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Political Science Course Offerings

POLI / AMER 130 United States Politics and Government (Core: IS)
This course is a survey of the U.S. political system at the national, state and local levels. Students engage in an examination of several elements key to understanding the role of government and politics. They examine the U.S. Constitution and state constitutions, as well as social and political ideology, mass political behavior, parties and interest groups, Congress, the presidency, the courts, and the development of national public policy. In this course there is a focus on the problems of policy-making in a pluralistic democratic system.

POLI 131 American Multicultural Politics (Core: DD)
There is much talk about how the U.S. Census Bureau’s estimate that by 2020, white children will make up less than half of the nation's minors, and by 2044, all whites will make up less than half of the nation’s population might impact us as a country. From the drafting of the American Constitution through contemporary politics, race and ethnicity and the struggle for emancipation, inclusion and equality by different groups within society have shaped the debates over how we should govern ourselves. This course helps students understand the structure, function and impact that political institutions have on American life and politics through the analysis of race and ethnicity.

POLI / INTL 150 Introduction to International Studies (Core: BB)
The objective of this course is to promote an awareness of global interdependence, with its challenges and opportunities. The course is interdisciplinary, examining issues from several relevant and related points of view – political, ecological, cultural, economic and ethical. The content may vary from semester to semester. Examples of issues the course might examine are nationalism vs. the concept of an international community; U.S. foreign policy and human rights; foreign policy of communist countries; cultural diversity and international cooperation.

POLI / INTL 160 Introduction to Comparative Politics
The purpose of this course is to provide students with the comparative insights and methodological tools needed to understand the importance of political culture, governmental structures and political behavior in a variety of political systems. This course also addresses the development of the state under different historical conditions and in different socio-economic environments. Students are exposed to a variety of political issues including political legitimacy, political institutionalization, the politics of identity and political violence. Spring semester, alternate years.

POLI 200 Research Methodology and Techniques
Examines the fundamental methods and techniques used in political science research. Emphasis on concept formation and measurement, hypothesis development, research design, data collection, hypothesis testing, statistical association, theory construction, and ethics in political science research. Prerequisites: POLI 130 or POLI 131 or POLI 150. 

POLI 231 State and Local Politics
Students examine state and local politics focusing on the legal and theoretical bases of state and local government. Discussions include intergovernmental relations, government institutions and comparative public policy. Emphasis is placed on understanding state and local politics within a framework of competition among state and local governments. Prerequisite: POLI 130 or POLI 131. Fall semester, alternate years.

POLI 232 Red State, Blue State: American Political Polarization (Core: DD)
The media is full of Chicken Littles saying, “the sky is falling, the sky is falling,” about how bad American politics is these days. Every day the news covers congressional gridlock and fighting. Some even question whether American democracy will survive. But, how bad is it, really? The answer to that is actually quite complex and is the cornerstone of this course. The course first defines and measures the current era of political polarization by examining how various societal groups and regions differ from one another on a multitude of political and social issues. While this gives us a sense of “how bad” things are currently, we cannot fully appreciate the severity of current polarization without putting it in the larger context of comparing it with historical U.S. examples and examples from other countries. Finally, students learn about the origins of this current era of polarization in order to discuss potential solutions and forecast the future health of American democracy. This course is based on the assumption of no prior knowledge about American politics. Political polarization is used as a frame to enter into learning about current events and the structure and culture of American politics and government. Prerequisite: POLI 130 or POLI 131

POLI 237 Courts and Justice in the U.S.
This course provides an introduction to the system of courts in the United States and the actors and institutions that attempt to provide justice under criminal and civil law. The politics and the policy produced by the American legal system help structure the review of primary and secondary source material. Prerequisite: POLI 130 or instructor’s consent.  Fall semester, alternate years.

POLI 248 Trial Advocacy (2 credits)
This course provides an introduction to civil and criminal litigation in the context of the American judicial system with a focus on courtroom procedures, evidence, witness preparation and examination, and the art of advocacy. Although intended for the training of students who hope to compete with the St. Norbert mock-trial team, the course is open to any student interested in learning more about the courts and the legal process. Prerequisites: POLI 130 or POLI 131 or instructor’s consent, and sophomore standing. Fall semester.

POLI 249 Mock Trial (0 or 2 credits)
This course exposes students to the process of presenting a criminal or civil case in the context of an intercollegiate competition. Students adopt roles as attorneys and witnesses for both the prosecution plaintiff and defense. Prerequisites: POLI 248 or instructor’s consent and sophomore standing. Spring semester.

POLI 300 Contemporary African Politics (4 credits)
This course is designed to provide an introduction to the study of contemporary African politics and government. It considers the various approaches used to examine the history of political development on the African continent and it explores the processes and institutions of the African states. The course attempts to answer some important questions about African politics, such as: What are the legacies of colonial rule? Why are African states generally weaker than non-African states? Why do some African countries suffer political violence more frequently than other countries within Africa or elsewhere? Why has democracy been consolidated in certain African countries but regressed or collapsed in others? What accounts for the failures and successes of African countries to achieve adequate economic development? As we explore these questions, we strive for a critical and comparative perspective while avoiding extreme positions of Afro-pessimism and Afro-optimism.

POLI 310 Fascism and Socialism (Adv. Core: IS)
This course examines the political ideologies which have influenced the Western world and been extended to the non-Western world as well. Ideology means a body of political thought or belief that motivates groups to take political action. The course begins with an overview of the philosophical roots of political ideology in Western political thought and focuses on the development of political ideas and movements in the 19th and 20th centuries. The course includes studies of nationalism, liberal democracy, democratic socialism, Marxism, Soviet and Chinese communism, fascism, national socialism, anarchism, and various radical and traditionalist movements.

PHIL 316 Modern Political Thought
A critical examination of the political theories of major thinkers of the modern period and the development of these ideas in contemporary political thought. We will investigate such issues as the origin and purpose of political societies, the nature of political power, and the concepts of authority and sovereignty, law, liberty, civil disobedience and revolution. We will consider the writings of Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Mill, Marx, Martin Luther King Jr. and Rawls, among others.

POLI 317 American Political Thought
This course provides students with an introduction to the writings of the American founding, including the Federalist Papers and the thinkers who helped develop the American political tradition. In addition, students explore the transformation of American thought during the course of the nation’s history, reviewing authors who wrote at the time of the Civil War, the Industrial Revolution and the transformative periods of the 20th century. Spring semester, alternate years.

POLI / COME 329 Political Communication (Adv. Core: WT)
This course uses rhetorical theory and criticism as well as empirical evidence concerning the content and effects of political messages to aid citizens in becoming better consumers and critics of political communication. Political speeches, political advertisements, political debates and political media are explored in the context of both primary- and general-election campaigns. Fall semester.

POLI 332 Political Parties and Elections
Students examine the role of political parties and elections at the state and national level in the U.S. The course focuses on elections as a link between the citizens and the institutions of government in a democracy. There also is an emphasis on important issues such as nomination processes, the role of the media, campaign advertising, campaign strategy, citizen participation and voting behavior. Prerequisite: POLI 130. Fall semester, alternate years.

POLI 333 American Conspiracy Theories (Adv. Core: IS)
This course examines the content, causes and effects of conspiracy theories in the U.S. from the colonial times to the present. Primary questions to be addressed in this course are: Why do people believe conspiracy theories? Are some more prone to belief than others? Does belief in conspiracies lead to violence? What have been some of the major conspiracy theories in U.S. history and how have they affected social movements, elections and public policies? How are conspiracy theories affecting current political discourse? Has our belief in conspiracies grown over time? Assignments for the course include reading reviews of the textbook chapters, internet searches and minipresentations on U.S. conspiracies from which students select a few for fact-checking and analysis. Summer sessions.

POLI 338 Introduction to Public Administration
An examination of the growth of the public sector in the U.S. and the consequences and challenges resulting from that growth. Emphasis is placed on the politics of bureaucracy, the relative roles of the public and private sectors in providing goods and services, and past and present controversies over the appropriate method of organizing the public sector. Prerequisite: POLI 130. Spring semester, alternate years.

POLI 341 Constitutional Law: Institutional Powers
This course examines how the U.S. Constitution both empowers and limits the state and federal governments. Legal doctrines that define federalism, the separation of powers, the regulation of commerce and economic rights are examined through the decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court. These writings are used to understand the impact of the court on the nation’s social, economic and political systems. Prerequisites: POLI 130 or POLI 131 or instructor’s consent, sophomore standing. Fall semester, alternate years.

POLI 342 Constitutional Law: Civil Rights/Liberties
This course examines the manner in which the U.S. Supreme Court has defined rights and liberties that are protected by the Bill of Rights and the Constitution. Students learn the extent of their speech, religious and privacy rights as well as protections afforded the criminally accused. Decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court are examined as well as the impact of those decisions on the politics and culture of the nation. Prerequisite: POLI 130 or instructor’s consent, sophomore standing. Spring semester, alternate years.

POLI 343 Administrative Law and Politics
This course investigates the relationship of government agencies to legislative and legal institutions and the manner in which government regulates through the bureaucracy. The course also makes students aware of the impact agencies have on citizens, businesses, industry and interest groups through the development and enforcement of legal rules. The course evaluates the political, social and economic impact of bureaucracies on the operation of various institutions that regulate and influence American life. Prerequisites: POLI 130 or POLI 131 or instructor’s consent.

POLI / AMER 345 Congress and the Presidency
In this course, the structures and politics of Congress and the presidency are analyzed. Students are exposed to the foundations and institutional arrangements of each branch, and review congressional and presidential procedures in lawmaking and policy-making. The course also assesses congressional and presidential power over time and the manner in which both branches interact institutionally, as well as how they interact with the American public and society in electoral processes.

POLI 346 Policy Analysis
This course consists of two parts. The first part examines the policy process in American government, the content of contemporary policy and the impact of policy on society. Case studies illustrate the nature of policy-making and problems of implementing public policy. The second part of the course introduces various tools and methods that enable students to analyze public policy. Prerequisites: POLI 130 or POLI 131, SSCI 224 and POLI 200, sophomore standing. Spring semester, alternate years.

POLI 348 Environmental Politics
Students examine the social and political trends that have contributed to the environmental hazards we now face. Various theoretical approaches that discuss human relations with the environment are examined in the context of critical issues such as global warming, setting of toxic-waste facilities and the pollution of the Fox River. Prerequisite: POLI 130. Fall semester, alternate years.

POLI 349 Global Environmental Politics (Adv. Core: BB)
This course focuses on the environmental ethics that undergird international environmental treaties, the international policy-making process and international environmental legal structures, the content of the treaties themselves, the enforcement mechanisms, and the outcomes. Emphasis is on global issues such as endangered species, climate change, the ozone layer, fishing and the regulation of the seas, as well as on transboundary conflicts such as air pollution and water supply and quality.

POLI 350 International Relations
This course examines the main theories of international relations, including realism, neo-realism, liberalism, the English School, economic structuralism, IR feminist theories, critical theory, constructivist theories and normative theories. Students acquire the intellectual tools necessary to understand, criticize and apply these theories and others of international relations. Prerequisite: POLI 150.

POLI / PEAC 352 Conceptions of Human Rights (Adv. Core: BB)
This course critically reviews and analyzes the meaning, definitions, history and development of human rights in world politics. It approaches the subject matter both from a political-science and law perspective, which see human rights as ascribed rights that come from birth, and from a sociological perspective, which takes into account the power relationships that are built into the understandings and differential usage of the concept of human rights. While the legal and political theory has a lot of explanatory power in terms of tracing the evolutionary trajectory of international human rights laws after World War II, sociology accounts for the cultural, societal and historical context in which the discussion of human rights arises. In this framework, the course looks at alternative views regarding the definitions, history and development of human rights in the Western and non-Western contexts.

POLI 353 United States Foreign Policy
This course examines the formulation, conduct and content of contemporary U.S. foreign policies during the 20th century and at the onset of the 21st century. Students examine the role and impact of various governmental actors in the formulation of U.S. foreign policy. They also examine theories of foreign policy decision-making and key aspects of U.S. regional foreign policies. Prerequisite: POLI 150.

POLI 355 International Organizations
This course examines the role of international organizations in world politics. It focuses on the historical development of international organizations and their increasing impact on a wide range of global issues, including peacekeeping, human rights, the world economy and the environment. The course provides students with the theoretical tools and concepts they need to understand the dynamics of the institutional structures and political processes of international organizations in an increasingly interdependent world. Prerequisite: POLI 150.

POLI 362 Globalization and the Developing World in the 21st Century (Adv. Core: BB)
This course explores the impact of globalization on the political institutions of developing nations. It addresses the complex political, economic and social challenges and opportunities that the global south faces in an increasingly interdependent world. Students focus on the political histories of developing nations, the makeup of their political structures and institutions, the proliferation of domestic and international political actors and the emergence of diverse forms of democratic regimes. Students are encouraged to explore the legitimacy and efficacy of national, subnational and supranational forms of governance in the 21st century.

POLI 368 Latin American Politics Through Film, Art, Poetry and Music (Adv. Core: BB)
This course provides an overview of the governments and politics of Latin American countries from a comparative perspective. The course examines the structure, functioning and interaction of political institutions in Latin American countries. Students are exposed to various topics including political and economic development, globalization and social movements, and competing political ideologies.

POLI 389 Special Topics (2 credits)
This is a seminar course that is offered whenever a mutual interest in a more specialized topic in political science exists for a member of the faculty and a sufficient number of students. Prerequisite: instructor consent.

POLI 410 Global Political Extremism (Adv. Core: BB)
This course focuses on political extremism around the world. Different countries are compared, allowing students to examine commonalities in the origins of political extremism between vastly different cultures. While the emphasis of the course is on current manifestations of extremism, historical examples are also used for comparison. Primary questions to be addressed in the course are: What are the causes of extremism? What commonalities can be seen across different cultures and historical eras? What are the unique cultural and historical features that manifest in different forms of political extremism? How does political extremism affect different societies? How does political extremism affect current global political discourse and policy? And what can be done to try to prevent violence caused by political extremism?

POLI 450 The United Nations Seminar
Students learn about world politics from scholars and practitioners during two weeks at UN headquarters in New York City, Geneva and The Hague. Topics include peacekeeping, gendered development and human rights. Students see international relations in the making, visiting UN missions and meeting diplomats to discuss current world developments. Summer session.

POLI 489 Special Topics (4 credits)
This is a seminar course that is offered whenever a mutual interest in a more specialized topic in political science exists for a member of the faculty and a sufficient number of students. Prerequisite: instructor consent.

POLI 490 Independent Study
Individual study of an approved topic in political science under the direction of a political science faculty member, permitting faculty and students to explore together some subject of special or personal interest. Reading and tutorial discussion are required; written work is optional. Prerequisites: instructor’s consent and approval of associate dean of social sciences.

POLI 492 Directed Research
Qualified students may perform political science research projects under the supervision of a political science faculty member. Prerequisites: instructor’s consent and approval of associate dean of social sciences.

POLI 494 Internship (4 credits)
Appropriate work or active political experience with government agencies or partisan political groups may be undertaken for course credit when directly related to the educational goals of the student. Prerequisites: instructor’s consent and approval of the associate dean of social sciences.

POLI 499 Political Science Senior Assessment (0 credits)
This course consists of a single three-hour session during which students complete a standardized test of knowledge of the major field and/or other measures of the intended learning outcomes of the political science program. The data gathered during the session assists members of the political science faculty in their efforts to monitor and improve the program. Students should register for the assessment as part of their final semester of coursework at the college.

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