Political Science Capstone Seminars

Application Requirement

The capstone is a senior requirement for the major, designed to be completed within the last nine semester hours of POLI coursework. You must complete POLI 205 before taking a capstone course. Capstones are filled on a first-come, first-served basis and enrollment is limited to 25 students to ensure a high-quality culminating experience. It is your responsibility to plan and to complete the application for permission to enroll in a timely manner. Registration for capstone courses is not available through MyPortal. You must complete an application and if you are eligible, the department will enroll you in the course. See the advising newsletter for link to application.

Regardless of the topic, all Capstone seminars include: intensive writing, independent research, opportunities to apply theories and concepts to new problems and cases, and the opportunity to go beyond comprehending the views of others to articulate and defend one’s own view.

Upcoming Capstone Seminars


POLI 405.01 No Passport Required: Globalization from a Community Perspective (France)

This capstone will explore the connections between local communities and global processes. The goal is to recognize, become informed, and critically evaluate how global processes shape and transform society and people's lives, and how communities respond to global processes. 

In order to dispel the conventional notion that globalization is something happening "over there," five local, lowcountry case studies (shrimping and aquaculture, wind energy diversity and consumption, union and worker rights, migrant farm workers, and
foreign guest workers in the hospitality industry) will be employed to demonstrate the presence of globalization "here."

Students will have opportunities to interact with key stakeholders via Zoom, and to explore the global-local nexus surrounding each case study.

Fall 2022

POLI 405.01 Statecraft (Liu)

This capstone seminar examines statecraft and U.S.-China engagement. Statecraft is the art of conducting
government and diplomacy. It is important to study the key challenges involving peace, development, and
security that confront policymakers from the combined perspectives of history, politics, economics, and
strategy. United States engagement with China has been complex, multilayered and can be better understood historically over time, at different levels, and from a variety of disciplinary and substantive perspectives. Through critical multidimensional analysis, we will gain a better understanding of theories and practices of statecraft.


POLI 405.02 Gender Salience in American Politics (Ford)

Gender is a highly salient feature of American politics. But when we talk about the gender gap in voting or wages or policy preferences, we say “gender” but our variable typically measures “sex.” Sex and gender are inter-related, but gender is not fully determined by sex because not all men are masculine and not all
women are feminine. Binary measures fail to capture the full spectrum of gender identities today; and by focusing primarily on differences between men and women we miss important variation in attitudes and behavior among men and among women. This capstone will begin by differentiating sex, gender, and gender identity as theoretical and analytical constructs. Next, we will dive into the debates over how to disentangle sex, gender, and gender identity in political research by reading new work across a variety of topic areas. As we read and discuss this work together, each of you will identify an area to explore further in independent research papers and presentations.


PPLW 400 Legitimate Political Discourse: Democracy, Protest, and Civility* (Neufeld)

*Seats for this class are reserved for students pursuing the PPLW concentration, and will only be granted to others if space permits.

What are the limits of legitimate political discourse in contemporary democracies? Much ink has been spilled about the value and effects of protest movements and importance of civil discourse and whether it’s in decline—in short, about the norms and limits of democratic deliberation. This course will investigate the philosophical foundations of these questions by reading a variety of democratic theorists on the role of protest, civil disobedience, civility, anger, (and more!) in democratic deliberation. We will read selections from Teresa Bejan, Cheshire Calhoun, Myisha Cherry, Nancy Fraser, Chantal Mouffe, Martha Nussbaum, Olufemi Taiwo, Iris Marion Young and others.