Fall 2023 Courses
This course is an introduction to the study of domestic political institutions, processes, and outcomes across and within countries. The course surveys key concepts and major theoretical contributions in the field of comparative politics, including the challenges for democratization and democratic consolidation, the possibility of revolution, how countries vary in their political and electoral institutions and why these variations matter, and the power of social forces such as ethnicity, culture, and social capital. Country cases are drawn from different regions of the world and historical periods to ground students in the set of tools of comparative analysis.
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.
International relations is the study of how states interact with each other. This course builds a working knowledge of our field, introducing the background, theoretical, and empirical tools necessary to understand international relations today. Students will learn about important findings in a variety of subfields, including war, international political economy, institutions, and nuclear proliferation. To do so, the course emphasizes readings from original research material rather than from a textbook. Further, students will solve problem sets and work with common international relations datasets to obtain a working understanding of the discipline's methodological foundations.
This course introduces students to positive political theory, a rigorous set of tools that helps clarify key questions in political science. Through examples drawn from all aspects of the political process (from elections to lawmaking to regulation) as well as from everyday life (where should we go for dinner?) and Hollywood (Russell Crowe and Reese Witherspoon as political scientists?), we will study how the rules of the game affect the decisions politicians make as well as the policy outcomes we observe. NOTE: YOU MUST SIGN UP FOR A RECITATION WHEN REGISTERING FOR THIS COURSE.
Democracy literally means "rule by the people." This seminar in political theory will explore various questions that this basic definition raises in the context of 21st-century American politics. What can we expect of "the people"? How, indeed, do we even envision "the people"? What is the role of communication, especially modern media, in creating and sustaining "the people"? How might we think about the ways in which power and communication intersect in modern democracies? In many respects this course is experimental. It aims to draw connections between texts and theorists that have not been made before. So we will be exploring new terrain. Students will learn what it means to think like a political theorist. Enrollment is restricted to first-year students - no exceptions. Grades will be based on class participation - given that this is a small seminar, be prepared to talk! - and several short papers (meaning about five pages each) on assigned topics that emerge from the readings and class discussion. Course open to first-year and sophomores only.
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 lab sessions will guide students through the particulars of statistical software. Core topics include descriptive statistics, probability, hypothesis testing, and linear regression. RESTRICTION: Students who have taken ECON 230, PSCI 205, PSY/CSP 211, STAT 212, STAT 213, or STAT 214 may not take the course. Must have laptop on which you can run R and R Studio.
Students generally take PSCI 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, PSCI 202 will only be offered in the fall semester. It will NOT be offered in the spring. Course is NOT open to first years.
With world population of nearly 8 billion and global GDP of $85 trillion, human impacts on the environment have already reached dangerous levels. By 2050, world population could reach 9 billion and global GDP $200 trillion. Despite unprecedented growth in countries such as China and India, over 700 million people still live in extreme poverty-concentrated especially in South and Central Asia and Africa. The central challenge for humanity in the 21st century is the triple endeavor of ending extreme poverty, improving social inclusion, and achieving sustainability for the planet. Any effort to address these three complex, interlinked challenges must be interdisciplinary. Policies at the local, national and global level will need to draw on the best of our knowledge and innovation across sectors such as energy, biodiversity and conservation, health, sustainable business practices, food and nutritional security, social service delivery, and good governance. Interventions and policies in these sectors must be gender sensitive, address racial inequalities and discrimination, and be in keeping with international standards of human rights. They must involve governments, the private sector, and civil society. In September 2015, the world adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2015 to 2030 at the UN General Assembly while the historic Paris Climate accord was also reached under the UN Framework Convention for Climate Change.
Voters elect nearly all local prosecutors, sheriffs, and trial judges in the United States. In this seminar, we will explore the influence of political institutions on the decisions of those law enforcement officials. Topics include constitutional design, public opinion, racial disparities, electoral accountability, special interest politics, and the collateral consequences of incarceration. While rooted in recent phenomena, this course will also focus on historical perspectives. Likewise, while substantively focused, the class will also provide insights into social science research.
The initial governmental responses to the COVID-19 pandemic rocked the foundations of the world's economy. Decisions to "shut down the economy," however, were not universally praised and remain controversial. Science became more politicized during the pandemic, and Americans could not even agree on whether mask wearing was necessary, often dividing along party lines. In this seminar, we will study the COVID-19 pandemic from a political economy perspective, focusing on the United States and asking difficult questions. Did the shutdowns go too far, or were they necessary to protect public health? Was the run-up in government debt due to the pandemic fiscally irresponsible or necessary to prevent an economic depression? Did political polarization make the pandemic worse? Were dissenters who challenged dominant scientific explanations for the pandemic silenced or given a fair hearing? In the spirit of free and open inquiry, seminar participants will consider cutting-edge research and discuss competing viewpoints on these and other pandemic-related topics.
This course is about the politics of racial subordination and emancipation in the United States. We begin by thinking about different explanations of the rise, dynamics, and persistence of racial domination in the United States and of the cultural and political challenges to it. We will pay special attention to the Great Migration, the subsequent emergence of blacks as an important constituency of the Democratic Party, the Civil Rights Movement, and the role of race in structuring current party divisions. Next, we will examine the politics of black communities. Topics include the legacy of demobilization of the Civil Rights Movement and the channeling of political activity into electoral institutions; the politics of urban regimes; the challenge to political solidarity posed by increasing social economic and social inequality within the black community; the Black Lives Matter movement; and debates about the effectiveness of identity-based, class based, and coalitional strategies of political mobilization. In conclusion we will reflect upon the differences between the nature and dynamics of racial subordination today compared with the past and what, if any, prospects for change there are.
Through the lens of the Constitution and Supreme Court cases, examines the structure of the American legal system (both separation of powers at the federal level and the authority of, and relationship among, states and the federal government), as well as the nature of civil rights of citizens.
The course examines how reforms to food policy in the United States make their way through the democratic process and how these reforms constitute efforts to democratize our food system, exploring how these efforts confront the same challenges that a democracy faces more broadly. How does our political system approach the task of reconciling the diverse preferences of the American public and the corporations that feed it, agricultural and health agencies, and the food activists and advocacy groups? How do we think about the concepts of representativeness, access, information, centralization, externalities, and regulation in the context of our food system?
An introduction to the legal foundations of the biomedical healthcare system; topics include national health reform, bioethics, the right to health care, genetic discrimination, and access to reproductive care. Primary law (judicial opinions, legislation) comprises the bulk of the reading assignments; students will learn how to brief cases and interpret statutes. Pre-requisite: PHLT 116 highly recommended.
An examination of environmental issues from a social scientific perspective. Topics covered include the reasons for environmental regulation, the history of environmental policy, the state of contemporary environmental policy, the role of state and local governments, the impact of environmental activists, and a comparison of domestic and international regulation of environmental affairs. Although there is considerable time devoted to lecture, students are encouraged to participate. Each student will also develop and briefly present a research paper which investigates a relevant issue of interest.
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.
This course will provide a non-partisan introduction to the conflict between these two national movements. Discussion will focus on an examination of historical documents, in addition to understanding of how it plays out in literature and film.
This seminar deals with political institutions and their implications for the behavior of political actors and their effects on social outcomes. We will emphasize both theoretical ideas and empirical research on political institutions and consider some of the core topics of scientific inquiry in modern comparative politics. These include: electoral systems, political parties and party systems, legislatures, parliamentary government, government and coalition formation, presidential institutions, courts and judicial power, federalism, etc. In addition to examining existing institutional arrangements, questions of institutional design will also be emphasized where appropriate. Prerequisite: Any course in statistics, econometrics, techniques of analysis, or the equivalent
Addresses the question of when and where civil wars occur and what their effects are domestically and internationally. Also examine role played by external actors in civil war, such as financial support to governments or insurgents, armed interventions, and peacekeeping missions.
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, application essays, electronic communications, elevator pitches, project descriptions and abstracts, and online profiles (e.g., LinkedIn). Students will revise and refine their written and spoken work across the semester 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. Course is designed for juniors and seniors with an interest in law, policy, and social good careers. This course may not be used to satisfy any major or minor requirements in Political Science or International Relations.
Prerequisite: Completion of the Primary Writing Requirement.
Through reading and critiquing political science research in American politics, comparative politics, and international relations, students learn how to select a research question, formulate testable hypotheses, find and evaluate relevant literature, locate or collect data that addresses their research question, analyze the data, and write a research report. Course requires instructor's permission.
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.
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 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 will familiarize students with the "workhorse" models of domestic political institutions. Students will further develop their ability to consume and create models in contexts ranging from elections to interest groups to interbranch relationships. Throughout, we will explore and emphasize principles of applied modeling. Accordingly, students will complete problem sets and present published papers, as well as take an exam that prompts them to come up with a model of a given political phenomenon. The class is intended for graduate students in the social sciences who are familiar with game theory, though advanced undergraduates may take the course with instructor permission.
This graduate-level course focuses on mass political behavior within the American political system. The goal of this course is to give students an introduction to some of the major questions in the study of American political behavior, and how people have gone about answering them. The background goal is to help students practice reading work critically and think through the difficulties of social science research in preparation for individual research projects. The course examines political ideology, public opinion, voting behavior, media effects, racial attitudes, mass-elite relations, and opinion-policy linkages.
Civil order under girds all other political processes. When order exists, institutions that regulate violence within a specific population or jurisdiction. This course covers where order comes from, how it is sustained or challenged, and the emergence of states as the most common order-providing institutions. We also discuss how the boundaries between civil orders are created and eroded. We examine the roles of geography, political economy, ethnic identity, and nationalism in the boundaries between political communities.
This is the first of two courses in the International Relations field seminar sequence. It is required of all students who will take the field exam in international relations. The course is not open to undergraduates.
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 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.
By blending formal theory and statistical inference, structural models enable social scientists to conduct rich analyses of how institutions and public policy shape individual or collective decision-making. The structural approach to empirical research is particularly useful in settings where more traditional methods cannot be applied, such as when agents behave strategically or when we wish to predict the consequences of never-before-observed policy interventions. This course covers the fundamentals of structural modeling and estimation, running the gamut from individual choice to strategic interaction, both static and dynamic. Depending on student interest, applications from political science, economics, finance, and marketing may be considered, but emphasis will be placed on the methodology with the aim of helping students expand their research toolkit.