Course Offerings

Spring 2015

See complete information about these courses in the course offerings database. For more information about a specific course, including course type, schedule and location, click on its title.

Intelligence in Practice

POL 276 - Cantey

This course examines the responsibilities of, and challenges faced by, today's intelligence community (IC). Drawing on current literature and case studies, topics include intelligence collection and analysis, ethical and moral issues, oversight and accountability, covert action, and the increasing role of "cyber" in espionage. Through an intelligence lens, we explore the rise of al Qaeda and the global jihadist movement, the run-up to 9/11, intelligence failures (and successes) associated with the Iraq war and the Arab Spring, and the role of the IC in future scenario planning. One week is spent in and around Washington, DC, where we tour the National Spy Museum, meet with intelligence officials, and visit other intelligence-related sites.

Supervised Study Abroad

POL 288 - Dickovick

This spring-term course covers a topic of current interest for which foreign travel provides a unique opportunity for significantly greater understanding. Topics and locations change from year to year and is announced each year, well in advance of registration. This course may be repeated if the topics are different. Offered when interest and expressed and department resources permit.

Topics in Politics and Film

POL 292 - Le Blanc

This course examines how film and television present political issues and themes. May be repeated for degree credit if the topics are different.

Spring 2015 topic:

POL 292: Politics and Film: The Politics of Race and Gender in Mad Men (4). This class uses episodes of the Emmy Award-winning television series Mad Men--famous for its depiction of shifting understandings of gender and race relations in the United States in the 1960s--as a basis for exploring the culture of race and gender shared/challenged by the show's 21st-century audience. Supplementary reading and films offer a framework for critique. Students create their own short screenplays to further explore how entertainment can work as social criticism. Le Blanc. Spring 2015

Spring-Term Topics in Public Policy

POL 294 - Strong / STAFF

This course is designed to give students additional expertise and awareness of discrete policy challenges in the United States. Students learn to explain current policy systems, including political institutions and political behavior by political actors. Students also formulate policy evaluations acknowledging the strengths and the weaknesses in the policy system. (SS2)

Spring 2015 topic:

POL 294: Spring Term Topic in Public Policy: College Conundrums: Issues in American Higher Education (4). This public policy seminar taught by a former senior vice president at the College Board and a former provost at W&L introduces students to some of the critical and controversial issues in contemporary American higher education including: the high cost (and price) of college; the challenge in developing fair and equitable admissions policies; the role of elite institutions in providing access and opportunities for social mobility; a comparison of key higher education policies and practices in the United States and Europe; the relationship between the traditional liberal arts and the preparation for careers; the accurate measurement of institutional success for colleges and universities (including ratings and rankings); and the future of higher education in American society. Course materials include scholarly and popular works, including blogs, and students also become familiar with quantitative analysis using external databases. (SS2) Strong, Higginbotham. Spring 2015

Special Topics in American Politics

POL 295 - Morel

A seminar in political science for students at the introductory or intermediate level. Topic, hour, and instructor are announced prior to registration. May be repeated for degree credit if the topics are different.

Spring 2015 topic:

POL 295: Lincoln and The American Founders (4). Prerequisite: First-year or sophomore standing or instructor consent. This course examines Lincoln's writings in light of seminal works from the American founding period. In addition to Lincoln's speeches and writings, students examine key political documents like the Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution, Northwest Ordinance of 1787, and the writings of statesmen such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. We also examine period works -- like Parson Weems's biography of Washington -- which were known to have shaped Lincoln's political thought and practice. Key issues to be considered are the problem of slavery in the early American republic, the challenge of democratic rule, and the role of prudence in self-government. (SS2) Morel. Spring 2015

Washington Term Program

POL 466 - Connelly

The Washington Term Program aims to enlarge students' understanding of national politics and governance. Combining the practical experience of a Washington internship with academic study, it affords deeper insight into the processes and problems of government at the national level. A member of the politics faculty is the resident director, supervising students enrolled in this program while they are in Washington, D.C.


Winter 2015

See complete information about these courses in the course offerings database. For more information about a specific course, including course type, schedule and location, click on its title.

American National Government

POL 100 - Harris, Morel (Multiple Sections)

A study of the constitutional origins and historical development of the national government with special attention to Congress, the presidency, the judiciary, and the role of political parties, interest groups, and the media in the policy process.

Introduction to Global Politics

POL 105 - Dickovick, Strong (Multiple Sections)

A survey of the comparative study of national and international politics and the interaction between the two. Topics may include power relations among and within states, changes in the conduct of international affairs and conflict resolution, contrasting ideas about democracy, economic development, justice, globalization, terrorism, causes and alternatives to war, social movements and the role of the nation-state.

Introduction to Political Philosophy

POL 111 - Hale, Le Blanc (Multiple Sections)

An introduction to some of the perennial themes of politics, such as the relationship between human nature and political institutions, individual freedom and community, private conscience and civic virtue, the claims of reason and faith, the nature of law, obligation, and rights, among others. Our inquiry is guided by selections from influential works in the history of political thought, ancient, modern and contemporary, as well as plays, dialogues, comedies, tragedies, novels, and films. Consult with instructor for specific reading assignments and course requirements.

The Conduct of American Foreign Policy

POL 214 - Cantey

Constitutional basis, role of the President and the Congress, the State Department and the Foreign Service, role of public opinion, political parties, and pressure groups. Relation to other political areas and to the United Nations and other international agencies.

International Development

POL 215 - Dickovick

A study of international development and human capability, with a focus on Africa, Asia, and Latin America. The course analyzes theories to explain development successes and failures, with a focus on the structures, institutions, and actors that shape human societies and social change. Key questions include measuring economic growth and poverty, discussing the roles of states and markets in development, and examining the role of industrialized countries in reducing global poverty. The course explores links between politics and other social sciences and humanities.

East Asian Politics

POL 227 - Le Blanc

An investigation of East Asian political systems and the global, historical, and cultural contexts in which their political institutions have developed. Students consider the connections between political structure and the rapid social and economic changes in East Asia since World War II, as well as the effectiveness of varied political processes in addressing contemporary problems. Emphasis is given to China, Korea, and Japan.

Black American Politics

POL 250 - Morel

A study of important black figures in American political thought. The course focuses on the intellectual history of black Americans but also considers contemporary social science and public policies dealing with race in America.

Modern Political Philosophy

POL 266 - Hale

An examination of some of the central questions and concerns of modern political philosophy. The course is not restricted to a historical period but extends to modern themes within contemporary culture. A mixture of plays, novels, epics, dialogues, treatises, and films are used. Authors, texts, and themes vary from year to year. 

Seminar: Law and the Judicial Process

POL 342 - Harris

A survey of legal theories and the problems of reconciling such theories with the realities of administering a legal system. The course draws upon readings from literature, philosophy, legal scholarship, and political science. Topics include the nature of law and justice, constitutionalism, the role and power of courts and judges, and the function of a legal system.

Seminar on Middle Eastern Politics

POL 384 - Cantey

This course examines contemporary politics in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Topics include the role of colonial legacies in state formation, the region's democratic deficit, nationalism, sectarianism, and the influence of religion in politics. We explore inter- and intrastate conflict, including the use of terrorism, economic development and underdevelopment, and the recent Arab uprisings (commonly referred to as the Arab Spring). Throughout, we consider why the Middle East attracts as much attention from policymakers and scholars as it does, how analysts have studied the region across time and space, and why understanding different cultural perspectives is critical to understanding the region.

Seminar in Political Philosophy

POL 396 - Hale

An examination of selected questions and problems in political philosophy and/or political theory. May be repeated for degree credit if the topics are different.

Winter 2015 topic:

POL 396:  Technology and the Republic (3). This course examines the role of technology in a republican society.  Drawing on philosophical treatises, literature, film, and scientific studies, we examine modern society's relationship with technology and its effects on our political life.  Students seek to understand both the theoretical and practical treatment of technology by political thinkers.  Topics range from human nature to federal research funding. (SS2) Hale. Winter 2015

Seminar in Political Philosophy

POL 396B - Connelly

An examination of selected questions and problems in political philosophy and/or political theory. May be repeated for degree credit if the topics are different.

Winter 2015 topic:

POL 396:  Technology and the Republic (3). This course examines the role of technology in a republican society.  Drawing on philosophical treatises, literature, film, and scientific studies, we examine modern society's relationship with technology and its effects on our political life.  Students seek to understand both the theoretical and practical treatment of technology by political thinkers.  Topics range from human nature to federal research funding. (SS2) Hale. Winter 2015

Directed Individual Study

POL 401 - Dickovick

This course permits a student to follow a program of directed reading, library research, or data collection and analysis in some area not covered in other courses. May be repeated for degree credit if the topics are different.

Honors Thesis

POL 493 - Dickovick

Honors Thesis.


Fall 2014

See complete information about these courses in the course offerings database. For more information about a specific course, including course type, schedule and location, click on its title.

American National Government

POL 100 - Connelly, Harris (Multiple Sections)

A study of the constitutional origins and historical development of the national government with special attention to Congress, the presidency, the judiciary, and the role of political parties, interest groups, and the media in the policy process.

Introduction to Global Politics

POL 105 - Cantey, Le Blanc, Rush (Multiple Sections)

A survey of the comparative study of national and international politics and the interaction between the two. Topics may include power relations among and within states, changes in the conduct of international affairs and conflict resolution, contrasting ideas about democracy, economic development, justice, globalization, terrorism, causes and alternatives to war, social movements and the role of the nation-state.

Introduction to Political Philosophy

POL 111 - Hale (Multiple Sections)

An introduction to some of the perennial themes of politics, such as the relationship between human nature and political institutions, individual freedom and community, private conscience and civic virtue, the claims of reason and faith, the nature of law, obligation, and rights, among others. Our inquiry is guided by selections from influential works in the history of political thought, ancient, modern and contemporary, as well as plays, dialogues, comedies, tragedies, novels, and films. Consult with instructor for specific reading assignments and course requirements.

State and Local Government

POL 203 - Richardson

An introduction to the structures and functions of United States subnational governments, with particular emphasis on the policy-making process and on the relationships between policy makers and the public. Computer-assisted analysis of survey-research data is included.

Political Parties, Interest Groups, and the Media

POL 229 - Connelly

A study of the three central extra-constitutional mediating institutions in the American political system: political parties, interest groups, and the media. The course explores theoretical and practical, historical and contemporary developments in party politics, interest group politics, and media politics. Special attention to the debate between the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists.

Public Policy

POL 232 - Harris

Introduction to public policy formation and implementation, decision making in government, the concepts and techniques of policy analysis, and ethical analysis of policy. Policy issues such as education, the environment, and public health are used as illustrations.

The Presidency

POL 235 - Strong

A review of the origins and development of the office of the presidency from Washington to the present, with an emphasis on post-war administrations. Topics include constitutional issues arising from presidential powers, policy making within the executive branch, and modern presidential leadership styles.

The American Supreme Court and Constitutional Law

POL 236 - Rush

A survey of the development of American constitutional law and a study of the role of the Supreme Court as both a political institution and principal expositor of the Constitution.

Post-Communism and New Democracies

POL 246 - Jasiewicz (Multiple Sections)

A comparative analysis of transition from Communism in the countries of the former Soviet bloc. Cases of successful and unsuccessful transitions to civil society, pluralist democracy, and market economy are examined. The comparative framework includes analysis of transition from non-Communist authoritarianism and democratic consolidation in selected countries of Latin America, the Mediterranean, Southeast Asia, and South Africa.

Classical Political Philosophy

POL 265 - Hale

An examination of some of the central questions and concerns of classical political philosophy. The course is not restricted to a historical period but extends to classical themes within contemporary culture. A mixture of plays, novels, epics, dialogues, treatises, and films are used. Authors, texts, and themes vary from year to year. Consult with the instructor for specific course details.

Seminar: Lincoln's Statesmanship

POL 360 - Morel

This seminar examines the political thought and practice of Abraham Lincoln. Emphasis is on his speeches and writings, supplemented by scholarly commentary on his life and career.

Global Politics Seminar

POL 380 - Strong

Examination of selected topics dealing with international and comparative politics. May be repeated for degree credit if the topics are different.

Fall 2014 topics:

POL 380-01: Seminar: George H. W. Bush (3). Prerequisite: POL 105. This seminar focuses on the presidential administration of George H. W. Bush and explores the domestic and foreign policy issues that he encountered in the White House including: the savings and loan crisis, mounting deficits, legislation on clean air and the treatment of Americans with disabilities, the end of the Cold War, the breakup of the Soviet Union, the transformation of regimes in Eastern Europe, and military interventions in Panama, Somalia and the Persian Gulf.  Students evaluate the Bush presidency after the passage of a quarter century and use recently opened archives of presidential oral history interviews in writing research papers on topics related to this presidency. (SS2) Strong.

POL 380-02: Seminar: Science and Religion in the Courts (3). Prerequisite: POL 105. An investigation into the manner in which courts address questions of fact, proof, knowledge, and evidence in cases dealing with science and religion. What constitutes a religious belief? When does science provide "proof" as opposed to conjecture? The course examines cases in the United States and other countries. (SS2) Rush.

Global Politics Seminar

POL 380 - Rush

Examination of selected topics dealing with international and comparative politics. May be repeated for degree credit if the topics are different.

Fall 2014 topics:

POL 380-01: Seminar: George H. W. Bush (3). Prerequisite: POL 105. This seminar focuses on the presidential administration of George H. W. Bush and explores the domestic and foreign policy issues that he encountered in the White House including: the savings and loan crisis, mounting deficits, legislation on clean air and the treatment of Americans with disabilities, the end of the Cold War, the breakup of the Soviet Union, the transformation of regimes in Eastern Europe, and military interventions in Panama, Somalia and the Persian Gulf.  Students evaluate the Bush presidency after the passage of a quarter century and use recently opened archives of presidential oral history interviews in writing research papers on topics related to this presidency. (SS2) Strong.

POL 380-02: Seminar: Science and Religion in the Courts (3). Prerequisite: POL 105. An investigation into the manner in which courts address questions of fact, proof, knowledge, and evidence in cases dealing with science and religion. What constitutes a religious belief? When does science provide "proof" as opposed to conjecture? The course examines cases in the United States and other countries. (SS2) Rush.

Seminar in International Political Economy

POL 381 - Dickovick

This course provides an intermediate-level introduction to the major actors, questions, and theories in the field of international political economy (IPE). Course participants discuss political and economic interactions in the areas of international trade, fiscal and monetary policy, and exchange rates; discuss globalization in historical and contemporary perspectives; and examine the international politics of the major intergovernmental organizations, multinational corporations, states, and other institutional actors in the global economy.

Honors Thesis

POL 493 - Dickovick

Honors Thesis.