Political Science

Shawn Paulson, Rolvaag 250
507-786-3127

wp.stolaf.edu/poli-sci

Political science is the systematic study of government, politics, and public policies in the United States and around the world. Students in political science courses learn to frame thoughtful questions, consider diverse perspectives, marshal convincing evidence, and communicate with clarity and conviction about the major issues of public life.

Many political science courses at St. Olaf satisfy general education requirements (see below). The Political Science Department shares faculty and courses with American studies, Asian studies, environmental studies, Latin American studies, Russian studies, and women’s and gender studies. It also cooperates with the Education Department in its social studies education major.

The study of political science is often combined with majors in English, economics, history, philosophy, world languages, or any of a number of interdisciplinary majors and concentrations. Many political science students go on to complete graduate and professional degrees, not only in political science but also in law, education, public policy, international affairs, management and administration, or communications. Our graduates become policy analysts, teachers, legislators, advocates, attorneys, business owners, consultants, public relations managers, ambassadors, administrators, researchers, and journalists. The study of political science enriches students’ experience of the liberal arts and prepares them to engage in public life as responsible citizens and reflective leaders.

Overview of the Major

The political science major provides broad exposure to the discipline and develops skills in critical thinking, systematic inquiry, and effective writing and speaking. Students majoring in political science complete courses in four areas: American politics and public policy, comparative politics, international relations, and political theory. Political science majors also encounter and apply a variety of approaches to studying political behavior and public policy, with particular emphasis on social scientific inquiry. Advanced seminars and independent study courses provide opportunities for specialized study and advanced research. Off-campus courses, internships, and other experiential learning experiences engage students with the realities of public life.

General Education

The Political Science Department offers courses that satisfy general education requirements in Human Behavior and Society (HBS), Historical Studies in Western Culture (HWC), Multicultural Studies (MCD, MCG), and Ethical Issues and Normative Perspectives (EIN). In addition, all level III courses are designated Courses with Writing (WRI).

Distinction

See Academic Honors

See Political Science Department website for details.

Special Programs

Political science students may choose from a rich assortment of domestic and international off-campus study opportunities, some during Interim and others lasting a semester or more. See the International and Off-Campus Studies section of this catalog. They can also arrange for credited internships in a wide variety of settings, from law offices and campaign organizations to the national or state legislature. Further information on internships, Interim off-campus course offerings, and other special programs such as the Washington Semester and international programs with political science credit, is available in the department or from the Office of International and Off-Campus Studies.

Students majoring in political science must complete a minimum of nine courses in the discipline, including no more than three level I courses, one course introducing research methods (PSCI 220 Analyzing Politics and Policies), and no fewer than two level III courses.

Majors must include at least one course from each of the four subfields: American politics and public policy, comparative politics, international relations, and political theory.  Level III courses do not count for subfield distribution.

American Politics and Public Policy
PSCI 111American Politics1.00
PSCI 204The New Hampshire Primary and U.S. Presidential Politics1.00
PSCI 211Media and Politics1.00
PSCI 244Race and American Politics1.00
PSCI 255Political Parties and Elections1.00
PSCI 272American Constitutional Law: Power1.00
PSCI 311Seminar in American Politics1.00
ES/PS 276Environmental Politics1.00
Comparative Politics
PSCI 112Comparative Politics1.00
PSCI 115Global Democracy1.00
PSCI 117Politics and Human Rights1.00
PSCI 252Politics and Development1.00
PSCI 264Latin American Politics1.00
PSCI 282Russian and Eurasian Politics1.00
PSCI 283European Social Democracy1.00
PSCI 350Seminar: Immigration and Citizenship1.00
PSCI 367Seminar in Latin American Politics1.00
PSCI 370Seminar: Courageous Resistance to Injustice1.00
PSCI 382Seminar: The Geopolitics of Eurasian Energy1.00
PSCI 385Seminar: Becoming European: Central Europe's Entry into the European U1
AS/PS 255Politics in Asia1.00
International Relations
PSCI 115Global Democracy1.00
PSCI 119The Problem of War1.00
PSCI 121International Relations1.00
PSCI 257U.S. - Latin American Relations1.00
PSCI 258World Politics1.00
PSCI 285International Law1.00
PSCI 321Seminar in International Relations1.00
ES/PS 201Topics in Global Environmental Politics1.00
AS/PS 2451.00
Political Theory
PSCI 113Introduction to Political Theory1.00
PSCI 119The Problem of War1.00
PSCI 232American Political Thought1.00
PSCI 259History of Classical Political Thought1.00
PSCI 260History of Modern Political Thought1.00
PSCI 262Critics of the State1.00
PSCI 284Ethics of Citizenship in Times of War and Terrorism1.00
PSCI 384Seminar in Political Theory1.00
ES/PS 225Environmental Political Theory1.00

The subfield designation of PSCI 299 Topics in Political Science, PSCI 298 Independent Study, PSCI 398 Independent Research, PSCI 399 Seminar, Interim courses, or other courses not listed above depends on the content of the course in a given semester; students should consult with a faculty member in political science and with the department academic administrative assistant to determine the appropriate subfield for one of these courses. All level III courses are offered as seminars with two prerequisites: PSCI 220 and one other course in the relevant subfield.

Students may designate a selected statistics course OR one additional semester of a world language beyond the level of proficiency required for general education (French, German, or Spanish numbered above 232 or Chinese, Greek, Latin, Japanese, Norwegian, or Russian numbered above 231) as one of their nine courses in the political science major. Additional study in statistics and/or a world language is especially recommended for students considering graduate study.

Political science majors are also encouraged to seek out opportunities for experiential or applied study through internships, off-campus study, on-campus courses with an experiential component, or independent projects under faculty supervision. Up to two off-campus courses instructed by non-St. Olaf faculty may be included in the major. An internship for academic credit may also count toward the major, although internships cannot be used to satisfy subfield requirements. Additional suggestions and guidelines for including off-campus work and experiential study in the political science major are available in the department; students are encouraged to consult with their advisor in making their plans.

PSCI 111: American Politics

The promise of American politics is the equal freedom of all. How does practice match principles? What roles do class and race play? Do interest groups and political parties foster democracy? This course is designed not only to help students understand American government and politics but also to motivate them to be active and informed participants. Offered annually. Counts toward American studies major.

PSCI 112: Comparative Politics

Why do some societies have democratic political systems and others authoritarian ones? What is democracy? Is it the norm or the exception? The course provides a foundation for the understanding of contemporary political regimes. It applies the major concepts of comparative analysis to the political systems of Western and non-Western societies. Offered annually.

PSCI 113: Introduction to Political Theory

This course is an introduction to some of the central, interrelated concepts and questions of political theory. Some of the readings will be drawn from recognized classics in the field while others will arise from contemporary debates about political issues and cultural diversity within the U.S. The course pays considerable attention to historical shifts in political thought but is not designed to provide a chronology of the great Western political thinkers. Instead, this course aims to provoke and sustain a semester-long exploration of what it means to be a political actor -- that is, a citizen -- and what it means to think about politics. Offered annually.

PSCI 115: Global Democracy

Where does democracy originate, within nations or from international processes? What factors shape efforts around the world to claim power for the people? Should democratic states seek to promote democracy internationally? This course asks students to consider these questions by exploring global experiences of democratization from the 20th century through recent events. The course introduces ideas from political scientists and political actors and requires students to compare them. Offered annually.

PSCI 117: Politics and Human Rights

What makes a person capable of repression? Who obeys morally unjust orders to torture or kill innocent victims? What causes genocide? Who risks his or her life to defend others' rights? Using case studies from around the world, this course looks at various explanations for the range of ways individuals respond to immoral government actions, with special emphasis on theories of political psychology.

PSCI 119: The Problem of War

The goal of this course is to introduce students to the long tradition of debate concerning the nature and legitimacy of war. The course explores the reality of war, the revulsion of violence and the possibility of just war through texts ranging from Thucydides, Aquinas, and Walzer. The course explores contemporary debates in light of moral and empirical arguments learned.

PSCI 121: International Relations

War and peace, justice and power -- these are age-old topics of the politics among nations. This course examines them by emphasizing certain problem areas in the world and evaluating the principal theories for understanding international politics. Offered annually.

ES/PS 201: Topics in Global Environmental Politics

Population growth, industrialization, and the consumption of fossil fuels have increased global environmental problems. The course examines the ways in which nation-states and/or international institutions have addressed these environmental concerns. Depending on the instructor, the focus of the course is either the environmental problems of a particular area (e.g., Latin America, Russia or Asia) or a broader global arena (e.g., international institutions and the environment). Offered alternate years.

PSCI 204: The New Hampshire Primary and U.S. Presidential Politics

Since its inception in 1916, the New Hampshire primary has attained a preeminent place in American presidential politics. This course will provide students with a broad overview of the presidential nominating process through a detailed examination of the New Hampshire primary. Students read academic analyses of the New Hampshire primary and intern with a presidential candidate Offered periodically during Interim. Counts toward political science major.
Prerequisite: one course in political science or permission of instructor.

PSCI 211: Media and Politics

In a democratic state, the media play an important role in linking the people to elected officials and political institutions. The course is principally concerned with this connection. By analyzing broad and varied forms of political communication and studying scholarship on the role of media in society, students explore the structure of American media with respect to political institutions, the effects media can have on individuals' political attitudes, and the role the media play in political campaigns and governance. Counts toward American studies major and media studies concentration.
Prerequisite: none, but one course in political science is recommended.

PSCI 220: Analyzing Politics and Policies

This course explores the diverse modes of inquiry in the discipline of political science. Broadly centered around the question, "How do you know?," students focus on different methods of locating and collecting data, reviewing political texts and contested concepts, and constructing theoretical explanations of political phenomena. Offered each semester. Counts toward environmental studies major (social science emphasis) and management studies concentration.
Prerequisite: one previous course in department. Non-majors may register with permission of instructor.

ES/PS 225: Environmental Political Theory

This course examines relations between conceptions of "nature" and political issues of power, justice, liberty, and equality; and it explores theoretical foundations from which ecologically grounded institutions, policies, and political understandings arise. The course attends to issues currently being addressed by international green political theorists, including "ecological citizenship" and "green democracy." Offered alternate years.

PSCI 232: American Political Thought

American politics is about ideas. The rule of the people is superior to the rule of the few. Free speech is good. Political power should be distributed, checked and balanced, and federalized. This course traces the origins of these and other important ruling ideas in the writings of America's most prominent thinkers.

PSCI 244: Race and American Politics

This class aims to better understand the racial climate in the United States, and the implications for American politics. Differing analytical perspectives from political science are used to interpret the role of race. A central question is the degree to which "post-racial" is an appropriate description of the current era. Counts toward race and ethnic studies and American studies majors and race and ethnic studies concentration.

PSCI 251: Politics and Identity in the Contemporary Middle East

This course examines how individuals and groups in the Middle East conceptualize and experience politics and citizenship. Students investigate these issues in relation to the political impact of Western imperialism, how authoritarian states shape political possibilities, and ongoing debates over protest movements, democratization efforts, nationalism, religion and politics, gender relations, and refugee crises. Counts toward Middle East studies concentration.
Prerequisite: FYW; one course in political science is recommended but not required.

PSCI 252: Politics and Development

Some formerly developing countries have found the way to join the ranks of the industrialized nations, others have not. What explains the difference? By introducing students to theories of modernization, dependency, world systems, order, class, revolution, state, and political economy, the course attempts to provide the framework for answering this question. Counts toward Latin American studies major and concentration and management studies concentration.

AS/PS 255: Politics in Asia

How do people in Asia understand citizenship? Students learn how membership in cultural, social, and political communities shapes rights, responsibilities, and identities in Asian countries. Reading historical and social science research, students consider and compare citizenship in Asian countries, including China, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, and Vietnam. Offered periodically.
Prerequisite: one previous course in Asian studies or political science is recommended.

PSCI 255: Political Parties and Elections

Political parties have traditionally served to organize the American electoral process but not to govern. Is their role changing? This course examines party organization, candidate recruitment, campaign strategies, the role of the media, election financing, and citizen participation. Counts toward American studies major.

PSCI 257: U.S. - Latin American Relations

Often controversial, U.S.-Latin American relations occupy a special place in the foreign policy of the United States. Students compare differing views of political issues of importance to both regions and explore the emergence of U.S. power, interventionism, cooperation, revolution, collective security, the transition to democracy, and the influence of economic factors on the relationship between Latin America and the U.S. Counts toward Latin American studies major and concentration and management studies concentration.

PSCI 258: World Politics

The goal of this course is to expand students' knowledge of conflict, cooperation, trade, development, inequality, imperialism, and power in world politics. The course uses substantive examples to teach about issues and institutions in "world politics" and to examine appropriate mechanisms to understand and explain international phenomena. Counts toward management studies concentration.

PSCI 259: History of Classical Political Thought

Socrates founded political philosophy by asking the question "What is justice?" Ancient political philosophers followed his lead offering different answers. Students study the most famous works of classical political philosophy and their relation to larger themes in contemporary politics. The main texts assigned are Plato's Republic, Aristotle's Politics and selections from St. Augustine's City of God and St.Thomas Aquinas' Summa. Counts toward ancient studies major.

PSCI 260: History of Modern Political Thought

Machiavelli founded modern political philosophy by asking "How does the ruler acquire power?" This course explores how modern political thinkers answered this question by changing the grounds of authority from religious and philosophical foundations to rational ones. Texts include Machiavelli's Prince and Hobbes's Leviathan, Locke's Second Treatise, Rousseau's Social Contract, Marx's Communist Manifesto, and Nietzsche's Use and Abuse of History.

PSCI 262: Critics of the State

Twentieth-century thought across the political spectrum was critical of the modern state. Traditionalists and radicals alike were horrified by the rise of totalitarianism and the dangers of unrestrained political authority. In this course students engage with the works of leading critics of the state on both the Right (e.g. Hayek) and Left (e.g. Foucault), consider the similarities and differences of their critiques, explore the ethical consequences of the alternatives, and assess their contemporary relevance.

PSCI 264: Latin American Politics

How do the peoples of Latin America participate politically? How do domestic politics interact with national and international economics? How do states treat challenges posed by migration and by desires for "modernization" and democracy in a context of authoritarian legacy and debt? Students examine how Latin American politics work, focusing on Mexico, parts of Central America, the Caribbean, the Andean Region, and the Southern Cone. Counts toward Latin American studies major and concentration and management studies concentration.

PSCI 272: American Constitutional Law: Power

The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the principles of American constitutional law as well as the political struggles that shaped them. The course focuses not only on constitutional doctrine, but also on competing interpretations and political effects of landmark decisions. This course emphasizes debates over civil rights and civil liberties that have been central to modern Supreme Court jurisprudence. Counts toward American studies major.

ES/PS 276: Environmental Politics

Analysis of environmental policy includes the politics of agenda setting, policy selection and program implementation, and the effects of policy outcomes. Offered annually. Counts toward American studies major and management studies concentration.

PSCI 280: Civil Society

A central concept in political science, civil society refers to social association and self-regulation outside of the legislative and coercive functions of the state. Students examine factors affecting the strength and nature of civil society and its effects on political life, attending to how civil society develops differently in specific parts of the world. The course also introduces normative prescriptions for improving civil society. The first part of the course introduces students to the forms, norms, and expressions of civil society, while the second part of the course delves more deeply into a specific example of a civil society. The specific topic of the second section of the course will vary each time it is offered. Offered alternate years.

PSCI 282: Russian and Eurasian Politics

The course examines continuity and change in Russian political culture. The institutions and politics between the Soviet and Post-Soviet periods under the leadership of Yeltsin and Putin are explored. The course considers Russia as an energy-exporting state. The varied political developments of former Soviet republics in Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia are compared and contrasted. Counts toward Russian area studies major and management studies concentration.

PSCI 283: European Social Democracy

This course examines the European working classes' struggle for political representation and social welfare after World War II. Attention is given to the Norwegian, French, British, and Czech cases. The course inquires whether social democracy has become a victim of its own success. Offered annually in the fall semester. Counts toward Nordic studies concentration.

PSCI 284: Ethics of Citizenship in Times of War and Terrorism

How ought citizens respond to threats to national security from terrorists and distant states? The course examines Just War theory and Jihad to enquire about the connections between religions and political violence. It considers the strategic logic of terrorism and the ethical "costs" of responses to it. It examines conflicts between Islamic "moderates" and "extremists" to reveal the ethical and political spectrums within Islam.
Prerequisite: completion of BTS-T. Required prior experience of political analysis or the study of religion.

PSCI 285: International Law

Once the purview of diplomats and generals, international law has broken those narrow confines and is becoming a part of traditional practice in areas of business, environment, human rights, and criminal law. This course introduces students to this vast and changing subject from a liberal arts perspective, including its history, theory, and practice.

PSCI 294: Academic Internship

Internships are available in a wide variety of public and private institutions including the state legislature, lobbying agencies, law firms, media organizations, corporate public affairs, and executive agencies.

PSCI 295: Internship and Reflection Seminar

This seminar integrates the liberal arts with the experience of work and the search for a vocationor career. Course content will include both an off-campus internship and on-campus class sessions that connect academic theories/analyses of work with their particular internship experience. Students will also consider and articulate the value of the liberal arts for their pursuit of a creative, productive, and satisfying personal life.

PSCI 296: Political Science Research Practicum

The political science research practicum provides a new opportunity to realize the college and department's commitment to undergraduate research. Students put research skills into practice by gathering and analyzing empirical evidence, and producing a substantive research project. With research topics varying from term to term, students develop methodological expertise surrounding a current problem in political science, and collect and analyze data to address the problem. Offered alternate years.

PSCI 298: Independent Study

After completion of three courses in political science, students may approach a member of the department faculty and propose a course of study not currently offered to be conducted in tutorial fashion.

PSCI 299: Topics in Political Science

The department periodically offers special topics courses. The specific title of the course is listed in the class and lab schedule when it is offered.

PSCI 311: Seminar in American Politics

This seminar introduces the core questions, concepts, and theories of the field of American politics. With topics varying from term to term, students read both "cutting edge" research and the classic articles of the field. The methodology employed in the research is a central topic. Students ask whether the methods are appropriate and helpful for answering the central questions of American politics. The course also includes a major research project. Counts toward American studies major.
Prerequisites: PSCI 220 and one course in the subfield, or permission of instructor.

PSCI 321: Seminar in International Relations

The course introduces core questions, concepts, and theories of international relations. Topics vary, ranging from persistent problems and enduring themes in global relations to Prominent questions confronting scholars of international relations. The course highlights methods and practices of political science research and includes a major research project.
Prerequisites:PSCI 220 and one course in the subfield, or permission of instructor.

PSCI 350: Seminar: Immigration and Citizenship

This course investigates entry control policy, integration and citizenship policy, and the political activities of migrants in the wealthy democracies. Alternative arguments emphasizing the role of economic interests, sovereignty, national identity, and gender are introduced. Opportunities for academic civic engagement projects are included in the course.
Prerequisites: PSCI 220 and one course in the subfield or permission of instructor.

PSCI 367: Seminar in Latin American Politics

This course focuses on problems of inequality and democracy and the interconnection between them. Using theory, historical, fictional, and factual accounts, students look for the human ramifications of these dramatic changes as well as exploring their nature and origins. Counts toward Latin American studies major and concentration.
Prerequisites: PSCI 220 and one course in the subfield or permission of instructor.

PSCI 370: Seminar: Courageous Resistance to Injustice

Individuals, communities, and organizations have found ways to address even the most egregious state abuses of human rights and other injustices. Using comparative analysis, this course considers cases and theories of nonviolent personal and political resistance and the factors that appear to contribute to people taking action and to successful responses. Students research and analyze cases of their choosing in light of the literature.
Prerequisites: PSCI 220 and at least one course in the subfield or permission of instructor.

PSCI 382: Seminar: The Geopolitics of Eurasian Energy

Students examine the geopolitics and political economy of Russia as an energy producing and consuming "Petrostate." Beginning with the domestic political economy of the Russian energy industries, students proceed to Russia's relations with Central Asia from which it imports gas and with Europe to which it exports oil and gas. The course also considers Russia's relationships withthe U.S.A., India, and China. Special attention given to Russian/Norwegian energy relations in the Barents Sea. Counts toward Nordic studies concentration.
Prerequisite: PSCI 220 and at least one course in the subfield or permission of instructor.

PSCI 384: Seminar in Political Theory

This is an advanced course in the area of political thought. The topic, a detailed study of either major works or themes in political philosophy, varies with each offering.
Prerequisites: PSCI 220 and one course in the subfield or permission of instructor.

PSCI 385: Seminar: Becoming European: Central Europe's Entry into the European U

Students examine the antecedents and collapse of the Cold War division of Europe, the growth of the European Economic Community, and its transformation into the European Union as Western European phenomena. The course also focuses on the working of European Union institutions and consideration of theories of integration. The course ends with the post-communist transformation of 2004 and 2007 entrants and their experience following accession.
Prerequisite: PSCI 220 and at least one course in the subfield or permission of instructor.

PSCI 394: Academic Internship

Students with ideas for internships are encouraged to approach instructors within the departmentin order to arrange supervision for credit. For Level III credit students must have successfullycompleted a Level II internship in the same area.
Prerequisite: PSCI 294.

PSCI 396: Directed Undergraduate Research

This course provides a comprehensive research opportunity, including an introduction to relevant background material, technical instruction, identification of a meaningful project, and data collection. The topic is determined by the faculty member in charge of the course and may relate to his/her research interests. Offered based on department decision. May be offered as a 1.00 credit course or .50 credit course.
Prerequisite: determined by individual instructor.

PSCI 398: Independent Research

Students who have taken five political science courses, one of which is in the area of the proposed research, may propose an independent research project to a member of the departmental faculty.
Prerequisite: PSCI 220 and one course in the subfield or permission of instructor.

PSCI 399: Seminar

Seminars are special topics courses offered periodically by the department. The specific title of the seminar is listed in the Class and Lab Schedule when it is offered. May be repeated if topic is different.
Prerequisites: PSCI 220 and one course in the subfield or permission of instructor.

Chair, 2016-2017

Anthony D. Lott

Associate Professor of Political Science and Environmental Studies

international law; international relations; international security

Joshua R. Anderson

Visiting Assistant Professor of Political Science and Environmental Studies

American politics; political philosophy; history of science

Jo M. Beld

Vice President for Mission and Professor of Political Science

public policy; American politics; assessment of student learning

Douglas J. Casson

Associate Professor of Political Science

political philosophy; constitutional law

Christopher B. Chapp

Assistant Professor of Political Science

American elections; political communication; public opinion

Timothy P. Collins

Visiting Assistant Professor of Political Science

American politics

J. Patrick Dale

Associate Professor of Political Science

comparative politics; European politics and economics; central European thought

Daniel J.B. Hofrenning (on leave)

Professor of Political Science

American politics; religion and politics; parties and elections; public policy

Anthony R. Pahnke

Visiting Assistant Professor of Political Science and Environmental Studies

contentious politics; Latin American politics; political economy; environmental studies

Katherine Tegtmeyer Pak (on leave Interim and spring)

Associate Professor of Political Science and Asian Studies

Asian politics; comparative democracy; immigration; citizenship; human rights

Kristina E. Thalhammer (on leave Interim and spring)

Professor of Political Science

comparative politics; Latin American politics; political tolerance; human rights