Introductory and Intermediate Courses
POL 110 POLITICAL ISSUES: THE QUEST FOR JUSTICE
This beginner’s course in political science provides an introduction to politics through a critical examination of a full range of political issues and of classic and contemporary texts that illuminate the ongoing human—and American— “quest for justice.” Classic works of political reflection, political literature, speeches and writings by statesmen, as well as contemporary American political debates on domestic and foreign policy will be analyzed to put the “issues” of politics in a broader and deeper perspective. Counts in the Core Curriculum as a social science.
(Fall, Spring) Staff/Three credits
POL 150H–151H FOUNDATIONS: ART AND POLITICS I AND II
A two-semester interdisciplinary course in politics and art. The two semesters concentrate on the study of the worlds of politics and art in ten successive periods of Western-Civilization. The first semester studies Ancient Greece through the Renaissance. The second semester studies Modern Europe through 20th century Europe and the United States. Both semesters emphasize the reading and interpretation of texts about the major political and artistic principles in each historical period, as well as the viewing and analysis of slides of the major artistic works. Students earn three credits in politics and three credits in art. Taken as Political Science, these courses count as a social science in the Core Curriculum. (Same as ART 150–151)
(Fall, Spring) Burke, Vaughan/Three credits
POL 201 AMERICAN GOVERNMENT
This course is an introduction to the principles, institutions, and processes of American government. It focuses on our political principles, such as liberty, democracy, and equality, especially as reflected in our government institutions— Congress and the Executive and Judiciary branches—and in our extra-governmental institutions, such as political parties and interest groups. Consideration will also be given to major contemporary issues—free speech, racial and sexual equality, privacy—as expressions of debates over our principles. Open to all students.
(Fall, Spring) Weiner/Three credits
POL 203 MODERN STATES
A comparative analysis of major types of ancient and modern political systems, with an emphasis on the Western European liberal democracies of Great Britain and France and on the 20th century experience of totalitarian despotism. Open to all students.
(Fall, Spring) Geddert, Mahoney/Three credits
POL 205 POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY
This course is an introduction to the nature and place of political philosophy in the philosophical thought and political life of Western Civilization. It examines the basic principles of political philosophy according to thinkers such as Plato, Aristotle, St. Augustine, Machiavelli, and Marx. Open to all students.
(Fall, Spring) Dobski, Vaughan/Three credits
POL 207 PEACE AND WAR
This course examines the role of war in human affairs, especially during the 20th century of “total war,” and at the outset of the 21st century. It considers why no enduring peace was achieved after the two world wars, the characteristics of international politics since the end of the Cold War, and the instruments for maintaining or restoring peace. Major interpretations of world politics are evaluated.
(Fall, Spring) Geddert, Dobski/Three credits
American National Government:
Study the constitutional founding of the United States as well as its institutions and parties, its constitutional and civil rights law, and the evolution of American political thought.
POL 311 AMERICAN POLITICAL THOUGHT
Historical survey of American political thought tracing development of the principles of American politics. Major works might include The Federalist Papers, Thomas Paine’s Common Sense, Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, writings and speeches of Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson’s Congressional Government, and writings and speeches of Franklin D. Roosevelt.
(Fall) Weiner/Three credits
POL 312 THE AMERICAN FOUNDING
An investigation into the fundamental principles that informed the founding of the American political order and have subsequently oriented the American way of life. In seeking to understand those principles, we also examine the political and philosophical tradition that preceded the founding.
(Fall) Weiner/Three credits
POL 314 THE AMERICAN PRESIDENCY
This course examines the origin, nature, and development of the executive power in American national government. Included are comparisons with modern executive development in other forms of government.
POL 315 THE JUDICIARY
From safeguarding individual rights to ruling on the constitutionality of laws, the judiciary occupies a central place in both evaluating and even shaping political life today. It is a role vastly transformed from the relatively modest one the Constitutional founders anticipated. This course explores both how the judiciary does and should operate in the constitutional order, covering issues like judicial politics and behavior, theories of constitutional interpretation and the historical development of the Supreme Court’s role in American political life.
POL 316 CONSTITUTIONAL LAW
The role of the Supreme Court in the American political system. Constitutional powers and limitations, with primary emphasis on judicial interpretations of the 1st and 14th amendments.
POL 317 AMERICAN CONGRESS
The press, political scientists and public obsess over the Presidency today, but it is the Congress—the First Branch— that was assumed to be the center of gravity in the American Constitutional order. Instead, Congress today is much maligned and often even ignored—and Congress itself may be complicit in its own decline. This course explores why— including such questions as how Congress was intended to operate, how it operates today, how its members both ought to and do behave, critiques of the legislative branch and proposals for reform.
POL 318 PROBLEMS IN CIVIL LIBERTIES
This course will take up in detail some important problems in the field of civil liberties. These problems will include the meaning and scope of the freedoms of speech and religion, including such issues as seditious speech, obscenity, school prayer, parochial school aid, and free exercise of religion.
(Spring) Weiner/Three credits
American Public Policy and Administration:
Explore the American political economy, its urban politics, and the history and policies of its democratic leadership.
POL 321 PUBLIC POLICY
This course examines selected major contemporary national problems of the U.S. and the federal policies designed to deal with them. Particular problems considered might include poverty, welfare, the economy, education, health, transportation, consumer protection, environmental protection, and energy. It considers the interaction between parts of the government and between government and interest groups, in formulating and executing public policy. It evaluates the thinking of those who have advocated and opposed the expansion of government responsibility for a large range of social action. (Spring) Burke/Three credits
POL 322 POLITICAL ECONOMY
The purpose of this course is to clarify the tradition of political economy, to understand its foundations and historical permutations, and to study its relationship and pertinence to pressing public policy concerns of our time. The relationship between “political” and “economic” phenomena and analysis will be investigated. The course focuses on the origins of political economy in moral and political reflection rather than in abstract “scientific” considerations. Authors to be studied include Smith, Marx, Keynes, de Jouvenel, Hayek, and Berger.
(Fall) Geddert, Mahoney/Three credits
POL 323 POLITICAL LEADERSHIP
This course is intended as an introduction to the study of democratic statesmanship, or political leadership in a democratic political regime. The primary emphasis will be on the study of the rhetoric and actions of leading American presidents, as well as leading figures from antiquity and from modern Britain and France.
POL 324 PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION
This course will consider the role of bureaucracy in federal, state, and local government. It will analyze the place of administration in a constitutional system of separated powers. It will trace briefly the origins and evolution of the study and practice of public administration. The relationship of the bureaucracy to the other branches of government, the political and ethical dimensions of administration, the organization and operation of bureaucracy, and the politics of the budgetary process will all be highlighted.
POL 345 POLITICAL MASS MURDER
Scholars who have studied the 20th century say that far more people were killed by their own governments during this time than by foreign enemies in wars. This course examines this phenomenon and compares selected major cases of political mass murder, including the Jewish holocaust, great state induced famines under Stalin and Mao, the killing fields of Cambodia, genocide in Rwanda and Sudan and ethnic cleansing in Bosnia. It considers how outside powers, especially the U.S. and U.N, have responded, when they intervene and how effectively; when and why they refrain from acting; and whether moral principles or international law permit or oblige states to intervene.
Dobski, Mahoney/Three credits
Follow competing and complementary strands of political philosophy through the works of Plato, Aristotle, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Marx, Nietzsche and others.
POL 350 REPUBLICANISM ANCIENT AND MODERN
Is it possible for a political community to combine the rule of wisdom and virtue with popular consent? Can such a regime satisfy the need for both stability and energy? To understand why and how republics ancient and modern answered these questions, as well as why some republics succeeded and others failed, students will explore the theoretical and historical texts that illustrate the evolution of this political form. Rising above any particular party, policy, or platform, this course will distinguish the ancient effort to secure ordered liberty from its medieval and modern counterparts, throwing into specific relief the character of our own republican democracy and the challenges facing its success. Fulfills a “Great Conversation” requirement in the Core curriculum. (Spring) Dobski, Mahoney/Three credits
POL 351 CLASSICAL POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY
Study of the origin and principles of political philosophy in the works of Homer, Herodotus, Thucydides, Plato, Xenophon, and Aristotle. Relevant works by Roman-era philosophers and historians (Cicero, Plutarch, Seneca, Sallust, Tacitus and Livy) may also be studied.
POL 352 EARLY MODERN POLITICAL PHILOSOPHY
A study of political theories from Machiavelli through Locke which have presented themselves as critical alternatives to classical political philosophy. Selected texts by Machiavelli, Bacon, Hobbes, Locke.
POL 353 IDEOLOGY AND REVOLUTION
A study of modern revolutions and their connection to “ideologies” which promise a fundamental transformation of political life. We examine the political history of the French and Soviet Revolutions to understand the originality of ideological revolution as distinct from traditional political revolutions which have had more limited aims. The course also compares totalitarian tyrannies with traditional forms of dictatorship. The anti-totalitarian Revolutions of 1989 in Eastern Europe are also considered. Mahoney/Three credits
POL 354 CLASSIC UTOPIAS
A study of the classic works promoting or denigrating ideal societies: Thomas More’s Utopia, Francis Bacon’s New Atlantis, Marx and Engel’s Communist Manifesto, George Orwell’s 1984, and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. The course addresses such topics as what utopianism is, its various forms, its critics, and how it affects political practice.
Dobski, Mahoney/Three credits
Examine the relations of peace and war among states as well as American foreign policy and diplomacy.
POL 371 FOREIGN POLICY AND DIPLOMACY
This course examines the making and character of the foreign policies of major states in the world today. This study is made against a background consideration of Thucydides’ interpretation of relations between states, the nature and development of diplomatic practice, and the impact of modern Western civilization on the contemporary world.
POL 375 THE STUDY OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
This course will analyze the variety of approaches to the study of international politics. Different methodological approaches, drawing on political philosophy, political history, and the social sciences, will be considered. Principal emphasis will be placed on the ethical dimensions of international relations. Prominent analysts and philosophers of international relations, such as Thucydides, Machiavelli, Waltz, and Aron will be analyzed.
Geddert, Mahoney/Three credits
POL 376 TERRORISM AND THE MODERN WORLD
An introduction to modern-day terrorism and the challenges it poses to contemporary political life. This course distinguishes three ways in which terrorism manifests itself in the modern world, capturing the difference between those who see terror as an end in itself, those who use terror as an instrument to achieve political goals, and those who understand terrorism to serve “otherworldly”, or non-political, ends. Students will examine how these manifestations of modern terrorism vary from each other in their origins, historical development, the justifications they employ, the goals they pursue, and the tactics, targets and technologies that they use. The course concludes with an inquiry into the West’s responses to terrorism.
(Fall) Dobski/Three credits
POL 377 THE POLITICS OF JUST WARS
Are “just wars” possible? This class examines reflections on just war thinking at the core of the political, military, religious and philosophic traditions within Western civilization, and how they apply to contemporary reflections on human rights and international law. It begins with military justifications from classical antiquity, moving to the origins of just war theorizing in the early Church, Judaism and Islam. It then weighs the most serious criticisms of the moral and political teachings of the classical and Christian world posed by the “Catholic New Left,” feminist political theory, Islamist terrorism, and the allure of a world without borders.
(Spring) Dobski, Geddert/Three credits
Specialized Courses for Political Science majors
POL 381 SHAKESPEARE’S POLITICS
Perhaps transcending the distinction between theorist and poet, Shakespeare has given the world dramatic portrayals of the most enduring human problems. This course will focus on one of those problems through a careful reading of Shakespeare’s “Roman Plays” and his epic poem The Rape of Lucrece. To be precise, it will explore the relationship between the preconditions for healthy political life and an imperial politics widely believed to represent politics at its most diseased. Attention will also be paid to Shakespeare’s understanding of political forms and how the differences in those forms impact the content and direction of political communities.
(Spring) Dobski/Three credits
POL 382 POLITICS AND LITERATURE
Literature, such as the epic, the novel, or tragic or comic drama, has always been central to the entertainment and self-understanding of a democratic people. This course studies a series of writers who illuminate the nature of democracy and tyranny in the modern world.
POL 399 SPECIAL TOPICS: STATESMEN AND TYRANTS
This course will explore the heights and depths of political life: the statesman who defends liberty and pursues the common good and the tyrant who destroys free political life and mutilates the human soul. Figures to be explored include Washington, Napoleon, Lincoln, Lenin, Stalin, Churchill, de Gaulle, Mao, Vaclav Havel and Nelson Mandela.
(Spring) Mahoney/Three credits
POL 400 INDEPENDENT STUDY
Open to highly qualified Junior and Senior Political Science majors. Permission of the Chairperson is required.
POL 409 RESEARCH SEMINAR
This course, offered in fall semesters, is required of majors in their senior year. The seminar investigates some fundamental enduring themes of political life and facilitates student planning and pursuit of projects related to these themes. Students submit a final paper demonstrating the ability to conduct research and analysis in political science. This year’s Senior Seminar is entitled “Tocqueville on Democracy and Revolution.”
(Fall) Mahoney/Three credits
In addition, there are other Political Science courses available through Assumption College’s participation in the Colleges of Worcester Consortium. Assumption students can cross register for courses at 12 other institutions in the Worcester region.