Comparative Politics

The government curriculum focuses on the four main subfields of the discipline: American Politics, Comparative Politics, Political Theory, and International Politics. The department also has special strengths in American judicial process, media politics, gender politics, international security, and broad coverage of Africa, Asia, Europe, Canada, Middle East, and Latin America. Current course offerings include both introductory and advanced courses in these areas. Students may complete the Government major or elect a combined major of Government courses and any of the following areas: African studies, Asian studies, Canadian studies, or Environmental studies. Students may also choose to combine Government courses with the following minor programs: African studies, Asian studies, Canadian studies, Caribbean and Latin American studies, European studies, and Gender studies. For further information on these options, see the sections on Combined Majors and Program Minors in the Catalog.    

Please visit the Government sakai website for current course syllabi.

105. Introduction to Comparative Politics.

Comparative politics analyzes how demands emerge, power is exercised and benefits are distributed in contemporary evidence to examine how societies respond to these challenges in order to appreciate and learn from the differences among them. Developing societies, communist and formerly communist regimes, as well as industrialized democracies, are analyzed and compared as a basis for evaluation and judgment.

108. Introduction to International Relations.

An analysis of international relations as a political process with particular emphasis on patterns of conflict and cooperation. Major areas of study include theories concerning the nature of the international system, nationalism, balance of power, collective security, alliance systems, international law and organization, political economy, war, deterrence, arms control and disarmament, the emerging international order, human rights and the environment. Fulfills SS Distribution (2013 curriculum). Fulfills SSC Distribution (2001 curriculum).

291.  Research Seminar.

Research Seminars cover topics related to American Politics (290), Comparative Politics (291), Political Theory (292), and International Politics (293). The specific topics of these seminars vary depending on the interests of faculty and students. Recent topics have included China’s Rise, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Presidential Elections, Comparative Environmental Politics, and the Politics of Inequality. The seminars are designed to acquaint students with research problems, strategies and techniques relevant to the field. This course is required for all government majors and should be completed in the sophomore or junior year. Students may take only one research seminar. Also offered through Asian Studies.

320. Latin American Politics.

This course introduces students to the politics of Latin America. Tracing the roots of current political conflict to the colonial era, the primary focus of the course is on underdevelopment and political change in Latin America today. The course examines the roles of key political actors, including the military, indigenous peoples and the church. It explores patterns of development, introducing theories that seek to explain persistent poverty and inequality as well as the periodic swings between authoritarianism and democracy in the region. The course material emphasizes current pressures for political inclusion, tracking social movements and human rights. Themes are illustrated with case studies. Also offered through Caribbean and Latin American Studies.

321. African Politics.

An introductory survey of the evolution of power and authority in Africa. The course explores early history; colonialism and conquest; the rise of nationalism and the coming of independence; and the contemporary challenges of development. Especially recommended for students who plan to participate in the semester in Kenya. Prerequisite: Government 105 or 108 or permission of the instructor. Also offered through African Studies and Peace Studies.

328. Political Institutions in the Developing World.

This course will introduce students to the main concepts and approaches of comparative institutional analysis through an examination of political institutions in countries across the developing world, including sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, Central, South and East Asia, the Middle East and others. We will critically and empirically examine whether outcomes such as better representation, political stability, less corruption, or improved economic performance can be achieved through the selection of certain forms of political institutions by governments in developing countries.

322. Chinese Politics.

This course aims to provide students with basic fluency in the politics of China. It introduces the political geography of China, its current perceived status in the international community, and essential background history for understanding Chinese politics today. It also investigates the nuts and bolts of contemporary Chinese institutions to get a good feel for how the Chinese conceptualize and practice politics. Finally, the course examines important issues and trends facing China today. Prerequisite: Government 105 or 108 or permission of instructor. Also offered through Asian Studies.

325. Canadian Politics

An introductory survey of the formal institutions and the processes of Canadian politics. Emphasis is on the federal government and on federal-provincial relations. Topics covered include the parliamentary process, parties and voting.

327. Politics of Development and Underdevelopment.

This course focuses on three questions: Why have a small number of Western countries and Japan emerged as wealthy, industrial societies, while the great majority of countries have not? How have some third-world countries managed to achieve rapid economic development, while others have experienced stagnation or even negative growth in recent decades? The main focus is a comparison between several East Asian and African countries. Third, how has the process of globalization affected countries’ chances for development? Prerequisites: Government 105 or 108 and junior or senior standing.

330. Politics and Governments of Western Europe.

This course focuses on West European governments, political parties and social movements. It seeks to provide students with essential information about West European politics, as well as contemporary theories about advanced capitalist democracies. Comparisons between European and American politics are frequent so that students may better see the distinctiveness of each. Issues examined include the European welfare state, the significance of the European Union, the changing contours of political conflict the emergence of multiculturalism in Europe. Especially recommended for students who plan to participate in an off-campus program in Europe and for students returning from those programs. Prerequisite: Government 290. Also offered through European Studies.

331. Politics of the Middle East

This course examines the political development of the Arab and non-Arab states in the Middle East since the fall of the Ottoman Empire in World War l. The course adopts both a thematic approach, comparing history, culture, religion and the role of foreign intervention, as well as a country-based approach, examining the politics and policies of specific Arab and Non-Arab countries. The objective of the course is to provide students with an understanding of the challenges facing the region and those studying it. Prerequisites: 105. Introduction to Comparative Politics

Special Topics Courses