Theme Area Courses
Faith and Reason
POSC 101: Catholic Thought, the State & Security in the Modern World
POSC 314: The Theological-Political Problem
POSC 110: Current Problems in International Politics
POSC 201: Human Security in Sub-Saharan Africa
POSC 205: Politics of Asia, Pakistan, Afghanistan and South Asia
POSC 208: Politics of Great Powers
POSC 209: Politics of Emerging Powers
POSC 245: International Relations
POSC 408: Democracy, Security and World Politics
POSC 413W: Human Rights and Human Security: Politics, Policy and Law
POSC 105: American National Government
POSC 201: Human Security in Sub-Saharan Africa
POSC 208: Politics of Great Powers
POSC 209: Politics of Emerging Powers
POSC 326W: Constitutional Law, Civil Liberties and Civil Rights
POSC 345: Security Ethics
POSC 385: International Law and Organization
POSC 413W: Human Rights and Human Security: Politics, Policy and Law
POSC 101 - CATHOLIC THOUGHT, THE STATE, AND SECURITY IN THE MODERN WORLD - 3 credits. The increasing tensions of the present security environment can have a strangling effect on the spirit and ethos of moral reason, and faith founded social institutions. The State needs to be secure and have its people secure. Doing so, however, may involve hard choices to do things it would not do ordinarily. How can a principled and faith founded people respond to these exigencies?
This course introduces the student to the rich tradition of Roman Catholic thinking on the subject of war, peace, the State and the dignity of the individual. It will then open a conversation with some of the other approaches to contemporary problems, as well as assess responses to pressing security issues confronting the world. Cross-listed with International Relations.
POSC 105 - AMERICAN NATIONAL GOVERNMENT - 3 credits. This survey course is designed to provide students with a foundation for understanding and critically assessing American political processes, institutions, and public policies.
POSC 110 - CURRENT PROBLEMS IN INTERNATIONAL POLITICS - 3 credits. A survey of issues that states currently face in world politics. Cross-listed with International Relations.
POSC 115 - BIG QUESTIONS OF POLITICS - 3 credits. An introduction to problems of politics through literature and film.
POSC 116 - CURRENT CHALLENGES FOR LIBERAL DEMOCRACIES - 3 credits. This course introduces students to the major challenges facing liberal democracies in the international system today. Major topics include the global democratic recession and the challenge of strong authoritarians, as well as the challenges of immigration, global inequality, environmental degradation, and the new security challenges brought by the rise of religious based terrorist organizations, such as the Islamic State. Throughout the course, students explore these issues from a policy perspective.
POSC 120 - INTERNATIONAL POLITICAL ECONOMY - 3 credits. An introduction to how government decisions about trade, investment, debt and market developments impact people domestically and worldwide. Special attention is given to the problems experienced by poorer countries and responsibilities of developed nations. No background in the subject matter is required.
POSC 201 - HUMAN SECURITY IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA - 3 credits. Focusing on sub-Saharan Africa, the course examines human security issues including religious and ethnic conflict within states; genocide and mass slaughter; terrorism; food security; migration and human trafficking; development and aid; and democratization. Among countries considered in the course are some of Africa's largest and most important, Ethopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda, South Africa, Sudan, Uganda, and Zambia.
POSC 202 - STATE AND LOCAL GOVERNMENT - 3 credits. A study of the role of state and local government in the Federal Union.
POSC 203 - THE AMERICAN CONGRESS - 3 credits. An investigation of the operation of the Congress within the American system of government
POSC 205 - POLITICS OF INDIA, PAKISTAN, AFGHANISTAN AND SOUTH ASIA - 3 credits. Examines the politics, society, and culture of key countries in South Asia. Highlights problems of democracy, terrorism, poverty, human rights, and development. Particular attention to the role of religion, caste, ethnicity, and gender. Cross-listed with International Relations 390.
POSC 208 - POLITICS OF GREAT POWERS - 3 credits. An introduction to government, politics, culture, and economic policy in Europe and Japan. Cross-listed with International Relations.
POSC 209 - POLITICS OF EMERGING POWERS - 3 credits. An introduction to comparative politics focusing on China, India, Nigeria, and South Africa. Topics covered include political and economic development; authoritarianism and democratization; and religious, ethnic and racial conflict. Cross-listed with International Relations.
POSC 210 INTRODUCTION TO INTERNATIONAL SECURITY STUDIES - 3 credits.This course seeks to establish to basic foundations of the use of force by States, legal and moral restrictions on its application and the fundamental foundations of strategic policy. It will examine how states have responded to their security challenges over the centuries as technology has transformed the strategic landscape by examining a series of State security case studies. Cross-listed with International Relations.
POSC 211 - NATIONAL SECURITY AND LIBERTY - 3 credits. This course considers fundamental questions about the tension between national security and democratic liberties. It analyzes such tensions since the start of the Cold War, focusing in particular on such issues as surveillance, torture and drone strikes since 9/11.
POSC 212 - SPECIAL TOPICS - 3 credits. These courses cover new and noteworth topics of interest to the study of Political Science.
POSC 216 - FOUNDATIONS OF INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS THEORY - 3 credits. The goal of this course is to develop understanding of how contemporary international relations theory rests upon a long-standing historical conversation about the conditions for a just international order. Specific objectives include comprehending a) classical realism, idealism, imperialism and cosmopolitanism b) Christian just war theory and cosmopolitanism c) early modern realism, the rise of the state and international law d) modern liberal nationalism and internationalism e) modern cosmopolitanism and imperialism. Cross-listed with International Relations.
POSC 220 - THE POLITICS OF PUBLIC FINANCE - 3 credits. This course is an introduction to the politics of the budgeting and appropriating processes, both of which have taken on a disproportionate influence over policy making in the last decade. The course examines the key actors, institutional procedures, actor strategies, and policy products in these areas, considered at both the federal and state levels of governance.
POSC 222 - INTELLIGENCE AND FOREIGN POLICY - 3 credits. The Central Intelligence Agency has at times been in step with American policy and at other times (in Cuba in the 1960's and in Afghanistan, 2001) seemed to drive it. The course will look at the CIA through the eyes of the individuals chosen to lead it, from Allen Dulles to Stansfield Turner and, in an age of transnational threats, from George Tenant to the tenure of John Brennan. The course will also explore the relationship between the various CIA Directors and the presidents they served.
POSC 235 - MEDIA AND INTERNET IN U.S. & INTERNATIONAL POLITICS - 3 credits. A study of mass and digital media, its nature, role, and impact on U.S. and international politics. Internet-based means of reporting the news, mobilizing constituencies, building social movements, and influencing politics will be examined, along with more traditional media. Problems of political communication such as journalistic bias, unequal access to information, and state control of media will be a major focus.
POSC 245 - INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS - 3 credits. A study of politics between states including sovereignty, balance of power, war, and economics. Cross-listed with International Relations.
POSC 255 - AMERICAN FOREIGN POLICY - 3 credits. A study of American foreign policy since World War II. Cross-listed with International Relations.
POSC 276 - ELECTIONS, CAMPAIGNS, AND VOTING BEHAVIOR - 3 credits. An examination of the determinants of opinions and political beliefs, political participation, and voting behavior; the significance for democratic government of these findings.
POSC 290 - AMERICAN POLITICAL THOUGHT - 3 credits. Examination of diverse perspectives on American political thinking.
POSC 292W - PUBLIC POLICY - 3 credits. A study of how and why government responds to problems. W=Writing Intensive Course.
POSC 294W - THE AMERICAN PRESIDENCY - 3 credits. Studies the Presidency and the role it plays at the center of the federal system. W=Writing Intensive Course.
POSC 295 - WAR AND PEACE IN THE NUCLEAR AGE - 3 credits. An examination of the interaction between politics and the use of force in the nuclear age. Cross-listed with International Relations.
POSC 298 - INTRODUCTION TO POLITICAL ANALYSIS - 3 credits. This course is designed to introduce students to the methods of political science research and to improve their comprehension of academic studies. We will examine how political scientists gather evidence to explain complicated social phenomena such as voting, democratization, and war. Students will learn how to design studies, collect data, conduct basic statistical and qualitative analyses, and present findings effectively. Through this course students will gain an understanding of how empirical data is used in academic, government, nonprofit and business domains. This course is required for students declaring their major in Political Science in Fall 2015 and thereafter. It replaces the existing requirement that majors take either POSC 427-Quantitative Analysis or POSC 436W-Advanced Seminar.
POSC 300 - RESEARCH ASSISTANCE IN POLITICAL SCIENCE - 1-3 credits. An opportunity for students to engage in political science research by assisting in a faculty member's scholarship. Learning opportunities could include retrieval, organization, and analysis of primary and secondary source materials; production of data summaries, synopses, or timelines; citation management; and co-writing, co-authoring, or co-presenting of scholarly work. No more than 6 credits may be taken over multiple semesters. Permission of instructor required.
POSC 301 - INTRODUCTION TO LEGAL EDUCATION, THE LIFE OF LAWYERS AND THE LEGAL PROFESSION - 3 credits. This course introduces undergraduate students to legal education, the life of lawyers, and the legal profession. Through a combination of assigned reading, guest lectures, and local site visits to courts, law firms, and businesses, this course exposes students to the basics of how our legal system and profession works, why law matters, how one becomes a lawyer, and career pathways and realities for lawyers. This course is designed for students who are contemplating attending law school, and who wish to learn more about law as a profession before committing themselves to that path.
POSC 303 POLITICS OF IMMIGRATION- 3 credits.
This course explores the challenges of immigrant incorporation in an increasingly transnational world. Through comparative case studies drawn from the European and American contexts, as well as community engaged learning activities with Pittsburgh partner institutions, students gain both a theoretical and practical exposure to the difficulties that both immigrant groups and policymakers face regarding immigrant incorporation.Cross-listed with International Relations
POSC 314 - THE THEOLOGICAL - POLITICAL PROBLEM - 3 credits. Study of the secular regimes in response to competing claims of authority put forward by politics, philosophy and theology.
POSC 315 - GERMAN FOREIGN POLICY - 3 credits. This course surveys the transformation of German political aspirations from the ascendancy of Kaiser Wilhelm II to the disintegration of Imperial Germany following defeat in the First World War in 1918. The rise of Adolf Hitler in the Weimar Republic resulted in the ascendancy of the Nazi movement in 1933 and its complete collapse in 1945. The course will trace the growth of Germany as the economic powerhouse of Europe in the post-war age, and the pivotal roles of chancellors Konrad Adenauer, Willi Brandt, Helmut Kohl and Angela Merkel in the development - and the problems - of the European Union.
POSC 317W - WESTERN POLITICAL THOUGHT I - 3 credits. A study of the ideas that constitute our Western heritage of reflection on perennial political issues. Consideration of theorists from the classical period. W=Writing Intensive Course.
POSC 318W - WESTERN POLITICAL THOUGHT II - 3 credits. A study of the ideas that constitute our Western heritage of reflection on perennial political issues. Consideration of theorists from the late 16th century to the late 19th century. W=Writing Intensive Course
POSC 321 - POLITICS OF RUSSIA AND EASTERN EUROPE - 3 credits. This course provides an overview of major political developments in selected Eastern European countries since 1945, with an emphasis on the difficulties of making the transition to post-communist governments as well as the state of democracy in these countries today. This course will focus on the countries of Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine, Belarus, and Russia. Cross-listed witn International Relations.
POSC 326W - CONSTITUTIONAL LAW AND POLITICS: CIVIL LIBERTIES AND CIVIL RIGHTS - 3 credits. This course examines constitutional law and politics arising from the Bill of Rights and the 14th Amendment. Special attention is given to religious establishment; free exercise of religion; freedom of speech; protection against unreasonable searches and seizures, compelled confessions, and cruel and unusual punishment; due process; privacy; and equal protection of the laws. W=Writing Intensive Course.
POSC 327W - CONSTITUTIONAL LAW AND POLITICS: THE POWERS OF GOVERNMENT - 3 credits. This course examines the constitutional law and politics of separation of powers and federalism. Topics include the powers of war and peace; emergency executive powers; executive privilege; executive immunity; impeachment; Congress’s power to regulate interstate commerce; delegation; the supremacy clause, nullification and interposition; and state sovereign immunity. W=Writing Intensive Course.
POSC 345W - SECURITY ETHICS - 3 credits. The course's principal purposes are to explore the possibilities, limits, and obligations of ethical action in international relations. The course applies the insights of different theories of ethics to a number of issues, including various wars, terrorism, and humanitarian intervention. W=Writing Intensive Course. Cross-listed with International Relations.
POSC 348 - HUMANITARIAN INTERVENTION - 3 credits. The course discusses the evolution of humanitarian intervention and human rights norms as well as the expanding use of humanitarian intervention in international relations. The course will be a detailed study of the evolution of human rights intervention as well as a case study of major humanitarian crises and the international response to them (Balkans, Rwanda, Syria, etc.)
POSC 349 - UNITED NATIONS I - 1 credit. Examines the processes and policies of the United Nations through classroom lecture and experiential (lab) activities. A strong focus will be placed on reinforcing professional skills such as research, negotiation, and public speaking. The required lab portion of this course will consist of student participation in all parts of local and/or national Model United Nations conferences, amounting to at least 12 hours of this lab/activity outside the classroom. Permission of instructor required. Cross-listed with International Relations
POSC 350 - UNITED NATIONS II - 1 credit. Examines the processes and policies of the United Nations through classroom lecture and experiential (lab) activities. A strong focus will be placed on reinforcing professional skills such as research, negotiation, and public speaking. The required lab portion of this course will consist of student participation in all parts of local and/or national Model United Nations conferences, amounting to at least 12 hours of this lab/activity outside the classroom. Permission of instructor required. Cross-listed with International Relations
POSC 353 - UNITED NATIONS III - 2 credits. Examines the processes and policies of the United Nations through classroom lecture and experiential (lab) activities. A strong focus will be placed on reinforcing professional skills such as research, negotiation, and public speaking. The required lab portion of this course will consist of student participation in all parts of local and/or national Model United Nations conferences, amounting to at least 12 hours of this lab/activity outside the classroom. Permission of instructor required. Cross-listed with International Relations.
POSC 354 - UNITED NATIONS IV - 2 credits. Examines the processes and policies of the United Nations through classroom lecture and experiential (lab) activities. A strong focus will be placed on reinforcing professional skills such as research, negotiation, and public speaking. The required lab portion of this course will consist of student participation in all parts of local and/or national Model United Nations conferences, amounting to at least 12 hours of this lab/activity outside the classroom. Permission of instructor required. Cross-listed with International Relations
POSC 360 - CRISIS MANAGEMENT IN COMPLEX EMERGENCIES - 3 credits. This course considers crisis management in theory and practice, drawing from the periods since World War II. Theories of crisis prevention, escalation, management, de-escalation, termination, and post-crisis management will be covered. In addition, alternative decision-making theories, structures, and processes, the nature of crisis bargaining and negotiation and the role of third parties will be addressed. Special attention will be paid to the role of military force in post-Cold War crisis scenarios. The course will include case studies and a simulation designed to provide context to the study of crisis management. Cross-listed with International Relations.
POSC 385 - INTERNATIONAL LAW AND ORGANIZATION - 3 credits. Examines the historical development and present role played by international law and organizations. Cross-listed with International Relations.
POSC 405 - HOMELAND SECURITY - 3 credits. This course seeks to study civil authorities' preparation for natural and national emergencies such as earthquakes, firestorms, pandemics and hurricanes. It also examines preparations for national infrastructure and civilian populations from any array of threat. Its focus, unlike politico-military crisis study, is disaster preparation and mitigation. These areas have been modeled extensively by national, state and local agencies and will provide the main attention for this course. Students will study the disaster models, crisis planning and action associated with them and review multiple case studies.
POSC 406W - SOCIAL AND PUBLIC POLICY ANALYSIS - 3 credits. This course aims to enhance the students' ability to see through to the crux of contemporary policy issues efficiently, quickly, and logically. The course explores techniques of policy analysis in depth, as well as the practical constraints imposed by the policymaking environment in several policy areas in order to hone those critical analytic skills.
POSC 407- TERRORISM - 3 credits. The phenomenon of transnational violence perpetrated by non state actors against civilians has become the single most pressing security issue in the modern era. This sort of violence - terrorism - is studied here in all its facets: motivations, organization, funding, tactics and goals. Furthermore, kinetic as well as soft-power counter-terror strategies are also reviewed from the policy, legal and moral perspectives, among others. Cross-listed with International Relations.
POSC 408 - DEMOCRACY, SECURITY, and WORLD POLITICS - 3 credits. Examines power, conflict and democratization primarily in countries outside the U.S.
POSC 409 - PUBLIC ADMINISTRATION - 3 credits. Have you ever wondered why "government bureaucrat" has become a pejorative term? Or why seemingly simple regulatory requirements result in a mass of red tape for citizens? Better yet, have you ever encountered the public bureaucracy as either an employee or a customer and puzzled at what you found? If you answer yes to any of these questions, please join us for an inside look at a fascinating and often misunderstood discipline. This survey of public administration is designed to shed some light on these mysteries and to provide students with an opportunity to explore the complexities inherent in the process of administering the laws, policies, and regulations of our country.
POSC 412 - ARAB ISRAELI CONFLICT - 3 credits. The clash between Jewish Zionists and the Arab peoples of Palestine and surrounding countries has been a focal point of world politics for roughly the last 100 years. It has involved six wars, as well as near-continual violence short of outright war. This course is designed to make the major issues comprehensible and to enable students to begin to form their own assessments of what is needed for a just and lasting resolution. Through readings, films, discussion, and simulation exercises, the class explores the political, social, economic, psychological, and cultural dynamics of the conflict, as well as questions such as why the conflict has proven so difficult to resolve, how the conflict resembles and differs from other cases of protracted conflict between ethnic and national groups, and what factors have motivated U.S. policy toward the conflict. Cross-listed with International Relations.
POSC 413W - HUMAN RIGHTS AND HUMAN SECURITY: POLITICS, POLICY AND LAW - 3 credits. Explores the international human rights regime including philosophical sources, legal instruments, governmental and non-state actors, and impacts on the international system. Cross-listed with International Relations.
POSC 418 - THE POLITICS OF CIVIC PROBLEMS - 3 credits. This course examines the impact of various economic and social policies on the quality of life and economic vitality of our citizens, with particular attention paid to Western Pennsylvania.
POSC 419W - ETHNIC CONFLICT: POLITICS AND POLICY - 3 credits. Ethnic conflict threatens political stability in countries around the world. From Iraq to Bolivia, from Spain to Indonesia, conflicts have erupted over a wide variety of "ethnic" issues in recent years. Yet despite its ubiquity, ethnic politics remains poorly understood: Why do people identify with ethnic groups? Why does ethnic identity sometimes lead to private ritual, sometimes to peaceful mobilization through mass movements or political parties, and sometimes to violent conflict, pogroms, and genocide? Most pressingly, are there solutions to ethnic conflict, particularly in deeply-divided, violence-ridden countries?
POSC 420 - CONTEMPORARY POLITICAL THOUGHT - 3 credits. A study of the central controversies in political thought during the 20th century. Cross-listed with International Relations.
POSC 422W - AMERICAN DEFENSE POLICY - 3 credits. Studies the institutions, policies, and decision making of the American defense establishment. W=Writing Intensive Course. Cross-listed with International Relations.
POSC 428W - GLOBAL ENERGY POLICY - 3 credits. The impact oil and natural resource issues have on decision making by governments and international organizations. Global market impacts and the activities of multinational cartels are also studied. W=Writing Intensive Course. Cross-listed with International Relations.
POSC 429W - COMPARATIVE INTELLIGENCE AGENCIES - 3 credits.
An examination of the development, structure and usage of intelligence agencies with particular emphasis on how such functions impact upon national policy makers and the policy making process. The primary focus of the course centers on a study of the CIA, British M16 and Russian KGB/FSB. W=Writing Intensive Course. Cross-listed with International Relations.
POSC 43O - INTERNSHIP IN PRACTICAL POLITICS I - variable 1-3 credits. A work experience in political, legal, or governmental offices. Permission of department required. Contact the University Internship Coordinator to find a qualifying internship: firstname.lastname@example.org.
POSC 431 - INTERNSHIP IN PRACTICAL POLITICS II - variable 1-3 credits. A work experience in political, legal, or governmental offices. Permission of department required. Does not count toward requirements for the major, but does count toward an additional political science concentration. Contact the University Internship Coordinator to find a qualifying internship: email@example.com.
POSC 436W - ADVANCED SEMINAR - 3 credits. An in-depth consideration of selected topics in the discipline. Open to graduating seniors only. Permission of instructor required. W=Writing Intensive Course.
POSC 442W - GLOBAL PUBLIC POLICY - 3 credits. Examines policymaking at the global level, including policy conflicts in international institutions such as the UN and international influences on domestic policymaking. Focuses on the roles of states and international organizations, as well as the media and nongovernmental organizations. Topics considered include the International Criminal Court; anti-personnel landmines; gun control; genetically modified foods; and definitions of the family. W=Writing Intensive Course. Cross-listed with International Relations.
POSC 445 - GLOBAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT - 3 credits. This seminar explores the impact of domestic and international forces on the economic development of emerging markets. The rise of globalization has been regarded as both an advantage and a curse. This seminar views the globalization debate for three different perspectives: the position and impact of international capital transfers; currency exchange and value considerations; and whether the assumed relationship between open markets and democratization is still a sustainable one.
POSC 448 - AMERICAN PRESIDENTS AND THE CONSTITUTION - 3 credits. This course will examine the intersection between the presidency and the Constitution through a unique lens. Cross-listed with the Law School, International Relations and History Departments.
POSC 496 - SPECIAL TOPICS - 3 credits. The content of this course will focus on a special subject not ususally offered by the department.
POSC 497 - ADVANCED INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS THEORY - 3 credits. The central substantive aim of the course is to develop a deep and nuanced understanding of how different theories explain international politics and which ones are most persuasive under what conditions. Theories are important because they affect both how we intepret our environment and how we respond to it. Theories, in short, drive action. Theories representing all of the major approaches to the study of world politics (material, institutional, and ideational) and levels of analysis (international, domestic, and individual) will be examined. A central objective of the class is for students to develop their critical reading abilities, i.e., what are the authors read in the class arguing? What are the strengths and weaknesses of each piece? What are the authors' (often hidden) assumptions? Correctly answering these questions is important not only in the context of this class, but in terms of how you - curent citizens and future leaders - see the world.
POSC 499 - DIRECTED READINGS IN POLITICAL SCIENCE - 1-3 credits. An opportunity for selected students to engage in independent study and research. Permission of instructor required.