Spring 2024 Courses
POLS 60028: American State Politics
This course will focus on the study of American state politics from a theoretical and empirical perspective. The topics we will cover range widely across those commonly examined in political science, including studies of elections, mass behavior, public opinion, institutions, and policy making. We will focus on how the contextual and institutional factors that vary across states impact the process of democratic governance. The attraction of the states is contextual and institutional variation. It is frequently much easier to imagine meaningful variance existing at the state level compared to the national level. There is only one U.S. Congress, only one President, only one Presidential election at any one time. To generate variance in, for example, the institutional structure of a legislature in order to explore how that structure might shape lawmaking, choices are limited at the national level. We can compare the House and the Senate, but they differ from each other in several ways. How can we be sure which difference(s) really matter? We can compare the House and/or Senate to itself over time, but major changes in these institutions are rare and often occur in response to other important events. We can compare legislatures cross-nationally, but so many other factors vary across countries, and we sometimes face questions of whether units are really comparable. In the American states, we have multiple comparable units that evidence meaningful variation both cross-sectionally and over time.
POLS 60473: Democratic Transitions, Breakdowns, Stagnations and Advances
This course will analyze the conditions that make democracy and authoritarian regimes more or less likely to be stable and, conversely, that make democratic breakdowns and transitions more or less common. We will also examine some of the conditions that make democratic deepening, stagnation, and erosion more (or less) likely. These questions have long been of central interest to social scientists, historians, and democracy advocates. And they sometimes have huge consequences for the world, as was demonstrated by the aftermath of the breakdown of democracy in Germany in 1933 or by the fall of communism (1989) and the breakup of the Soviet Union (1991). The first part of the course will examine theoretical approaches to studying political regimes, including a few classic works. Part II will include recent work on democratic erosions and breakdowns and on patterns of democratic stagnation and deepening after transitions to democracy. Part III will examine patterns of regime change and stability in authoritarian regimes.
POLS 60477: Criminal Governance, Democracy and Policies
Across the world, millions of citizens live in territories controlled by criminal organizations that co-exist with democratically elected governments. The spread of organized crime across the globe has followed as many countries transitioned to democracy and/or ended long-lasting civil wars. Increasingly, conflict environments feature criminal gangs, drug-traffickers, mafias, and state actors involved in criminal activities. Informed by prominent theories and methodologies in political science, and the social sciences more broadly, this course will examine the causes of organized crime and its consequences or the consolidation of democracy, particularly in countries in Africa and Latin America. Importantly, a core objective of the course is to identify evidence-based policy approaches to address organized crime in developing countries. More specifically, we will examine theories and methodologies in political science, and related fields, that help us address the following six research questions: 1) What countries are the most and least affected by organized crime? 2) What is the role of politics in criminal violence? 3) How does criminal governance differ from other types of governance? 4) How does organized crime interact with other forms of violence, particularly gender-based violence? 5) In what ways, does organized crime affect democracy? and 6) How have citizens and governments responded to organized crime? In brief, the course will offer an in-depth examination of organized crime and governance through the lens of political science and related fields in the social sciences.
POLS 60111: The Constitution and the Common Good
Americans generally conceive constitutional government as limited government. This constitutionalism imposes largely negative duties: its governments are obligated to avoid regulating speech and classifying people by race, for example; they have no constitutional duty to tax, spend, and regulate in pursuit of literacy and racial harmony. As fear of constitutional failure grows in America, reformers focus on institutions and practices like the Electoral College and campaign finance. Few would change the way Americans think about constitutional duty. But some would. Intellectuals of America’s religious right (Adrian Vermeule, Hadley Arkes, Gladden Pappin, Patrick Deneen, etc.) now argue for an affirmative view of constitutional duty – duty to pursue public purposes like economic justice, racial justice, and environmental health. These writers would also use government to promote the virtues of a moral life, especially the sexual morality of the Christian right. This seminar examines the arguments for (1) a common-good constitutionalism generally and (2) the religious right’s version of a common-good constitutionalism. Readings include Vermeule, Common Good Constitutionalism (2022); Steve Pincus, The Heart of the Declaration: The Founders’ Case for Activist Government (2016); Stephen Holmes and Cass Sunstein, The Cost of Rights (1999); articles by Martin Diamond, Martha Nussbaum, John Langan, Michael Zuckert, Steven Macedo, Conor Casey, Randy Barnett, William Baude and Stephen Sachs, and James Fleming and Linda McClain; a few Supreme Court cases; selections from Thomas Aquinas, Locke’s Second Treatise, and The Federalist; and speeches of Abraham Lincoln and Franklin Roosevelt. Course requirements: faithful seminar attendance, active class participation, periodic oral reports on the readings, and a well-reasoned and well-written term paper that observes all scholarly conventions. No midterm or final exam. This seminar is tailored for graduate students in constitutional theory and political philosophy; senior undergrads may join with the instructor’s permission.
POLS 60124: Comparative Constitutional Theory
The rationale for studying constitutions in comparative context is that we learn more when we put diverse perspectives into dialogue. Indeed, the most important debates in constitutionalism recur across time and place. Although dozens of countries have confronted similar questions, they often come to different answers. This graduate level course explores different instances of constitutionalism, connecting them to the broader political cultures from which they emerge. We consider the political values and moral theories that inform such concepts as liberty, equality, and community within various constitutional traditions. We will debate such elusive concepts as constitutional identity and amendment. In addition to these big theoretical questions, we explore the similarities and differences of institutional arrangements across systems, including understandings of judicial review, the role of constitutional courts, and varying approaches to constitutional maintenance and change. Ultimately, this course aims at greater understanding of constitutionalism in general and the particular cases of it that we study.
POLS 60205 : International Political Economy
What are global markets are and how they are governed? The aim of this seminar is to introduce students to empirical trends and academic debates on the political underpinnings of the global economy. We will examine a range of actors involved in the politics of global markets - governments, international organizations as well as a range of private actors. The first part of the class introduces students to recent debates on what global markets are. Readings address trends such as liberalization, globalization and vertical disintegration and we will devote one week to review the main theoretical approaches to theorize global economic governance. The second part of the class meetings is devoted to a range of issue areas that have historically been part of IPE debates, while also introducing a number of themes that are emerging as urgent challenges for the global economy: finance, trade, development, the climate crisis, migration and labor in the global economy. We will also read about emergence of private governance regimes and how they interact with public standards and regulations. In each of these sections, we will think about how institutions, ideas and interests shape local and global economies. This course serves as a basis for future research in international political economy and prepares students for the international relations comprehensive exam.
POLS 60217: Political Theory and International Relations
This graduate seminar provides a survey of the philosophic and political theoretical roots of the major theoretical traditions in contemporary international relations. It begins by exploring in depth the foundational texts in international relations with the aim of considering how they have influenced recent developments and debates among the key theoretical approaches to international relations (realism, liberalism, and constructivism) with a particular emphasis on identifying the continuity and discontinuity in their central assumptions and causal logics. A second objective of the course is to identify what is consistent and what novel about how we think about international relations theory today.
POLS 60661: Augustine and Contemporary Political Thought
Augustine of Hippo is an early Christian theologian, whose writings deal with political themes chiefly (though not exclusively) in relation to religion. Augustine’s own polity, the declining Roman Empire of the fourth and early fifth centuries, seems almost entirely “other” than modern political societies. Why, then, has his thought been influential in so large and diverse a body of contemporary ethical and political theory? What is it about Augustine’s reflections on humanity, nature, happiness, justice, and society that makes him seem indispensible many centuries after he wrote, and among scholars of varied faiths and no faith? How do appropriations, revaluations, and critiques of Augustine’s thought help to shape some of the leading political-philosophical work in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries? How compelling are various interpretations of his writings that shape contemporary engagement with his thought? These are some of the questions we will reflect on this semester. The first two thirds of the course focus directly on Augustine’s ethical and political thought, through a close reading of his City of God. The final third of the course examines Augustine’s use and import in contemporary political thought. Readings for this portion of the course include writings of Hannah Arendt, John Cavadini, Robert Dodaro, Jean Bethke Elshtain, Ernest Fortin, Eric Gregory Alasdair MacIntyre, Pierre Manent, Reinhold Niebuhr, Charles Taylor, and Paul Weithman. Among the many themes open to our consideration, some attention will be given to Augustine’s arguments concerning pride and humility, humanity and love, and philosophy and faith as they impact personal, social, and political life. Also important are Augustine’s interpretations, appropriations, and critiques of ancient historians, statesmen, poets, philosophers, and philosophic schools.
POLS 60810: Regression I
This course provides an introduction to quantitative research methods in political science. After a brief discussion of the basics of statistical analysis and hypothesis testing, the first part of the course will focus on ordinary least squares (OLS) regression, its assumptions, and its extensions. In the second part of the course, we will focus on widely-used methods that are appropriate when the assumptions of OLS are violated, and especially on limited dependent variable models. We will try to strike a balance between theory and mathematics on the one hand and the practical application and interpretation of statistics on the other hand. We will discuss the theoretical rationale behind and mathematical underpinnings of various statistical methods, how to apply those methods to real political questions, and how to conduct and interpret analyses using a standard statistical package.
POLS 60835: Field Research Methods
This course introduces students to a range of methodological approaches to generate and gather original data. The course will highlight "best practices" in research design and implementation, but it will also address the logistical constraints and trade-offs that graduate students face while conducting fieldwork. Over the course of the semester, all students will develop multiple strategies to build and evaluate their own research questions.
POLS 60843: Experimental Design
Political scientists across subfields are increasingly using experimental approaches. This course covers the design, implementation, and analysis of experiments. We will discuss both theoretical and practical aspects of experimentation. Core concepts will be applicable across types of experiments, including lab, survey, online, and lab-in-the-field.
POLS 61001: American Politics Workshop
F 2:00 - 4:45 pm; 1/19, 2/2, 3/1, 3/22, 4/12, 4/19
The American Politics Research Lab provides resources, training, guidance and coordination for research projects in American politics. The lab supports research efforts by graduate students, undergraduate students, and faculty. Regular activities include training workshops, research presentations, question-and-answer sessions, project updates, and special topic discussions.
POLS 98701: The Academic Career
This class is designed to prepare Ph.D. students for success in finding a faculty position in academia.
POLS 98704: Dissertation Writing Workshop
This course is designed to provide a structure for dissertation writing for Ph.D. students who are writing a dissertation or a dissertation proposal employing empirical (qualitative and/or quantitative) methods. We will focus on structuring dissertation and proposal writing and workshopping student chapters and other dissertation-related writing.
POLS 98706: Political Theory Professionalization Workshop
The Political Theory Professionalization Workshop trains doctoral students in Political Theory in the latest approaches to scholarship and research in the interconnected and interdisciplinary fields of political theory, political philosophy, history of political thought, and intellectual history. Students prepare and present presentations based on their doctoral dissertation projects (proposals in progress, chapters in progress, articles or conference papers in progress) and serve as discussants for each other's and visiting speakers' work, and thus experience the peer-review process, by giving and receiving feedback on new work in the field during the weekly seminar. The seminar incorporates the Political Theory Colloquium speaker series, so that doctoral students have a regular opportunity to learn and engage the latest trends in political theory in the wider profession. All Political Theory doctoral students in the 3rd-5th years are strongly encouraged to enroll in this Political Theory Professionalization Workshop for 3-credits per term, unless they are on a fellowship working off-campus. Other doctoral students in the 3rd-5th years who have Political Theory as a second field are welcome to enroll. When the seminar hosts the Political Theory Colloquium, one enrolled student will serve as the discussant for the outside speaker (from Notre Dame or another university), and all enrolled students will be expected to carefully read and engage the speaker's work. When we host an outside speaker for the Political Theory Colloquium, our sessions will be open to the wider Notre Dame community interested in political theory and its cognate fields.