Political Science Courses

Classes at VWU are small and interactive. Some of the courses within the political science program include: State and Local Politics and Government, Urban Politics, Elections in American Politics, Feminist Political Thought, and Politics and the Media, and special topics courses such as the Politics of the Middle East and North Africa or Political Satire in American Politics.

Political Science Courses (POLS)

103  Global Realities (4)
Designed for students who want to begin learning about international relations. Begins with a broad overview of political, economic, and cultural patterns in today’s global environment; followed by an inventory, evaluation, and comparison of information sources about international affairs, including print, broadcast, and cable media, the Internet, and CD-ROM and simulation software. Concludes with one or more case studies of current global issues, such as international terrorism, the control of rogue states, denuclearizing warfare, international women’s issues, international environmental problems, and the impact of global consumerism. Through these case studies, students learn how to identify key international problems, track them in the media, gather information about them, and develop and evaluate possible solutions. Offered every semester.

111  Introduction to Political Science (4)
Introduces students to the fundamental concepts and issues in the study of politics. Primary emphasis is placed on ideologies, such as liberal democracy, conservatism, socialism, communism, fascism, nationalism, and on political institutions and behavior, including legislatures, executives, interest groups, political parties, political socialization, participation, the expression of political opinion, revolution, and types of political systems. These concepts and issues are considered from both behavioral and traditional perspectives. Offered every semester.

112  Introduction to American Government (4)
Offers a citizen’s guide to the American political system, providing a brief overview of the Founders’ constitutional design, the federal system, and politics and policy-making in the presidency, bureaucracy, Congress, and the Supreme Court. Covers key judicial rulings on civil rights and liberties and national powers. Gives special attention to the electoral process, the media, and the ways that ordinary citizens can influence governmental policies. Offered every fall.

200  Topics in Political Science (4)
An examination of selected topics in Political Science. Offered on demand.

201  State and Local Politics and Government (4)
Based on both theoretical and practical experiences in state and local government and politics. Explores the relationship between local, state, and federal systems. Features office holders and local officials as guest speakers. Offered every fall.

202  Politics and Film (4)
A use of film to explore basic concepts within political science. Topics include war and peace, democratic governance, and social justice. Offered on demand.

203  Politics and Literature (4)
Provides a literary path to exploring the human experience and discovering the role politics plays in that experience. Through readings and discussion of classical utopian and dystopian novels, students explore arguments and concepts detailed in classic political philosophy. Offered fall of odd-numbered years.

204  Introduction to Feminist Political Thought (4)
Feminist theory has always had a political agenda: to improve the situation of women in society. It also has theoretical import, asking basic questions about personal identity and equality, about ethical obligations to others, about justice and fairness, and about the history of political theory. This course brings together both of these strands, focusing on feminist theory, feminist politics, and the contributions that feminist theory can make in thinking about politics in general. Offered on demand.

205  Introduction to Political Theory (4)
Introduces students to the classic works of political philosophy. Readings address issues of justice, obligation, equality, the common good, human rights, the role of reason, aims of government, and the nature of politics. Students consider the power of ideas in political life. Offered every fall.

206  Introduction to Comparative Politics (4)
An introduction to cross-national comparative analysis, with particular attention to social movements, democratization, globalization, and the relative political and economic autonomy of the countries examined. Country cases include Britain, Germany, India, Iran, Mexico, Nigeria, and the United States. Students engage in cross-country case-studies to compare and contrast major political and economic institutions, political culture, parties, and interest groups; and discuss class-based perspectives on political conflicts over wealth distribution and social justice. Offered every spring.

210  Introduction to International Relations (4)
Drawing on both historical and contemporary experience, students study the behavioral and institutional features of the nation-state and its global environment in their political, military, economic, and cultural aspects. Main topics include power, foreign policy, diplomacy, international organization and law, arms control, and the global economy considered in the context of the post-Cold War world. Issues examined include overpopulation, food and energy scarcity, national and ethnic movements, economic development, environmental problems, and militarism. Offered every fall.

220  Terrorism and Political Violence (4)
This course examines the evolution of terrorism as a political act, which has (re)emerged as a lead feature of contemporary international relations.  It addresses the definition of terrorism, history of the concept, perspectives on causes, structure and organization of terrorist groups, and the consequences of terrorism. Offered every spring.

222  Security in the New Global Era (4)
Students will examine a variety of security challenges in explicitly global terms. Beginning with an intensive survey of the global political topics implicated in the challenging security environment of the 21st century, it quickly transitions into a topical course exploring contemporary security issues through multi- and interdisciplinary lenses. Offered every fall.

239  American Political Thought (4)
Explores major ideas shaping American institutions of government and politics from the founding generation to the present. Evaluates the writings of many different individuals relating to such issues as slavery and race, capitalism and social justice, and feminist political theory. Readings include the Federalist Papers, selections from Democracy in America and works by Malcolm X, Dr. Martin Luther King, and Betty Friedan. Offered every spring.

240  Topics in International Organizations and Diplomacy (4)
Examines topics of contemporary relevance to the function of international organizations and diplomacy. Topics include diplomatic leadership, international terrorism, and refugee crises. Prerequisite: POLS 210. Offered on demand.

250  Introduction to International Political Economy (4)
An overview of the political institutions and conflicts that structure our contemporary international economy. Readings and discussions examine major issues at the center of current political science research, policy debate, and popular political discourse. Postwar systems of international trade and finance, as well as divergent policy goals of states and societies of the North and South are examined. Offered every spring.

265  Research Methods (4)
Introduces the political science major to the methods of political research. Students learn how political scientists know what they know, and how they gain tools with which to explore, describe, explain, present, and debate this knowledge. Students actively experience every dimension of the research process as they plan, design, and carry out their own projects, then communicate their findings in written and oral formats. Daily classes include lecture and discussion of class readings, and individual student research. Prerequisite: Math placement H, B or A or Math 104 with grade of C- or higher. Offered every fall.

266  Applied Research Methods (4)
This second course in a two-course sequence (POLS 265 and POLS 266) gives students the opportunity to complete the research project started in POLS 265 by providing them with the tools to carry out quantitative and qualitative analyses. Prerequisite: POLS 265 or by consent. Offered every spring.

300  Topics in Comparative Politics (4)
Examines selected topics in comparative politics. Course may include Asian Pacific Rim, South Asia, Latin America, Contemporary Africa, or the Middle East and North Africa. May be repeated for credit as topics vary. Offered every semester.

302  Ethnicity and Politics: Latinos in America (4)
A study of how Latinos have adapted to U.S. political ways in order to participate in U.S. politics and press their political agenda. Offered every fall.

303  Urban Politics (4)
Students examine scholarly perspectives on the evolution of political processes, institutions, the intergovernmental context, key actors and contemporary issues in urban politics such as urban sprawl and economic development. A major part of this class is a six-week simulation of a city government where students take roles of city councilors, lawyers, business leaders, and citizen activists in making important decisions about the city’s future. Prerequisite: junior/senior status. Offered spring of odd- numbered years.

307  The Presidency and the American Political System (4)
Examines the institutions and processes of American government in regard to the presidency. Offered spring of even numbered years.

308  Elections in American Politics (4)
Examines the dynamics of the American elections system. Students explore theoretical literature that seeks to explain elections and their outcomes, and engage in practical activities associated with the running of electoral campaigns. Prerequisites: junior status or consent. Offered intermittently.

315  Politics in the Media (4)
Explores recurring themes in studies of the mass media, including the interplay between news producers, consumers, and politicians. Students will examine the role of mass media within a democracy, the media’s effects on the citizens who consume it, and how the economic needs of news producers shape their product. Prerequisites: POLS 111 or 112. Offered on demand.

318  Germany in a Changing World (4)
This study away course, taught for three weeks in Berlin, provides an introduction to German politics over the last 70 years. It relates the historical developments in Germany to international developments over the same time, focusing on political development of Berlin. Class discussions are complemented with excursions and guest lectures. Offered summer of even- numbered years.

320 Democratic Theory
This course provides an overview of canonical theoretical works in democratic political thought. Students will explore different ways of conceptualizing democracy, the role of citizens in establishing the legitimacy of a democracy, basic issues of citizen participation within democracies, and the centrality of rights in establishing and maintaining democratic regimes.

321  Politics and Literature of Latin America (4)
Focuses on readings from the political writings of selected Latin American thinkers. Students analyze writings that range in time from the Spanish Conquest to the present, providing a historical overview of the development of the political thought in Latin America. Offered spring of even-numbered years.

323  Topics in Public Policy Analysis (4) W
Using policy analysis models students examine a set of substantive public policy issues to establish the issue context, define the policy problems, and evaluate alternative solutions. Topics may differ each semester and may include the environment, health care, crime, urban policy, poverty, and welfare. Prerequisite: ENG 105 with a grade of C or higher. Offered on demand.

325 Tweeting to Power
This course explores how technological change and social media transformed contemporary politics, from electioneering to global security. Students will learn about the ways in which politicians and governments employ technology, the effects of technology usage on citizen attitudes and behavior, and the implications of these technologies for democratic governments. 

326  Environmental Policy Analysis (4) W
Examines environmental politics and policy by studying a set of substantive environmental policy issues to establish the issue context, define the policy problems and evaluate alternative solutions. Prerequisite: ENG 105 with a grade of C or higher. Identical to ENVS 326. Offered every spring.

360  Political and Security in African Conflicts (4)
This course focuses on the politics of conflict and security across Africa, both north and south of the Sahara. Students will study key traditional security issues such as civil wars and insurgencies, as well as the rise of 'non-traditional' security concerns such as migration, health security, and extremism. Offered fall of even number years.

363  Sex, Gender, and Global Security (4)
This course examines the gendered dimensions of security and war, focusing on the post–Cold War period.  Students will pay particular attention to what feminists have described as the continuum of violence, including specific issues such as the political economy of war, sexualized violence, and the militarization of gendered bodies. Offered spring of odd number years.

335  American Government (4)
Acquaints students with the workings of our system of federal government. The Constitution, the presidency, Congress, the Supreme Court, political parties, and the regulatory agencies are treated as separate units of a unified focus upon our institutions of national government. Offered every fall.

337  American Legislative Process (4)
Examines the structure and function of law making in Congress and the state legislatures, including consideration of such topics as committees, representation, policy making, leadership, and interest group influence. Also examines the impact of Congress and state legislatures on vital issues of public policy ranging from foreign policy to urban policy, or from taxation to energy policy. The role of party politics and campaigns in the legislative process are also considered. Offered intermittently.

343  Public Administration (4)
Reviews contemporary approaches to policy-making and decision-making techniques in light of the values represented in them and their promises for serving the public interest. Examines classic and modern theories of bureaucracy; the history, development, and philosophical assumptions of the science of administration; the structure and functioning of American federal, state, and local administration; the budget-making process; government regulations of business and society; and the major challenges facing governmental professionals in our time. Offered every spring.

344  European Union in World Politics (4)
Examines the foreign policies of European countries, both individually and collectively through the European Union, toward one another, regional and intergovernmental organizations, and other regions of the world. Explores other issues related to Europe economic and political integration, including national identities, democratic accountability, the Union’s expansion, U.S.-European relations, the European Constitution, Turkey’s bid to join the Union, and immigration and Islam in Europe. Prerequisite: junior status or consent. Offered fall of odd-numbered years.

345  International Law and Organizations (4)
Introduces rules and institutions providing the context for global politics. Examines how international and non-governmental organizations attempt to establish and protect international standards of political behavior. Special focus is placed on the United Nations, equipping students for participation in the National Model United Nations in New York City. Prerequisite: consent. Offered every fall.

346  Model United Nations Workshop (1)
Provides further understanding of the operations of the United Nations, including the UN’s bureaucratic structure, resolution writing, multilateral diplomacy, and specific issues in contemporary international politics. Guides students’ preparation for and participation in the annual National Model United Nations conference. Pass/fail grading. Course fee required- determined each semester depending on travel costs for Model UN New York conference. Prerequisite: instructor consent. May be repeated for credit. Offered every spring.

347  Model United Nations (4)
Participation in the National Model UN Conference in New York City (NMUN) is the focus of this class. NMUN conferences replicate the rigorous process international learners must go through to find agreeable solutions to major problems in the world today. Prerequisite: consent. Fee required. May be repeated for credit. Offered every spring.

348  International Human Rights (4) W
Examines the practical and philosophical questions surrounding civil, political, social, and economic rights, self-determination, and minority rights. Explores the contemporary practice of human rights in policy-making and law, with special emphasis on the role of politics in their interpretation, implementation, and enforcement. Prerequisites: ENG 105 with a grade of C or higher and junior status or consent. Offered spring of even-numbered years.

350  Immigration and Citizenship (4) W
Explores the causes and consequences of international migration, how governments regulate it, and how it transforms our ideas of citizenship. Migrants contribute to their native and adopted lands, but also exacerbate inequality, enflame nationalist sentiments, and carry with them values and attitudes that may threaten existing sociocultural and political orders. Prerequisite: ENG 105 with a grade of C or higher. Offered fall of even-numbered years.

353  Globalization and Its Discontents (4)
Studies the theoretical, political, economic, and institutional foundations and practices of free trade. Students develop case studies from Internet data on the issues and stakeholders in the globalization debate and the impact of their activities. Included among these are human rights, environmental, and labor groups; the World Bank; the World Trade Organization; and global corporation. Offered in selected January Terms.

355  Women, Power and Politics (4)
Examines women in politics from an international perspective while answering the following questions: Why have some countries integrated women politically, while others have not? How do men and women differ politically, and how do these differences affect the political game? What policy issues dominate women’s agendas? How do governments handle women’s policy concerns? Prerequisite: junior/senior status or consent. Offered spring of odd-numbered years.

360  Politics and Security in African Conflicts (4)
This course focuses on the politics of conflict and security across Africa, both north and south of the Sahara. Students will study key traditional security issues such as civil wars and insurgencies, as well as the rise of 'non-traditional' security concerns such as migration, health security, and extremism. Offered spring of odd-numbered years.

363  Sex, Gender, and Global Security (4)
This course examines the gendered dimensions of security and war, focusing on the post–Cold War period.  Students will pay particular attention to what feminists have described as the continuum of violence, including specific issues such as the political economy of war, sexualized violence, and the militarization of gendered bodies. Offered every spring.

365  Comparative Welfare States (4)
Examines welfare states and social policy in comparative perspective. Addresses the theoretical foundations of welfare and social justice and the history of welfare states, and explores the way social welfare, employment benefits, education, health, and housing policies are implemented in the US and abroad. Offered every two years.

371  Constitutional Law I: The Federal System (4)
An introduction to the American constitutional system. Examines the sources and allocation of powers among the three branches of the federal government, including the nature and extent of the Supreme Court’s authority and the relationship between the federal and state governments. Prerequisite: junior/senior status or consent. Offered fall of even-numbered years.

372  Constitutional Law II: Substantive Rights (4)
An introduction to the protection of civil rights and civil liberties within the American constitutional system, including equal protection (race, gender and other forms of discrimination), privacy and personal autonomy, freedom of expression and association, and religious freedom. Prerequisite: junior/senior status or consent. Offered spring of odd-numbered years.

373  Conflict Management (4) W
Examines conflict processes within and between organizations and alternative approaches to conflict management, drawing on the contributions of several disciplines and experience in organization, community, and labor dispute management. Prerequisite: ENG 105 with a grade of C or higher. Identical to MBE 373. Offered every fall.

415 Rumors, Misinformation, and Conspiracy Theories in Politics
This course explores the political significance of misinformation, paying particular attention to how it affects the quality of democratic government and the challenges inherent in curbing its spread. 

422  Political Science Seminar Abroad (4-8)
This course combines theoretical and empirical analysis with cultural immersion, by introducing students to the major political, economic, social, and foreign policy issues governing international relations. Prerequisite: consent. Travel course. Offered winter and summer on demand.

440  Seminar: American Foreign Policy (4)
Examines American foreign policy formation. Focuses first on the foreign policy process, then on case studies of specific foreign policy decisions in American history. Provides a framework for informed evaluation of American foreign policy. Prerequisite: junior/senior status or consent. Offered fall of odd-numbered years.

497  Political Science Internship Preparation (1)
This course helps students to obtain internships, teaching them the skills necessary to succeed in a professional setting. Students will discuss the basic steps in the internship process, from early planning through completion. This course must precede enrollment in POLS 498: Political Science Internship Program. Offered every fall.

498  Political Science Internship Program (8-16)
Political science majors apply the knowledge and skills learned in their political science classes in a full-time, semester-long internship. The field experience may be in government agencies at the local, state, and federal levels; law, law enforcement, non-profits, political parties, social service or another setting. Prerequisite: POLS 497. Offered every spring.

499  Senior Seminar (4)
Required of all students wishing to graduate from Virginia Wesleyan with a major in political science. Team taught by members of the department. Topic varies each spring. Examples of seminars offered in the past are Democratization and Development, Politics and the Media, War and Peace in the Nuclear Age, Political Development and Changes in Latin America and Asia, and Images of Justice. Open to all students. May be repeated as topics vary. Prerequisite: consent. Offered every spring.