Chair: Graham P. Ramsden
Department Office: Eppley Building, Room 326

Political Science and International Relations examine how humans organize their societies and make collective choices. They focus on the behavior of individuals (both ordinary people and leaders) and groups, and on the institutions that humans use to make and implement public policy decisions. International Relations focuses in particular on the interactions among states and on international governance. Both examine not just “governments,” but the whole process of governing.

Minors in Political Science and International Relations

Students who think they may teach Social Science in secondary schools must consult with the Education Department, with the Political Science Department, and with the appropriate agency in the state in which they intend to teach.


PLS 101. Introduction to Politics. 3 credits. FA, SP

Introduction to the ways that human beings make collective decisions, both in governments and in other settings. Course surveys some of the perennial problems of political life, and introduces students to the ways that political scientists approach them.

PLS 105. Introduction to World Politics. 3 credits. FA, SP

Surveys the international political system, problems of conflict and cooperation, political geography, major forms of government, and cultural and economic sources of politics and policy. Case studies based on contemporary events using relevant political concepts.

PLS 121. American Government And Politics. 3 credits. FA, SP, SU (Same as AMS 121)

A course that provides a critical overview of American political institutions, processes, and policies. It shows how these institutions and processes are shaped by the Constitution, historical events and elections as well as by politicians, the media, interest groups, and public opinion.

PLS 215. Comparative Political Systems. 3 credits. FA, SP

Introduction to the concepts, techniques, and theories used by political scientists in understanding political systems. Comparative exploration of major processes, problems and institutions. Selected case studies of Western and non-Western states. Required of all majors. P: So. stdg.

PLS 301. Western European Political Systems. 3 credits. AY, FA

Introduction to party and parliamentary systems, political behavior, and policy-making processes in major West European nations. Special emphasis on the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and Italy. Contemporary policy issues such as European integration, financing of social services, economic growth and environmental regulation are considered. P: So. stdg.

PLS 302. Studies in Contemporary British Politics. 3 credits.

Study of the contemporary British political system including such matters as parliament, the evolving constitution, the role of the prime minister, the party system, etc. P: So. stdg.

PLS 303. Politics Of Russia And The USSR Successor States. 3 credits. OD

Course explores the emerging Russian Federation, the origins of the collapse of the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the current problems of reform and reorganization. Some comparisons are made with other former Soviet Republics. P: So. stdg.

PLS 305. Eastern European Political Systems. 3 credits. OD

Course surveys the post-communist political systerms of East Europe, including Albania, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Romania the Slovak Republic, and the former Yugoslavia. Topics include the collapse of communist regimes, economic and political reform, democratization, ethnic conflict, and East-West relations. P: So. stdg.

PLS 310. Political Science Research Methods. 0-4 credits. SP

Introduction to qualitative and quantitative methods used to test political hypotheses. Topics include research design, data collection, basic statistics, and computer-assisted data analysis. Required of all majors. P: One Magis Core Mathematical Reasoning course.

PLS 313. Politics of the Middle East. 3 credits. AY, SP

Comparative analysis of political systems in the Middle East. Focused on the process of political development and the transformation from traditional to modern political entities. Analysis of such issues as the Arab-Israeli conflict, rise of Islamic fundamentalism, U.S. involvement in the area, and geopolitical issues. P: So. stdg.

PLS 315. Politics of Asia. 3 credits. AY, FA

Introduction to the politics of selected Asian countries from a comparative perspective. Topics include political change and development; ethnic and other conflicts: domestic and regional problems; economic development; authority; and democratization. P: So. stdg.

PLS 316. Government and Politics of People's Republic of China. 3 credits. AY, SP

The nature of China's political culture, the distribution of power, key institutions and decision-making, political participation, and how people are mobilized for collective purposes. China's contemporary experiments in modernization. P: So. Stdg.

PLS 317. Latin American Government And Politics. 3 credits. AY, SP

Overview of the political systems of Latin America. Emphasis on impact of social institutions on political process and culture. Review of colonial legacies, governmental systems, political parties and interest groups, and issues of socio-economic development and democratization. P: So. stdg.; One Magis Core Understanding Social Science course.

PLS 318. InterAmerican Politics. 3 credits.

The primary goal of this course is to give students an understanding of the complex relationships forged between the U.S. and its southern neighbors. To accomplish this, we will study U.S. policy towards several Latin American states as well as their policies towards the U.S. in comparative perspective. P: So. Stdg.

PLS 319. Politics Of The Developing Areas. 3 credits. OD

Introduction to political and social issues underlying and forming developing areas politics. Theories of political development, the military, patron-client systems of politics, ethnic conflict, democracy and institutional development, statism and economic underdevelopment. P: So. stdg.

PLS 320. Judicial Process. 3 credits. SP

Organization, functioning and political role of the courts and the legal process in the United States. Detailed attention given to theories of adjudication, staffing, judicial decision-making, and judicial review. P: So. stdg.

PLS 321. American Tribal Indian Government and Politics. 3 credits. (Same as NAS 321)

This course will provide students with an overview of the development of modern tribal governments, their powers, and the problems they face. Students will examine contemporary tribal governments and the issues currently facing tribes including economic development and intergovernmental relations. P: So. stdg.

PLS 322. American Presidency. 3 credits. AY, SP

Examines the evolution of the presidency and its role in contemporary America and in international politics. How the office is shpaed by the constitution, historical precedent, public opinion, and presidential character. P: So. stdg.; One Magis Core Understanding Social Science course.

PLS 323. Campaign Management. 3 credits. AY, FA

Examines the practical side of running for political office. Topics include campaign strategy, campaign organization, door-to-door campaigning, fund-raising, voter registration drives, polling, and volunteer recruitment. Students are required to work at least 50 hours on a political campaign. P: So. stdg.

PLS 324. Congress And The Legislative Process. 3 credits. AY, FA

An overview of the role of Congress in the American political system. Analyzes theories of representation, legislative processes, legislative behavior, and congressional elections. P: So. stdg.

PLS 325. American States and Regions. 3 credits. OD (Same as AMS325)

Description and evaluation of American state governments and regional organizations. Examination of the theory of federalism and its current status; comparative analysis of state-level political actors and institutions. P: So. stdg; One Magis Core Understanding Social Science course.

PLS 326. Governing Metropolitan Areas. 3 credits. OD

Course examines politics and policy questions involving the governance of complex urban areas. Course covers historical shifts in urban politics and contemporary debates over metropolitan government structure, the appropriate role of the federal government, and the financing and delivery of local services. P: So. stdg.

PLS 327. Minority Politics in America. 3 credits. OD (Same as AMS 327)

Explores the political experience of American racial and ethnic minorities with particular attention to the experience of black Americans. Reviews roots and patterns of unequal treatment of minorities, tactics and strategies used to attack these patterns, contemporary situations, and the tension between integrationist and self-determination strategies. P: So. stdg.

PLS 328. Mass Media In American Politics. 3 credits. AY (Same as AMS 328)

Analyzes the role of the media in contemporary American politics, focusing on its impact on public opion, elections and day-to-day government. P: So. stdg.

PLS 329. Gender and Politics. 3 credits. AY, SP (Same as WGS 329)

Examines issues of gender and politics from political theory, political behavior, and public policy perspectives. Students critique democratic theory, analyze gender differences in voting and in officials' behavior, and develop proposals to address policy problems. P: So. stdg.

PLS 331. Managing The Public And Non-Profit Sectors. 3 credits. FA (Same as HAP 331)

Examines administrative processes and politics in government and non-profit settings. The course emphasizes application of material to case study examples of public and non-profit organizational challenges. Course covers local, state, and national bureaucratic politics. P: One Magis Core Contemporary Composition course and So. stdg.

PLS 332. Interest Group Politics. 3 credits. OD

Introduction to qualitative and quantitative methods used to test political hypotheses. Topics include research design, data collection, basic and intermediate statistics, and computer assisted data analysis. P: One Magis core Understanding Social Science course.

PLS 333. Environmental Politics And Policy. 3 credits. FA (Same as EVS 333)

An overview of the world's environmental problems from a political perspective. Focuses on the politcal dynamics that shape environmental policy making. P: So. stdg.

PLS 334. Public Policy and Healthcare. 3 credits. SP (Same as HAP 334)

Review of government policies and programs as they affect health care in the United States and other countries. Various systems of health insurance, the private medical market, governmental provision, development and evolution of managed care systems, current U.S. federal programs. P: So. stdg.

PLS 335. Federal Indian Policy and Law. 3 credits. OD (Same as AMS 335, NAS 335, SWK 335)

Investigates the relationships between Native Americans and the Euro-American in terms of how the Natives were perceived and the impact this has had on Colonial and Federal policies relating to Native populations. Emphasis is on the historical, political and cultural aspects of the relationship. P: So. stdg.

PLS 337. Constitutional Law. 3 credits. FA

The U.S. Supreme Court's interpretation of the cconstitutional issues, including its role in the politcal process, separatin of powers. American federalism, and political accountability. P: So. stdg.

PLS 339. Public Policy And Poverty In The United States. 3 credits. AY (Same as AMS 339)

Government policies and programs affecting the poor in the United States. Issues include various elements of welfare programs and policies, entitlement programs such as Medicare and Social Security, problems of intergovernmental activity in administrating social welfare. Examination of various critiques of social welfare policy and a review of reform proposals. Role of organized interests and public support relative to programs affecting the poor. Skill development includes policy formulation and analysis. P: So. stdg.

PLS 340. International Politics. 3 credits. FA

Course investigates the assumptions, purposes, and preferred actions of state and non-state actors. It explores patterns of global conflict and cooperation, power, interdependence, geopolitics, political economy, war, terrorism, diplomacy, international law, and peacemaking. P: So. stdg.; One Magis Core Understanding Social Science course.

PLS 341. Issues And Challenges In American Foreign Policy. 3 credits. AY

Key problems of contemporary American foreign policy: terrorism, weapons proliferation, weak states, regional and global economic crisis, human rights, trade, relations with the Middle East, security in Europe and Asia. Course reviews major institutions in the U.S. foreign policy process. P: So. Stdg.

PLS 342. Foreign Policy And Diplomacy Of Major Powers. 3 credits. OD

Course explores and analyzes comparatively the formulation and substance of the foreign policies of selected major powers: the United States, Russia, People's Republic of China and Japan. May be repeated if country of emphasis differs. P: So. stdg.

PLS 343. National Security and Strategic Studies. 3 credits. OD

Course examines domestic and international roots of security policies; the evolution and impact of military threat, setting strategic goals; and policies such as deterrence, arms control, crisis management, nuclear proliferation, and alliances. P: So. stdg.

PLS 345. International Political Economy. 3 credits. AY, FA

Overview of political problems and issues associated with world economic relationships and development. Political aspects of international trade, monetary and debt relations, aid relationships, technology transfers, and migration. Importance of national and multinational actors and a review of various ideological perspectives. P: So. stdg.

PLS 347. International Regimes. 3 credits. AY, FA

Course considers major theories in international relations that begin with the assumption that the world is dominated by webs of formal and informal agreements that facilitate co-operation and limit the sovereignty of nation-states. The course considers the possibilities these relational webs (regimes) hold for the gloval community. P: So. stdg.

PLS 356. Constitutional Issues. 3 credits. (Same as HIS 356)

This course links both the Consitutional History of the United States with the Consititutional Law cases that laid the foundation for the living Constitution that exists today. The historical context and the judicial actions of the courts, from the Founding Fathers to the present, will be examined and debated. P: So. stdg.

PLS 357. Alternative Political Futures. 3 credits. OD

Explores speculations about interaction of humans and their natural and social environments illustrating leadership, individual liberty, global population, ecology, outer space, economics, social cohesion, and conflicts of values: Read Asimov, Heinlein, LeGuin, Simak, Ellison, Dickson, Niven, Pohl and others. P: So. stdg.

PLS 360. Liberal Democracy And Its Critics. 3 credits. OD

Development of classical liberalism on American conservatives and liberals. Readings include Hobbes, Locke, and Mill, classical economists, utilitarians, and American pluralist writers, as well as their critics. P: So. stdg.

PLS 362. Conservative Political Thought. 3 credits. OD

Major works of Burke, deTocqueville, Montesquieu and other major classical conservative authors. Twentieth Century conservatism and its diverse philosophical currents. P: So. stdg.

PLS 365. Classics of Political Thought. 3 credits. AY, SP (Same as PHL 365)

Critical readings of Plato, Aristotle, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, and Marx, with emphasis on their contributions to contemporary political understanding. P: So. stdg.

PLS 372. Equality, Minorities, And Public Policy. 3 credits. AY, SP (Same as AMS 372, BKS 372, HIS 372)

Incorporates continuing discourses between a historian and a political scientist. Exploration of the political processes whereby minorities have influenced the formulation and implementation of policy and governmental responses to demands for equal treatment. P: So. stdg.

PLS 390. Philosophy of Law. 3 credits.

Using narratives, judicial decisions, and scholarly articles, course examines such topics as responsibility, duty, liberty, rights, punishment, justice, and the nature of law itself. P: So. stdg.

PLS 401. The European Union. 3 credits. AY, FA (Same as GER 401)

Review of European co-operation and integration from the Treaty of Rome in 1958 to the present. Analysis of institutions and politics of the European Union. Issues such as currency integration, international trade, environmental and social regulation, admission of new members and movements of people. P: So. stdg.

PLS 405. Ethnicity, Nationalism and Democracy. 3 credits. AY (Same as AFS 405)

Course explores historical and contemporary patterns of democratization and ethnic conflict. Emphasis is on contemporary case studies and theories. P: So. stdg.

PLS 407. Revolutions and Revolutionary Movements. 3 credits.

Survey of major political revolutions. Case studies include France, Russia, China, Iran. Coverage of major theories regarding the causes and consequences of major revolutions as well as incomplete and failed revolutionary movements. P: Jr. stdg.

PLS 410. Seminar On Comparative Politics. 1-3 credits. OD

Each semester focuses on one problem or issue such as reforms in Eastern Europe, rebellion and repression in China, revolutions, the future of Israel, etc. May be repeated under different subtitles. P: So. stdg.

PLS 411. Politics of Africa. 3 credits. AY, FA (Same as AFS 411, BKS 411)

Introduction to politics of sub-Saharan Africa. Covers traditional African cultures, societies and polities; independence movements; and post-colonial politics. Discusses political parties, military interventionism, ethnic conflict, development policy and democratic reform. P: So. stdg.

PLS 420. Seminar On American Government And Politics. 3 credits. OD

Each seminar focuses on one problem or issue such as corruption in government, environmental politics, restructuring and reforming American government; etc. May be repeated under different subtitles. P: So. stdg.

PLS 421. Public Opinion, Political Behavior And Survey Research. 3 credits. OD

Course explores how public attitudes and opinions about contemporary issues are formed and evolve. Opinion trends regarding key issues are explored, as well as techniques used to research these topics: questionnaire construction, sampling, and PC-based statistical analysis using SPSS. P:PLS 310 or SOC 314.

PLS 432. Democratic Theory. 3 credits. OD (Same as AMS 432)

Major themes and thinkers on the role of government and the nature of a democratic political culture. Issues such as popular control, public participation, local autonomy, individualism, political liberty, authority, and variations in democratic political ideology are explored. P: Jr. stdg.

PLS 433. Public Policy Analysis. 3 credits. AY (Same as HAP 433)

Examination of approaches to public problem solving and public policy analysis. Key theories of power and policy, strategies for analyzing public problems and developing policy proposals, and policy in specific areas. P: Jr. stdg.

PLS 435. Global Poverty and Development. 3 credits. AY

Theories and strategies of political, social and economic development of the least developed countries. Topics include: alternative models of development, problems of rural poverty, the roles of international organizations, political-economy of underdevelopment, international capital, and multi-national corporations. P: So. stdg.

PLS 436. Politics And Ethics Of Science And Technology. 3 credits. AY (Same as SRP 436)

Study of the interrelationship of politics, ethics and science in contemporary societies. The course examines the role of government in encouraging and regulating science and technological development in American and international settings. P: Sr. stdg.

PLS 437. Religion And Public Life In The United States. 3 credits. OD (Same as AMS 437)

Survey of American religious experiences and their impact on politics. Includes the guarantees of religious liberty, religion and political activism, and religion as a source of conflict and consensus. P: So. stdg.

PLS 438. Contemporary Issues In Civil Liberties. 3 credits. AY

Supreme Court's role in interpreting constitutional rights, including the freedom of expressions and religion, privacy and autonomy, and equal protection of law.

PLS 439. Dangerous Words: The First Amendment To The Constitution. 3 credits. AY

Course confronts the distinction between words and actions that underlies much of our understanding of the First Amendment’s guarantees of freedom of speech and press. Uses constitutional decisions regarding the First Amendment to explore the nature of language and its effects. P: Jr. stdg.

PLS 440. Seminar on International Relations. 1-3 credits. OD

Each seminar focuses on one problem or issue such as disarmament, the future of the Atlantic Alliance, terrorism, Third World debt, Russian-American relations, Islamic fundamentalism, etc. May be repeated under different subtitles. P: So. stdg.

PLS 459. Marxism. 3 credits. OD (Same as GER 459, PHL 459)

In-depth study of the philosophical and political writing of Karl Marx, the historical evolution of Marxism, and its impact on contemporary thought. P: PHL 107, and one of the following: PHL 201, PHL 250, PHL 312, or PHL 320.

PLS 461. Contemporary Political Theory. 3 credits. OD

How political scientists conceptualize and interpret key issues of contemporary political life. Issues such as the expansion and centralization of legitimate power, logic of organizational behavior, rational-choice theories of individual and group behavior and others. Authors include Dahl, Lowi, Huntington, Downs, Lindblom, Olson, Ostrom, Simon, etc. P: Jr. stdg.

PLS 463. Game Theory And Social Choice. 3 credits. OD

Introduction to economic modeling of political interactions and social choice processes. Covers a set of analytic tools that are used to explain and predict political and economic behavior. P: Jr. stdg.

PLS 465. Faith and Political Action. 3 credits. AY (Same as JPS 465, SRP 465)

Challenges students to understand theological and political science perspectives on social policy issues and the work of religious-based organizations in politics. Course includes 20 hours of work with a community partner during the semester. P: Sr. stdg.

PLS 472. International Conflict. 3 credits. SP

Patterns and possible causes of international terrorism, legitimacy, ethnic conflict, and interstate war. Examines political culture, social context, economic interests, interplay of nationalism and political change. Explores contemporary theories including realism and neo-realism, liberalism and neo-liberalism, bargaining, and game theory. P: So. stdg.

PLS 481. Poverty, Development and Public Policy. 3 credits. SU (Same as SRP 481)

Course explores in an international and comparative way the multi-dimensional nature of poverty, including such factors as political powerlessness, physical and social isolation, racial and gender discrimination and economic systems. Ethical issues regarding these are explored. P: Sr. stdg.

PLS 482. Race In America: Idea And Reality. 3 credits. OD (Same as AMS 482, BKS 482, HIS 482, SRP 482)

An examination of the idea and reality of race during key phases of U.S. history, with an emphasis on the contemporary situation. To understand the multiple meanings and experiences of race, the course draws on sources from science, literature, law, and philosophy. P: Sr. stdg.

PLS 483. Public Affairs Internship. 1-6 credits. FA, SP, SU

Students work as entry-level professionals in selected offices of government or government related agencies and organizations. May normally be repeated to a limit of six hours unless a departmental wavier is granted. Normally, junior standing and a 3.0 grade-point average are required for internship placement. P: IC.

PLS 485. Practicum In The United Nations. 1-3 credits. SP

Research and supervised simulation of the diplomatic roles of actors in the United Nations System. P: IC.

PLS 487. Practicum In Selected National Policy Issues. 1-6 credits. FA, SP, SU

Students participate in seminars, workshops, and projects on selected policy issues in Washington, D.C. P: IC.

PLS 488. Senior Colloquium in Political Science. 3 credits. OD

Intensive survey of selected seminal authors in political science. P: Jr. stdg.

PLS 490. Advanced Research Practicum. 1-3 credits. OD

Intense exploration of a research project to include the study of advanced methods, the development of the research question, compilation of the literature review, explication of the hypothesis(es) and theory, acquisition and testing of the data, and formation of conclusions and implications. Goal is an article of publication quality. P: IC.

PLS 493. Directed Independent Readings. 1-3 credits. FA, SP, SU

Program of readings arranged by the student in cooperation with a consenting instructor in the department. May be repeated to a limit of six hours unless departmental waiver granted. P: IC.

PLS 497. Directed Independent Research. 1-3 credits. FA, SP, SU

Individual research and writing under the direction of a consenting instructor in the department. May be repeated to a limit of six hours. P: IC.

PLS 510. The New Institutionalism. 3 credits.

The New Institutionalism is the reigning paradigm of comparitive politics. It applies rational choice theories and perspectives to the analysis of differing domestic institutional designs in an effort to determine their impact on political outcomes given the preferences of the relevant political actors in the system. Among the institutions which the course will consider are regime type, committee systems, parliamentary coalitions, bicamerlism, vetoes, electoral systems, and constitutional courts. P: IC.

PLS 520. Statistical Methods for Public Administration and Policy Analysis. 3 credits. OD (Same as HAP 520)

Application of research methods tools to public management issues.Reviews basics of research design with attention to public management applications such as benchmarking. Covers the use and interpretation of key statistical methods in public management applications. Introduces use of other quantitative methods such as cost/benefit analysis and qualitative methods such as focus groups. P: IC.

PLS 530. Advanced Statistics for Political Science. 3 credits.

This course is designed to acquaint students with advanced research tools used by political scientists. We will build on basic bivariate models to include an array of mulivariate techniques, including those that incorporate time series and cross sectional data. By the end of the semester, students will be able to produce a sophisticated data analysis project that could be publicly presented. P or CO: PLS 215 and PLS 310.

PLS 537. International Law. 3 credits. SP

Contemporary nation-states are creations of international law. Course engages the many controversies over who is subject to this law, how the law is created and enforced, and the relationship of international law and international politics. Didactic and case-study approach. Substantial research and.

PLS 540. 2040 Initiative Seminar. 3 credits.

The 2040 Initiative Seminar examines the challenging issues that arise as changing demographics trends in racial and ethnic make up in the United States as well as other sweeping trends like the aging of the Baby Boom generation, continuing urbanization, growing economic inequality and residential self-sorting of citizens intersect with law and politics. The course examines demographic trends, explores the ethical, legal, and political issues related to these trends, and examines policy options and social changes to bring about more just and effective systems. P: Senior Standing; One Magis Core Critical Issues in Human Inquiry course.

PLS 591. Senior Research Seminar In Political Science. 3 credits. FA

Students work in seminar environment on original research project and prepare individual senior theses required for graduation. P: Sr. stdg. and PLS 310 or DC.

RDA 520. Math Fundamentals for the Social Sciences. 3 credits.

Math Fundamentals for the Social Sciences, is designed to provide a systematic study of the basic concepts in mathematics. This is a required course for students in the track in Research Design and Analysis (RDA) within the graduate program in international relations (INR). The goal of the course is to develop theoretical mathematical skills to prepare students for research in quantitative problem solving.

RDA 525. Computer Applications. 3 credits.

Computer Applications is an introduction to cutting edge, open source technologies used by researchers all over the world. It gives students the technical skills to process data, visualize data, and produce complex, yet elegant, research papers and analytical reports.

RDA 535. Games and Models. 3 credits.

The seminar builds on students' understanding of research design. Students consider how to use game theory and formal mathematical approaches to model theories, derive hypotheses from these models, and propose appropriate tests of the hypotheses.


Professors: Terry D. Clark, Sue S. Crawford, James S. Wunsch

Professor Emeritus: Bette Evans

Associate Professors: Scott Hendrickson, Maorong Jiang, Erika Moreno, Graham P. Ramsden, Richard C. Witmer

Associate Professor Emeritus: Philip Meeks, Kenneth Wise