Professors: Berry, Dugas, Einspahr (Chair), Elman
Political Science is an essential component of a liberal arts education, providing students with the tools to understand the complex world of politics and, in the process, to become better citizens. As a field of academic study, Political Science is both a classical discipline and a more recently developed social science. The study of politics utilizes philosophical, historical, and comparative analysis to examine governments, transnational institutions, political movements, politics, and policies. Knowledge of these areas enables students to participate more effectively in the political process on behalf of their own values. Students also learn skills to scrutinize both their own value systems and those of others.
The Political Science Department seeks to provide broad yet rigorous training in the fields of U.S. politics, comparative politics, international politics, and political theory. This training provides a thorough grounding for study in graduate and professional schools (including law school), as well as preparation for public service, nongovernmental employment, civic engagement, and political activism at the local, state, national, and international levels.
Requirements for the Major in Political Science
Number of Units
Nine units are required, not including the SIP.
POLS 105 Introduction to American Government
POLS 106 Introduction to Comparative Politics
POLS 107 Introduction to International Politics
POLS 490 Contemporary Behavior, Theory, and Methodology
ONE of the following:
POLS 257 Justice and Political Community: Classical Political Thought
POLS 260 Liberty, Equality, and Authority: Modern Political Thought
POLS 263 American Political Thought
The political science department requires all majors to pass a written comprehensive examination covering the fields of U.S. politics, comparative politics, international politics, and political theory. In addition, the department strongly encourages students to complete their introductory courses prior to leaving for study abroad.
Requirements for the Minor in Political Science
Number of Units
Six units are required.
POLS 105 Introduction to American Government
Five additional political science courses
One Political Science course from off-campus (study abroad or transfer credit) may count for credit toward the Political Science major or minor. Students must formally petition the department for approval of the course and provide the necessary materials (syllabus, notes, papers, etc.) for review. In general, the Political Science Department will accept for credit only a course that is not offered at Kalamazoo College.
Political Science courses
POLS105Introduction to American GovernmentIntroduction to the structure and functioning of the American government; introductory analysis of the processes of policy formation, the relationship of the state and the individual, and the degree and nature of popular control.
POLS106Introduction to Comparative PoliticsIntroduction to the structure and functioning of different systems of governance within a comparative framework. What are the various paths to political development taken by various industrialized nations? To this end, students compare and contrast various political ideologies, cultures, and state institutions and their organizations.
POLS107Introduction to International PoliticsAn introduction to the study of international relations that focuses on the core issue of international war and peace. The issue is used as a means to explore how political scientists analyze international relations. The course examines different approaches to analyzing international relations (the system, state, and individual levels of analysis), as well as the ongoing debates between the paradigms of realism, liberalism, radicalism, and feminism.
POLS205The Politics of RevolutionThe very casual use of the term "revolution" frequently betrays its importance. What, for example, does it mean to be a "revolutionary"? Moreover, what has "revolution" meant for men and women? This course seeks to clarify its meaning(s), consider its causes, and explore the consequences with attention to the French and Russian revolutions. The revolutions of 1989 throughout Eastern Europe will also be considered.
POLS210Comparative Political Institutions: Social EuropeExamination of the political systems, institutions, and practices of European states. Emphasis is on analysis and comparison of social policies concerning immigration, the environment, and other issues.
POLS225Constitutional LawConstitutional practice and doctrine commonly stand at the crossroads between law and politics. Although the US Supreme Court has long been involved in articulating constitutional rules and principles, these have never been its exclusive province. Congress, the President, political parties, and interest groups also play a significant role. Focusing on the development of constitutional doctrine across time, we will consider the growth of the Supreme Court's authority, the Court's relation to the other federal branches, and the relationship between constitutional change and social movements.
POLS227Law, Politics, and SocietyThroughout the history of the United States, the government has made decisions in an effort to protect the nation from both internal and external forces, particularly in times of "national crisis." In this class we will study and discuss the impact national crises have on law, politics, and society.
POLS229Race, Law, & US PoliticsThis class focuses on what Supreme Court decisions regarding race tell us about our constitution, how law and politics are balanced, and the appropriate scope of judicial decision-making. Supreme Court decisions on race provide an illuminating lens by which to investigate core concepts in legal decision-making and their underlying implications and assumptions. The aim of this course is threefold: to introduce students to the verbal and written analysis of complex texts and concepts in law, to familiarize students with basic authors and concepts in political science, and to help students think more critically and systematically about their own political ideas.
POLS230Presidency and CongressThis course looks at the development of the presidency vis-à-vis Congress and how this relationship has (or has not) changed. We will explore both the upward spiral of Arthur Schlesinger's "Imperial Presidency" and the more cyclical pattern associated with the work of Stephen Skowronek. After a brief survey of the original formulation of the executive, we examine both thinkers and scrutinize the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
POLS231/SEMN 209The Politics of Rights & ImmigrationAccording to the UN Charter of Fundamental Rights, one has a fundamental right to leave one's country of origin (1948, Article 13), yet there is no corresponding right to enter another country. This sophomore seminar considers the consequence of this tension with attention to normative questions of who should be allowed entry to and citizenship within (other) states. In addition, we explore the empirical complexities that inform and result from these judgments. This broadly international and interdisciplinary seminar privileges states, laws (domestic and international) and actual policy over the last sixty years, with particular attention to North America and Western Europe - key destinations for migrants and thus crucial laboratories to investigate the myths, realities, policies and consequences of immigration. At a time when there are growing pressures for increased immigration in Western Europe, we conclude by noting recent developments within the European Union to harmonize asylum and immigration policies. We ask - what are the ethical challenges and what might the future look like?
POLS245Politics of Latin AmericaThis course provides an introduction to contemporary Latin American politics. The first part of the course examines the historical factors and socioeconomic conditions that have influenced the development of Latin American politics, including its frequently troubled relationship with the United States. The second part examines the principal political structures that have characterized Latin American politics in the form of authoritarian, revolutionary, and democratic regimes.
POLS/AFST248Politics of Sub-Saharan AfricaThis course offers an in-depth perspective on the study of Sub-Saharan African politics. It examines Africa's post-independence democratic strides, security issues, and the failure and successes of statism. It specifically exposes students to the challenges and the conundrum of the postcolonial state and the efforts in dealing with such challenges in Africa. The end of the Cold War as well as the demise of apartheid affected the political landscape in Africa, thus strengthening the role of grassroots organizations and of other external forces to engage in the process of state reconstruction.
POLS257Justice and Political Community: Classical Political ThoughtThis course examines political thought from the Greek period through the Italian Renaissance. We will pay particular attention to classical conceptions of human nature, justice, the ideal political order, and the obligations of citizens to their political communities. We will also form an appreciation for the Greek and Roman foundations of subsequent political systems. Thinkers covered include Thucydides, Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, St. Augustine, and Machiavelli.
POLS260Liberty, Equality, and Authority: Modern Political ThoughtThis course examines political theory in the "modern" period (roughly 1650-1900). We will explore liberal, radical, conservative, and socialist frameworks for answering the question, "What makes authority legitimate?" Theoretical topics include classical social contract theory; resistance and revolution; the proper relationship between liberty and equality; and competing articulations of "rights." We will read the work of Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Burke, Wollstonecraft, Mill, Marx, and others.
POLS263American Political ThoughtThis course examines the origins and development of a distinctively American approach to politics and political ideas, focusing on the origins of American political theory in classical liberalism and Puritanism; the debates for and against the adoption of the Constitution; the contested meaning of "democracy" in the American context; the tension within American political thought between liberty and equality; and the arguments for elite versus popular rule.
POLS/WGS265Feminist Political TheoriesIn this course, we will engage critically with a variety of feminist theories that have emerged as women have struggled for social and political change. First we will explore the history and development of feminist theories with a focus on the role of "experience" and the category "woman" in feminist theorizing, paying particular attention to the intersections of gender, race, class, and sexuality. Using various feminist theoretical approaches, we will then explore issues such as women's embodiment, reproductive freedom, sexual violence, women's agency, and the role of the state in advancing feminist goals.Prerequisite: Sophomore Standing
POLS270The European Union: Institutions, Actors, Aliens and OutcomesThis course offers a broad introduction to the European Union and the politics of European integration. We move from a historical overview to a description and assessment of several basic political institutions and conclude with the impact that European integration has had (and continues to exercise) over matters ranging from agriculture, food, the environment, and crime to citizenship, migration, gay rights, and women's rights.
POLS285United States Foreign PolicyThe first part of this course provides an introduction to, and a historical overview of, U.S. foreign policy from the end of World War II to the present. Particular emphasis is given to security issues, the development of the Cold War, and the search for a guiding doctrine for contemporary U.S. foreign policy. The second part of the course examines the way in which U.S. foreign policy is made, looking specifically at the role of the Presidency, Congress, and the bureaucracy.
POLS295Special TopicsSpecial Topics offerings focus upon topics not addressed in the department's regular offerings. The course can be repeated with a different topic. Check the course schedule to see when Special Topics courses are being offered.
POLS295Special Topics: American Judical ProcessAn introduction to the politics of the American judicial process. The course will examine the judicial function generally with particular attention on the decisional processes, process participants, state and federal court structures, recruitment and selection of judges, bases of judicial behavior, policy making, and impact of judicial decisions.
POLS295Political Theory and the EnvironmentThis course will serve as an introduction to the growing field of environmental political theory, or political ecology, including the writings of political theorists past and present on the relationship between politics, humans, and non-human nature and attempts by contemporary political theorists and environmental activists to articulate principles for organizing society in relation to the natural world. Students will confront their own assumptions about the proper relationship between humans and the natural world, which are embedded in core political concepts such as citizenship and democracy, and work to form reasoned judgments in relation to current environmental problems and controversies.
POLS305International Law and OrganizationThis course addresses: 1) the history, structure, promise, and limitations of international organizations, especially the United Nations; 2) the basic nature and scope of international law; and 3) how the interplay of international law and organizations affects key areas of global relations, particularly the use of force, collective security and peacekeeping, the treatment of civilians in war, and human rights more generally.
POLS310Women, States, and NGOsWhat role do states have, if any, in defining, maintaining, constructing, or remedying sex discrimination? This course provides a comparative, historical framework to consider the challenges and opportunities feminist movements have met and continue to face as they mobilized both within and beyond their countries to demand social justice.
POLS315Political Attitudes & BehaviorAnalysis of the process of public decision making with reference to the nature and role of interest groups, political parties, and their relationships to other forces and factors that form public opinion. Examines parties as mediating institutions between masses and elites.Prerequisite: POLS-105
POLS320Democracy and Democratic TheoryWhat does it mean to say that something is "democratic" or that a government is a "democracy"? Almost everyone today claims democratic principles as their own, yet there is widespread disagreement about what this really means. The literal translation of "democracy" is "rule by the people," but rule how exactly, and over what matters? And who is included in "the people"? In this course we will examine the theory and practice of democracy in historical context as well as its meaning for people around the world today. Topics covered include classical democracy and republicanism; liberal, direct, radical, agonistic, and deliberative democracy; and challenges to democracy in the present age of global and corporatism. Offered biannually
POLS325Race and PoliticsRace has been present at every critical moment in American political development, shaping political institutions, political discourse, public policy, and its denizens. Its evolving and dynamic status as a structure of inequality, a political organizing principle, an ideology, and a system of power necessitates that we study the politics of race historically, institutionally and discursively. This class focuses on the broad implications of race/racism as it relates to constitutional law/constitutionalism, sovereignty and American empire. Moving beyond the standard moral analysis, we focus on the dynamic relationship between race and American politics to illuminate an investigation and interrogation of core legal concepts, political decision-making - including underlying implications and assumptions.Prerequisite: POLS-105
POLS330The Politics of the HolocaustStudy of two fundamental elements: (1) a brief historical overview of anti-Semitism and the social construction of identity whereby Jews are rendered "Other," and (2) a focus on how and by whom the Jews were annihilated. Students will comprehend the unique fate of the Jews under National Socialism, the incorporation of racial eugenics into law, and the capacities of modern states to service genocide.
POLS360Domination, Liberation, and Justice: Contemporary Political ThoughtIn the twentieth century, a diverse group of thinkers challenged the basic underlying premises of modern political thought, refiguring how we think about domination, liberation, and justice. In this course, we will be addressing the overlapping themes of knowledge, power, history, and identity as they relate to contemporary political dilemmas. Thinkers discussed may include Arendt, Beauvoir, Butler, Foucault, Nietzsche, and other contemporary thinkers. Previous coursework in political theory or philosophy is recommended. Offered biannually.
POLS370Civil Liberties and Civil RightsStudy of individual liberties as defined by today's Supreme Court; development of the Court's point of view in such areas as freedom of speech, subversion and disloyalty, religious freedoms and church-state separation, and equal protection of the law; the role of the Supreme Court in the political system of the United States.
POLS375International Political EconomyThis course deals with issues arising in a world system that is increasingly united by a global economy, but that remains fragmented politically. It begins with an examination of the alternative paradigms of economic liberalism, economic nationalism, and radicalism. It then proceeds to examine in greater detail issues concerning international trade (including debates over globalization and free trade) and the international monetary system (including the roles of the IMF and World Bank, debt crises, and financial crises).Prerequisite: POLS-107
POLS380Drugs, Democracy, and Human RightsAn overview of three of the most contentious issues in contemporary U.S. foreign policy. Specifically, the course examines the role of U.S. policy with regard to the problems of international human rights, the promotion of democracy, and the international drug trade. Past and present U.S. policy is discussed, as well as what U.S. policy ought to be regarding these challenging problems.
POLS/SEMN410From Social Movements to Non-ProfitsWe will compare and contrast the politics of "social movements" across different countries and in the context of "globalization". We open with an overview concerning the decline of traditional mass based political institutions (e.g., parties and unions) and consider the rise of alternative forms of political expression - including movements and NGOs (non-governmental organizations). After focusing on contemporary debates about movements (e.g., the efficacy of social movements for positive social change) we will reflect on the often-vibrant debates that occur within them (e.g., priorities, identities, alliances, strategies, funding and institutionalization). Prerequisite: Seniors Standing
POLS490Contemporary Behavior, Theory, and MethodologyAnalysis of major premises and theoretical frameworks underlying current political science research. Prerequisite: Senior standing.
POLS593Senior Individualized ProjectEach program or department sets its own requirements for Senior Individualized Projects done in that department, including the range of acceptable projects, the required background of students doing projects, the format of the SIP, and the expected scope and depth of projects. See the Kalamazoo Curriculum -> Senior Individualized Project section of the Academic Catalog for more details.Prerequisite: Permission of department and SIP supervisor required.