PSC = Political Science SOC = Sociology HIS = History
IDS = Interdisciplinary PHIL = Philosophy ECON = Economics
Fall 2016 Course Descriptions
American Politics :: Comparative Politics
International Relations :: Political Theory :: Public Policy
General, Crossfield, & Related Courses
A note about the abbreviations in the parentheses: The first designation, especially for 700-level courses, indicates that this class will assist you in preparing for the first exam in that subfield. The second designation indicates that the class may be used to fill distribution requirements in another subfield. The (M) designation indicates that this class satisfies the methods requirement.
O’Brien – Intro to American Politics (AP)
PSC 72000 – 3 credits (CRN # 32186)
Monday 11:45am – 1:45pm
This seminar reviews and surveys the secondary scholarly literature about the American political system. First, it presents a number of competing conceptual frameworks, such as new institutionalism, rational choice, cultural analysis, and feminism, to gain an understanding of the debates with the subfield of American politics. Second, the historical foundations of American politics and the roots of American culture will be reviewed. Third, the seminar examines the development of American political parties and interest group as vehicles for political reform and social change. Also, how public opinion affects the political process will be discussed. Fourth, it studies the historical development of federal institutions -- Congress, the presidency, the judiciary, and the bureaucracy -- and how they govern. Finally, the seminar explores how different vehicles for political reform have contributed to the development of specific public policy areas, like labor policy, which, in turn, have helped construct the American state.
Lipsitz – Campaign and Elections (AP/WP)
PSC 72000 – 3 credits (CRN# 32192)
Tuesday 2:00pm – 4:00pm
What explains the rise of Trump and Sanders in 2016? Does money really matter in campaigns? Does anyone pay attention to political advertising? Have parties become totally irrelevant in elections? Are polls ever right? And doesn’t it all just boil down to, “it’s the economy, stupid”? These are the questions we will address with the 2016 election cycle serving as a backdrop. This course will be of interest not only to students who want to understand central debates in the political behavior and public opinion literatures regarding elections, but to students participating in the Writing Politics specialization. Special attention will be given to critiquing how the media cover campaigns and what journalists can do differently. Students will also be introduced to data sources and organizations providing data analysis to journalists writing about elections. Representatives from some of these organizations and journalists covering the election will be guest speakers.
Halper – Civil Liberties (AP)
PSC 72300 – 3 credits (CRN# 32196)
Tuesday 6:30pm – 8:30pm
The course is largely an examination of two civil liberties issues, free expression and privacy, in the context of judicial decisions, and may be viewed as an exercise in applied political theory. Repeatedly, we will be asked to consider choosing among competing goods and to weigh the role of courts in a democracy.
Schwedler – Middle East and North Africa (CP)
PSC 87620 – 4 credits (CRN# 32191)
Tuesday 2:00pm – 4:00pm
This course is designed to introduce graduate students to the key debates in the comparative study of Middle East politics. No prior knowledge of the region is required, but would be helpful. The readings are organized thematically rather than geographically, covering major issues in comparative politics and many of the key readings in Middle East politics.
Weber – Applied Quantitative Research: Correlation, Comparison, Causality (CP/M)
PSC 89101 – 4 credits (CRN# 32194)
Tuesday 4:15pm – 6:15pm
Studying statistics makes your life more exciting and fulfilling.
Well, what can I say—you have just read past a course title containing the word “quantitative,” so you deserve immediate gratification. But I stand by my claim. Knowing about the powers of quantitative analysis will make you ask questions about politics you might otherwise never have considered. And with a manageable kit of quantitative research tools you can uncover structure in the political world where before there 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 don’t need to be a math whiz to master these (this instructor is living proof).
Over the course of the semester, students will conduct their own quantitative research, present their work in class and produce a final paper. The instructor supports each project and makes sure that it builds on and advances the existing methodological proficiency of the student(s) involved.
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. Or if you are just looking for something new, come along to get inspiration and pick up versatile skills.
George – Basic Theories and Concepts in Comparative Politics (CP)
PSC 77901 - 3 credits (CRN# 32201)
Thursday 6:30pm – 8:30pm
This seminar offers a comprehensive introduction to the heterogeneous subfield of comparative politics. Its goals is to provide students with a substantive understanding of the myriad theoretical approaches engaged by scholars, their strengths and weaknesses, and their various use in particular questions of interest to comparative politics. While the primary emphasis of the class will be in parsing the breadth of theoretical approaches, the nature of the subject matter demands substantive application as well as some inquiry into methodological implications. Thus, the students taking this course will become familiar with key research questions that preoccupy the subfield, as well as the concepts, theories, and approaches that underpin possible answers.
Weiss – The United Nations and Changing World Politics (IR)
PSC 76203 – 3 credits (CRN# 32190)
Tuesday 11:45am – 1:45pm
The object of this course is to situate the United Nations (UN) within the context of international relations theory and contemporary world politics. It is an introduction to the subject, which figures prominently in first exams, second exams, and other programs of study at The Graduate Center. It is geared to students who have not taken their first exams and are without significant professional or analytical exposure to the UN system. The seminar will focus on a number of concrete cases using references to the history, administration, and especially the politics and some international legal dimensions of the UN system in its three main areas of activity: international peace and security; human rights and humanitarian action; and sustainable development. Given its impact in budgetary and political terms, the “high politics” of security receive the most emphasis. Consideration is also given to other actors (non-governmental and regional organizations) that interact with the UN in the processes of “global governance”—another topic that will appear with some regularity. Because of the importance of the United States to multilateralism, American foreign policy toward the world organization figures prominently in discussions, including the roller-coaster ride during the Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations. Finally, we pay attention to the role of ideas within international institutions (that is, constructivism), an important orientation in recent international relations scholarship as well as a particular interest of mine after over a decade of research by the United Nations Intellectual History Project. Every student enrolled or auditing is expected to lead two discussions (perhaps three, depending on enrollment) of the required readings (which requires going beyond them to consult the “suggested” readings); these presentations will constitute about one-third of the final grade. About two-thirds will be constituted by two “First” Exams taken under exam-like conditions on 18 October and 6 December.
Shirkey – Basic Concepts and Theories of International Relations (IR)
PSC 76000 – 3 credits (CRN# 32197)
Wednesday 2:00pm - 4:00pm
The course introduces students to the different theories and concepts that scholars use to understand and explain world politics. It 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 of 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.
Andreopoulos – International Justice: Political & Legal Dimensions (IR)
PSC 86800 – 4 credits (CRN# 32199)
Wednesday 6:30pm – 8:30pm
This course will critically examine one of the most interesting developments in world politics since the end of the cold war: the proliferation of judicial and non-judicial mechanisms created to address impunity, promote accountability and advance the rule of law in conflict and post-conflict societies. The dynamic interplay between international (ad hoc international tribunals, hybrid courts, ICC) and domestic (courts operating under the principle of universal jurisdiction, truth and reconciliation commissions, traditional courts) justice options has shaped actors’ agendas and expectations in the domestic as well as in the international arena. By using the major theoretical approaches in international law and relations, this course will explore issues relating to the creation and design of these mechanisms and to state cooperation, analyze their evolving jurisprudence and assess their role in norm promotion and in shaping outcomes in international affairs.
Cahn – John Dewey & American Society (PT/AP)
PSC 87800 (Cross list with PHIL 77700) - 4 credits (CRN # 32395)
Monday 11:45am – 1:45pm
An exploration of John Dewey's views on democracy, education, ethics, politics, and religion. We shall read THE QUEST FOR CERTAINTY, DEMOCRACY AND EDUCATION, EXPERIENCE AND EDUCATION, THEORY OF VALUATION, FREEDOM AND CULTURE, and A COMMON FAITH.
Mehta – Modern Classics in Political Philosophy (PT)
PSC 80304 – 4 credits (CRN# 32188)
Monday 2:00pm – 4:00pm
This course will be an introduction to the study of modern political philosophy organized around classic texts by Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau and Hegel. The questions that will structure this course will include: What interests, values and anxieties motivate the formation of political society? How might political society be distinguished from other social forms? How do the motivations underlying political society conform to the normative and institutional prescriptions proposed by different philosophers? What are the limits of legitimate political authority, and what are the philosophical justifications for them? What are the justifications underlying the various proposed institutional arrangements? Finally, does the organizing of political life as advanced by these philosophers do violence to other conceptions of human potentiality?
O’Brien – American Political Thought (AP/PT)
PSC 72100 – 3 credits (CRN# 32203)
Monday 4:15pm – 6:15pm
This seminar examines American political thought in historical perspective. It breaks this perspective down into the revolutionary; founding, civil war; populist; 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. Also, 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 and early and mid-19th centuries.
Wolin – The Political Thought of Hannah Arendt (Cross list with HIST 72400) (PT)
CRN # 32171
PSC 72100 – 3 credits
Since her untimely death in 1975, Hannah Arendt’s stature as a political thinker has increased exponentially. In 1950 she authored the first important study of totalitarianism – a work that, today, among scholars remains an indispensable point of reference. In the late 1950s and early 1960s she published, in rapid succession, a series of path breaking works that consolidated her reputation as one of the twentieth-century’s most significant and innovative political philosophers: the Human Condition (1958), On Revolution (1962), and Eichmann in Jerusalem (1963). During the 1920s she studied philosophy with the two titans of German existentialism, Martin Heidegger and Karl Jaspers, and she played an indispensable role in introducing their ideas to the English-speaking world. During her Paris exile, she befriended the literary critic Walter Benjamin and helped to introduce his work to an American public. Arendt also excelled as a letter writer and as a public intellectual, contributing regularly to Partisan Review and the New York Review of Books. She has been the subject of numerous biographical and academic studies. Plays and films have been devoted to her fascinating intellectual itinerary. In Germany there are not one, but two think tanks devoted to her work (Hamburg and Dresden). And during the 1990s, also in the country of her birth, she received the ultimate accolade: a high-speed train was named in her honor.
- As a thinker Arendt never shied away from taking risks – “thinking without bannisters,” she called it. Aspects of her work have proved controversial: above all, her employment of the epithet, “the banality of evil,” to describe Adolf Eichmann’s role in the Final Solution.
- In our course, we will focus primarily on Arendt’s contributions as a political thinker, in major works such as Origins of Totalitarianism, The Human Condition, and On Revolution. But we will also consider her status and role as a flashpoint for some of the major intellectual controversies and debates of her time – and ours.
Currah – Bio Politics (PT)
PSC 80302 – 4 credits (CRN # 32193)
Tuesday 2:00pm – 4:00pm
If sovereign power is the power to “take life or let live,” biopower is “the power to foster life or disallow it to the point of death.” In this course we will spend the first few weeks closely examining Foucault’s writings and lectures on the concept of bio politics, which operates through both the bio political regulation of populations and the disciplinary institutions and discourses brought to bear on individuals. After becoming familiar with the historical and theoretical scaffolding Foucault provides, we will consider reappraisals and re-deployments of biopolitics in light of new techniques for disassembling the individual and convening populations. Centering feminist, anti-racist, queer, post-colonial perspectives, readings may cover: population racism; the commodification of reproduction on a global scale; new forms of neoliberal governance; precarity and slow death, bio-citizenship; bio-medicalization; gender, nationalism, and the policing of bodies and borders; the securitization of risk; the carceral state; and necropolitics and the refigured relation between death and politics. Students will be encouraged to apply the theoretical and empirical work on biopower to their own research interests.
Gould – Borders, Boundaries and the Ethics of Immigration (PT)
PSC 87800 - (Cross list with PHIL 77600) – 4 credits, CRN 32400
This seminar will address the hard theoretical questions that arise from the pervasive distinction between citizens and aliens, especially with regard to the exclusion of immigrants from liberal democratic states and the subsequent treatment of the undocumented within them. We will begin by investigating the notions of external borders and internal boundaries between groups from the standpoint of social ontology. We will then take up the much-debated normative questions concerning the rights of states to exclude and the rights of people to migrate, whether as political, religious, or climate refugees, or due to poverty, unemployment, or other immiserating conditions. Here, core concepts of political theory and the alternative justifications for them require investigation: self-determination (as collective or national), legitimacy, citizenship, rights to freedom of movement, and economic and social human rights. The implications of justice—both domestic and cosmopolitan—will be considered, along with remedial responsibilities of powerful states arising from historical injustice and from the structural inequalities within the contemporary political economy. Throughout, our discussion will bring feminist theory to bear in regard to the differential impacts of migration and immigration restriction on women and children.
Wilson - Political Philosophy: Smith, Rousseau and Kant (PT)
PSC 80203 – 4 credits (Cross list with PHIL 76200) – CRN 32402
Tuesday 6:30pm – 8:30pm
This course will focus on the moral and political philosophy of these three 18th century philosophers and their contemporaries. Topics to be addressed include the roles of convention and sentiment in moral philosophy and the Kantian reaction against this development, philosophical attitudes to war and conquest, 'stadial' theories of history, theories of progress, and the role of women. Readings will include portions of Adam Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments and Wealth of Nations; Rousseau's Discourse on the Origins of Inequality; and portions of Kant's Anthropology and his political essays, along with selections from Buffon, Diderot, Condorcet, and Fourier.
Marasco – Contemporary Political Theory (PT)
PSC 71901 – 3 credits (CRN# 32564)
Thursday 11:45am – 1:45pm
This course provides a rigorous introduction to major works of political theory in the twentieth century. Our seminar will proceed as close readings of whole books and essays, on the assumption that political theory is best digested in non-excerpted form and that a different group of interpretive muscles are flexed when we linger on a work in its (exhaustive and exhausting) entirety. Readings will include works by Carl Schmitt, Leo Strauss, Hannah Arendt, CLR James, Theodor Adorno, Louis Althusser, Gilles Deleuze & Felix Guattari, John Rawls, Catherine MacKinnon, and Jacques Ranciere. This seminar is designed primarily for Political Science graduate students preparing a concentration in political theory, but it is also open to students in Philosophy, Anthropology, Sociology, Women’s Studies, and related fields. This seminar will be especially useful for students preparing for their comprehensive exams in political theory.
By the end of the semester, you should expect to:
- Distinguish among various approaches to contemporary political theory and the traditions upon which they build.
- Develop reading & writing skills and, especially, the capacity to build compelling, arguments on major thinkers and topics in contemporary political theory.
* acquire the foundations for preparation of the contemporary political theory portion of your comprehensive exam in political theory.
DiGaetano – Urban Politics (PP/AP)
PSC 72500 – 3 credits (CRN# 32189)
Monday 6:30pm – 8:30pm
This course is designed to introduce students to the study of urban politics and prepare them for the first exam. The method employed is to undertake a close examination of classic and contemporary readings and journal articles on urban politics in classroom discussions and then write short analytical essays on selected topics. The content of the course is organized around fundamental questions in political science as they are applied to the study of urban politics. The first part of the course examines the question of political development, with a review of some of the work that situates urban political analysis in historical perspective. Next the focus turns to the question of urban governance, considering political cultural and regime theory approaches to the politics of agenda building and the formation of urban governing coalitions. The third section investigates the role of leadership in urban politics with a particular focus on big city mayors. The fourth part considers the ways in which race and ethnicity have shaped the contours of urban political alliances and conflict. The fifth portion looks at questions of political participation, including the effects of local elections and community-based political mobilization on urban political decision making. The final segment of the course analyzes urban politics in the Global Era by evaluating the impact of globalization and neoliberalism on the way cities are governed.
Gornick – Social Welfare Policy (PP/AP)
PSC 72500 – (Cross list with SOC 85902) 3 credits (CRN# 32198)
Wednesday 4:15pm - 6:15pm
This course will examine social welfare policy in the United States, in both historical and cross-national perspective. We will begin with an overview of the development of social welfare policy in the U.S. We will focus on crucial historical periods – including the Civil War years, the Progressive Era, the New Deal, the Great Society, and the “welfare reform” of the 1990s and early 2000s. Second, we will assess “the big picture” of the American welfare state, through the lens of its underlying institutional framework. Third, we will analyze contemporary challenges in the U.S. that call for active policy responses, such as inequality, health insurance, low-wage work, and care. Finally, we will survey selected social policy lessons from other high-income countries, especially in Europe, where social provisions are typically more extensive than they are in the U.S.
Krinsky – Public Policy Analysis (PP/M)
PSC 73100 – 3 credits (CRN# 32200)
Thursday 2:00pm – 4:00pm
This course covers the key theoretical approaches to the study of public policy, with a focus on US policy-making. It introduces key perspectives on the policy process, policy networks, and policy-making institutions, as well as the political implications of these perspectives. The course's readings focus on social and urban policy making, but students are encouraged to write about policy areas beyond these, as well. Readings will include foundational texts, responses to them, and actual policy writing and analysis.
General and Crossfield
Beinart – Writing Politics (G)
PSC 79002 – 3 credits (CRN# 32187)
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.
Brown – M.A. Core Course (G)
PSC 71000 – 3 credits (CRN # 32195)
Tuesday 6:30pm – 8:30pm
This course will introduce students to and provide an overview of major perspectives, problems, and approaches in political science. The seminar proceeds through the various subfields of the political science discipline, engaging key texts and debates in these modes of analysis. An important theme throughout the course is how money, influence, and power inform political questions and political science inquiry.