Intro to American Politics (~80 - 180 students)
This course provides an introduction to the players and institutions of American politics. We will examine the behaviors of both governmental officials—elected and unelected—and extra-governmental actors such as the news media, interest groups, and political parties. Since this is a survey course, we will aim for breadth at the expense of much depth. Among the questions considered are: How Democratic is the U.S. Constitution?; What is the role of race in American Politics?; Why do we only have two major parties?; Why does Congress tend to move slowly?; Why do bureaucratic agencies use lots of formal rules?; Why does the mass media cover certain stories and not others?; and How do polls attempt to measure public opinion? This course will also place emphasis on the role of race, ethnicity, and income inequality in American politics. For most of these topics, what we cover serves as a gateway to more specialized upper-level courses that address them in greater detail.
Intro to Politics and Social Justice (~30 - 50 students)
If one wishes to challenge discrimination and oppression across the globe, it is vital to understand how systems of discrimination develop and are perpetuated. This class will familiarize students with key concepts and issues in social justice, including: social construction of various identities, discrimination, privilege and systemic oppression, implicit bias and socio-political activism. Since issues of social justice exist across the world, this course will emphasize the links between both American and global social justice issues. Political science is well-suited to the study of social justice issues related to race, gender, sexuality, class, ageism, ability and other social identities because it centers the discussion of power and the distribution of resources in understanding how particular identities shape people’s life experiences and outcomes.
Minority Politics and Representation (Undergraduate Writing Course
w/ emphasis on the Voting Rights Act; ~25 - 35 students)
This course examines the extent to which underrepresented racial and ethnic minority groups are able to organize effectively and press their demands on the political system. Specifically, we will focus on the political behavior of minority citizens, the relative strength and effect of these groups at the polls, the theory and practice of group formation and organization as it applies to minority groups, the responsiveness of elected officials, and the legal and constitutional obstacles and instruments that provide historical context and shape these phenomena. This course will require students to conduct original research related to the Voting Rights Act (VRA).
American Political Behavior (Graduate Seminar)
This seminar provides an introduction to the vast literature of American political behavior with the principal aim of formulating new research questions and assisting graduate students to effectively prepare for the American Politics comprehensive exam. We will review and discuss theoretical and empirical work on the antecedents of public opinion and political participation with a specific focus on topics such as values, ideology, partisanship, information processing, and the politics of gender, race, ethnicity, and sexuality. Given that this is a survey course, much depth will undoubtedly be sacrificed to cover as much ground as possible in just one semester. As such, it is imperative to read the optional reading recommendations at some point in the near future and to develop a more comprehensive reading list for the purposes of taking the American Politics field exam.
Race, Ethnicity, and Politics (Graduate Seminar)
Some of the most enduring divisions and tensions in American social and political life center on race and ethnicity. This course aims to examine and better understand the relationship between perceptions of racial/ethnic identity, attributions of racial/ethnic difference, and politics, broadly defined. We begin by first posing the question of whether racial and ethnic hierarchies are built into the foundation of American history, politics, and policy, or simply eradicable flaws in an otherwise just and democratic society. We then examine what role, if any, racial or ethnic attachments play in shaping decision making and behavior across a range of political arenas. As we grapple with the central theoretical and thematic debates that have characterized the study of race and ethnic politics, we will also strongly consider the significance of identity politics more broadly.