Current Course Offerings

Spring 2019

PSCI 130 Introduction to American Politics 
Catherine E.M. Bartch (T 5:30 pm - 8:30 pm)

This course is intended to introduce students to the national institutions and political processes of American government. What are the historical and philosophical foundations of the American Republic? How does American public policy get made, who makes it, and who benefits? Is a constitutional fabric woven in 1787 good enough for today? How, if at all, should American government be changed, and why? What is politics and why bother to study it? If these sorts of questions interest you, then this course will be a congenial home. It is designed to explore such questions while teaching students the basics of American politics and government. (Counts toward Core Competency 1: American Politics)


PSCI 207 Applied Data Science: Data Science and American Elections 
John Lapinski (TR 1:30 pm - 3:00 pm)

Jobs in data science are quickly proliferating throughout nearly every industry in the American economy. The purpose of this class is to build the statistics, programming, and qualitative skills that are required to excel in data science. The substantive focus of the class will largely be on topics related to politics and elections, although the technical skills can be applied to any subject matter. (Counts toward Core Competency 3: Survey Research. Must have previously taken either PSCI 107 or PSCI 338)


PSCI 230 Public Opinion and American Democracy  
Michele Margolis (TR 10:30 am - 11:30 am)

This course examines public opinion in the American political system. We will discuss how to measure public opinion, how citizens formulate opinions, and the role of public opinion in campaigns, elections, and policymaking. We will also consider normative questions, including the role opinion should play in American democracy. Additionally, over the course of the semester we will track public opinion polls related to ongoing elections as well as develop analytical skills to answer questions using public opinion. (Counts toward Core Competency 1: American Politics)


PSCI 231 Race and Ethnic Politics 
Daniel Q. Gillion (TR 1:30 pm - 3:00 pm)

This course examines the role of race and ethnicity in the political discourse through a comparative survey of recent literature on the historical and contemporary political experiences of the four major minority groups (Blacks or African Americans, American Indians, Latinos or Hispanic Americans, and Asian Americans). A few of the key topics will include assimilation and acculturation seen in the Asian American community, understanding the political direction of Black America in a pre and post Civil Rights era, and assessing the emergence of Hispanics as the largest minority group and the political impact of this demographic change. Throughout the semester, the course will introduce students to significant minority legislation, political behavior, social movements, litigation/court rulings, media, and various forms of public opinion that have shaped the history of racial and ethnic minority relations in this country. Readings are drawn from books and articles written by contemporary political scientists. (Counts as an elective)


PSCI 332/COMM 332 Survey Research and Design 

David Dutwin (R 3:00 pm - 6:00 pm)

Survey research is a small but rich academic field and discipline, drawing on theory and practice from many diverse fields including political science, communication, sociology, psychology, and statistics. Surveys are perhaps the most ubiquitous tool of measurement in the social sciences today. Successful practitioners develop expertise in the art and science of survey methodology, including sampling theory and practice, questionnaire instrument development and operationalization, and the analysis and reporting of survey data. Survey researchers are scientists of the method itself testing various practices by which surveys can be improved upon, as well as developing a keen understanding of the nature of error in surveys and how to control it. This course is a canvass course on survey research and design, highly experiential but also based upon introductory statistical theory and analysis. (Counts toward Core Competency 3: Survey Research)


PSCI 236 / PPE 312 Public Policy Process
Matthew Levendusky (MW 10 am - 11 am)

This course introduces students to the theories and practice of the policy-making process. There are four primary learning objectives. First, understanding how the structure of political institutions matter for the policies that they produce. Second, recognizing the constraints that policy makers face when making decisions on behalf of the public. Third, identifying the strategies that can be used to overcome these constraints. Fourth, knowing the toolbox that is available to participants in the policy-making process to help get their preferred strategies implemented. While our focus will primarily be on American political institutions, many of the ideas and topics discussed in the class apply broadly to other democratic systems of government. (Counts toward Core Competency 1: American Politics)


PSCI 240 Religion and U.S. Public Policy
Marci Hamilton (TR 3 pm - 4:30 pm)

This seminar introduces students to the nation's trillion-dollar tax-exempt sector with a focus on religious nonprofit organizations including congregations and other so-called faith-based institutions. Among the topics it explores are new and old questions surrounding church-state relations, the role of relgion in American politics, empirical "faith factor" research, and attempts to estimate the social costs and benefits associated with diverse religious nonprofit organizations. (Counts as an elective)


PSCI 436 Political Psychology 
Michele Margolis (T 1:30 pm - 4:30 pm)

How do campaign advertisements influence voters' perceptions and behavior? What roles do emotions play in politics? Do we all harbor some measure of racism, sexism, or homophobia, and what role do these stereotypes play in political behavior? How and why do ideologies form, and how does partisanship influence the way that voters understand the political world? How do people perceive threat, and what are the psychological consequences of terrorism? These questions, and many others, are the province of political psychology, an interdisciplinary field that uses experimental methods and theoretical ideas from psychology as tools to examine the world of politics. In this course, we will explore the role of human thought, emotion, and behavior in politics and examine the psychological origins of citizens' political beliefs and actions from a variety of perspectives. Most of the readings emphasize politics in the United States, though the field itself speaks to every aspect of political science. (Counts as an elective)