PSC = Political Science SOC = Sociology HIS = History
IDS = Interdisciplinary PHIL = Philosophy ECON = Economics
Spring 2012 Course Descriptions
American Politics :: Comparative Politics
International Relations :: Political Theory:: Public Policy
General, Crossfield, & Related Courses
Congress, Professor Jones, PSC 72210  (Crosslisted with ASCP 81500), 3 credits, Tuesdays 4:15 - 6:15pm
The United States Congress is one of the most powerful representative assemblies and the most extensively studied political institutions in the world. This course is designed to help students develop a basic understanding of the major works and debates in the scholarly study of Congress, as well as the ability to explain, synthesize, and critique them. The course is targeted for students seeking to complete the department’s first exam in American politics. Required readings for the course include all those in the Congress section of the American Politics Reading List, among many others that are classics in the literature. The course will cover Congress both from the perspective of individual members, including roll call voting and representation, and the institution as a whole, including committees, parties.
Contemporary American Political Thought, Professor O'Brien, PSC 80300  (cross-listed with ASCP 82000 & WSCP 81000), 4 credits, Tuesdays 2:00 - 4:00pm, Room TBD
This new course represents the second course in the American Political Thought track of American Politics, focusing on the 20th and 21st centuries. (The seminar entitled American Political Thought concentrates on the 18th and 19th centuries.) One very current highlight of this new course is: We will study what documents OWS presents, and is presenting in "real" time; and whether or not it is discourse tantamount to protest movement political thought.
This seminar not only enlightens those interested in American Political Thought but also helps students prepare for the electoral and behavioral aspects of the American Politics examination by concentrating on public opinion and social movements of post-war identity leaders and their followers.
Contemporary American Political Thought/Theory examines the spaces and juxtapositions created by identity movements and vulnerable populations on three analytical tracks: 1) Race; 2) Women, Gender, Sexuality, and Vulnerable Populations; and 3) American Capitalism and Hegemony. First, the track on race compares and contrasts universal civil rights, black power, radical black feminism, and multiculturalism and multiracialism. Second, the track on gender and sexuality reviews first- and third-wave feminism, queer theory, postmodernist feminism, theories of the body, and immigrant and vulnerable populations. The final track focuses on American capitalism, transnationalism, and hegemony (anti-imperialism and post-colonialism, post-war neoclassical economics or neo-liberalism, and behavioral economics).
This seminar modernizes American political thought and includes the revolutionizing American Studies scholarship at the Graduate Center, with its emphasis on genealogies of revolutionary action, discourse, and political culture(s). It does this by giving attention to the writings, pamphlets, and thoughts of social-movement leaders and members and analyzing the question of political rhetoric and resonance (is the trajectory top-down or bottom-up?). For instance, the manifesto of S.C.U.M. (the Society for Cutting Up Men) had as much resonance for its leader, who shot Andy Warhol, as did its minuscule membership. How are events on Wall Street today similar to early-20th-century events?
Finally, this seminar provides a foundation for students interested in contemporary political theory by reading contemporary political thinkers as diverse as William Faulkner, Hannah Arendt, Herbert Marcuse, W. E. B. Dubois, Martin Luther King, Malcolm X, Gloria Steinem, Patricia Collins, Judith Butler, Anne Norton, Friedrich Hayek, Milton Friedman, Antonio Negri, and Michael Hardt.
American Political Development, Professor O'Brien, PSC 82210  (cross-listed with ASCP 81500 and WSCP 81000), 4 credits, Thursdays 2:00 - 4:00pm, Room TBD
This 800-level seminar studies American political development with a particular focus on the role of ideas. First, the seminar examines the political-development approach or framework. It places this framework in context with other methodological inquiries as well as theories of ideas. Second, it reviews the American versions of republicanism, liberalism, and capitalism, with an eye to explaining how these ideologies have helped and hindered the national periods of reform. Third, it probes the sources of other ideas or isms, namely racism and sexism, and the impact that the state has had on mitigating them in the latter half of the 20th century. How have these specific isms or ideologies shaped the American identity and social movements? Whether it is reform ideas influenced by a Lockean version of individualism and capitalism or a Humean version of the public good, this seminar explores how these ideas and isms influenced the type of reform policy regimes that American presidents and Congress have constructed in the 20th and 21st centuries.
American Labor and Globalization, Professor Piven, PSC 82220  (Crosslisted with ASCP 82000, SOC 84600 & WSCP 81000), 4 credits, Wednesdays 4:15 - 6:15pm
This course will examine the constraints and possibilities that confront the American labor movement. We will examine contemporary events, including the stunning setbacks of organized labor and workers generally over the past four decades, the changing demographic composition of the workforce and of unions, and the ways that the unions have tried to cope with these developments. We will try to understand these developments, as well as the possibilities for the future, by locating them in the context of the bigger intellectual frameworks suggested by theoretical studies of power, of globalization, and the role of labor in the distinctive political development of the United States. Finally we will try to bring this background to bear in examining the current moment and the possibilities for transformation it suggests.
Basic Concepts and Theories in Comparative Politics II, Professor Boudreau, PSC 77904 , 3 credits, Mondays 11:45am – 1:45pm
This new course is designed to build on discussions developed in the Theories and Concepts of Comparative Politics class. We begin with several sessions devoted to prominent methodologies in the field of comparative politics. Next, the course examines in close detail four key fields in comparative politics. (In the Spring 2012 semester, these topics will include the study of the state, contentious politics and social movements, and political economy). In each subject area, we examine the interaction between methodologies and arguments, paying particular attention to the relationship between methodological choice and theoretical conclusion. This course is designed to be particularly helpful to students on the cusp of developing their own research approaches.
Comparative Political Economy, Professor Bowman, PSC 77902 , 3 credits, Tuesdays 4:15 - 6:15pm
This course focuses on the way in which the economic and political institutions of advanced industrial economies vary and the way in which these institutions affect economic performance. In particular, we will look at labor market institutions, such as unions and employer organizations; party and electoral institutions; welfare states; and corporate finance and governance. How do they differ? How can we explain those differences? and How do those differences matter in terms of inflation, unemployment, and, especially, equality? We will also investigate the role of ideas and interests in the politics of economic policy. Along the way, we will engage the literatures on corporatism, "varieties of capitalism," political business cycles, comparative welfare states, and institutional change.
Comparative Political Orders, Professor Woodward, PSC 87800 , 4 credits, Wednesdays 6:30-8:30pm, Room TBD
The literature on the state has seen a resurgence recently in at least six ways: a revival of interest in empire as an alternative (and more successful) form of political order; ongoing and intensified criticism by Africans of the literature by non-Africans on the African state which does not recognize alternative forms of political order on the continent; massive transformations going on in the design and substance of the state in "transition" countries such as in eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union (but not only); anthropologists entering the political-science fray with very different approaches to the concept of the state; the juggernaut of discussion provoked by James Scott's newest anarchist attack on the state (The Art of Not Being Governed) which complements his other work; and a huge policy and practitioner enterprise of what they (the World Bank, the OECD Development Assistance Committee, development agencies such as in the UK and US) call "state-building" with models to import and even impose based on their analysis that the problems of both development and violent conflict are a result of failed or fragile states.
What can we as comparativists both learn from and contribute to this new literature and set of concerns, critiques, and policies about the nature of political order, primarily but not only in the contemporary world? Although the primary focus will be on transitions in and transformation of the state, we will necessarily consider non-state forms of political order as well.
This is a research seminar so part of the semester will focus on comparative research design questions, such as case selection, critical junctures, and counterfactual analysis. Students will choose a research topic entirely of their own interest and write a research paper.
International Politics of Asia, Professor Sun, PSC 87302 , 4 credits, Wednesdays 2 - 4pm
Are the core-features of the Asian states’ international relations driven by rationalist approaches, as neo-realism and neo-liberal institutionalism would entail? Or are they defined by socially constructed values and identities, as the constructivists would claim? Where does the resurgence of China and to a lesser degree, India, as major global powers fit in this juxtaposition? While realism and neo-classical realism continue to dominate, postpositivist perspectives, especially constructivism, have posed interesting challenges.
How useful is the (Western) theoretical literature on international relations, in any event, for the analysis of international relations in a (or just another?) regional context? In what ways can the study of the latter’s international relations, in turn, add to the larger theoretical literature? Are there distinctive characteristics in the region’s international relations, or are they fundamentally similar to those found in Western perspectives? This course will apply the major theoretical IR literature to investigating the major issues in Asian powers’ interactions with the outside world and with one another. We combine a brief set of relevant theoretical readings with readings on the regional and empirical elements. Requirement includes a research paper on a topic of your interest, or alternatively, several brief book reviews.
International Security, Professor Liberman, PSC 76210 , 3 credits, Tuesdays 11:45am - 1:45pm
This course surveys contemporary political science research on international peace and conflict. Topics examined include the sources of peace and war, grand strategies, military doctrines, arms races, military alliances, and institutions designed to control arms and conflict. The effectiveness of many of these tools, as well as of military coercion strategies, in achieving political objectives will also be considered. We will study diverse theoretical and methodological approaches, and wide-ranging case studies and data, including great powers and weak ones, wealthy and poor, North and South, recent and historical. For the most part the focus is on states, but we will also examine insurgencies and terrorism insofar as these has international reach, and can be illuminated with approaches developed within the international security field. The goal is to provide students with a map of the field of security studies, and analytical tools for research and for critically analyzing security policy debates.
Human Rights & Critical Theory, Professor Stanton, PSC 86002 , (Crosslisted with FREN 87100 & WSCP 81000) 4 credits, Tuesdays 4:15 - 6:15pm
This course on the history and theory of the novel will begin with a set of readings (Scholes, Bakhtin, Brooks, Genette, Barthes, Sedgwick) on aspects of narrative and narratology. We will then read closely six novels beginning with La Princesse de Clèves and Les liaisons dangereuses, followed by Ourika and Madame Bovary, and ending with Du côté de chez Swann and Djebar's Ombre sultane. Our discussions will be informed by critical readings for each text.
Goals of this course include: gaining an understanding of the sweep of the French novel, reading novels intensively for their narratological, thematic and ideological/political and gender scripts, writing analytical papers on literary texts, doing literary research, reading critical theory critically, and improving spoken and written literary/critical French.
Work for the course, over and above class preparation and participation, involves two short papers 5-7 pp), a final paper (topic developed in consultation with the instructor) and a final exam.
The course will be conducted in French; written work will be in French for students in French; students from other departments may write their papers in English.
For further information, please contact Domna Stanton (email@example.com).
International Political Economy, Professor Xia, PSC 76300 , 3 credits, Tuesdays 6:30 - 8:30pm
International Political Economy is defined as “a collection of orientations, perspectives, theories, and methods addressed to understanding the relations between diverse political and economic phenomena at the global level”. In this course, due to the ongoing global financial crises broke out in 2008, a case study approach will be applied to understand normative theories (e.g., liberalism, mercantilism, Marxism, and constructivism), research approaches (global vs. domestic-level, statist vs. societal explanations), and thematic issues (production, trade, finance and financial crisis, development, and globalization) in global political economy.
Horizontal Democracy: Political Theory in the 21st Century, Professor Buck-Morss, PSC 80303 , 4 credits, Wednesdays 2:00-4:00, Room TBD
In light of the continuing global protests against nation-state politics as it interacts with global economies (Miyazaki and Riles), we will read recent texts (including brand new publications) around questions of democracy in the 21st century. What is the post-colonial future of democracy (Chatterjee, Ong, Mbembe) after the collapse of the so-called "free" market (Harvey) and the "end of liberal democracy" (Brown)? What are the possibilities, specifically, of "horizontal democracy" (Holloway, Sitrin)? What is the relevance of theories of ideology (Zizek), community (Nancy), the commons (Hardt), the class struggle (Negri), the "part of no part" (Rancière), and the "communist idea" (Badiou)? We will consider national populism from the left and right (Laclau and Skocpol), as well as global "open-source" populism (Lowndes and Warren). We will consider democracy in terms of cosmopolitanism (Gilroy), internet and urban networks (Latham and Sassen), feminisms (Eisenstein), and shared visual and commodity culture. Finally, we will consider the BRICS geopolitical realignment as a democratization of the distribution of global power (Camaroff, Guardiola-Rivera).
Philosophical Foundations of Democracy: At Hone and Abroad, Professor Gould, PSC 80304 [TBD] (Crosslisted with PHIL 78500), 4 Credits, Tuesdays 4:15 - 6:15pm
While democracy is perhaps the most valorized political norm, it is surprisingly difficult to give a convincing philosophical account of the source of its value. In this seminar, we will critically analyze alternative—and sometimes conflicting—philosophical approaches to the justification of democracy with a view to determining their viability. We will consider approaches that see democracy as required by the equal consideration of interests in collective decisions marked by conflicting opinions (Christiano); epistemic approaches in which democracy is thought to produce the most “correct” results (Estlund); deliberative perspectives emphasizing “the force of the better argument” (e.g., Habermas, Cohen, Bohman); “common activity” approaches (Arendt, Gould); and recent pragmatist (Talisse) and agonistic (Mouffe) theories. We will tackle some of the paradoxes, circularities, and regresses that confront democratic theory, e.g., the paradox of voting (Arrow) and “the constitutional circle” (whether processes of adopting constitutional protections of rights must themselves abide by rights), along with the conundrums posed by nondemocratic judicial review of democratic decisions. The course will go on to focus on the criteria for determining the proper scope of democracy, e.g. whether it extends only to citizens within a nation state or also transnationally or even globally (Archibugi). Is democracy itself a human right that should extend across all cultures, and could forms of transnational democracy be adopted that are sensitive to diverse culture perspectives? Should democracy extend also to institutions “beneath” the political, that is, should it be limited to governments or does it apply to other institutions as well, e.g., to firms in the form of workplace democracy, or other types of economic democracy? What, moreover, is the relation of political democracy to smaller-scale interpersonal and social contexts, even including the family, and to the various dispositions of care and empathy that may be developed there but which potentially have political applications? Gender concerns also arise concerning issues of inclusion and the representation of the perspectives of women in democratic politics (Phillips, Mansbridge). Finally, we will consider some new proposals for enhancing inclusiveness and participation via online democratic deliberations, which could facilitate increased accountability by global governance institutions and might support the anticipated extensions of democracy in regional and global directions in the coming period.
Seminar members will be encouraged to relate the course materials to their ongoing research projects through oral presentations and analytical term papers, and will be expected to be active participants in the seminar discussions.
For more information, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Modern Social Theory, Professor Mehta, PSC 71901 , 3 credits, Tuesdays 2:00 - 4:00pm
This seminar will consider the following broad questions with respect to Tocqueville, Marx, Durkheim and Weber:
1) What makes society cohere as a unit of subjective, social and political experience?
2) How do societies change, develop, and come apart? Relatedly, how does one understand social change?
3) What is gained and lost in conceiving of societies in terms of the material interests of its members or groups of members, as distinct from viewing them in terms of the values and beliefs of its members?
4) What is the relationship between social and political institutions and the cohesion of societies? What, for instance, makes societies prone to revolutionary transformation?
5) What is the role of ideas in development and transformation of societies?
6) What is the standing of “traditions” in societies that are wedded to the idea of individual freedom?
Contemporary Political Theory: Biopolitics, Professor Petchesky, PSC 80302 , 4 credits, Thursdays 4:15 - 6:15pm
This course will be an in-depth inquiry into the work of Michel Foucault, particularly Foucault’s concepts of biopower, biopolitics, and governmentality, with readings drawn from The Foucault Reader, The History of Sexuality Vol. I, and the Collège de France lectures of 1975-78. Building on this base, we will explore a number of contemporary European, feminist, post-colonial and queer theorists who have built upon or critiqued Foucault’s conceptual framework—including Giorgio Agamben, Judith Butler, Wendy Brown, Melinda Cooper, Eugene Thacker, Patricia Ticineto Clough and Craig Willse, Achille Mbembe, Ratna Kapur, Nadera Shalhoub Kevorkian, Eithne Luibhéid, and Jasbir Puar. Through these quite varied lenses, we will attempt to unpack the meanings and recent applications of “biopolitics” as a theoretical approach to understanding states, governance, and geopolitics in the late 20th/early 21st century world. This inquiry in turn will take us into the nether-regions of some fairly controversial current issues, for example, biometric surveillance, torture, state and non-state bio-terrorism, policies regarding sex workers and sexual minorities (particularly immigration policies), population policies and genetic engineering. In all of this, we will be concerned with how gender, race and sexuality intersect with global capitalism, militarism and colonial occupation in both theories and political practices. Students will be required to make two oral presentations on assigned readings during the semester, pass a mid-term take-home exam, and write a final paper.
Terror and Terrorism, Professor Wolin, PSC 71902  (Crosslisted with ASCP 81500 & HIS 72100), 3 credits, Mondays 4:15 - 6:15pm
In February 1794, Maximilien Robespierre articulated the modern conception of terror – a fateful sacralization of political violence – when he proclaimed that, “Terror is nothing other than justice, prompt, severe, inflexible; it is therefore an emanation of virtue, the general principle of democracy applied to our country's most urgent needs.” Robespierre’s legacy came to fruition with the Bolshevik Revolution and with a series of subsequent political regimes (China, Korea, Cambodia) that emulated the Jacobin-Bolshevik model. “Terrorism,” conversely, which derives from nineteenth-century Russian populism and European anarchism, inverts the state terrorist model by advocating redemptive political violence from below. Its most recent and vociferous representatives have been: the Baader-Meinhof Group, Italy’s Red Brigades, the Irish Republican Army, and al-Qaeda. “Terror and Terrorism” will approach these topics and themes by studying political manifestos, historical narratives, and cinematic representations of terror (“The Baader-Meinhof Complex,” “The Battle of Algiers,” “Carlos”). We will also examine theoretical discussions of political violence as elaborated in classic texts by Hannah Arendt, Walter Benjamin, and Georges Sorel.
Comparative Public Policy, Professor Altenstetter, PSC 83501 , 4 credits, Tuesdays 4:15 - 6:15pm
This course provides a framework for comparative public policy analysis. How best to engage in it? This question assumes that we treat comparative public policy analysis not only as a methodological issue, but also as a search for appropriate conceptual-analytical frameworks. Moreoever, these frameworks clearly differentiate between the study of policy substance and the study of politics because shifts in policy directions and their outcomes may result from the various game of politics, strategic choices made on public policy, and the impact of institutions on politics and policy processes. Yet, these shifts may also stem from changes in policy mandates and the selected policy tools. What drives policy design and choice of policy instruments? What shapes policy processes, and where do the ideas for policy design and tools come from? Comparative policy analysis needs to be seen within the context of shifting boundaries of authority and power for deciding on public policy, including policy tools. Thus, considerable attention will be paid to comparisons across nations drawing on several bodies of literature: comparative public policy, regulation and regulatory governance, policy networks, standard-setting bodies, and others.
The increasing importance of regulatory governance as a dominant form of contemporary multi-level policy-making – international, transnational, national and subnational – raises new challenges for applied comparative policy research. While the nation-state remains the key arena for policymaking, enforcement and implementation, increasingly international and/or transnational forums emerge as important forums for crafting responses to new policy challenges.
Introduction to the Policy Process, Professor Gornick, PSC 73101 , 3 credits, Wednesdays 4:15 - 6:15pm
This course will provide an introduction to theories of the policy-making process, with a focus on the United States. The first section of the course will offer an overview of major theories, concepts, and models of public policy-making. The second section will focus on the impact of social movements on the policy process; the “Occupy” movement will provide a contemporary case study. The third section of the course will address problem definition and agenda-setting, and will situate policy-making in the political landscape. The final section of the course will assess the implementation process, with a focus on “street-level bureaucracy”.
Readings will include works by leaders in the field, including David Rochefort and Roger Cobb, Paul Sabatier, Deborah Stone, Anne Schneider and Helen Ingram, Frank Baumgartner and Bryan Jones, John Kingdon, Jeffrey Pressman and Aaron Wildavsky, and Michael Lipsky.
The requirements include a set of written summaries of class readings; supervision of one class session, and two exams.
Public Organizations, Professors Marwell, PSC 73100  (Crosslisted with SOC 74500), 3 credits, Thursdays 11:45am - 1:45pm
A critical examination of organization theory, blending classical and contemporary perspectives, with a focus on the application of theoretical principles to public organizations. Organizational studies is a vast, interdisciplinary field encompassing micro- and macro-level research in cognitive psychology, social psychology, anthropology, sociology, political science, public administration, history, and economics. This course focuses on concepts applicable to the study of individual organizations, populations of organizations, inter-organizational relations, and the structure of organizational systems. It will cover key works by major theorists in these areas; the historical development of this field of inquiry in the U.S.; relations among public, private, and hybrid organizations; and issues of research design and methodology.
General and Crossfield
Qualitative Research Methods, Professor Altenstetter, PSC 85501 , 4 credits, Mondays 6:30 - 8:30pm Room TBD
Theory, data and methods are the foundation of scientific work.
The focus of the seminar is on how to move from theory to data and methods and back to theory. What is distinctive about qualitative research? What distinguishes a qualitative research strategy from a quantitative research strategy? What are the implications of choosing a qualitative research strategy for methods, techniques, data and interpretation? While we will review the state-of-the-art literature on qualitative research, the primary focus of the course is doing qualitative research. Appreciating the strengths and weaknesses of qualitative research methods is gained through applying them to your research questions and seldom through reading about them.
The course will begin with a discussion of how to write a literature review and then move on to a discussion of why it is important to be clear about the ontology and epistemiology involved in your qualitative research. Subsequently, the course covers concepts such as concept formation and misformation, scientific standards of qualitative and quantitative research, case study research and research design, process tracing, structured and focused comparisons of cases, historical-comparative analysis, path dependency, interview and field research. Please note: this course does not duplicate the dissertation workshop and the course on research design.
During the semester each participant will work on seven specific research assignments directly related to plans for a dissertation or a master thesis. The learning potential is enhanced if the assignments are done after you complete the reading for each session. There should not be any problem completing the paper on time. The assignments, all of them, are meant to help you make the intellectual transition from the readings to your work. While the assignments are stand-alone exercises, the core idea of each assignment should eventually be integrated into the final paper which must meet the standards of the research design and data collection section of the dissertation proposal. The paper should be handed in on or before May 21, 2012. Late papers will be accepted only in an emergency. Please talk to me and clarify your research project early in the semester.
Don’t be discouraged. The assignments, all of them, have been designed – or chosen from relevant books –to help you take the intellectual transition from the readings to your own work. The more you “exercise”, the better shape you will be in at the end of the course, and you will find that you have moved forward toward the completion of your goal: your final paper, i.e. the methods section of your dissertation or thesis. The paper should have between 20 and 25 pages excluding tables, figures, diagrams, survey questions, if any, etc., including meeting conventional academic standards for referencing.
Teaching Strategies: Political Science, Professor Rollins, PDEV 79401 , 0 credits, Mondays 2:00 - 4:00pm Room TBD
This course serves as a training workshop for students interested in teaching political science. We will consider such issues as syllabus development, effective learning goals and assessment strategies, lecture preparation, and grading practices. In addition to our pedagogical inquiries, students will be introduced to their colleagues who are already teaching on the campuses, as well as to the Chairs of the departments where they will be teaching in subsequent years.
Forms of Life Writing, Professor O'Brien, PSC 71902 , 3 credits, Mondays 2:00-4:00pm, Room TBD
This seminar explores different manifestations of storytelling as political performance, especially narrative, law, and contemporary political theory, with a particular eye to what is happening in the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) now. Life writing is often done in "real" time, such as during this type of protest movement. It is a political theory course and counts as the political theory requirement in the Political Science Bulletin of 2011.
The main form of life writing that this seminar considers is storytelling, which uses fiction to reveal how laws and the public policies behind them -- such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990 and the Civil Rights Act (CRA) of 1964 -- have been interpreted by the judiciary, and how its interpretation of these laws affects people's daily lives.
Reading about someone's experience in narrative form gives us a different vantage point than a social-science monograph or data and statistics can provide. It underscores not only the magnitude and significance of topics studied by feminists (like patriarchy or sex discrimination) on an individual scale, but also the context and subtleties associated with these issues on a societal scale. It's local, regional, and global all at once.
Narrative methodology does not make claims about universal truths or assert that there is only one way of "knowing about the world." It accepts the subjectivity of the writer and the reader. Narratives fulfill what feminist legal scholar Kathryn Abrams calls an "experiential epistemology."
This seminar studies the different genres of storytelling and also acts as a workshop for each student's artistic and activist expression (political performance), in terms of commentary (law), narrative, or both. It focuses on life writing of populations that are vulnerable because of class, gender, sexuality, disability, or ethnic identities.
Dissertation Proposal Workshop, Professor Woodward, PSC 89100 , 0 credits, Mondays 6:30 - 8:30pm Room TBD