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Special Topic Courses

Spring 2019 Special Topic Course Descriptions

POLI 266.1 ST: Model AU (Kovalov) This course simulates the politics and procedures of the African Union (AU). In this course, students will climb into the heads of African diplomats and simulate how they pursue their particular national/regime interests. After spending several weeks preparing, we will travel to Washington, D.C. and perform. Students will learn about Africa’s international relations, debate regional issues of importance for the African region, and engage in negotiations using the rules of parliamentary procedure. Requires permission to enroll; contact instructor at

POLI 266.2 ST: Model OAS (Friedman) This course prepares students to participate in the Washington Model Organization of American States General Assembly. The Washington Model OAS is a simulation of the regular Organization of American States General Assembly session and gives students practical experience in the arts of diplomacy and international affairs. It is sponsored by and held at the headquarters of the Organization of American States in Washington DC and is attended by some of the top universities and colleges in the western hemisphere. Major issues that affect the nations of the western hemisphere will be debated. Requires permission to enroll; contact instructor at

POLI 319.1 ST: Politics, Participation, and the U.S. Economy (DeHaan) This course will examine the philosophical foundations of democracy and its economic determinants in the U.S. and how to measure democracy at the macro-economic and U.S. state levels. We will explore questions that are central to every democratic system: how do we define and measure democracy? How well can individual preferences be aggregated into a collective choice? Should political, social and economic inequities enter into our discussion of a just democracy? How can collective will and fair representation be accomplished in the current partisan and contentious political environment? 

POLI 339.1 ST: Terrorism and Counterterrorism (Desjeans) This course examines international terrorism and counter-terrorism efforts, focusing on the western democracies and on U.S. counter-terrorism in particular. It will concentrate substantially on the three post World War II phases of terrorism when the tactic of terror became a common aspect of asymmetric conflict by non-governmental individuals and groups. There will be special focus on the current phase of terrorism―religiously-motivated terror―looking at its roots, potency, and sustainability. Students will also examine and discuss the range of western counterterrorism tactics, including controversial U.S. practices in the aftermath of the 911 attack.

POLI 359.1 ST: Nationalism and Ethnic Politics (Price) This course will explore how nationalism and ethnic divisions become salient politically. The introductory section of the course will provide an overview of the major theoretical approaches in political science to the study of nationalism, ethnic identification, and ethnic politics. The course will then shift focus to examine how issues of nationalism and ethnic politics impact different world regions. The second section of the course will analyze patterns of nationalism and ethnic politics in Latin America. The course will conclude with a section on nationalism and ethnic politics in Africa. Students will leave this course with a better understanding of how nationalism and ethnic divisions influence politics in general and will be able to make specific reference to processes of nationalism and ethnic political mobilization in Latin America and Africa.

POLI 379.1 ST: Immigration & International Relations (Sriram) The focus of this course will be an in-depth analysis of global migration through the lens of international relations. Students will read classic theories about immigration drawing on economics, psychology, sociology and political science. Other topics include the United Nations Convention and Protocol on Refugees; globalization and women; the politics and policies of refugee resettlement; global anti-immigration and nativist movements; transnationalism and immigrant political activism; borders and borderlands; and the role of international non-governmental organizations.

POLI 379.2 ST: Sustainable Development (Fisher) Designed as a foundational course for examining the concepts, principles and practices of sustainable development (SD), this course focuses on the unsustainability problems of industrial countries (i.e., social disconnection, political fragmentation, aging of populations, sustainable consumption, etc.) as well as developing states and economies in transition (i.e., managing growth, social conflict, pressures of population change, etc.) within a global context. The focus is on how to achieve continual development, economically and socially, while protecting the environment. We will examine the global trajectory of SD, and how it can be applied effectively.   POLI 399.1/WGST 320.2 ST: Feminist Utopias (Curtis) Feminist utopian texts are a key part of the utopian genre. This course will analyze a variety of those texts, explore the imaginings of scholars, artists and activists in the 2015 Feminist Utopia Project, and consider whether a class in feminist utopia can itself be a moment of feminist utopianism (utopianism is defined as “social dreaming”).

POLI 399.2/PHIL 315.2 ST: Conservatism (Krasnoff) A study of the intellectual sources of the conservative political tradition from the classical modern to the contemporary period. Readings will include Hume, Burke, Hegel, Strauss, Hayek and Oakeshott.