Spring 2024 Courses
All politics are global politics. Global flows of trade, capital and labor transform societies, unleash new political movements and challenge existing political institutions. States and other actors respond in ways that impose costs on other states, creating crises and opportunities for cooperation. This course will broadly survey the politics of international economics, focusing in particular on trade and finance. Along the way, it will introduce students to a range of economic models, but it will assume no prior exposure to economics.
This course will introduce students to the foundations of the United States government. Students will examine important political institutions and the interactions among them to understand how they shape the behavior of political actors and ordinary U.S. citizens. Specific topics will include: the need for a state, the purposes of elections, federalism, the three branches of U.S. government, and the role of interest groups in U.S. politics. Throughout, the course employs concepts from the rational-choice approach to political science to model key concepts; however, no background in this is necessary. This course is appropriate for majors and non-majors with an interest in understanding how and why the U.S. political system works as it does.
This course is a response to current events. We will examine the war in Ukraine, its origins, its causes, the conduct, and the prospects for termination. Rather than impose a theoretical framework up front, the course begins with historical background and a large amount of reading of publicly available sources starting in November 2021. I will then schedule one or two full class discussions, to solicit from the students what they think are the "causes" of this war. We then proceed to examine the specific conduct of the war -- which unfortunately will have a lot of content that will make you uncomfortable. (Students are of course free to skip over some of the more graphic aspects.) I will then schedule a session or two on how the conduct of this war address the causes of war. After all, war is supposed to do something that makes peace possible. A question to keep in mind, thus, is what that something actually is. We then turn to the prospects for peace. We will read various peace proposals and discuss their feasibility. At the end of this class you'll hopefully have a thorough understanding of this war, which is likely to shape global affairs for decades to come. Where appropriate, I will invite guest lectures with expertise on specific issues. You must also register for a recitation for this course.
This course builds on PSCI 200, Data Analysis I, taking the linear regression model as its starting point. We will explore various statistical techniques for analyzing a world of data that is relevant to political science in particular, and to the social sciences more broadly. In addition to the classical linear regression model, we will examine models for binary data, durations, counts, censoring and truncation, self-selection, and discrete choice, among others. These models will be applied to topics such as international conflict, civil war onset, parliamentary cabinet survival, international sanctions, campaign contributions, and voting. Students will be taught how to (1) frame research hypotheses, (2) analyze data using the appropriate statistical model, and (3) interpret and present their results. Statistical analysis will be conducted using R and RStudio.
Prerequisite: Students must have taken at least one course in statistics that (1) covers probability, confidence intervals, hypothesis tests, and linear regression; and (2) uses R for data analysis -- e.g., ECON 230, PSCI 200, or STAT 212/213/214. Prior courses in calculus or linear algebra are not required.
Note: Students will need to bring a laptop computer to class with R and RStudio installed. Most tablets will not suffice.
Conspiracy theories are becoming an organizing principle in American politics. This course will explore the history and trends of conspiracy theories, the psychological and strategic underpinnings of persuasion in these theories and misinformation, and the political implications of current conspiracy theories. In order to understand the use (or misuse) of evidence and logic in conspiracy theories, several weeks will be dedicated to extended examples. These conspiracy theories are polarized and polarizing, a unit of the course will discuss political science research on polarization and place conspiracy theories within this trend. Assignments for the course include writing an individual short paper and group presentation on a conspiracy theory that applies the concepts in class. Readings include classics (e.g., Hofstadters The Paranoid Style in American Politics) and contemporary academic articles and books (e.g., Knights Conspiracy Nation: The Politics of Paranoia.
This course deals with questions raised at the intersection of constitutional law and sociological and political science studies of the politics and practice of race in the United States. While studying major court decisions concerning race and slavery, voting, property rights, segregation/de-segregation, criminal justice, voting, discrimination, and affirmative action, we will examine questions such as: what is the role of the legal system in constituting and perpetuating the racial order of the United States? To what extent do court rulings reflect more than they shape what actually happens outside of the legal system? How, if at all, do they shape public opinion? What are the advantages and disadvantages of courts as a tool for social change? Do answers to these questions vary by area of law and/or historical period? The course is largely discussion-based and will include readings in case law, critical legal studies, critical race theory, and works in political science and sociology.
This course examines some of the major public policy issues affecting the Black community. We begin with a survey of the public policy making process at the local and federal levels. The rest of the course deals with the specific groups, conflicts, institutions, and structural constraints governing the formation of public policy in the areas of education, poverty, affirmative action, and crime. We will ask questions about the origin and nature of the problems in these areas, the explanations of why some policies and not others have been adopted, and the strengths and weaknesses of competing policy solutions.
Reformers and activists sometimes say that we should "think globally, act locally," meaning that we should try to address widespread needs by taking action in our neighborhoods, towns and cities. What happens when you apply this maxim to government and public policy in the United States? This course will introduce you to local government policymaking in the United States, with a focus on urban areas. You'll gain a familiarity with the powers local governments have over key policies and services—such as policing and criminal justice, housing and land-use regulation, transportation, public education and public health—and learn to think systematically about what local governments can do to address public needs. What you learn will be applicable throughout the U.S., but we'll focus on examples of policymaking currently underway in the City of Rochester and the surrounding region—offering you a chance to learn more about the University's local community.
This is an undergraduate course designed to explore the role that race and ethnicity play in American politics. In this class students will focus on the 'big questions' surrounding race: What is race? Can race be measured - and, if so, how? How have questions about race and ethnicity shaped American legal, social, cultural, and political institutions? How have Americans thought about race and immigration throughout the 21st century, and how have these opinions shaped political engagement and behavior? This course will focus on political science theories and research about race and politics, though we will also draw on work from history, sociology, law, and economics.
Course Description: Public health professionals, researchers, and community groups recognize that the physical environment impacts health and contributes significantly to health disparities. This course focuses on the skills, tools, and approaches needed to address the root causes of environmental health problems through policy processes. This is an advanced reading and writing-intensive course that expects students have foundational knowledge in public health, policy, and/or environmental science. Students will develop their understanding of the U.S. environmental policy system, environmental health issues, 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, with a particular focus on the implications of climate change. Students will conduct a major independent policy research and writing project and a series of real-world policy memos.
Prerequisites: Not open to freshmen; Prerequisites: PHLT 101 or PHLT 116; or permission of instructor (based on academic or applied background in environmental science and/or public policy).
The course introduces the legal and social justice frameworks for urgent public health issues, such as vaccinations, tobacco regulation and gun control. Pre-requisites: PHLT 116 or PHLT 236; juniors & seniors only. Restrictions: Instructor Permission.
Students will learn how government funds, organizes and delivers health care, broadly defined, to mothers, children, and adolescents; as well as legal and policy writing skills relevant to advocacy, such as issue fact sheets, legislative testimony, and letters to the editor. Pre-requisites: PHLT 116, PHLT 236, or PHLT 230 required; juniors & seniors only. Restrictions: Instructor Permission.
Is consensus overrated? In this seminar course we will study the role of disagreement in a democratic society. Topics will include the causes and consequences of political polarization, academic freedom and viewpoint diversity on college campuses, and conflict as a tool for innovation.
Consider this real-world scenario: You are the CEO of a major corporation, and a new US president takes office who has pledged to implement government rules that would hurt your industry. How do you respond? You may think this scenario refers to President Donald Trump, but he was hardly the first president to attack corporations (although his tactics were certainly unorthodox). In 2008, presidential candidate Barack Obama promised to enact a windfall profits tax on oil companies if elected, and in 2021, President Joe Biden laid out an agenda to take on "Big Tech." The lesson? Regardless of who is control of government, managers must incorporate factors outside of markets - including government, public opinion, activists, and the mass media - into decision making and strategy building. In this course we will use the tools of political science and economics to study how businesses affect and are affected by politics. In addition to studying how laws and regulations get made in the United States, we will devote several classes to corporate social responsibility, brand activism, and employee activism. Class sessions will be interactive and feature in-depth discussions of real-world topics and cases in industries including finance and e-commerce.
An examination of international environmental law and policy with a special focus on efforts to address climate change, including efforts to forge an international climate change agreement at the 2015 United Nations Paris Climate Change Conference. This course serves as a companion to PSC 246, but PSC 246 is not a prerequisite. The goal of this course is to provide a foundational understanding of this rapidly developing, controversial field. Topics include consideration of the scientific, political, and economic drivers of international environmental law; the variety of tools (e.g., treaties, agreements, "soft law," voluntary incentive programs and market based approaches); and examples of how some international environmental issues have been addressed to date. Finally, we will examine the results of the 2015 Paris Climate Change Conference - are we any closer to a "grand climate solution"? This course will be taught through lectures, discussion, several concise papers, and a group project.
Through analysis of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, we examine criminal procedure as elaborated by federal and state court decisions. Topics include arrest procedures, search and seizure, right to counsel, and police interrogation and confessions. We will discuss the theoretical principles of criminal procedure and the application of those principles to the actual operation of the criminal court system.
Recent years have seen a renewed sense of nationalism, only this time tinged with an underlying and powerful religious dimension. This class seeks to illumine this religious nationalism from a comparative perspective. Using an analytical frame, we will examine the historical rise of religious nationalism, its key elements and defining features, before examining a set of particular case studies (e.g., India, Pakistan, Israel, the United States).
This seminar examines the nature of political parties and political competition across democracies in the developed and developing worlds. Issues analyzed include the formation of different types of parties, their role in agenda-setting, policy-making and representation, and their transformation in the post-World War II era.
Fascism is a common term of political opprobrium, but few know what it actually means. This course examines the ideologies and practices of fascist movements to understand both the past and the present. Students learn about the economic, political, and cultural circumstances from which fascism emerged, and we consider the fascist obsession with national, sexual, and racial identity. Class time is divided between lecture and discussion; students are encouraged to participate.
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.
A high level of migration within and between countries is the most controversial feature of our globalized and technologically integrated world. This class will review the economic and non-economic causes of trends in migration and discuss the political conflict that migration can spark. The course will deal with both international and internal migration. The primary focus will be on comparing nativist politics in the US and Europe to political conflict over migration in poorer countries. There will be two in-class midterms and a comprehensive final exam.
The last ten years or so have seen a major revolution in the social sciences. Instead of trying to discover and test grand "covering laws" that have universal validity and tremendous scope (think Newton's gravity or Einstein's relativity), the social sciences are in the process of switching to more narrow and middle-range theories and explanations, often referred to as causal mechanisms. Mechanisms play a crucial role in this new conception of theory in the social sciences. In this course we will examine one particular mechanism each week and see how it has been applied in international political economy and/or security studies. Students will be introduced to formal reasoning in an informal manner. We will explore several substantive themes, such as the "democratic peace," ethnic conflict and international trade to illustrate the mechanisms and cumulative potential of this research approach.
What should governments do? What can governments do? What do policymakers want to do? This course examines these questions from the perspective of modern political economy. The perspective is twofold: it comprises both a set of tools (mathematical modeling and rigorous empirical analysis) and a fundamental premise that public policy is the outcome of rational, strategic choices by self-interested policymakers who face institutional constraints that shape their incentives and limit their scope of action. The course begins by discussing normative considerations about what might constitute "good" public policy. It then explores areas where public policy has the potential to improve social welfare in a modern economy. Finally, it analyzes how the political process influences policymakers' actual choices. Special attention is given to key differences between developed and developing countries.
Consider the litany of problems we humans encounter across the globe: Environmental exploitation and degradation, dire poverty, profound and growing political-economic inequality, deep, often deadly divisions within nations along, among other dimensions, race gender and class, massive migration of populations (whether voluntary or not) across borders. The list goes on. It is daunting to the point of being intellectually and practically debilitating. For citizens, activists, government officials, and economic actors it is difficult to know where and how to start thinking about responses. In the face of such difficulties (and others) we urgently require responses that are both effective and justifiable. In order to identify and implement them we must not only understand how markets or individual elements of political systems work, or even how the various elements of our political and economic systems interact. We also must be able to think carefully about our obligations to our fellow human beings, and the values that we ultimately want our shared world to insatiate and be anchored by. Changing the world (let alone "saving" it!), then, requires a deeply interdisciplinary approach.
This course will be focused on helping students to develop the skills to bring ethical, microeconomic, and game theoretic analysis to bear on fundamental problems like those we mention above. Students should leave the course with a better understanding not just of how our political-economic practices and institutions do work - but also how they could work, how they should work, and how to make them work that way. (Offered every fall, teaching alternates between philosophy and politics, but all offerings satisfy the same requirements)
[Prerequisite: One previous course in Philosophy]
The purpose of this course is to explore what has been called "democratic community economics" (Jessica Gordon-Nembhard) and its relevance for addressing deep, persistent political-economic problems in African American Communities. The focus will be on a set of alternative institutional arrangements including producer and consumer cooperatives, community development credit unions and community land trusts and specifically their roots in African American politics, their various current manifestations, and their potential contemporary policy relevance for promoting sustainable, local, community development.
This course is a survey of some of the canonical and some of the most exciting contemporary works in the field of African-American political thought. We begin with foundational texts from Walker, Delany, Douglass, Wells, Du Bois, Garvey, Baldwin, King, and Malcolm X. In the first half of the course we will focus on questions such as: What is the nature of the wrong(s) African Americans have suffered in the United States? What sustains systems of domination and exclusion? What responses, in addition to condemnation, do these systems of domination merit? What does the long history of white domination in the United States say about ideals of liberalism and democracy? And what is the way forward? In the second part of the course, we will read contemporary works dealing with reparations, collective responsibility, obligations to solidarity/allyship, and epistemologies of ignorance.
This course examines the formation and evolution of American health policy from a political and historical perspective. Concentrating on developments from the early twentieth century to the present, the focus of readings and discussions will be political forces and institutions and historical and cultural contexts. Among the topics covered are periodic campaigns for national health insurance, efforts to rationalize and regionalize health care institutions, the creation of Medicare and Medicaid and the further evolution of these programs, the rise to dominance of economists and economic analysis in the shaping of health policy, racial and gender disparities in access to care and in quality of care, the formation and failure of the Clinton administration's health reform agenda, health reform in the George W. Bush administration and the 2008 presidential campaign, and national health reform and pushback during the Obama administration. Instructor permission required for 2nd year students. Sophomores should request a Pre-requisite override to gain entry to the course. Restriction: Not open to First Year and Sophomore - AS&E.
A year-long research project supervised by a faculty member in the department and culminating in a written work.
Students in the Local Law and Politics Internships work 10-15 hours per week in one of a variety of internships in policy, politics and law in the Rochester area. Possible internship placements include the district offices of state and federal legislators, the City of Rochester municipal government, policy research and advocacy organizations, and the Monroe County District Attorney's and Public Defender's offices. Students supplement their hands-on learning with a series of short research-based writing assignments related to their internships. Contact professor Stu Jordan to learn how to apply. Students must have a B average and must be a sophomore, junior or senior to be eligible.
Please contact Professor Stu Jordan for more information.
These internships are designed to give students knowledge and skills to contribute to policy and program development and operations related to health policy in the Greater Rochester community. This course requires an application. Pre-requisites: PHLT 116 or PHLT 236; juniors & seniors only. Students must use UR Student to register for this course; this course is not an independent study.
The goal of this course is to give students a comprehensive toolbox for reading and producing cutting-edge applied empirical research, with focus on the theory and practice behind causal inference in social sciences. We will cover treatment effects, experiments, panel data, differences-in-differences, instrumental variables, nonparametric regression, regression discontinuity, matching, synthetic control, and more. Students will read applied papers from both political science and economics, and write review reports examining research designs, identification strategies, and causal claims. They will also produce research proposals that will be presented in class. Applications will be taught with R.
This course is part of a rigorous introduction to the main concepts and results in positive political theory. It is the second half of a two-course sequence consisting of PSC 407 and PSC 408. This course will focus on the basics of game theory, which analyzes individual behavior in strategic situations. It will also cover the mathematical tools required to express the theory. Examples and applications will be drawn from several different areas in political science, including the American Congress, voting, international relations, political economy, and law.
What should governments do? What can governments do? What do policymakers want to do? This course examines these questions from the perspective of modern political economy. The perspective is twofold: it comprises both a set of tools (mathematical modeling and rigorous empirical analysis) and a fundamental premise that public policy is the outcome of rational, strategic choices by self-interested policymakers who face institutional constraints that shape their incentives and limit their scope of action. The course begins by discussing normative considerations about what might constitute "good" public policy. It then explores areas where public policy has the potential to improve social welfare in a modern economy. Finally, it analyzes how the political process influences policymakers' actual choices. Special attention is given to key differences between developed and developing countries. Students are expected to have taken PSCI 107 or a similar introductory course on formal models of decision-making.
Implicit in all research designs are (traditionally under-appreciated) strategic interactions relevant to the interpretation and validity of empirical work. Recently, social scientists across several sub-disciplines, and especially political scientists, have begun to analyze these theoretical implications of empirical models (TIEM). This course surveys the work being done in this nascent field of scholarship and, necessarily, the dominant empirical methodologies employed in political science and economics. For context and guidance, we will also draw upon work from adjacent lines of research, such as the decision-theoretic underpinnings of empirical models, the rationalization of behavioral regularities, and the evolutionary grounding of preferences, as well as upon philosophical perspectives on the interplay between theory and empirics.
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 examines the politics of poor countries, classic social scientific theories of development, and empirical methods of analysis in comparative politics. Topics include clientelism, corruption, economic growth, colonialism and identity.
This is an advanced course intended to prepare Ph.D. students for comprehensive exams in international relations. The course conducts a broad survey of major works in the field and current research into the causes of international conflict and cooperation.
Designed as a forum for upper-level doctoral students who have completed formal coursework to present ongoing research. Students regularly present research either stemming from their dissertations or from ancillary projects.
This course examines the literature on conflict that has developed in the last decade. We will examine recent formal literature as well as the latest substantive (non-formal) literature on conflict. The course will help graduate students identify the broad direction of international conflict studies and will also permit graduate students to pursue topics or ideas of their own interest. To that end, we set aside two classes for "model building sessions" where students can explore approaches to formalize some of the ideas in the substantive literature, or explore extensions of the current formal literature. Students should have taken or be concurrently taking PSC 584 or have an equivalent knowledge of complete and incomplete information game theory.