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Course Descriptions

Course Descriptions

Theme Area Courses

POSC 101 – Catholic Thought, The State and Security in the Modern World

Theme Area:  Faith and Reason

The increasing tensions of the present security environment can have a strangling effect on the spirit and ethos of moral reason, and faith founded social institutions. The State needs to be secure and have its people secure. Doing so, however, may involve hard choices to do things it would not do ordinarily. How can a principled and faith founded people respond to these exigencies?

This course introduces the student to the rich tradition of Roman Catholic thinking on the subject of war, peace, and State and the dignity of the individual. It will then open a conversation with some of the other approaches to contemporary problems, as well as assess responses to pressing security issues confronting the world. Cross-listed with International Relations.

POSC 105 – American National Government

Theme Area:  Social Justice

This survey course is designed to provide students with a foundation for understanding and critically assessing American political processes, institutions, and public policies.

POSC 110 – Current Problems in International Politics

Theme Area:  Global Diversity

A survey of issues that states currently face in world politics. Cross-listed with International Relations.

POSC 201 - Human Security in Sub-Saharan Africa

Theme Area:  Social Justice and Global Diversity

Focusing on sub-Saharan Africa, the course examines human security issues including religious and ethnic conflict within states; genocide and mass slaughter; terrorism; food security; migration and human trafficking; development and aid; and democratization. Among countries considered in the course are some of Africa's largest and most important, Ethopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Sudan, Uganda, and Zambia.

POSC 202 - State and Local Government
A study of the role of state and local government in the Federal Union.

POSC 205 – Asian Politics

Theme Area:  Global Diversity

Compares the politics, society, and culture of China , India and Japan . Examines conceptions of citizenship, democracy, and the state; the role of religion, caste, ethnicity, and gender; and problems of population, poverty, human rights, and development. Cross-listed with International Relations.

POSC 208 - Comparative Politcal Systems:  Advanced Industrial States - 3 credits
An introduction to government, politics, culture and economic policy in Europe and Japan.  Cross-listed with International Relations.

Theme Area:  Global Diversity

POSC 314 – The Theological-Political Problem

Theme Area:  Faith and Reason

American citizens come to the discussion of the relationship between faith and politics with certain ready-made assumptions like the desirability of a “separation between church and state,” or that religious belief is a “private matter of conscience.” Yet it is evident that such views are not universally accepted in today's world, and they certainly are not the norm of mankind's historical experience. Where do such assumptions come from, and what justifies them? What are the merits of alternative understandings? Such questions have long been of concern to political philosophers. This course will examine how, in the history of political philosophy, the relationship between faith and politics becomes the “theological-political problem” by bringing reason to bear in an effort to understand how to reconcile or accommodate the worldly claims of particular political authority with the transmundane, in some instances universal, claims of religion revealed or otherwise.

POSC 424 - WOMEN AND POLITICS

Theme Area:  Social Justice

Examines the political socialization and behavior of women in the U.S. and the public policies particularly affecting or affected by women.  Cross-listed with Women's and Genders Studies.

Courses

POSC 101 - CATHOLIC THOUGHT, THE STATE, AND SECURITY IN THE MODERN WORLD - 3 credits. The increasing tensions of the present security environment can have a strangling effect on the spirit and ethos of moral reason, and faith founded social institutions. The State needs to be secure and have its people secure. Doing so, however, may involve hard choices to do things it would not do ordinarily. How can a principled and faith founded people respond to these exigencies?

This course introduces the student to the rich tradition of Roman Catholic thinking on the subject of war, peace, the State and the dignity of the individual. It will then open a conversation with some of the other approaches to contemporary problems, as well as assess responses to pressing security issues confronting the world. Cross-listed with International Relations.

POSC 105 - AMERICAN NATIONAL GOVERNMENT - 3 credits. This survey course is designed to provide students with a foundation for understanding and critically assessing American political processes, institutions, and public policies.

POSC 110 - CURRENT PROBLEMS IN INTERNATIONAL POLITICS - 3 credits. A survey of issues that states currently face in world politics. Cross-listed with International Relations.

POSC 115 - HUMAN BEING AND CITIZEN - 3 credits. An introduction to problems of politics through literature and film.

POSC 120 - INTRODUCTION TO POLITICAL ECONOMY - 3 credits. An introduction to how government decisions about trade, investment , debt and market developments impact people domestically and worldwide. Special attention is given to the problems experienced by poorer countries and responsibilities of developed nations. No background in the subject matter is required.

POSC 201 - HUMAN SECURITY IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA - 3 credits.  Focusing on sub-Saharan Africa, the course examines human security issues including religious and ethnic conflict within states; genocide and mass slaughter; terrorism; food security; migration and human trafficking; development and aid; and democratization.  Among countries considered in the course are some of Africa's largest and most important, Ethopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Sudan, Uganda, and Zambia.

POSC 203 - THE AMERICAN CONGRESS - 3 credits. An investigation of the operation of the Congress within the American system of government

POSC 205 - ASIAN POLITICS - 3 credits. Compares the politics, society, and culture of China, India, and Japan. Examines conceptions of citizenship, democracy, and the state; the role of religion, caste, ethnicity, and gender; and problems of population, poverty, human rights, and development. Cross-listed with International Relations.

POSC 208 - COMPARATIVE POLITICAL SYSTEMS:  ADVANCED INDUSTRIAL STATES - 3 credits.  An introduction to government, politics, culture, and economic policy in Europe and Japan.  Cross-listed with International Relations.

POSC 209 - COMPARATIVE POLITICAL SYSTEMS: DEVELOPING STATES - 3 credits. An introduction to government, politics, culture, and economic policy in the developing world.  Cross-listed with International Relations.

POSC 211 - ESPIONAGE AND FREEDOM - 3 credits. This course considers fundamental questions about espionage in an age of heightened concern over security and terrorism. The subject matter will address the collision between national interests and human rights, of the contrast between Western traditions of morality and democracy on the one hand and contemporary conflict and national security on the other.

POSC 216 - FOUNDATION OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS THEORY - 3 credits.  The goal of this course is to develop understanding of how contemporary international relations theory rests upon a long-standing historical conversation about the conditions for a just international order.  Specific objectives include comprehending a) classical realism, idealism, imperialism and cosmopolitanism b) Christian just war theory and cosmopolitanism c) early modern realism, the rise of the state and international law d) modern liberal nationalism and internationalism e) modern cosmopolitanism and imperialism.  Cross-listed with International Relations.

POSC 220 - THE POLITICS OF PUBLIC FINANCE - 3 credits. This course is an introduction to the politics of the budgeting and appropriating processes, both of which have taken on a disproportionate influence over policy making in the last decade. The course examines the key actors, institutional procedures, actor strategies, and policy products in these areas, considered at both the federal and state levels of governance.

POSC 235 - MASS MEDIA AND POLITICS - 3 credits. A study of the mass media and its nature, role, and impact on U.S. politics. The emphasis is on the media as instruments of political communication and opinion leadership.

POSC 245 - INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS - 3 credits. A study of politics between states including sovereignty, balance of power, war, and economics. Cross-listed with International Relations.

POSC 255 - AMERICAN FOREIGN POLICY - 3 credits. A study of American foreign policy since World War II. Cross-listed with International Relations.

POSC 276 - ELECTIONS, CAMPAIGNS, AND VOTING BEHAVIOR - 3 credits. An examination of the determinants of opinions and political beliefs, political participation, and voting behavior; the significance for democratic government of these findings.

POSC 290 - AMERICAN POLITICAL THOUGHT - 3 credits. Examination of diverse perspectives on American political thinking.

POSC 292W - PUBLIC POLICY - 3 credits. A study of how and why government responds to problems. W=Writing Intensive Course.

POSC 294W - THE AMERICAN PRESIDENCY - 3 credits. Studies the Presidency and the role it plays at the center of the federal system. W=Writing Intensive Course.

POSC 295 - WAR AND PEACE IN THE NUCLEAR AGE - 3 credits. An examination of the interaction between politics and the use of force in the nuclear age. Cross-listed with International Relations.

POSC 308 - POST CONFLICT JUSTICE AND RECONCILATION - 3 credits. This course engages questions of how war-torn societies should respond to crimes of war and gross human rights violations. It investigates how the pursuit of justice in such cases is related to goals of reconciliation between adversary groups. Building on the legacy of the war crimes tribunals established at the end of WW II, the United Nations has carried out trials of individuals deemed responsible for violations of international humanitarian law in the former Yugoslavia and in Rwanda. A European Union court has prosecuted a former president of Chile for human rights violations. And several countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Europe have established "truth and reconciliation commissions" in the process of moving toward democracy. We will compare experiences of post-conflict justice, as well as reconciliation projects in several countries. Cross-listed with International Relations.

POSC 314 - THE THEOLOGICAL - POLITICAL PROBLEM - 3 credits. Study of the secular regimes in response to competing claims of authority put forward by politics, philosophy and theology.

POSC 317W - WESTERN POLITICAL THOUGHT I - 3 credits. A study of the ideas that constitute our Western heritage of reflecton on perennial political issues. Consideration of theorists from the classical period. W=Writing Intensive Course.

POSC 318W - WESTERN POLITICAL THOUGHT II - 3 credits. A study of the ideas that constitute our Western heritage of reflection on perennial political issues. Consideration of theorists from the late 16th century to the late 19th centures. W=Writing Intensive Course

POSC 321 - GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS OF EASTERN EUROPE - 3 credits.  This course provides an overview of major political developments in selected Eastern European countries since 1945, with an emphasis on the difficulties of making the transition to post-communist governments as well as the state of democracy in these countries today.  This course will cover focus on the countries of Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia.  Cross-listed witn International Relations.

POSC 322W - GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS OF RUSSIA AND THE INDEPENDENT STATES - 3 credits. An examination of the political and cultural challenges in democratization and market economy transition. W=Writing Intensive Course.

POSC 326W - CONSTITUTIONAL LAW AND POLITICS: CIVIL LIBERTIES AND CIVIL RIGHTS - 3 credits. This course examines constitutional law and politics arising from the Bill of Rights and the 14th Amendment. Special attention is given to religious establishment; free exercise of religion; freedom of speech; protection against unreasonable searches and seizures, compelled confessions, and cruel and unusual punishment; due process; privacy; and equal protection of the laws. W=Writing Intensive Course.

POSC 327W - CONSTITUTIONAL LAW AND POLITICS: THE POWERS OF GOVERNMENT - 3 credits. This course examines the constitutional law and politics of separation of powers and federalism. Topics include the powers of war and peace; emergency executive powers; executive privilege; executive immunity; impeachment; Congress’s power to regulate interstate commerce; delegation; the supremacy clause, nullification and interposition; and state sovereign immunity. W=Writing Intensive Course.

POSC 345W - ETHICS AND INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS - 3 credits. The course's principal purposes are to explore the possibilities, limits, and obligations of ethical action in international relations. The course applies the insights of different theories of ethics to a number of issues, including various wars, terrorism, and humanitarian intervention. W=Writing Intensive Course. Cross-listed with International Relations.

POSC 348 - HUMANITARIAN INTERVENTION - 3 credits.  The course discusses the evolution of humanitarian intervention and human rights norms as well as the expanding use of humanitarian intervention in international relations.  The course will be a detailed study of the evolution of human rights intervention as well as a case study of major humanitarian crisis and the international response to them (Balkans, Rwanda, Syria, etc.)

POSC 349 - UNITED NATIONS I - 1 credit. Examines the processes and policies of the United Nations through classroom lecture and experiential (lab) activities. A strong focus will be placed on reinforcing professional skills such as research, negotiation, and public speaking. The required lab portion of this course will consist of student participation in all parts of local and/or national Model United Nations conferences, amounting to at least 12 hours of this lab/activity outside the classroom. Permission of instructor required. Cross-listed with International Relations

POSC 350 - UNITED NATIONS II - 1 credit. Examines the processes and policies of the United Nations through classroom lecture and experiential (lab) activities. A strong focus will be placed on reinforcing professional skills such as research, negotiation, and public speaking. The required lab portion of this course will consist of student participation in all parts of local and/or national Model United Nations conferences, amounting to at least 12 hours of this lab/activity outside the classroom. Permission of instructor required. Cross-listed with International Relations

POSC 353 - UNITED NATIONS III - 2 credits. Examines the processes and policies of the United Nations through classroom lecture and experiential (lab) activities. A strong focus will be placed on reinforcing professional skills such as research, negotiation, and public speaking. The required lab portion of this course will consist of student participation in all parts of local and/or national Model United Nations conferences, amounting to at least 12 hours of this lab/activity outside the classroom. Permission of instructor required. Cross-listed with International Relations.

POSC 354 - UNITED NATIONS IV - 2 credits. Examines the processes and policies of the United Nations through classroom lecture and experiential (lab) activities. A strong focus will be placed on reinforcing professional skills such as research, negotiation, and public speaking. The required lab portion of this course will consist of student participation in all parts of local and/or national Model United Nations conferences, amounting to at least 12 hours of this lab/activity outside the classroom. Permission of instructor required. Cross-listed with International Relations

POSC 360 - CRISIS MANAGEMENT IN COMPLEX EMERGENCIES - 3 credits. This course considers crisis management in theory and practice, drawing from the periods since World War II. Theories of crisis prevention, escalation, management, de-escalation, termination, and post-crisis management will be covered. In addition, alternative decision-making theories, structures, and processes, the nature of crisis bargaining and negotiation and the role of third parties will be addressed. Special attention will be paid to the role of military force in post-Cold War crisis scenarios. The course will include case studies and a simulation designed to provide context to the study of crisis management.  Cross-listed with International Relations.

POSC 375 - CATHOLIC THEORY AND INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS - 3 credits. The principal purpose of the class is to develop, analyze, and test Catholic political thought as an international relations theory. Specifically, how does Catholic thought provide unique insight into explaining key dimensions of international politics? How well does Catholic international relations theory help us understand major international events? What are the strengths and weakness of this approach in comparison to others? Prominent subjects studied will be the origins of various wars and the effectiveness of Catholic strategies of conflict resolution, as well as natural law, a Biblical understanding of human nature, pacifism, Just War Theory, and humanitarian intervention.

POSC 380W - CONTROVERSIES IN PUBLIC POLICY - 3 credits. Analysis of the sources of conflict in contemporary public policy making. W=Writing Intensive Course.

POSC 385 - INTERNATIONAL LAW AND ORGANIZATION - 3 credits. Examines the historical development and present role played by international law and organizations. Cross-listed with International Relations.

POSC 407- TERRORISM - 3 credits. The phenomenon of transnational violence perpetrated by non state actors against civilians has become the single most pressing security issue in the modern era. This sort of violence - terrorism - is studied here in all its facets: motivations, organization, funding, tactics and goals. Furthermore, kinetic as well as soft-power counter-terror strategies are also reviewed from the policy, legal and moral perspectives, among others. Cross-listed with International Relations.

POSC 408 - THEORY OF COMPARATIVE GOVERNMENT - 3 credits. Examines power, conflict and democratization primarily in countries outside the U.S.

POSC 409 - PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION - 3 credits. Have you ever wondered why "government bureaucrat" has become a pejorative term? Or why seemingly simple regulatory requirements result in a mass of red tape for citizens? Better yet, have you ever encountered the public bureaucracy as either an employee or a customer and puzzled at what you found? If you answer yes to any of these questions, please join us for an inside look at a fascinating and often misunderstood discipline. This survey of public administration is designed to shed some light on these mysteries and to provide students with an opportunity to explore the complexities inherent in the process of administering the laws, policies, and regulations of our country.

POSC 412 - ARAB ISRAELI CONFLICT - 3 credits. The clash between Jewish Zionists and the Arab peoples of Palestine and surrounding countries has been a focal point of world politics for roughly the last 100 years. It has involved six wars, as well as near-continual violence short of outright war. This course is designed to make the major issues comprehensible and to enable students to begin to form their own assessments of what is needed for a just and lasting resolution. Through readings, films, discussion, and simulation exercises, the class explores the political, social, economic, psychological, and cultural dynamics of the conflict, as well as questions such as why the conflict has proven so difficult to resolve, how the conflict resembles and differs from other cases of protracted conflict between ethnic and national groups, and what factors have motivated U.S. policy toward the conflict. Cross-listed with International Relations.

POSC 413 - HUMAN RIGHTS: POLITICS AND POLICY - 3 credits. Explores the international human rights regime including philosophical sources, legal instruments, governmental and non-state actors, and impacts on the international system.  Cross-listed with International Relations.

POSC 414W - POLITICAL ECONOMY OF RUSSIA AND THE INDEPENDENT STATES - 3 credits. A study of the way in which economic and political forces interact in the restructuring of a nation, with special attention given to trade issues, commercial ventures, banking reform, and environmental questions. W=Writing Intensive Course

POSC 418 - THE POLITICS OF CIVIC PROBLEMS - 3 credits. This course examines the impact of various economic and social policies on the quality of life and economic vitality of our citizens, with particular attention paid to Western Pennsylvania.

POSC 419W - ETHNIC CONFLICT: POLITICS AND POLICY - 3 credits. Ethnic conflict threatens political stability in countries around the world. From Iraq to Bolivia, from Spain to Indonesia, conflicts have erupted over a wide variety of "ethnic" issues in recent years. Yet despite its ubiquity, ethnic politics remains poorly understood: Why do people identify with ethnic groups? Why does ethnic identity sometimes lead to private ritual, sometimes to peaceful mobilization through mass movements or political parties, and sometimes to violent conflict, pogroms, and genocide? Most pressingly, are there solutions to ethnic conflict, particularly in deeply-divided, violence-ridden countries?

POSC 420 - CONTEMPORARY POLITICAL THOUGHT - 3 credits. A study of the central controversies in political thought during the 20th century. Cross-listed with International Relations.

POSC 422W - AMERICAN DEFENSE POLICY - 3 credits. Studies the institutions, policies, and decision making of the American defense establishment. W=Writing Intensive Course. Cross-listed with International Relations.

POSC 424 - WOMEN AND POLITICS - 3 credits. Examines the political socialization and behavior of women in the U.S., and the public policies particularly affecting or affected by women. Cross-listed with Women's and Genders Studies.

POSC 427 - QUANTITATIVE ANALYSIS - 3 credits. Examines quantitative research methods for the analysis of political phenomena.

POSC 428W - GLOBAL ENERGY POLICY - 3 credits. The impact oil and natural resource issues have on decision making by governments and international organizations. Global market impacts and the activities of multinational cartels are also studied. W=Writing Intensive Course. Cross-listed with International Relations.

POSC 429W - COMPARATIVE INTELLIGENCE AGENCIES - 3 credits.
An examination of the development, structure and usage of intelligence agencies with particular emphasis on how such functions impact upon national policy makers and the policy making process. The primary focus of the course centers on a study of the CIA, British M16 and Russian KGB/FSB. W=Writing Intensive Course. Cross-listed with International Relations.

POSC 43OW - INTERNSHIP IN PRACTICAL POLITICS - 3 credits. A work experience in government offices. Permission of department required. W=Writing Intensive Course.

POSC 435 - SOUTH AFRICAN POLITICS AND SOCIETY: FROM APARTHEID STATE TO "RAINBOW NATION" - 3 credits. The struggle among communities of South Africans for security, dignity, prosperity, and a sense of control over their own destiny is 350 years old. This course highlights the clash between the Afikaner national movement, which was in power from 1948-1994, and the African National Congress (ANC), which governs today.

POSC 436W - ADVANCED SEMINAR - 3 credits. An in-depth consideration of selected topics in the discipline. Open to graduating seniors only. Permission of instructor required. W=Writing Intensive Course.

POSC 442W - GLOBAL PUBLIC POLICY - 3 credits. Examines policymaking at the global level, including (1) policy conflicts in international institutions such as the UN and (2) international influences on domestic policymaking. Focuses on the roles of states and international organizations, as well as the media and nongovernmental organizations. Topics considered include the International Criminal Court; anti-personnel landmines; gun control; genetically modified foods; and definitions of the family. W=Writing Intensive Course. Cross-listed with International Relations.

POSC 445 - GLOBAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT - 3 credits.  This seminar explores the impact of domestic and international forces on the economic development of emerging markets.  The rise of globalization has been regarded as both an advantage and a curse.  This seminar views the globalization debate for three different perspectives:  the position and impact of international capital transfers; currency exchange and value considerations; and whether the assumed relationship between open markets and democratization is still a sustainable one.

POSC 496 - SPECIAL TOPICS - 3 credits.  The content of this course will focus on a special subject not ususally offered by the department.

POSC 497 - ADVANCED INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS THEORY - 3 credits.  The central substantive aim of the course is to develop a deep and nuanced understanding of how different theories explain international politics and which ones are most persuasive under what conditions.  Theories are important because they affect both how we intepret our environment and how we respond to it.  Theories, in short, drive action.  Theories representing all of the major approaches to the study of world politics (material, institutional, and ideational) and levels of analysis (international, domestic, and individual) will be examined.  A central objective of the class is for students to develop their critical reading abilities, i.e., what are the authors read in the class arguing?  What are the strengths and weaknesses of each piece?  What are the authors' (often hidden) assumptions?  Correctly answering these questions is important not only in the context of this class, but in terms of how you - curent citizens and future leaders - see the world.

POSC 499 - DIRECTED READINGS IN POLITICAL SCIENCE - 1-3 credits. An opportunity for selected students to engage in independent study and research. Permission of instructor required.