PSC = Political Science SOC = Sociology HIS = History
IDS = Interdisciplinary PHIL = Philosophy ECON = Economics
Spring 2018 Course Descriptions
Lynda Dodd – American Constitutional Development, PSC 72100 - 3 Credits
The most honored and fundamental principles of the American political system, and many of this country’s most divisive crises, have been debated and challenged in terms of constitutional law. In this course, we will examine the nature and scope of the powers of the federal judiciary, Congress, the presidency, and the relationship between the federal government and the states, as well as the impact of the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment.
One goal of this seminar is to emphasize that answers to questions about the proper ways in which to organize a political system around even the most fundamental principles – such as separation of powers, federalism, representative democracy, liberty, equality, and the rule of law – have changed throughout this country’s history. The modern constitutional regime is, in complex ways, vastly different from what the Framers of the Constitution imagined. These changes raise fascinating questions about methods of constitutional interpretation, as well as judicial and political fidelity to our constitutional regime – all of which we will consider as we review these historical developments and the leading cases in the constitutional law canon.
The second goal of this seminar is to situate these debates in the political science literature on American political development. The seminar readings will thus cover not only the major decisions of the Supreme Court, but also the debates and decisions that occur within Congress, the executive branch, the states, and the larger public sphere. By highlighting the role of ideas and normative debates in American constitutional development, the seminar will be of interest to political theorists, Americanists, and students interested in the interplay of constitutional law and social movements in U.S. history.
Charles Tien (AP/M) - Quantitative Analysis - Tien (AP) - PSC 89101 - 4 credits
The aim of this course is to introduce graduate students to statistical analysis in political science. I want students to think of themselves as future contributors of empirical work, as well as critical consumers. In that spirit, there will be an emphasis on "learning-by-doing." Each student should locate a data set of interest to them by the third week of the semester that will be used to carry out statistical exercises. By the end of the course, students will have a working understanding of ordinary least squares regression analysis. The course will start with a review of univariate statistics and then proceed to bivariate statistics. By the end of the semester, we will have worked our way through the regression assumptions. Students will conduct weekly homework assignments using political science data sets of their own choosing. To help students see the linkages between the material we cover and the work in the discipline, students will also read journal articles in addition to the assigned books. It is my hope that students will be more tolerant of the technical material if they can see the payoff in terms of a better understanding of political science rather than statistics.
Jillian Schwedler – Basic Theories & Concepts in Comparative Politics (CP) - PSC 77904 – 3 credits
There is little consensus within comparative politics, let alone the discipline of political science, about how to study politics. Comparativists use a range of approaches and hold a variety of methodological commitments. This course is designed to introduce students to the philosophical and epistemological disputes that have given rise to this lack of consensus. The aim of the course is to enable students to make more deeply informed judgments about the types of political science work that they encounter and undertake. Students will be encouraged to appreciate alternative methodological approaches to comparative analysis, weigh their relative utility in answering questions of importance to them, and determine whether and how these different approaches might fruitfully be combined.
Susan Woodward (CP/IR) - Peacebuilding - PSC 86207 - 4 Credits
This seminar is simultaneously one in international relations and in comparative politics. As an IR course, peacebuilding is primarily about intervention in the domestic affairs of countries, both in general and by specific international actors such as the UN, regional security organizations such as the African Union and NATO, and both bilateral and multilateral development donors and banks. Addressing the primary contemporary form of armed conflict (intrastate rather than interstate), the literature on mediation, peacekeeping, and peacebuilding is now quite extensive, both in academic and policy spheres. Because peacebuilding is about ending this violence, building peace (currently called “sustainable peace”), and either restoring or creating states within countries, it is simultaneously a topic of comparative politics, especially its very long tradition on the relation between war and state formation and, more recently, on the causes and termination of civil wars. The seminar will read into both sets of literatures, IR and comparative.
I propose that this is a particularly interesting moment for us, as political scientists, to analyze peacebuilding and to make a contribution. First, the practice of peacebuilding is in turmoil, both at the UN and with Northern development donors, because of a decade or more of disappointing outcomes. The UN is in the process of defining a significant reform of peacekeeping and peacebuilding while donors such as the British aid agency, DFID, say they need a new “paradigm” for their work in these countries and would welcome our suggestions. Second, a consensus has emerged in the policy world (policymakers and practitioners) to explain poor outcomes that they have not taken into account that peacebuilding is profoundly political. This is not a new idea, but it appears to have gained legitimacy and heightened awareness recently. As political scientists, we have a special opportunity to contribute to this discussion, by bringing analyses of power relations and literatures in comparative politics on domestic politics to analyses of peacebuilding interventions. Third, the concepts of strategic interaction and that of two-level games both give us leverage on an essential aspect of this world that is little studied -- the interaction between international and domestic actors, such as in the domestication or not of international norms (e.g., human rights, transitional justice, responsibility to protect), the role of third parties in mediating and then implementing peace agreements, and local resistance against external imposition.
The syllabus will be organized topically according to the aspects of peacebuilding that researchers and practitioners have studied, but within an overall framework of general debates in the literature and these three possible contributions from us. Specific countries will be used for illustration of each topic, not as detailed case studies, but students are encouraged to focus on a country or several in detail during the semester.
This is a research seminar. Students in the seminar should choose whatever topic or case studies (individual or comparative) are of interest to them for their final paper.
Forrest Colburn – Development (CP) - PSC 80301 – 4 credits
This course studies key works in the comparative analysis of development, with an emphasis on the major political explanations for differences in nation and state building and in economic development. The readings cover a wide range of approaches. Beyond analyzing development per se, the course uses debates about development to explore the strengths and weaknesses of theoretical approaches to the study of countries. The course concentrates more on methodological disputes than on debates over the practical merits of particular policies or development strategies. Readings are selected for their salience rather than any deliberate regional or country focus. However, the emphasis of the course is on the poorer countries of the world, most former European colonies, which have made such a determined effort at economic development since the end of World War II.
Stephanie Golob (IR) - The Rules: International Law and International Relations Approaches to Global Issues - PSC 76400 - 3 credits
This seminar will analyze key issues of interstate conflict and cooperation at the intersection of two fields that have seen increasing synergies and interdisciplinary potential: International Law (IL) and International Relations (IR). One key objective of the course is to introduce the emerging interdisciplinary subfield known as “IL/IR,” and thus to open possibilities for seminar members to locate their own research interests within (or in close proximity to) this scholarly crossroads.
As the title suggests, this seminar will examine the nature of rules – laws and treaties, formalized institutions and informal norms - on the international level that purport to ‘govern’ relations between states, to ‘police’ the behavior of governments (and, in some cases, non-state actors), and to regulate problems that states cannot easily solve on their own. We will identify and discuss the distinct and/or converging responses of IL, IR and IL/IR scholarship to the following questions: Why, and under what conditions, do states follow rules? Who gets to make the rules, how are they to be enforced, and on what actors? How do we measure and evaluate compliance with the rules in a world of self-interested sovereign states? What are international “norms” (related to, and distinct from, “law”), how and why are they diffused across borders, and what motivates states to formalize them? Are ‘law’ and ‘power’ in opposition, or are they in fact two sides of the same coin of authoritative discourse and action?
Michael Lee (IR) - International Political Economy - PSC 76200 - 3 Credits
The contemporary global economy is characterized by an intense interdependence – people, capital and goods flow across borders to a degree that is in many respects unprecedented (although there have been past eras of globalization). In this class, we will examine the ways in which political forces influence these flows – jockeying domestic interests? Realpolitik? Hegemon prerogatives? International regimes and institutions? The interests of global capital? Budget-maximizing bureaucrats? Norms and ideas fostered by transnational activist networks? In the class, we will look at the politics of trade, foreign investment, immigration & remittances, the role of currency in the international economy, financial crises, and the politics of development, with an eye to important current debates. Is the contemporary rise of far-right populism a Polanyian backlash against globalization or something else? Will the Chinese yuan (or the Bitcoin) replace the US dollar as global reserve currency? Is another global financial crisis in the works?
Buck-Morss (PT/M) - Critical Reasons: The Basics - PSC 71901- 3 Credits
This course deals with basic concepts and problems of Western Critical Theory. The readings focus on three key authors: Kant, Hegel and Adorno. Philosophy is considered from the perspective of the political. Concepts include: critical reason, transcendental claims, phenomenology, dialectics, non-identity, materialist metaphysics, history, causality, and freedom. Students who are non-specialists are encouraged to read extremely difficult texts (Kant's Critique of Pure Reason, Hegel's Phenomenology, Adorno's Lectures on History and Freedom) with the goal of developing critical capacities for concrete, historical analyses of political, social and economic life. The challenge is to make the concepts of the readings meaningful for contemporary projects of critique. Seminar requirements: sustained, active seminar participation, one short midterm paper, and one final paper (or exam option).
Corey Robin (PT) - Political Theory of Capitalism - PSC 80303 - 4 credits
In ancient Greece, the dominant political form was the city-state. In Rome, it was the republic and the empire. After the fall of Rome, it was the Church. In the early modern era, it became the state. Today, it is capitalism. But where Greece, Rome, the Church, and the state all produced their own distinctive political theories, capitalism has not. Indeed, it’s greatest—and, with the exception of Hayek, perhaps only—political theorist devoted his attentions to capitalism solely in order to bring it to an end. For many, capitalism is not a political form at all; it is strictly a mode of economic organization. What is entailed in that distinction—between the political and the economic—and whether and how it can be sustained will be a central preoccupation of this course. Through an examination of the classics of political economy, as well as some less canonical texts, we will assess whether capitalism has (or can have) a political theory, and if so, what that theory is. Rather than assume that the political question of capitalism is exhausted by the state’s relationship to the economy, we will examine how capitalism produces a distinctive and independent political form of its own, with its own rules and values. Readings will be drawn from some combination of the following thinkers: Aristotle, Locke, Hume, Smith, Hegel, Malthus, Ricardo, Marx, Jevons, Weber, Keynes, Schumpeter, Arendt, Hayek, Becker, Friedman, Foucault, Brown, Harvey.
Richard Wolin (PT) - Existentialism: from Dostoevsky to Sartre - PSC 71902 – 3 credits - Crosslist with HIST 72400
Existentialism revolutionized twentieth-century thought and culture. Heidegger’s Being and Time (1927) and Sartre’s Being and Nothingness (1943) established the movement’s contours and tenets, although Karl Jaspers and Simone de Beauvoir also made essential contributions.
Existentialism challenged Western metaphysics by rejecting the notion of “essence” as a conceptual straitjacket that restricted the notion of human possibility. Its watchword may be succinctly summarized as: existence is prior to essence. As an intellectual current, existentialism followed in the wake of Nietzsche’s critique of European nihilism: since traditional Western values had lost their cogency and meaning, a “transvaluation of values” was required.
Nineteenth-century developments provided the backdrop for existentialism’s emergence. Both Schelling and Kierkegaard lamented traditional philosophy’s trafficking in lifeless abstractions and lack of concern with “lived experience.” Theories of “alienation” in the work of Marx, Durkheim, and Simmel provided existentialism with a grounding in contemporary social theory and critique.
Existentialism also derived inspiration from major works of literature: Dostoevsky’s “Notes from Underground,” Tolstoy’s “The Death of Ivan Ilych,” and Flaubert’s Madame Bovary became indispensable points of reference. According to one witness, Heidegger’s constant companions while composing Being and Time were Dostoevsky’s novels and a recent edition of van Gogh’s letters. Sartre’s novels and plays, Nausea and No Exit, are often treated as exemplars of literary existentialism.
Finally, existentialism has often been criticized from the left for glorifying alienation and (bourgeois) decadence. During the late 1940s, the Frankfurt School philosopher and exHeidegger student, Herbert Marcuse, wrote a landmark critique of Sartre’s Being and Nothingness. During the 1960s, Theodor Adorno accused Heidegger’s approach of smoothing over the tensions of late capitalism by offering a “pseudo-concreteness” in place of a critical social theory.
Helena Rosenblatt (PT) - The History of Liberalism from Locke to Rawls - PSC 71902 – 3 credits - Crosslist with HIST 72100
This course is an in-depth introduction to some of the founding thinkers and texts of the liberal tradition. We will read canonical texts and works of interpretation in an effort to answer questions such as: What do we mean when we speak of liberalism? What if any, are its core principles and values? What is alive and what is dead in the liberal tradition? We will focus on works by Locke, Wollstonecraft, Rousseau, Constant, Mill, Green and Spencer, and conclude with an examination of Rawls. Main Themes: Property and the Role of Government; Women’s Rights and Roles; Social Contract and the Individual; Morals and Empire.
Uday Mehta (PT) - Modern Social Theory - PSC 80304 - 4 credits
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?
Benedetto Fontana (PT) - Ancient & Medieval Political Thought - PSC 71000 - 3 Credits
The course focuses 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.
Jesse Prinz (PT) - Political Psychology - PSC 83505 - 4 Credits
Crosslist with PHIL 76900
Political psychology is the investigation of attitudes and behaviors in the public sphere. Examples include partisan polarization, voter ignorance, right-wing populism, national character, class conflict, imperialism, wartime atrocities and trauma, suicide terrorism, attitudes towards immigrants, and identity politics. Researchers in various fields have investigated the mechanisms that motivate these phenomena, including human nature, personality, emotions, propaganda, a ruling elite, material conditions, historical events, culture, ideology, and institutional structures.
Philosophers have been interested in such issues too, along with questions that tie into core debates in ethics, metaphysics, mind, and political philosophy: Are we naturally peaceable or pugnacious? What is the relationship between political attitudes and personal identity? Can political disagreements be rationally adjudicated (e.g., by deliberating behind a veil of ignorance)? In this seminar, we will take an interdisciplinary look at the political mind.
Alexandra Moffet-Bateau (PP/M) - Qualitative Research Methods for Political Science - PSC 79100 - 3 Credits
This is a practicum course designed to help graduate students in all subfields successfully get a qualitative research project into the field. As a result the course will be most useful for those students who enter the course with some idea of their research question, what population they would like to study, and why.
The focus of the seminar is on the connection between data and theory. What counts as qualitative research? What is distinctive about qualitative research? What are the implications of choosing a qualitative research strategy for methods, techniques, data and interpretation? While we will review theoretical perspectives on qualitative research, the primary focus of the course is on doing qualitative research. With that in mind you will have the opportunity to pilot a qualitative research project you are currently working on.
The course will begin with an overview of what a qualitative research framework brings to the study of political science and the understanding of public policy. From there the course will dive into the creation of a research proposal for your pilot study. We will discuss the process of how to go about choosing the appropriate qualitative research modality when drafting your proposal. At this point, we will discuss practical matters regarding the design of the project, pre-planning your fieldwork, and entering the field for the first time. Over the course of the semester, students will begin a pilot of their proposed project. In class, we will discuss the field experience of students and the process of taking field notes. Finally, the course will review coding and data analysis. Please note: this course does not duplicate the dissertation workshop and the course on research design.
Leslie McCall – The Politics of Inequality (PP) - PSC 73100 – 3 credits - Crosslist with SOC 83300
This course will cover both substantive developments and measurement issues and analytic approaches across the social sciences. It focuses on both the substantive and analytical/methodological aspects of the relationship between politics and economic inequality. Specifically, the objectives are to become familiar with (1) the different levels of analysis involved in the study of the politics of inequality, opportunity, and redistribution, namely, the role of political institutions (i.e., parties, electoral systems, policy regimes, etc.) on the one hand, and behavioral dynamics (e.g., individual beliefs, policy preferences, and voting choices) on the other hand, in shaping political and economic outcomes, and (2) the strengths and weaknesses of various methodological approaches to analyzing institutional and behavioral processes, such as political economy, public opinion and survey research, experimental research, ethnography, and discourse/textual analysis. To accomplish these objectives, readings will be interdisciplinary and include theoretical texts at the start of the course and empirically-based, substantive and methodological studies employing quantitative (including experimental) and qualitative data and methods throughout the rest of the semester (though the balance will be toward quantitative studies). Students will therefore learn both theoretical and methodological skills, and their interdependence, in the study of the politics of inequality, opportunity, and redistribution. We will also integrate the research on class inequality with ongoing research on other dimensions of inequality, such as gender and racial/ethnic inequality.
John Mollenkopf (PP) - The Future of Urban Studies - PSC 73100 - Crosslist with SOC 84700 - 3 Credits
This seminar explores the new substantive, methodological, and theoretical directions being undertaken by urban studies scholars from a variety of disciplines to addressing the pressing issues facing urban and metropolitan life in the 21st century. The focus will be interdisciplinary, seeking to explore not just the best thinking from each discipline, but how the disciplines intersect or interact with each other. While we will inevitably pay attention to the larger cities of the US and West Europe, the scope is intended to include urbanization at a planetary scale and the new forms it is taking in China, India, Africa, and Latin America. Each week will explore a specific topic or theme, such as the impact of technological innovation and “smart cities,” the challenges of governing racially and ethnically diverse, segmented, and unequal cities, or the rise and dynamics of urban counter-cultures and social movements. (These are illustrative but seminar participants will help to shape the final list.) One aim of the seminar is to help inform the Graduate Center’s new urban initiative under the leadership of Provost Joy Connolly.
Celina Su (PP) - Participatory Democracy and Social Movements - PSC 71905 - Crosslist with PSYC 80103 - 3 Credits
This seminar takes a look at what ordinary citizens do to shape public programs and engage in politics— in ways other than voting. We explore the notion that popular participation can make democratic governance more legitimate, fair, and effective. Is participatory democracy— alternatively called bottom-up participation, maximal democracy, or direct democracy— really better? Specifically, we will examine forms and functions of civil society from a comparative perspective by looking at specific examples of (1) participatory institutions (neighborhood councils, urban budgeting, school governance, etc.), (2) participation in non-governmental organizations and development projects, and (3) social movements around the world (landless people’s movements, transnational networks, mothers of political dissidents who have “disappeared,” AIDS protest groups, etc.). Sometimes, these three categories blur into one another. We will try to focus on case studies in “Global South” middle-income countries like Brazil, Argentina, India, and South Africa, though we also include domestic cases as a point of reference. How much should ordinary citizens participate in policymaking, and how? Under what circumstances? We will pay special attention to equity in participation, uses and construction of identity, and policy impacts in each case.
General and Cross-field
Peter Beinart; Writing Politics II (G/WP) - PSC 79002 – 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
Susan Woodward – Dissertation Proposal Workshop (G/PD) - PSC 89100 – 0 credits
Course Description:This workshop aims to assist students in writing their dissertation proposal in political science and passing the second examination. It introduces students to the principles and organization of a defensible proposal, provides advice on conceptualization and research strategies, and, where relevant to the workshop participants, discusses methodological questions. It is a genuine workshop, where students provide each other a mutually supportive setting to share the stages of their written drafts, get feedback, identify and resolve issues being faced by many, and learn the skills of analytical criticism necessary to one’s own future research and teaching. Each member works at a personal, self-identified pace, but also accepts the obligation of reciprocity to attend all meetings of the workshop and read the drafts of all other workshop members.
The key to progress is the obligation to write every single week, even if it only means a paragraph (although, of course, one hopes more). The first meeting of the workshop will lay out the principles of a dissertation proposal and advice about how to proceed; anyone missing it will be at a distinct, even possibly irreparable, disadvantage for the rest of the workshop. The workshop does not give course credit, therefore has no grading, and you can take the course more than once. More than a decade of experience shows that a very large percentage of those who take the workshop produce a completed dissertation proposal within the one semester and succeed in passing the second exam either at the end of the spring semester or at the end of the summer before the deadline for moving to Level III in the fall.
Alyson Cole (G/PD) - Teaching Political Science - PSC 77900 - 3 Credits - Crosslist with WSCP 81000
Course Description:This course serves a dual purpose: first, to encourage students to reflect on the vocation of teaching, and second, to provide an environment in which students can explore various pedagogical techniques and prepare for teaching on the campuses in the fall. We begin the semester with two classic reflections on the art of teaching as well as recent public debates about some challenges of professing, and then move on to consider such practical issues as syllabus development, effective learning goals, assessment strategies, class preparation, and grading practices. We will also discuss aspects of the profession beyond the classroom, such as mentoring students and writing letters of recommendation. In addition to our pedagogical inquiries, students will be introduced to their colleagues who are already teaching on the campuses.
This class is designed for doctoral students in political science who are obligated to teach at the colleges as part of their fellowship agreement, but it is open to any political science doctoral student. With instructor permission political science MA students, and doctoral and masters students from other programs at the Graduate Center, may also enroll.