PSC = Political Science SOC = Sociology HIS = History
IDS = Interdisciplinary PHIL = Philosophy ECON = Economics
Fall 2013 Course Descriptions
American Politics :: Comparative Politics
International Relations :: Political Theory :: Public Policy
General, Crossfield, & Related Courses
Movements, Interest Groups and Elections in American Politics, Professor Fox Piven, PSC 82001 (cross-listed with SOC 84600 & WSCP 81000), Thursdays 4:15-6:15pm
This course will attempt to put it all together, to analyze how social movements, powerful interest groups, and the parties, campaigns and voters which are supposed to be the mainstay of democracy, interact and combine to shape public policy and ultimately American society. To try to gain traction on these big dynamics, we will first consider the paradigms that guide the study of movements, interest group politics and elections, each considered separately. Then we will select a number of turning points in American political development in which the distinct forces mobilized in movements, interest groups, and elections were activated to gain state power and determine policy outcomes. I want especially to consider the interaction, of movements and elections, of elections and moneyed interests, for example. Citizens United and the Tea Party are new, but the dynamics they generate when they conflict or combine are not.
American Politics, Professor Jones, PSC 72000. 3 credits, Tuesdays 2-4pm
This course is designed to introduce students to the key approaches, authors, and arguments in the broad field of American politics. The structure of the course follows the tradition of dividing the field into two main overarching subfields: political behavior and political institutions. The political behavior section of the course will cover topics such as public opinion, political participation, parties, voting and elections, and interest groups. The political institutions section of the course will cover topics such as Congress, the presidency, the bureaucracy, and the courts. Course readings draw heavily from the program’s reading list for the First Exam in American politics, with an emphasis on seminal, widely cited, theoretical works in each area.
Globalization and its Critics, Professor Markovitz, PSC 87800 (cross-listed with WSCP 81000), 4 credits, Mondays 4:15-6:15pm
Did “globalization” cause the Arab Spring? Are the internet, texting, Facebook and Google the major new forces for democracy in the developing world? Were the credit default swaps, sub-prime mortgages, and derivatives based on the new institutions of global capitalism, responsible for the near descent into depression of 2008?
First-wave writers about globalization offered a bewildering array of answers to questions such as: What is “Globalization?” Who benefits? Are there “victims?” Can it be stopped? A second wave of intellectuals has gone beyond these questions to better understand the enduring structures, institutions and processes of a new global era. Spurred in part by the deepest global downturn since the “great depression,” a new set of scholars now asks with renewed fervor if the processes of globalization are reversible, if we are in a phase of “de-globalization,” and if we are in a terrifyingly intensified period of growing inequaltiy.
This seminar will inquire into whether globalization is simply another name for historical trends of long duration, interdependence, internationalization, imperialism, neo or post-imperialism, or something qualitatively new. Does globalization advance “real” democracy, or “lite” democracy, which like “lite beer” looks and smells like beer but has no body and is a shadow of the real thing? Is it true that globalization means that the conditions of life of most people in the world will worsen, not improve in our lifetimes? Why is it that “democratization” does not necessarily mean less inequality? What has happened to the promise of “civil society”? What are the paradoxes of Neo-Liberalism? We will examine studies that see globalization as the construction of diverse forms of network power; as new institutions of democratization that come from “the globalization of accountability”; and as a new form of capitalism that has produced more goods and services than any previous economic system of production and yet has great difficulties overcoming crisis of financial instability and of equitable distribution.
I. Research Topics
Each seminar participant will select a research topic, and write a 20-30 page paper. The topic can be treated comparatively by country or through time within the setting of a single country. Preparation for research will involve:
a. the definition of the problem
b. the selection of one or more central hypotheses
c. a justification of the problem and hypotheses by their relation to a wider body of theory
d. the specification of the system of analysis
e. the organization and gathering of data
f. the writing-up and presentation of conclusions
Basic Theories & Concepts of Comparative Politics Part I, Professor Woodward, PSC 77901, 3 credits, Tuesdays 4:15-6:15pm
Students are strongly encouraged to take this course the first semester in their graduate program, if at all 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 will be on concept formation, theoretical approaches, theory formulation, and competing theories, not on theory testing or verification.
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, but the foundation comes first.
Requirements including reading the assigned material prior to each class meeting, participation in class discussion, three brief written essays summarizing and analyzing the readings on one substantive topic, and a final examination.
Basic Theories & Concepts of Comparative Politics Part II, Professor Boudreau, PSC 77902, 3 credits, Wednesdays 4:15-6:15pm
Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs, Professor Andreopoulos, PSC 86800, 4 credits, Wednesdays 6;30-8:30pm (Cross Listed with WSCP 81000)
This course will focus on key concepts in human rights and humanitarianism, and examine their analytical value in the context of varying approaches towards the promotion and protection of internationally recognized human rights and humanitarian norms. In particular, the course will examine these concepts in light of (a) the recent debates in international relations theory on the role of ideas and norms, and the intersections between international relations and international law research agendas; and (b) the growing convergence between international human rights law and international humanitarian law. It will assess the impact of normative considerations, as well as the role of the relevant state and non-state actors on a whole set of critical issue areas including discrimination, accountability, human protection, political membership, human development, and legal empowerment. The course will conclude with a critical discussion of recent UN initiatives in these issue areas.
International Security Research Seminar, Professor Liberman, PSC 86801, 4 credits, Wednesdays 4:15-6:15pm
This course examines contemporary theory-testing research in security studies. Topics examined include the sources of peace and war, coercion, strategy, arms races, alliances, international institutions designed to control arms and conflict. 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 works studied represent diverse theoretical approaches, including systemic, domestic politics, and political psychology, and diverse methodologies. A research paper is required, but the course also will provide a helpful overview of the international security subfield.
Basic Theories & Concepts of International Relations, Professor Waxman, PSC 76000, 3 credits, Tuesdays 6:30-8:30pm
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, however, 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.
United Nations and Changing World Politics, Professor Weiss, PSC 76200, 3 credits, Tuesdays 2:00-4:00pm
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 at least 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 22 October and 10 December.
Critical Reason: The Basics, Professor Buck-Morss, PSC 71902, 3 credits, Wednesdays 2:00-4:00pm
This course deals with basic concepts and problems of western Critical Theory. The readings will be limited to three key authors: Kant, Hegel and Adorno. The required texts are:
Immanuel Kant, The Critique of Pure Reason (Cambridge U Press)
Theodor W. Adorno, Kant's Critique of Pure Reason (Stanford U Press)
G.W.F. Hegel, The Phenomenology of Sprit (Oxford U Press)
Theodor W. Adorno, Lectures on Negative Dialectics (Stanford U Press)
Philosophy will be considered from the perspective of the political. Concepts include: critical reason, transcendental claims, phenomenology, dialectics, non-identity, materialist metaphysics, history, causality, and freedom. We will tackle difficult texts with the goal of developing critical capacities in order to analyze political, social and economic life. The challenge will be to make the concepts of the readings critically meaningful as you think about politics and theory today.
Requirements: sustained, active seminar participation, one short midterm paper, and final paper (or exam option).
Political Philosophy, Professor Cahn, PSC 71903 (cross-listed with PHIL 77600), 3 credits, Mondays 11:45-1:45pm
Ancient & Medieval Political Theory, Professor Fontana, PSC 70100, 3 credits, Thursdays 2:00-4:00pm
The course focusses on basic texts of selected political thinkers, from the ancient Greeks to the Renaissance, namely, Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Augustine, Aquinas, and Machiavelli. In the process central political ideas (for example, liberty, equality, law, justice, community, property, meaning and change in history) are examined and related to the writers’ political and theoretical projects. In addition, it considers the relation between the nature of rule and the forms of rule (types of government or regimes): monarchy, aristocracy, democracy, tyranny, despotism, oligarchy, dictatorship, constitutionalism, republicanism, and the master/slave (domination/subordination) relation.
20th Century Political Thought, Professor Jacobs, PSC 70300, 3 credits, Wednesdays 6:30-8:30pm
This course is intended to introduce some of the key figures contributing to political theory during the last century, and to assess the relevance of their work for our own day. The development of Marxist, psychoanalytic, and of liberal ideas -- and the ways in which these streams of thought interacted and responded to one another -- will be particularly accented. We will engage in sustained debates as to the meanings of power, human nature, the obligations owed by humans to society (and by society to humans) and will also explore the extent to which the work of relevant thinkers can be clarified by discussion of the contexts in which these writers lived. Readings are likely to include pieces by Freud, Weber, Lenin, Lukacs, Horkheimer, Adorno, Marcuse, Habermas, Arendt, Strauss, Fanon, Foucault, Rawls, Nozick, and Sandel. The course will be of interest, and accessible, not only to those who are planning to take a comprehensive exam in Political Theory, but also to those in any number of other programs.
Democratic Theory, Professor Wallach, PSC 80402, 4 credits, Mondays 6:30-8:30pm
This seminar offers an intense study of “democracy” as a form of political life in historical and contemporary Western political theory. Insofar as “democracy” has become ubiquitous as a term of political art, pinpointing what it does and does not, can and cannot mean, is a difficult and perplexing task. After all, “democracy” originally referred to “rule” (kratos) by “the people” (demos), but Athenian democracy was severely limited by contemporary standards of human liberty and equality. In turn, claiming that “the people” rule in any contemporary state is problematic at best. Nonetheless, we shall undertake the task as a meaningful one, by interpreting “classic” historical texts and more contemporary accounts that theoretically articulate the meaning and prospects of democracy.
The class is divided into two parts, each covering seven weeks (one-half) of the term. Part I covers basic theoretical analyses of “democracy” in the history of Western political thought from ancient Greece to the twentieth century--principally in relation to notions of “virtue,” “representation,” “liberalism,” and various kinds of “state.” Some familiarity with that history is presupposed. (This course is not constructed so as to serve as a primer for the First Exam.) Part II deals with relatively recent theoretical accounts of the meaning of democracy along with its relationship to current political problems—particularly those that engage questions about a contemporary demos, the criterion of legitimacy, transnational power, crises of collective life, and globalized notions of human rights. Readings will be drawn from (but not limited to) texts by Thucydides, Plato, Aristotle, Rousseau, Federalists, Mill, Marx, Michels, Arendt, Rawls, Habermas, Foucault, Wolin, Ranciere.
Women, Work, and Public Policy, Professors Gornick & Milkman, PSC 72500, 3 credits, Tuesdays 4:15;6:15pm ( Cross Listed with SOC 83300 & WSC 81000)
This course is an overview of key issues affecting women in the 21st century workplace in affluent industrialized countries. We begin with an overview of women’s position in the contemporary labor market, examining the changes and continuities in patterns of gender inequality, such as job segregation by gender and the pay gap between male and female workers. Here we also pay close attention to the impact of growing class inequalities, which have led to increasing polarization in the labor market between college-educated women and those with less education. We also consider divisions along lines of race, ethnicity and nativity, and examine the recent rise of the “precariat” – workers who have little or no employment security and who are often excluded from basic legal protections that once covered the bulk of the workforce. Women are overrepresented in the precariat, especially in part-time and temporary jobs, which are disproportionately female. We look at the ways in which public policy initiatives – such as affirmative action, equal pay laws, and anti-discrimination measures have addressed these issues, and evaluate their impact, and consider additional challenges that remain.
The course also examines the effects on women workers – of all classes, races, and ethnic groups, and of immigrants as well as natives – of inequalities in the division of labor in the household. Despite the massive increase in female labor force participation over the past half century, women continue to perform the bulk of unpaid housework and childcare, and bringing about change in this arena has proven even more challenging than transforming the social structures defining paid work. We will consider recent research on the effects of so-called “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 and flexible scheduling – create new forms of gender inequality. The rapid growth of paid care jobs, which are overwhelmingly filled by women, is another topic of interest here.
Throughout, we take a comparative approach to these questions, examining the situation in the United States as well as in other high-income countries.
Immigrant Groups & City Politics, Professor Mollenkopf, PSC 83800 (cross-listed with SOC 82800 & WSCP 81000), 4 credits, Mondays 4:15-6:15pm
Since 1965, the U.S. has accepted 34 million foreign born people for permanent residence in the U.S., and perhaps another 11 million entered without authorization and remain. The most recent data from the 2012 American Community Survey found that almost 13 percent of the population was foreign born and another 12 percent had at least one foreign born parent. Seventy percent of the foreign born live in six large immigrant receiving states and more than half live in nine large metropolitan areas. More than a third live in the Los Angeles and New York metro areas alone.
These large flows of people from Latin America, the Caribbean, East and South Asia, and Eastern Europe are steadily diversifying the racial and ethnic composition of these already cosmopolitan cities and metropolitan regions. Ultimately, they will have a major impact on urban and national politics and we can think of cities like New York and Los Angeles of harbingers of the ways in which the nation as a whole will encounter and responds to new forms of difference. The economic, social, and political incorporation of these new Americans will be the primary civil rights challenge of the 21st century, just as the struggle for African American inclusion was in the 20th century – and that of white immigrants beginning in the 19th.
This course will use New York City and its surrounding metropolitan area as a laboratory for understanding the political dimension of this process – the ways in which new immigrant communities are coming of age politically, organizing to interact with local political systems, and seeking to increase their political influence. This process begins with increased citizenship, voter registration, active voting, and mobilizing to support candidates, but extends to building coalitions and forming part of a governing majority. It will review theories of political incorporation based on both the 19th century European and the 20th century African-American experiences and then carefully examine specific groups in and around New York City today. With assistance from the instructor, students will carry out primary research on the political dynamics of one group. The course will conclude by discussing comparisons across groups, with a focus on their experience in the 2013 mayoral and council elections.
General and Crossfield
Core Seminar in Political Science (Power & Hegemony), Professor Majic, PSC 71000, 3 credits, Mondays 2:00-4:00pm
As an academic discipline, political science is centrally concerned with questions of power: what is it, where is it located, and how is it shaped and contested? To understand how political scientists examine these questions, this MA seminar introduces students to the discipline’s methodological debates and subfields of study, including American politics, comparative politics, international relations, political theory, and gender politics. Through discussions, presentations, and critical writing assignments, we will interrogate how power (and the study thereof) is continually (re)defined, contested, and redistributed through individual, collective, and institutional actions in a range of social, cultural and economic contexts.
Writing Politics Workshop, Professor Beinart, PSC 72000, 3 credits, Mondays 6:30-8:30pm
Doctoral 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. After that, the process will begin again: dissection, followed by rewriting, followed by more dissection. In between, we will discuss the less edifying aspects of publishing in newspapers, magazines and on the web, such as why editors don’t always answer their email. Two prominent editors will join us to help explain.
Research Design, Professor Rollins, PSC 79100, 3 credits, Wednesdays 2:00-4:00pm
This course is designed to provide students with a better understanding of research design and data analysis. The first part of the semester will focus students' attention on the various methods researchers have used to address questions of interest to social scientists. The second section of the course will emphasize reading and discussing quantitative research in order to develop critical skills. The goal is to help students learn to read, evaluate, and analyze such materials for themselves but is not intended to provide students with a mathematical background on statistical methods. Students will, however, be expected to learn STATA and to perform analysis on data sets of their choosing. Projects for the semester will be assigned so that they advance each student's research agenda.