Seminars

Spring 2015

POL 4800-01 - The Constitution & Religion

Taught by Prof. Michael Principe

TR 2:00-3:15

 

POL 4800-60 - The Politics of Global Food

Taught by Prof. Aaron Tesfaye

W 4:15-6:50

This course examines the politics of food in both in both rich and poor countries. This is a highly contentious landscape, where scientists, economists, commercial farmers, agribusiness and food companies, environmentalists, consumer organizations, and social justice advocates often hold sharply different views — and exercise differing degrees of influence over policy. Policy actions by national governments frequently operate alongside or in conflict with international organizations, private companies, NGOs, social entrepreneurs, and humanitarian relief agencies. Persistent under-nutrition remains a deadly challenge in many tropical countries, but in a growing number of post-industrial societies — led by the United States — the new challenge is poor health linked to excessive food consumption. The agricultural circumstances of states also differ dramatically, as poor countries tend to operate farming systems that are starved for resources and not well supported by public policy, while most rich countries now have highly capitalized and highly productive agricultural sectors that enjoy generous subsidies from governments. The course requirements will include analytic in-class briefs on assigned topics, and a draft and final writing intensive term paper examining a food related issue and solutions to the problem.

 

Fall 2014

POL 4800-01 - First Amendment Law

Taught by Prof. Ryan Rebe

MW 11:00-12:15

The goal of this course is to use constitutional law cases to study the issues implicated by the First Amendment and to reflect analytically on First Amendment questions. We will address the legal, philosophical, and public policy issues surrounding freedom of speech and expression, freedom of the press, freedom of association, freedom of religion, and the establishment of religion.

 

POL 4800-60 - U.S. Foreign Policy in Asia

Taught by Prof. Maya Chadda

W 4:15-6:50

 

Spring 2014

POL 4800-01 - Just and Unjust Wars

Taught by Prof. Steve Shalom

TR 9:30-10:45

Can wars ever be just? If so, what makes a war just or unjust? How do we assess the justice of such recent wars as World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, the invasion of Grenada, the Gulf War, the non-intervention in Rwanda in 1994, Kosovo, Afghanistan (2001), Iraq (2003), and the Gaza war of 2012. Students will be expected to examine the theoretical arguments on just and unjust wars and lead a class discussion, as well as prepare a case study looking at the justice or injustice of a particular war.

POL 4800-60 - Managing Risks: The Challenge of Public Policy

Taught by Prof. Arnold Lewis

Evening (day TBA)

The course examines the risks and challenges that policymakers must address when making and implementing decisions in the public sector. Various case studies of effective and ineffective policy formulation and implementation at the local, state, and national level will be examined.

Fall 2013

POL 4800-01 - Politics and Psychology

Taught by Prof. Michael Thompson

MW 12:30-1:45

This seminar will probe the theoretical and empirical relation between psychology and politics. We will examine the psychological and social-psychological mechanisms that produce attitudes about racism, sexism, domination, authoritarianism, and other attitudes that affect and shape political life. Political psychology is the systematic examination of the ways that politics is affected by (and affects) the beliefs, motivation, perception, cognition, processing of information, and so on of individuals. How does a psychological perspective help us understand political attitudes, ideologies, conservatism-liberalism, genocide, ethnic hatred, nationalism, and political extremism? In this class, we will study the core texts in political psychology as well as newer studies and theoretical works that explore the intersection between the psyche and politics that will help us engage these fundamental questions.

POL 4800-60 - Climate Politics

Taught by Prof. John Mason

T 6:00-8:40

The focus of this seminar is the impacts of Abrupt Climate Change over the next 50 years. We will examine the latest scientific forecasts which reflect an international consensus which is "very robust" but also very alarming.

This year we saw the parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere go up 3ppm. Next year we can expect to add enough to cross the 400 Ppm threshold. At this rate we can expect a 2 degree Celsius temperature rise by 2030 and a 4 degree Celsius rise by 2060, and sea level rises of a meter along the East Coast.

If we ride the current boom in unconventional fossil fuels (tight oil, shale oil, shale gas and tar sands) to their logical end, we will end any hope of holding temperature increases in this century to below 2 degrees Celsius and sea level rise to under one meter.

We will examine the political responses to this emerging threat and to the science that defines it, in the US, the EU and the UN and World Bank. Why has the policy debate in the US been characterized by a "climate of doubt," and what is its ideological and organizational foundations? How can 'climate advocates" overcome these political roadblocks to climate action?

What would policies of "mitigation and adaptation" look like and what changes in national and international development and energy policy would they require?

What are the likely local impacts of climate change for New Jersey, the New York Metropolitan area and the East Coast in our lifetimes?  How can local and state government planners adapt to these changes in the absence of a national policy consensus? How can social movements change the terms of the debate in the US?

 

Spring 2013

POL 480 - Gender, Sex, and Power

taught by Prof. Sheffield

time - TBA

Political scientists study power. One system of power that is not so obvious or well-studied is gender. Everyone is aware of gender. It seems to be everywhere. But gender is not just some set of color-coded categories -- girls wear pink and boys wear blue -- it too is  a system of power. How we understand, analyze, critique, and care about our lives and the world is profoundly shaped by gender. Gender is a binary division of the social, political, economic, and personal world which privileges one group over another.  The gender binary moreover orders the processes and practices of other systems of power.  So things that don't seem on the surface to involve gender -- like globalization or war or law or health care or racism -- are in fact profoundly influenced by gender and only fully understood when analyzed through a gender-sensitive lens. And some things that obviously involve gender -- like sexual trafficking or homophobia or sexual terrorism -- only make real sense when looked at from the perspective of gender as a system of power. Students will be expected to take one of these topics, or some other in consultation with the instructor, and examine it using the concepts and tools of gender analysis.

POL 480 - Democracy and Elections in Developing Nations

taught by Prof. Bejar

time - TBA

Fall 2012

POL 480 - Politics and Markets: The Rise of China

taught by Prof. Aaron Tesfaye

time - TR 11:00 am -12:15 pm

This course explores the interconnectedness of politics and economy, in nations with a high degree of state intervention and a long history of planned heritage. First, the course will introduce the topic by offering the theoretical considerations of the role of the state among late industralizers, the development of East Asia states, but with particular emphasis on the rise of China. Second it will examine the role and function of politics and ideology in economic transformation and discuss whether particular political systems promote or hinder economic reform. Third, it will investigate the determinants of a market economy and whether its introduction is viable without reforming political processes and institutions. Finally, the course will critically assess the factors that determine the path of transition from “state socialism” to a more market-oriented system and the impact of globalization on political and economic developments.

POL 480 - Theories of Justice

taught by Prof. MIchael Thompson

time - M 4:15-6:50 pm

Justice is the central value of political philosophy. It lies at the heart of our legal theory, our concept of politics and the state, and it lies at the foundation of what we consider to be right and wrong. In short, as Plato knew all too well, justice is the central concept of the political community. But justice is also an elusive concept, complex in nature, endlessly generating debate. In this course, we will investigate contemporary theories of justice and try to understand how they help us come to grips with our world. This course will be an investigation in the major modern theories of justice and the ways we ought to think about a just social world, just laws, just economy, and the very concept of what constitutes justice. We will read the most compelling modern thinkers on this subject, such as John Rawls, Michael Walzer, Alasdaire MacIntyre, Robert Nozick, Philip Pettit, Amartya Sen, Ronald Dworkin, and others.

Spring 2012

POL 480-01, American Dissident Thought

taught by Prof. Christine Kelly

Monday, Wednesday 11:00-12:15 p.m.

This seminar will seek to uncover a political theoretical tradition of dissent and challenge to American ideology and political theory as commonly understood. From the Founding to the present, students will engage in an examination of recurring challenges to dominant political ideas and institutions by thinkers and movements which have both flourished and withered in the American context. Using the "post-War" understanding of the term "dissident' as any person or group which suffers state-sanctioned reprisals for their expression of dissent, participants will read about, research and evaluate the past and present for evidence of a dissident tradition in the U.S. Historical and qualitative research methods will be employed. Students will develop research proposals and write a thesis-driven, research-based paper which will test claims from the seminar against a contemporary or historical case.

POL 480-60, Democracy and International Human Rights

taught by Prof. Michael Principe

Wednesday, 4:15-6:50 p.m.

Fall 2011

POL 480-01, Democracy and Nation-Building

taught by Prof. Maya Chadda

Tuesday - Thursday 11:00-12:15 p.m.

Spring 2011

POL 480-01, Systems Thinking

taught by Prof. Collins

Monday, Wednesday 2:00-3:15 p.m.

The multiple challenges facing the human community in the 21st century—from global economic recessions to global poverty and inequality, epidemic disease, terrorism, war and the overarching challenge of climate change-- will require citizens who can think systemically. Systems thinking is a way of scientifically analyzing the structure of complex systems, so as to be able to analyze problems, make better decisions and avert disasters. During the last thirty years, the tools of systems thinking have been applied to understand a wide range of urban, regional, national/international, economic, political, ecological, and even psychological systems. This seminar provides an introduction to the basic concepts in the field and exposes students to the ways in which systems thinking is being used. Students will have the opportunity to practice systems thinking through a research project on a subject of their own choosing.

 

POl 480-60, Capitalism and Democracy

taught by Prof. Judd

Tuesday, 6:00-8:40 p.m.

In this seminar we will explore the origins, nature and evolution of two of the most fundamental concepts of the modern era: capitalism and democracy. Given the current economic and financial conditions of the world, it is more important than ever to understand how capitalism, as a concept and an organizing principle, evolved, what it replaced, and how it has been both criticized and lauded throughout modernity. Likewise, democracy and its myriad varieties has been subject to multiple critiques, and we will study the more fundamental of these. Capitalism and democracy have been linked together and actively spread by the United States since its rise as a world power in the twentieth century. Understanding why, and the assumptions behind these two concepts, is vital.

Fall 2010

 

Current Issues in U.S.-Latin American Relations

taught by Prof. Weinstein

Tuesday and Thursday, 11:00-12:15 p.m.

 

The State, Democracy & Efficiency

taught by Prof. Lewis

Wednesday, 6:00-8:40 p.m.