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Featured Courses on Race, Diversity & Social Justice

Our faculty teach a wide variety of courses focusing on race, ethnicity, racism, inequality, social justice, and related issues. Students can study these issues in all of the major areas in Political Science, including American Politics, Comparative Politics, International Relations, Political Theory, and Public Policy. We strongly encourage students to incorporate such courses into their studies in Political Science!


POLISCI 229: Experiments in Political Persuasion, Perception, Power, Prejudice, and Policy
Scott Blinder

From policy “nudges” to persuasive campaign ads to get out the vote efforts, experiments are increasingly being used to shape many aspects of political and social life. In the course, you will get a chance to participate in, read about, and discuss a wide range of experiments related to politics, policy and political behavior. Throughout the class, we will explore how individual perspectives and biases influence ways of seeing the world, including the role of automatically-activated stereotypes and prejudice in shaping perception and decision making. We will also examine cases in which prejudices influence social and political decision-making, leading to unjust or biased social and political outcomes in areas such as job and housing searches, elections, and constituent representation. In addition, the course will introduce students to the basics of experimental design and analysis.

POLISCI 281: Comparative Political Economy
Regine Spector

The course offers an introduction to core political economy ideas and concepts drawing upon both classical and modern thinkers, and then introduces contemporary questions and problems in the study of political economy in countries around the world focused on themes related to equity and inequality. Why are some countries, often Western, wealthier and more prosperous than others, often non-Western? How can we understand the huge gaps in living standards, life expectancy, and wealth across different populations within societies? This course answers these questions using readings and documentaries that elevate diverse perspectives and experiences including from historically marginalized populations within the U.S. and around the world. By the end of the course, students will be able to describe the historic context and identify the main contributions of classical and more contemporary political economy thinkers such as Smith, Marx, List, Polanyi, Keynes, and Hayek; apply and analyze the ways in which these ideas and thinkers from previous centuries and decades are relevant in contemporary debates; define, analyze, and apply core political economy terms such as market, debt, (de)regulation, austerity, welfare state, and development, and situate them in historic context within the U.S. and in other parts of the world; offer multiple explanations for key phenomenon such as financial crises and underdevelopment; and relate these often big and abstract ideas and debates related to the economy to your own life experiences, knowledge and beliefs.

POLISCI 290B: American Political Ideologies: Left, Right, and Beyond
Justin Gross

What defines American liberalism and conservatism and how has each evolved since the founding of the United States? What about more radical voices on the left and right, and those Americans whose political worldviews do not neatly fit either basic orientation? We consider a diverse set of perspectives, both with respect to ideological commitments and to the identities (gender, race, class, etc.) of the communicators encountered, while paying careful attention to the historical contexts in which these perspectives have been forged. Throughout the course, we focus on core concepts, the ideas that form the fundamental building blocks of ideologies (e.g., liberty, justice, equality, security, morality, democracy, progress, loyalty, dissent). We ask how American political philosophers, policy-makers, and commentators vary in the degree to which they emphasize each concept, how they interpret each, and how their values and beliefs provide a prism through which to view policy debates and partisan conflicts. Along the way, we reflect upon the degree to which elite perspectives may influence the political visions and rhetoric of ordinary Americans and whether – in the age of social media – ideas and rhetorical innovations may also flow upward from the mass public to its leaders. Finally, we consider the dynamics by which certain ideas become labeled as too extreme and how this may change over time, with formerly radical ideas normalized and previously accepted perspectives considered beyond the bounds of acceptable debate. Click here for the syllabus

POLISCI 291LP: Latino/a Politics
Justin Gross

Latinos in the United States and the U.S. in Latin America. This course introduces students to the political history, identities, behavior, and activism of Latinx (Latino/a, Hispanic) populations of the United States, placed within the broader context of U.S. engagement with Latin America. We will consider distinct experiences of those with roots in different parts of Latin America and the Spanish-speaking Caribbean, (such as, e.g., Mexico, Central America, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic) as well as historical and contemporary factors that have helped forge a shared identity for many despite their diverse backgrounds. Specific topics may include civic engagement and voting, ideology and partisanship, activism and mass mobilization, racialization of and discrimination toward Latinx communities, Latino/as and culture war politics, involvement in state and local politics, and the impact of demographic trends and multi-ethnic, multi-racial coalitions on political participation and power.

POLISCI 383: Energy Politics
Regine Spector

This four-credit IE course offers a historically informed approach to investigating the role of human generation and consumption of energy in contemporary politics and society. The arc of this course tells the story of how we came to rely on and perpetuate fossil fuel extraction and consumption despite what we have known for decades about the harm fossil fuels cause to the earth, and the disproportional negative impact human use of fossil fuels has on poor populations, indigenous communities, and people of color in the U.S. and around the world. We also learn about the possibilities and pitfalls that may be emerging in futures dominated by renewable energy. Readings and documentaries are drawn from the fields of history, international politics, political science, geography, anthropology, and development studies as they pertain to energy sources, including coal, oil, natural gas, hydropower, wind, and solar. The course introduces students to key concepts such as climate, energy and environmental justice, and literatures in critical political economy, geography, policy studies.

POLISCI 391E/791E | LEGAL 391E-01: Rules of War
Charli Carpenter

This is a course on the politics of war law. In addition to covering basic information on detainees, civilian protection, prohibited weapons and t includes material on women and gender, on the Islamic and indigenous laws of war, and the relationship between colonialism and war law. Click here for the syllabus

POLISCI 391PC: Immigration: Politics and Policy
Scott Blinder

This course focuses on immigration in the United States in recent years, but will look at historical and cross-national perspectives as well, to better ground our understanding of what is happening here and now. Some of the topics we will look at will include 1) the relationship of immigration to definition of Americans as a people; 2) the causes and effects of migration; 3) immigration as an issue in the American political system; 4) immigration as an issue in electoral politics and public opinion; 5) moral and practical perspectives on immigration control and the construction of borders. This includes attention to the issue of “unauthorized” immigration, especially in the US. The course is into three main units corresponding to the three elements in the title of the course: Immigration, Politics, and Policy. In the Immigration unit, our goals will be to learn basic facts about immigration to the US, and to understand theories of immigration that explain its causes, and its impacts on receiving societies. In the Policy unit, we explore what immigration policy is, and what it’s for (i.e. what goals there are, or should be, for policy decisions). You’ll also begin your own research, in groups, on a policy area in which you will become the class experts. In the Politics unit, we will learn how immigration affects public opinion, voting, and other forms of political participation. This will include the political action of immigrants themselves, and the reactions of other citizens to immigration. We will also begin to discuss how governing institutions—Congress, the President, the bureaucracy—respond to citizens’ political demands, and learn how organized interests try to influence legislation and enforcement as well. Click here for the syllabus

POLISCI 394CI: Central Asian Politics
Regine Spector

This is a historically grounded, multidisciplinary IE seminar that introduces students to Central Asian politics, economy and society, thereby enriching the department’s offerings of courses related to non-Western human cultures and societies. Modern Central Asia includes the five post-Soviet Central Asian countries, the Xinjiang region in Western China, and Afghanistan. We investigate core political science concepts and theories – for example related to colonialism, democracy and authoritarianism, political contestation, identity, development, and/or environmental politics – using the Central Asian experience. The course elevates Central Asian voices and experiences in readings and documentaries, and emphasizes their struggles for equity, representation, and justice. Students will come away from this course with a better knowledge of Central Asian politics, economy, and society; with a greater appreciation of the diversity of human populations; and with improved critical thinking skills (both oral and written). No prior knowledge of Central Asia is required, although introductory courses in comparative politics are recommended.

POLISCI 791: Human Security
Charli Carpenter

This is a doctoral seminar in the politics of the human security policy domain. We cover the origins and effectiveness of human rights norms, humanitarian law and UN Charter rules, as well as specific human security architectures and thematic issues: humanitarian intervention, peacekeeping, food security, and gender among others. There is an emphasis in this class on non-western perspectives on human security; on race, and on gender. The course is inclusive of authors of color and those from the developing world. Female authors outnumber male authors. Several prominent female authors provided guest lectures in the class. Click here for the syllabus