Why do democracies emerge, and what explains their vibrancy (or lack thereof)? What causes ethnic conflict? Why do revolutions occur? Why does it matter what rules democracies use for elections? This course will introduce students to comparative politics and the study of these important domestic political institutions, processes, and outcomes across and within countries. Cases will be drawn from different countries and historical periods to give students a grounding in the method of comparative analysis. This course is recommended for those thinking about a major, minor, or cluster in international relations or political science and others who are simply interested in learning more about the politics of developed and developing countries.
This course is most aptly called Thinking About Politics. It aims to examine a range of contemporary issues and to explore the political and philosophical conflicts and controversies that those issues raise. So, for example, we might examine the concepts of patriotism and explore the tensions that arise between it and such other concepts as democracy or freedom or dissent or security. Readings will be drawn both from contemporary sources and classic political thought.
This course will introduce students to the systematic study of American political institutions, processes, and behavior. We will focus on key questions about the political system and how political scientists address these questions. The strategic actions and interactions of various political actors will be examined from a variety of theoretical and empirical approaches. Political polarization, economic inequality, presidential power, the role of the administrative state will be discussed throughout the course.
This course provides students with the background and conceptual tools they need to understand contemporary international relations. The course will introduce students to the wide range of issues that make up the study of international relations, including the workings of the state system, the causes of international conflict and violence, and international economic relations. Students will be introduced to the literature in a broad way, to make them familiar with the main theoretical traditions in the field. Students will be asked, as much as possible, to read original texts, rather than a textbook. Time permitting, we will also examine topics of particular current interest, such as the evolving nature of power in the post-Cold War environment as well as special global challenges like nation-building and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
Athenian democracy is often pointed to as one of the precursors of our own political system, but where did it come from, how did it function, and what did Athenians, and other Greeks, think of their system of government? This course will examine: 1) the development of radical democracy as practiced in ancient Athens both in its theoretical and practical aspects; 2) the impact this form of government had on both Greek culture and history and on later cultures; and 3) the proponents and opponents of this system of government, both ancient and modern. In addition to reading, discussing, and analyzing ancient sources, the course will include a series of debates on the merits of various forms of government, including our own, in which students will have to argue either for or against that form of government, and students will then vote, Athenian style, for the winner.
Data analysis has become a key part of many fields including politics, business, law, and public policy. This course covers the fundamentals of data analysis, giving students the necessary statistical skills to understand and critically analyze contemporary political, legal, and policy puzzles. Lectures will focus on the theory and practice of quantitative analysis, and weekly lab sessions will guide students through the particulars of statistical software. No prior knowledge of statistics or data analysis is required. Without special permission of the instructor, students may not enroll in this course if they have earned credit and a letter grade for ECO 230, PSC 205, PSY/CSP 211, STT 211, STT 212, STT 213, STT 214, or any other course in statistics, or if they have received a score of 4 or 5 on the Advanced Placement exam in Statistics.
Restriction: Not open to freshmen. Students generally take PSC 202 in their sophomore year, but the course is also open to juniors and seniors. The course introduces students to the questions, concepts, and analytical approaches of political scientists and emphasizes careful reading and analytical writing. This version of the course focuses on the tension between majority rule and minority rights in the American political tradition. Topics include tyranny of the majority, slavery, civic engagement, political parties, women's rights, racism, economic and political inequality, legislative organization, and representation. Readings are drawn from classic texts in American thought--the Declaration of Independence, "The Federalist," Tocqueville's "Democracy in America," the Gettysburg Address--as well as from books and articles written by contemporary political scientists. Note: In this academic year, PSC 202 will only be offered in the fall semester. It will NOT be offered in the spring.
The eighteenth century was a time of remarkable intellectual activity in the West, and the Americans played a central role in it, both reflecting the thought in Europe and influencing the course of thoughts and events there. In this course, we will study the American Revolution by examining the political theory which sparked the revolution itself and which lay behind the writing of the Constitution. We will begin by looking at the important predecessors to the revolution, particularly the works of John Locke, the Baron de Montesquieu, and David Hume. We will then consider important works from the period surrounding the revolution, including works by Thomas Paine and Thomas Jefferson. Finally, we will look at the debates surrounding the adoption of the U.S. Constitution, including the Federalist Papers and important anti-Federalist works and at the debates that arose in the operations of government in the early Republic.
Through the lens of the Constitution and Supreme Court cases, this course examines the essential structure of the American legal and political system (both separation of powers at the federal level and the authority of, and relationship among, the federal government and states), as well as the essential nature of rights of citizens vis-a-vis the political order. Topics covered include the nature of the Supreme Court's authority; separation of powers and the allocation of authority between the legislative and executive branches; Congress' "delegated" powers and their limits; federal limits on state powers; and individual rights, including habeas corpus, economic rights, and equal protection and due process rights under the Fourteenth Amendment. The ability to read and discuss (as well as place in perspective and disagree with) Supreme Court opinions is an essential part of the course.
Does your zip code determine your health? If so, what is the role of the environment? Can changes in policies, systems, and environments address the root causes of health disparities? Public health professionals, researchers, government agencies, and community groups recognize that the physical environment has significant impacts on health equity but often lack the policy skills, concepts, and experiences needed to effect change. This advanced course takes a problem-based approach to environmental health policy. Students will develop multidisciplinary understanding of policy processes, environmental health systems, and problem-solving frameworks. Emphasizing local perspectives on environmental justice in the U.S., the course will include in-depth case studies of lead poisoning, transportation systems, and urban land use, and will highlight other domestic and global topics. Students will have the opportunity to conduct an independent policy research and writing project on an issue of their choice.
Is politics anything more than a series of televised shouting matches? Yes, but much of what matters isn't televised. While politicians in Washington and state capitals make speeches for the cameras, hundreds of thousands of public servants work everyday outside of the limelight to determine the quality of government's essential services -- including policing, emergency services, education, and public health. This course exposes students to the problems faced and solutions invented by leaders of the Rochester area's public service agencies. By interacting directly with these leaders and the "street-level bureaucrats" who implement government policy, students will learn how to grapple with the practical problems of governance.
This course provides an introduction to the legal foundations of health care in America. It is the responsibility of the American government to promote and protect the health and welfare of the public while respecting the interests, and upholding the rights, of the individual. The content of this course addresses how the law balances these collective and individual rights. The material covers a broad range of legal issues in health care, including autonomy, privacy, liberty, and proprietary interests, from the perspective of the provider(s) and the patient.
This course examines a range of issues in international development from a gender perspective, with a particular focus on women and girls, but also men and boys. Students will review recent literature on gender and sustainable development, including how development policies, programs and issues affect men and women, and girls and boys, differently. The course also covers recent trends in economic growth and sustainable development across low, middle and high-income countries. Students will have the opportunity to examine development issues, policies, and programs that address poverty and development in a range of sectors including health, education, agriculture, microfinance, and the environment.
Historically and today, European nations have struggled with questions of ethnic identity, and migration is central to that struggle. In considering the current European crisis with migrants and refugees, we will examine how Europeans define minorities, immigrants, and human rights. The emphasis of this course will be on the Roma people in Poland and Central and Eastern Europe. The course will provide students with knowledge of contemporary Romani identities, challenges, and achievements, and also with an understanding of how the Roma people emerged as the biggest and most marginalized community in Europe. We will focus on countries in Central and Eastern Europe, but offer comparisons to the situation in Western Europe and in the rest of the world. We will also examine the obstacles standing in the way of equal status for minorities in Europe.
This course offers students the opportunity to work as part of a research collaborative between the University of Rochester and a non-governmental organization devoted to criminal justice reform. The organization, Measures For Justice, is building the first database ever created to track the performance of the thousands of county-level criminal justice systems that process most criminal cases in the United States. Through hands-on research work under the joint supervision of UofR faculty and Measures For Justice staff, students in the course will learn powerful social science research skills, gain insight into the key challenges facing the U.S. criminal justice system, and contribute directly to data-driven policymaking.
An examination of federal environmental law and policy from a practical and historical perspective. This course will provide a basic foundational understanding of U.S. environmental law and help students develop the tools necessary to critique and improve environmental policy making. Topics include an overview of key federal environmental laws, some of the major loopholes, how environmental laws are shaped through agency regulation, judicial interpretation, political pressure, and their efficacy at safeguarding the environment and the public. The course will be taught through a combination of lectures, a group project focused on a specific case study, and student-led discussions about key aspects of environmental laws. Students will finish by considering emerging environmental issues and ways to address them.
This course explores the emergence and developments of Zionist ideologies in the 19th and 20th centuries. Following this, we will consider a number of recent explorations of Zionism in practice as well as Jewish and Palestinian critics of the Zionist project.
An examination of discrimination from a social scientific perspective. Topics covered include defining discrimination, types of discrimination under the law, testing for discrimination, discrimination experiments, and a survey of what social scientists have discovered about discrimination in the areas of policing, bail, retail sales, automobile sales, and home mortgages. Although there is considerable time devoted to lecture, students are encouraged to participate.
An examination of the role of environmental organizations in the development and implementation of environmental policy through experiential and academic learning. This is a small class that meets once a week. Through assigned readings, discussion and lectures, we will examine how environmental groups are formed, organized, funded and staffed to fulfill various objectives, and how the role/mission they play in developing and implementing environmental policy has evolved. Students will deepen their understanding of these issues through first-hand experience working on "real world" research for a local environmental organization. Each student will be responsible for a final paper examining these issues through the lens of a particular conservation or environmental group, completion of the project for the environmental group partner, and class discussion/participation. This course is instructor permission only and is limited to upper level students. PSC 246 or PSC 239 is a prerequisite.
This course introduces the concept and practice of political representation in contemporary democracies, focusing largely on the developed world. After discussing goals of representation, it traces representation from the values and electoral behavior of citizens through the formation of legislatures and executives to the implementation of public policies. It compares the consequences of different institutional arrangements and party systems for party and policy congruence, and considers other benefits and costs as well.
How do elections work in developing countries? Do contexts that are specific to countries in the developing world have implications for the nature and operation of electoral politics therein? In this course we will explore a number of issues that have particular relevance for elections in developing countries, including clientelism and vote-buying, electoral manipulation and fraud, ethnic voting, and electoral violence. In addition, we will consider how limited levels of information and political credibility affect both the operation of electoral accountability and the nature of electoral competition. In doing so, we will draw on examples from Africa, Latin America, and South East Asia.
Civil wars are now the most common form of armed combat in the world. However, as recent American forays in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya have illustrated, civil wars are rarely fought in isolation. Each side looks to foreign actors for military support or outright intervention. Meanwhile, international organizations like the United Nations mediate conflicts and initiate peacekeeping missions. As such, this course analyzes how the international system interacts with civil conflict. There are two midterms and a cumulative final, all based on essay prompts distributed in advance of the test.
This course explores the concepts of identity, ethnicity and nationalism from a comparative perspective. Drawing upon theories from political science, anthropology, sociology and economics, we will examine how identity is defined and how societies use these constructions in, among other things, nation-building, war, and party competition. Theoretical readings will be supplemented with empirical studies from developed and developing countries across different time periods.
This course focuses on a key mechanism facilitating international cooperation - international institutions. The course examines institutions ranging from informal institutions, or regimes, to formal, intergovernmental organizations. We ask the following questions: how are institutions established? What makes them change over time? What impact (if any) do they have? How do they influence government policies? How do they operate? How do they structure decision-making? How do international institutions affect domestic politics? The course will begin by focusing on different theoretical perspectives on these questions, and continue by examining international institutions in specific issue areas.
In recent decades a number of important intellectual intersections have emerged between political science and economics. The course will explore these intersections as they appear in the work of scholars such as Amartya Sen, Elinor Ostrom, Roberto Unger, Dani Rodrik. Our aim is to explore the analytical, explanatory and normative implications of this work in hopes of discerning lessons for thinking about enduring political issues and institutions such a property, markets, and democracy. Some prior course work in economics or political science will be helpful but is not required.
Game theory is a systematic study of strategic situations. It is a theory that helps us analyze economic and political strategic issues, such as behavior of individuals in a group, competition among firms in a market, platform choices of political candidates, and so on. We will develop the basic concepts and results of game theory, including simultaneous and sequential move games, repeated games and games with incomplete information. The objective of the course is to enable the student to analyze strategic situations on his/her own. The emphasis of the course is on theoretical aspects of strategic behavior, so familiarity with mathematical formalism is desirable.
The Constitution helps define, as it perhaps reflects, American society. In this scheme, religion has a special role. It, arguably uniquely, is given both Constitutional protection (free exercise) as well as Constitutional limitation (no establishment). Religion's placement in the Bill of Rights (as a part of the First Amendment) suggests its importance (both in protection and in limitation) to the founders, and religion's role in society today remains important and controversial. This course examines the historical forces that led to the adoption of the religion clauses of the First Amendment, the subsequent development of those clauses (importantly through the close reading of key Supreme Court opinions), and religion's role in modern American society.
Two-credit course. Cannot be used to satisfy any requirements for the major or minor in Political Science or International Relations. This interactive course teaches "real life" communication skills and strategies that help students present their best professional selves and develop a fulfilling career. Students will explore and articulate their internship, career and graduate school goals for distinct audiences and purposes as they develop a professional communication portfolio of materials such as resumes, cover letters, statements of purpose, electronic communications, elevator pitches, and online profiles. Students will revise and refine their written and spoken work based on feedback from peers, instructors, and alumni. By the semester's end, students will have gained extensive experience with the communication skills expected in today's competitive environment. This course is suitable for second-semester sophomores through first-semester seniors; all others require permission of the instructor.
This course offers a unique opportunity for students to engage critically with justice in courthouses in local communities. Students will participate in hands-on experiential work in a selected area of focus at the Monroe County Courthouse in Rochester. Areas of focus to choose from include adult criminal justice, juvenile justice, treatment courts, domestic violence court, court-community partnerships, or equity disparities in the court. Weekly class meetings include university faculty and Judge Craig Doran, Chief Supervising Judge of all courts in the region, who share their perspectives, research, and experience on the matters addressed by students at the courthouse. This provides students with immediate immersion in both the theoretical and practical applications of justice in society. This course requires students spend 6 hours per week at the Monroe County Courts at the Hall of Justice in Rochester.
This course will teach students how to write an original social scientific research paper. Students enrolled in the class are expected to complete a thesis in the spring. In this course, they will choose a research topic and question, find an advisor in the political science department, read the relevant literature, generate hypotheses, begin collecting data, learn strategies for addressing confounding concerns, and produce a paper of roughly 12-15 pages that constitutes a draft of the final thesis. Along the way, students will read high-quality published articles, learn how to interpret regression tables and how to produce their own, understand pros and cons of various research design techniques, replicate a published research article, and learn how to organize and to write a research paper. This course is primarily geared toward teaching students how to write statistical empirical research papers, although it will also provide guidance for writing theses using game theory or qualitative methods.
This course in mathematical statistics provides graduate students in political science with a solid foundation in probability and statistical inference. The focus of the course is on the empirical modeling of non-experimental data. While substantive political science will never be far from our minds, our primary goal is to acquire the tools necessary for success in the rest of the econometric sequence. As such, this course serves as a prerequisite for the advanced political science graduate courses in statistical methods (PSC 405, 505, and 506).
This course is the first half of a two-course sequence consisting of PSC 407 and PSC 408. The goal of the sequence is to give a rigorous introduction to the main concepts and results in positive political theory. At the same time, we will teach you the mathematical tools necessary to understand these results, to use them and (if it suits you) to surpass them in your own research in political science. The course will emphasize rigorous logical and deductive reasoning - this skill will prove valuable, even to the student primarily interested in empirical analysis rather than modeling. The sequence is designed to be both a rigorous foundation for students planning on taking further courses in the positive political theory field and a self-contained overview of the field for students who do not intend to do additional coursework in the field. The sequence will cover both social choice theory, which concerns finding an axiomatic basis for collective decision making, and game theory, which analyzes individual behavior in strategic situations. Students should have, at a minimum, a sound familiarity with basic algebra (solving equations, graphing functions, etc.) and a knowledge of basic calculus. Consistent with department policy, students are required to attend the "math" camp offered in the weeks before the first fall semester.
This course examines the development of warfare and the growth of the state from the French Revolution to the end of the Second World War. We examine the phenomenon of war in its broader socio-economic context, focusing on nationalism, bureaucratization, industrialization and democratization. We will go into some detail on the two major conflicts of the twentieth century, the First and Second World Wars. Students are required to do all the reading. Every student will make a presentation in class on the readings for one class (25% of the grade), and there will be one comprehensive final (75%).
Restriction: Instructor permission required. In recent decades a number of important intellectual intersections have emerged between political science and economics. The course will explore these intersections as they appear in the work of scholars such as Amartya Sen, Elinor Ostrom, Roberto Unger, Dani Rodrik. Our aim is to explore the analytical, explanatory and normative implications of this work in hopes of discerning lessons for thinking about enduring political issues and institutions such a property, markets, and democracy. Some prior course work in economics or political science will be helpful but is not required.
The classical linear regression model is inappropriate for many of the most interesting problems in political science. This course builds upon the analytical foundations of PSC 404 and 405, taking the latter's emphasis on the classical linear model as its point of departure. Here students will learn methods to analyze models and data for event counts, durations, censoring, truncation, selection, multinomial ordered/unordered categories, strategic choices, spatial voting models, and time series. A major goal of the course will be to teach students how to develop new models and techniques for analyzing issues they encounter in their own research.
This course principally introduces students to the political science and political economy literatures on interest groups, with a special focus on how these groups operate in the context of American politics (however, contrast with other advanced and the European Union are included). This will include developing an understanding of the makeup of the group system, the contribution decision, the internal politics of organizations, and the role that groups play with respect to formal political institutions.
This course surveys the politics of international movements of capital, focusing on money as a power resource, the evolution of international cooperation in monetary policy, international financial institutions, and the domestic politics of macroeconomic adjustment.
This course will study game theoretic models that address core themes in comparative politics, focusing on non-democratic settings. Substantive questions include: How do authoritarian rulers maintain power? Why do countries democratize? How do states monopolize violence and prevent civil wars? The goal of the course is to understand the mechanics of important models from the literature as well as the broader research agendas to which these models contribute. This goal will enable students to identify cutting edge research questions in these literatures. The only requirement is completion of the first-year formal theory sequence or an acceptable alternative. Grading will be based primarily on problem sets and a final paper.
This course is the third semester of the formal theory sequence for graduate students. It focuses on teaching students more sophisticated tools for modeling more complex games. Specifically, the course concentrates on games of incomplete information such as signaling games and communication games and develops analytical tools such as Bayesian-Nash equilibrium, perfect Bayesian equilibrium, and equilibrium refinements. The course also covers repeated games, bargaining games and equilibrium existence in a rigorous fashion. The prerequisites for the course are PSC 407 and 408, or an equivalent background in complete information game theory. Grading is based on homework assignments and a midterm and final exam.
Dynamic considerations are becoming increasingly important in the study of such political processes as legislative policy making, the impact of the political cycle on macroeconomic performance, the stability of international systems, the conduct of war, and regime change. The course develops the theory of dynamic models in decision and game theoretic environments, develops numerical methods for the computation of these models, and culminates with a thorough treatment of statistical estimation of dynamic models. The goal of the course is to equip graduate students with analytical, numerical, and statistical tools that can be used in their future research on applied topics, and specific applications will be considered at some length. Some familiarity with a programming language (such as Matlab or R) is a plus, but the dedicated student should be able to acquire basic programming skills needed for the course.
The course covers the primary results in the literature on preference aggregation and applies them to models of elections and policy-making. The focus of the course is especially on dynamic models of politics, with an emphasis on structural similarities between models of bargaining and elections. We begin by studying Arrow's theorem and majority voting, and we review the workhorse models of agenda setting and static elections in the political economy literature, including the setter model of Romer and Rosenthal and the Downsian and probabilistic models of elections. The analysis moves to the study of the Baron-Ferejohn model of bargaining and dynamic models of elections, including the two-period model of political agency with adverse selection and moral hazard. We end by considering the fully dynamic bargaining model, in which the status quo evolves endogenously over time, and the infinite-horizon political agency model. The course will consist of a mix of lectures, discussion, and student presentation of assigned readings.