PSC = Political Science SOC = Sociology HIS = History IDS = Independent Study
PHIL = Philosophy RD = Research Design M = Methods Course WP = Writing Politics
Fall 2019 Course Descriptions
Ruth O’Brien – American Political Thought (AP/PT)
PSC 72100 – 3 credits
Tuesday 6:30pm – 8:30pm
Crosslist with U_ED 75100 & WSCP 81000
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.
Brian Arbour - American Politics: Theories & Core Concepts (AP)
PSC 72000 – 3 credits
Wednesday, 2:00pm – 4:00pm
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, the course emphasizes dialogue about assigned readings. Students are to be active participants in the conversation. 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 in contemporary American politics and how the literature on American politics addresses these issues.
Thomas Halper – Constitutional Law (AP)
PSC 72009 – 3 credits
Wednesday 4:15pm – 6:15pm
The course will cover the following topics: natural law and positivism; judicial review; implied powers and national supremacy; the Supreme Court and Congress; the Supreme Court and the Presidency; commerce; takings clause; segregation and its removal; affirmative action; state action. Most of the assigned readings will be drawn from judicial opinions, though some will come from academic and other sources. Robust, good natured debate will be strongly encouraged.
Susan Woodward – Basic Theories & Concepts in Comparative Politics (CP)
PSC 77901 – 3 credits
Tuesday 4:15pm – 6:15pm
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, but the foundation comes first. Requirements include 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 in the syllabus, and a final examination.
John Krinsky – Social Movements (CP/PP)
PSC 87608 – 4 credits
Tuesday 2:00pm – 4:00pm
This course is an introduction to social movements and the politics of protest. It sounds straightforward, but it’s odd. It’s a bit odd because it’s a field that is fairly disconnected from practice. It grew up largely around the meeting of the older sociology of mass behavior and newer concerns among left-leaning sociologists in the 1960s and 70s both around contemporary movements and around the historical sociology of revolutions, class-formation, and the state. It thus inherited a kind of objectivist, ivory-tower-ish cast, even though many of the practitioners of social movement scholarship are themselves active or former activists. It’s also a bit of an odd beast, since typically the field separates out interest-group politics on one side and revolutions, terrorism, and strikes on the other. This division of the field is problematic, and it’s something we’ll discuss. Some scholars prefer a more encompassing term, “contentious politics,” but even here, social movements tend to be studied as a separate case. There are some good reasons for this, but as with all good reasons, there are problems, too. Finally, it’s a field in which many of the writers and researchers aren’t political scientists. Some, of course, are. But many are in sociology, and this is a standard course in sociology departments, as well (in fact, it is being taught in the sociology department this very semester). I am a sociologist by training, but I have done my best to lean the syllabus in the direction of the concerns and approaches that have typically attracted the political scientists who work in this field. Most of these are in the comparative politics subfield, and this course is offered in that spirit. Accordingly, we’ll spend a little time on comparative method, most of our time on cases that are from distant corners of the world, and perhaps a little more time than I would in sociology on repression and states and capital (sociology’s loss).
Michael Sharpe – Comparative Politics of International Migration (CP)
PSC 87609 – 4 credits
Wednesday 6:30pm – 8:30pm
International migration is interactively shaping and being shaped by politics, economics, and social relations around the world. The politics of the state in relation to nationality, race, ethnicity, and citizenship are at the heart of the debate on international migration and immigration. This course will focus on both sending and receiving countries and examine the politics of international migration from a historical and comparative perspective. We will analyze why people migrate, the ways in which states and citizens initiate and respond to migration, and how states deal with and adapt to migration on both the domestic and international levels. The seminar includes: analysis of migration of the last few decades; examination of the historical relationship between immigration, citizenship, and nationality using the examples of the United States, France, Germany, the Netherlands as well as Japan and South Korea and the politics of immigration policy and membership and belonging in our contemporary global world.
I expect all students to get the most out of this class by doing all assigned readings every week, participating actively in seminar discussions, and completing all assignments. By the end of this course, you should have: (1) a good understanding of the major debates in the study of migration and immigration and (2) hands on experience doing analysis of a migration/immigration policy. Each student will write a critique of the class readings for one week of assigned readings and lead the seminar at least once during the semester. Each student will write a critique of the class readings for one week of assigned readings and lead the seminar at least once during the semester. In addition, all students must prepare a case study/final research paper of a particular migration and/or immigration policy to be chosen by the student in consultation with the instructor.
Bruce Cronin – International Organization (IR)
PSC 76200 – 3 credits
Monday 4:15pm – 6:15pm
This course will introduce students to the theoretical and empirical study of international institutions, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, and global governance. Specifically, the course will critically examine different theoretical perspectives in International Relations and International Law for understanding the emergence, growth, diversity and effects of international organizations on world politics. In this context, the course will explore how specific organizations facilitate cooperation and compliance with international norms and rules. In doing so, we will also examine how organizations in specified issue areas — such as security, international political economy, and the environment — try to implement the goals of collective security, economic development, humanitarianism, global ecology, and economic stability.
Zachary Shirkey – Basic Theories and Concepts in International Relations (IR)
PSC 76000 – 3 credits (Class# )
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.
George Andreopoulos – International Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs (IR)
PSC 76405 – 3 credits
Wednesday 6:30pm – 8:30pm
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 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..
Susan Buck-Morss – Beyond the Canon: Recent Trends in Political Theory (PT)
PSC 80607 – 4 credits
Monday 6:30pm – 8:30pm
How might the canon of political theory be thought/taught differently? This seminar is an experiment, a Spiel-raum for considering what canonical readings might say to us today. Rather than adding on to the white-male-western-canon some supplemental readings on race, gender, or non-western thought, we will consider, without prior categorization and concepts, some of the most basic problems and paradoxes of our discipline. Juxtapositions of texts will be unorthodox: theories of the state (Hobbes, Wynter on witchcraft, Caesaire on solidarity,); the paradox of the General Will (Rousseau, Lenin, and Daigne on African Socialism); The good life and the City (Aristotle, al-Farabi, and David Harvey on Gentrification); Fortune and/as Rape (Machiavelli, John of Patmos, and Agamben on kairos); Constitutions as fate (Federalist Papers, W. Benjamin, and Max Tomba on Insurgency); Oppression as Freedom: (Marx, Federici, and Fred Moten on performance).
Uday Mehta – Classics in Modern Philosophy (PT)
PSC 80304 – 4 credits
Wednesday 2:00pm – 4:00pm
This course is an introduction to the study of modern Western political philosophy. The course is organized around five classic texts. The orientation of the course will be mainly textual and not contextual. We will be concerned with the broad structure and the details of the arguments made in these texts regarding the basis of political society, the authority of government and the rights of citizens. Some of the recurring questions that inform these works are the following: What is the original motivation underlying the formation of political society? How do these motivations conform to the institutional arrangements that are proposed? What are the limits of legitimate political authority, and what are the philosophical justifications for these limits? What are the justifications underlying the various proposed institutional arrangements and under what conditions can these arrangements be legitimately suspended? Finally, does the organizing of political life do violence to other conceptions of human potentiality and social order?
Alan DiGaetano – Urban Politics (PP)
PSC 72500 – 3 credits
Monday 6:30pm – 8:30pm
This course is designed to introduce students the study of urban politics. The course is organized around fundamental concepts and questions in political science as they are applied to the study of urban politics. The first section examines urban political development, with a review of some of the work that situates political analysis in historical perspective. Next, the focus turns to the question of governance, considering political cultural and regime theory approaches to the politics of building and maintaining urban governing coalitions. The fourth section examines the role of leadership in urban politics and the fifth investigates the ways in which race and ethnicity have shaped the contours of urban political alliances and conflict. The sixth portion looks at the manner in which citizens are mobilized in local elections and community organization. The penultimate section looks at the role of the federal system in shaping urban. The final part of the course assesses the impact of globalization on urban politics.
Janet Gornick – Social Welfare Policy (PP)
PSC 73906 – 3 credits
Tuesday, 4:15pm – 6:15pm
Crosslist: SOC 85902 and WSP 81000
This course will examine social welfare policy in the United States, in 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 a set of 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.
Michael Fortner - Introduction to Public Policy (PP)
PSC 73101 – 3 credits
Tuesday, 6:30pm – 8:30pm
This course will provide an introduction to 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 politics of public policy-making, exploring how institutions, social movements, and public opinion shape policy development and how public policies in turn shape institutions, social movements, and public opinion. The final section will address policy-making in specific contexts: Congress, cities, and bureaucracies.
John Mollenkopf/Marta Gutman – Urban Studies Core Seminar II (PP)
PSC 83503 – 4 credits
Wednesday 4:15pm – 6:15pm
(Cross list with SOC 82800)
The second semester of the Core Seminar in Urban Studies will continue to build on the work of the first semester, which was designed to equip doctoral students in the humanities, social sciences, and urban-oriented sciences with the theoretical perspectives that will help them situate and conceptualize their research questions and also apply them to a case study neighborhood. The second semester will focus on the research methods that students can use to begin to answer their research questions and the ways in which they can inform policy-making. They will apply these methods both to their own long-term research projects and to the Queens waterfront case study, investigating the question of “What is the future of LIC after Amazon?” This site exemplifies the challenges of redeveloping post-industrial urban landscapes, particularly on shorelines. Students will learn how to use field work, in depth interviewing, archival research, visual and auditory inventories, survey research, administrative data analysis, GIS and other methods to explore policy questions about land use, zoning, gentrification, climate change, the development industrial ecologies, neighborhood cohesion, and other pressing topics. We will continue to treat this neighborhood as an ecology of work, consumption, recreation, and residence and ask now these elements both frame and are shaped by politics and policy-making.
General and Cross-field
Peter Beinart – Writing Politics (G/WP)
PSC 79001 – 3 credits
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.
Keena Lipsitz – Introduction to Research Design (G/RD)
PSC 79100 – 3 credits
This course will provide students with an overview of the quantitative and qualitative research methods commonly used in political science. They will learn how researchers move between theories, concepts, variables, and hypotheses, as well as the techniques they use for collecting data. Students will generate a number of brief research proposals based on the methods discussed, as well as a full dissertation proposal that follows the department's guidelines.
Sherrie Baver – M.A. Core Course (G)
PSC 71000 – 3 credits
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.
Julie Suk/Sara McDougall; Mothers in Law (G)
PSC 79003 – 3 credits
Crosslist with HIST. 72200, SOC 84505, WSCP 81000
This course will introduce students to central issues in the history and sociology of law, through the study of motherhood. The lens of motherhood will open up broader themes in the study of law and society, including categories such as gender, constitutionalism, and criminal justice. Studying the socio-legal history of motherhood will enable students to learn the skills of legal reasoning, utilize methods of legal-historical research, and pursue experiential learning through field studies, panel discussions open to the public, and the authoring of publicly available teaching materials on select topics. First, we will explore how ideas of women as mothers have been enshrined in law, from the legal definition of the mother in civil law, to the legal treatment of pregnancy. Second, this course will study women as lawmakers, as "founding mothers" of twentieth-century constitutions, and laws more generally. We will explore biographies of women lawyers and lawmakers. Third, we will consider mothers as law-breakers, by engaging the history of mothers in prison, and the current legal issues arising from incarceration of mothers. This component of the course may include field trips to engage the criminal justice system.
Richard Wolin – The Outcome of Classical German Philosophy: From Hegel to Adorno (PT)
PSC 71902 – 3 credits
Thursday 6:30pm – 8:30pm
Crosslist with HIST. 72400
In 1886, Friedrich Engels wrote a perfectly mediocre book, Ludwig Feuerbach and the Outcome of Classical German Philosophy, which nevertheless managed to raise a fascinating and important question that is still being debated today: how should we go about evaluating the legacy of German Idealism following the mid-nineteenth century breakdown of the Hegelian system? For Engels, the answer was relatively simple: the rightful heir of classical German philosophy was Marx’s doctrine of historical materialism. But, in truth, Engels’ response was merely one of many possible approaches. Nor would it be much of an exaggeration to claim that, in the twentieth-century, there is hardly a philosopher worth reading who has not sought to define him or herself via a confrontation with the legacy of Kant and Hegel. Our approach to this very rich material will combine a reading of the canonical texts of German Idealism (e.g., Kant and Hegel) with a sustained and complementary focus on major twentieth-century thinkers who have sought to establish their originality via a critical reading of Hegel and his heirs: Alexandre Kojève, Georges Bataille, Jean Hyppolite, Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Theodor Adorno, and Jürgen Habermas. But we will also seek acknowledge the importance of the contemporary North American Hegel renaissance, as exemplified by the work of philosophers such as Charles Taylor, Robert Pippin, Michael Forster, Terry Pinkard, and Allen Wood. 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.
Jennifer Roberts – Thucydides, Politics, Philosophy;(PT)
PSC 71903 – 3 credits
Monday 6:30pm – 8:30pm
Crosslist with HIST 70310
This interdisciplinary course will be guided in part by the particular interests of the students who choose to enroll in it: historians, classicists, archaeologists, political scientists, philosophers. Although there will be common readings, students are encouraged to pursue their own perspectives on Thucydides while at the same time coming to appreciate his relevance to other disciplines. The text will be read in English, but I am happy to meet separately with students who would like to read selections in the original Greek. A masterpiece of both narrative and analysis, Thucydides’ account of the war between the Athenian Empire and Peloponnesian League also merits study as a work of profound philosophical import. The work of a man filled with a plangent sense of the sorrows of the human condition, Thucydides’ history offered a non-fiction counterpart to the tragic drama of his contemporaries Sophocles and Euripides. The father of political science, Thucydides has often been labeled the father of political realism. We will explore in what ways this is and is not accurate. Thucydides has been co-opted by one generation after another, on one continent after another, as a spokesman for its own society and identified as the one person who best understood the problems of the day. From monarchists to republicans in Europe to 20th and 21st century American neoconservatives, his readers have proudly cited him in defense of their ideologies. Today students of international relations wring their hands over the newly dubbed menace, “the Thucydides trap,” a concept that draws parallels between the diplomatic situation that led up to the Peloponnesian War and America’s growing tensions with China. Both Thucydides and his legacy will be the subjects of this course.
John Torpey – Sociology Consequences of Digitalization (PP)
PSC 73907 – 3 credits
(Cross list with SOC 80201)
This course examines the social consequences of the digitalization of modern life. We will explore the nature and extent to which digitalization constitutes a social transformation and the character of that transformation. Areas to be addressed include changes in the nature of social ties, the political consequences of social media, bias in artificial intelligence, the future of work, universal basic income, changes in warfare, the remaking of philanthropy, utopian possibilities and dystopian nightmares of new technologies, and the like.
Elhum Hahighat – Gender, Sexuality, and Body Politics in the Middle East (CP)
PSC 77907 – 3 credits (CRN# )
(Cross list with MES 74900 & WSCP 81000)
This course offers an overview of the key issues in the study of gender in the contemporary Middle East region. It goes deeper into the understanding of how conceptions of gender, sexuality and body politics are negotiated, positioned, and reproduced in a variety of social and political contexts in the Middle East region and to some degree in the Diasporas. Gendered understanding of the prevailing discourses, social practices, norms and trends in the Middle East societies and politics are being discussed.