progress in terms of knowledge about the world and freedom for human beings or a new kind of violent containment?
In addition, we will engage two to three important contemporary readings of each primary text, coming from Straussian, Cambridge School, feminist, post-colonial and post-structuralist perspectives. The goals here are (a) to gain new insight into the primary texts under consideration, (b) develop a familiarity with the core assumptions, commitments and methods of key interpretive approaches, and (c) evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of those approaches. The primary texts will come from the department’s political theory reading list and the seminar will be useful for students in preparation for their comprehensive exams in political theory. But it is by no means limited to that goal or that group of students.
Katherine Chen – Organizations, Markets and the State (PP)
PSC 72500 – 3 credits (CRN# 36687)
Monday 11:45am – 1:45pm
(Cross list with SOC 84700)
Organizations are one of the main “building blocks” of contemporary society. Despite their central role in shaping our experiences from education to the workplace to governance, these actors and their form of collective action are often overlooked or taken-for-granted among researchers and laypersons. Learn why organizations form, how they develop, and how they can exacerbate inequality or improve people’s life chances. The content will cover a variety of organizations, from conventional bureaucracies to alternative, democratic organizations. Theories studied will include classics, as well as cutting edge synthetic work like Strategic Action Fields (SAFs).
Participation in this course could be helpful for preparing for comprehensives, widening cross-over expertise in a substantive area (i.e. social movements, urban sociology, etc.), designing and carrying out research, and professional development. One of the aims includes developing a community of supportive scholars for emerging research.
John Krinksy – Social Movements (PP/CP)
PSC 73100 – 3 credits (CRN# 36243)
Tuesday 2:00pm – 4:00pm
This course will investigate the causes and processes of political protest and efforts to remake the world through non-institutional politics. It will focus on the principal theories of social movements and assess them for their rigor and breadth of applicability over geographically and historically varied cases. It will also treat questions of the relationship of non-institutional and institutional politics, political speech and organization, reformism and radicalism, and what protest tells us–and can tell us–about the constitution of power across geographical scales
John Mollenkopf – Politics and Government of New York City (PP)
PSC 82510 – 4 credits (CRN# 36254)
Wednesday 4:15pm – 6:15pm
(Cross list with SOC 84700 & AFCP 73100)
In the past, political scientists described New York City both as an exemplary case of machine politics (from Boss Tweed of Tammany Hall to the Queens County Democratic machine) and of urban reform (from Mayor LaGuardia through Mayor De Blasio). This strongly liberal city, with a large municipal welfare state and a unionized public labor force, nonetheless elected Republican mayors between 1993 and 2013. Despite being a majority minority city and electorate, it has elected only one minority mayor, David Dinkins and no Latino has been elected to city-wide office. This course uses the 2017 mayoral elections to explore the construction of electoral majorities and the exercise of political power in this large, complex, multicultural setting, with a particular focus on what difference having a left liberal or progressive mayor makes and the difficulties facing attempts at reform governance in various policy areas, including housing criminal justice, and homeless services.
Janet Gornick – Women, Work and Public Policy (PP)
PSC 82503 – 4 credits (CRN# 36245)
Tuesday, 4:15pm – 6:15pm
(Crosslist with SOC 84700 & WSCP 81000)
This course will provide an overview of key issues affecting women in the contemporary workplace in the United States and other high-income countries. We will begin with an overview of women’s position in the labor market; here we will take a multidimensional approach to capturing gender inequality at work, covering gender gaps in employment rates, in working time, in occupation, and in earnings. We will assess growing class inequalities among women, which have led to polarization in the labor market, especially between women with more and less education. We will consider divisions by race, ethnicity, and nativity, and examine the recent rise of the “precariat” – a segment of the labor force characterized by little or no employment security and few legal protections. We will analyze the ways in which public policies have addressed these issues, and evaluate their impact.
The course also examines the effects on women workers – of all classes, races, and ethnic groups, and on immigrants as well as natives – of persistent inequalities in divisions of labor within households. Despite the enormous increase in women’s employment rates during the past half century, women continue to carry out the bulk of unpaid work in their homes. Altering these inequalities has proven even more challenging than transforming the structures that shape paid work. We will consider recent research on the effects of “work-family reconciliation policies” – that is, public policies aimed at supporting women (and men) as they balance the responsibilities of paid work and family care. The key question now under consideration is whether some of these policies – e.g., paid family leave, rights to part-time work and flexible scheduling – create new forms of gender inequality. Students will complete weekly reaction papers and a semester-long research project.
Alan DiGaetano – Urban Public Policy (PP)
PSC 72500 – 3 credits (CRN# 36241)
Wednesday, 6:30pm – 8:30pm
This course is designed to introduce students to the scholarship on urban policy making in the United States. The course first examines some basic concepts and theoretical perspectives used in the analysis of urban policy making. The theoretical perspectives considered are Paul Kantor’s “Two Faces of American Urban Policy” framework, Clarence Stone’s urban regime theory, civic and ideological political culture approaches, and those that rely on the concept of neoliberalism to explain contemporary urban policy making. The remainder of the course examines specific urban policy areas through the lenses of each of these theoretical perspectives. The urban policy areas examined include economic development, education, fiscal, and community development.
General and Cross-field
Peter Beinart (G)
PSC 79001 – 3 credits (CRN#36237)
Monday 2:00pm – 4:00pm
Graduate students spend their days reading scholarly work about politics. This class aims to teach them how to write about it so non-scholars will care. To that end, students will read a lot of political writing, most of it fabulous, some of it awful, and try to figure out what distinguishes the two. They will also come up with many, many ideas for political columns, essays and blog posts of their own, see those ideas dissected by their classmates and the instructor, and then write the best ones up. Prominent editors and writers will come as guests.
Ruth O’Brien – Dissertation Proposal Workshop (G/PD)
PSC 89100 – 0 credits (CRN#36251)
This workshop helps students prepare for the second examination. All students who have finished or near finished their course work are strongly encouraged to attend so they can discover how to write a dissertation proposal. This workshop will help them develop a clear and detailed description of their topic, convincing enough to show experienced scholars why her or his topic is worthy of pursuing. It will cover principles and organization, conceptualization and research strategies, and, where appropriate, methodological questions. As a zero-credit course, it has no grading, yet students participate intensely and enthusiastically, providing both strong support and honest criticism of each other’s work while learning to identify and resolve issues and develop the analytical skills that will be needed for research and teaching. To this end, each workshop member will read and discuss the drafts of all other members—a process as important for improving one’s own proposal as it is for those of one’s fellow participants. Workshop members attend all meetings and make a commitment to do some new writing every week. Also, students who have completed their dissertation proposals are welcome to take the seminar again to help them refine dissertation-research grant applications. Important guidelines, procedures, and advice will be given at the first meeting, which students interested in the workshop are strongly encouraged to attend.
Sherrie Baver – M.A. Core Course (G)
PSC 71902 – 3 credits (CRN#36249)
This course has two primary objectives: 1) to introduce students to and provide an overview of major perspectives, problems, and approaches in political science; 2) to foster intellectual community within our program. The seminar proceeds through the various subfields of the political science discipline engaging key texts and debates in these modes of analysis through course sessions led by faculty members in the program. It also engages the conduct of current scholarship in the discipline through course sessions where advanced graduate students discuss their own research. An important theme throughout the course is how conceptions of democracy, democratization, and de-democratization now inform political questions and political science inquiry