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Courses

Politics Courses

1311. Principles of American Politics. A study of the basic principles of the American political order and their implications for current political practice, viewed in the light of alternative views of justice and human nature. Readings include the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution, The Federalist, other original documents from the founding era and later, Tocqueville's Democracy in America, and contemporary writings. Offered in the Fall and Spring.

3312. Political Regimes: Ancients, Christians, and the Advent of Modernity. An examination of ancient, Christian, and modern conceptions of the human soul, morality and the political order. It will focus on the works of Plutarch, St. Augustine, and Machiavelli. Special attention is paid to the different analyses of the Roman Republic and the Empire, and the ways of life found in each. Fall.

3323. Constitutional Law. A study of the Constitution and the manner in which its text has been interpreted, primarily by the Supreme Court. The focus is on the way the people have, through the Constitution, delegated different powers and responsibilities to the states and the three branches of the federal government. Fall.

3324. Public Policy. Consideration of how public policy is made and several prominent contemporary issues, such as global warming, immigration, and the problems of poverty and equality. Alternate years.

3325. American Foreign Policy. This course considers fundamental documents and speeches of statesmen on American foreign policy. Case studies will provide a point of departure for inquiry into such topics as the conflict between communism and constitutional democracy, the role of morality in international affairs, and the relation between domestic and foreign politics. Case study topics may include the American Founding, the Mexican-American War, the Civil War, the Spanish-American War, World War I, the Cold War, and the War on Terror. Spring.

3326. The Presidency. A study of the constitutional design and practical operation of the American presidency. The selection of presidents, the rise of the modern presidency, the character of executive power, and the nature of democratic leadership will be examined. Alternate years.

3327. Civil Rights. A study of civil rights in the American regime, with a focus on Supreme Court cases on the Bill of Rights and Fourteenth Amendment. A major theme is the contrast between the current liberal and conservative conceptions of civil rights and the conception of the Founders and their successors. Spring.

3328. Congress. An examination of the national legislative process, comparing the understanding at the Founding with the reconstitution of this process in the 20th century. Emphasis will be placed upon the contemporary Congress, with special attention to its internal organization, its major procedures (including the ordinary legislative process as well as the budget process), and how the embrace of administrative power in the New Deal period and beyond has changed both the form and politics of the legislative process. Alternate years.

3329. Politics and Parties. An examination of the role of political parties in an extended, republican government. Special attention will be paid to the founding generation's dispute over parties, Martin Van Buren's contribution to the establishment of an enduring two-party system, the form and norms of that system, as well as subsequent reforms intended to weaken or supplant the parties' influence over government. Alternate years.
 
3331. Plato's Republic. The Socratic method in politics studied through a careful reading of the Republic, the seminal book in political philosophy in the Western tradition. An adequate approach to the dialogue form is emphasized in the interpretation. Fall.

3332. Aristotle's Politics. A careful reading of the fundamental work on politics. Aristotle is said to have systematized and made more practical the philosophic speculations of Socrates and Plato. Discussion of the extent to which this is true, and why Aristotle's work remains fundamental to the understanding of political life. Spring.

3333. Political Philosophy in the Middle Ages. A consideration of the leading thinkers, with particular emphasis on the possible conflict between faith and reason and the various proposed resolutions of the "theological-political problem." Selections from Islamic, Jewish, and Christian authors. Alternate years.

3334. The Enlightenment and Liberal Democracy. A treatment of early modern political philosophy. Writers discussed typically include Hobbes, the founder of modern natural law and natural right; Locke, the philosopher of the constitutional republic of the American Founding; and Rousseau, who revolted against the Enlightenment in the name of community, virtue, and philosophy. Spring.

3335. Modernity and Post-Modernity. An examination of several leading post-Rousseauan thinkers, such as Kant, Hegel, Marx, Mill, Nietzsche, Heidegger, and Leo Strauss. The theme of the course will be the abandonment of natural right in late modern thought; the turn to History as a possible standard of right; then the crisis that ensues when history proves to be unable to provide standards. Spring.

3336. Comparative Government. A study of the theory and practice of contemporary government. Selection will be made from both Western and non-Western regimes. Alternate years.

3338. Marxism and Russia. A survey of selected writings of Marx and Lenin, followed by consideration of the former Soviet regime and of post-Soviet Russia. A major theme of the course is the nature of modern tyranny and the prospects for its return. Alternate years.

3339. International Politics. A study of politics among nations that focuses on the contemporary international setting. Readings from primary and secondary sources on topics such as the future of international relations, the moral basis of politics among nations, diplomacy, multi-national institutions, military and security policy, and the relationship between regime type and international action, Fall, alternate years.

3342. Political Philosophy and the Family. This course will focus upon classical, early modern, and late modern understandings of the nature and role of the family in the political association. Special attention will be paid to the influence of these ideas in the formation of the American family in the founding period, as well as its reformation in the twentieth century and beyond at the behest of progressivism, feminism, and Freudianism. Annually.

3356. American Political Thought. American political thought from the founding to Woodrow Wilson. Specific texts chosen by the Instructor. Offered as needed.

3358. The American Founding. The Founders' understanding of politics and human life will be studied through original documents, especially those of statesmen and elected bodies acting in their official capacity. Themes will include the Founders' understanding of equality, liberty, natural rights, consent, public policy, nobility, happiness, and the structure of national and state government. Liberal and conservative critiques of the Founders will also be considered. Alternate years.

3362. 20th Century American Political Thought and Policy. This course examines the impact of progressivism on 20th century domestic policymaking, focusing upon the movement away from the founding generation's conception of limited government in favor of a far more extensive conception of state power. Attention will be paid to the philosophical roots of this change as well as the implementation of this change in practice, especially during the New Deal and Great Society periods. Annually.

3368. Catholic Political Thought. The purpose of this course is to understand of the Church's teaching concerning the nature and purpose of political society, and concerning the relationship between the Church and the political order. The course covers the chief political concerns of St. Augustine and St. Thomas, the struggles between the papacy and temporal authority through the Middle Ages and the Reformation, and the relationship between Catholic teaching and modernity. Some or all of the following will be addressed: the application of natural law teaching; the relationship between natural law and natural rights; forms of regimes; the common good; toleration; Catholicism and democracy; Catholicism and capitalism. Alternate years.

4311. Thucydides: Justice, War, and Necessity. A careful reading of Thucydides' History of the Peloponnesian War. The themes of the course include Thucydides' account of international relations, the justice of imperialism, the connections between foreign and domestic politics, rhetoric, and the grounds of politics in necessity and morality. Alternate years.
 
4350. Aristotle's Ethics. The ethical basis of political life as it comes into sight through a study of the Nicomachean Ethics. Alternate years.

4351. Senior Seminar. This course is designed to bring together in a comprehensive manner many of the themes and issues addressed in particular courses within the major. Some new texts, or new authors, may also be examined, with the purpose of comprehending the interplay of texts and authors that has marked the movements of thought in the Western world. Students will write and present a paper on a topic related to the course. Fall.

4352-4353-4354-4355. Special topics. Courses offered according to the interest of students and availability of professors.

4V61. Independent Research. This course provides the individual student with an opportunity to examine any topic, problem, or work within the discipline of political science. Content will be determined by consultation with the instructor. Prerequisite: consent of instructor. Offered as needed.
 
5357. Senior/Graduate Elective. Offered according to the interest of students and availability of professors. Enrollment open to advanced undergraduate students with the approval of the chair, and to graduate students with the approval of the program director. 

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