All courses are offered for 3 credit hours unless otherwise noted. 

Course Number Course Name  Days/Times  Faculty
POSC 109 The U.S. Political System  TR 1:00-2:15 Joseph White
POSC 160 Introduction to Comparative Politics (Counts for CAS Global and Cultural Diversity Requirement) TR 10:00-11:15 Kelly McMann
POSC 172 Introduction to International Relations  TR 11:30-12:45

Kathryn Lavelle

POSC 319/419 Politics and Money MWF 2:15-3:05 Justin Buchler
POSC 322/422 Political Movements and Protest MW 12:45-2:00 Karen Beckwith
POSC 323/423 Judicial Politics M 7:00-9:30 Michael Wager
POSC 327/427 Civil Liberties in America TR 11:30-12:45 Laura Tartakoff
POSC 358/458 Political Strategy MWF 11:40-12:30 Justin Buchler
POSC 369/469 Ethnicity, Gender, and Religion in Latin American Politics and Society TR 4:00-5:15 Laura Tartakoff
POSC 370F/470F Financial Politics in the United States and the World TR 2:30-3:45 Kathryn Lavelle
POSC 373/473 Politics of the European Union MW 12:45-2:00 Elliot Posner
POSC 37474 Politics of Development in the Global South TR 1:00-2:15 Paul Schroeder
POSC 386/486 Making Public Policy TR 10:00-11:15 Joseph White
POSC 390/490 Special Topics in International Relations: Power, Law and International Order MW 3:20-4:35 Elliot Posner
POSC 395 Special Projects (1-6 credit hours. Prerequisites: see description) Times as arranged Staff
POSC 396 Senior Project/SAGES Capstone (Prerequisites: See description) Times as arranged Staff
POSC 495 Independent Study  (Graduate students only. Must be taken for a letter grade. Prerequisites: See description) Times as arranged Staff
POSC 601 Individual Investigation  (1-6 credit hours. Graduate students only. May be taken only on a pass/fail basis. Prerequisites: See description) Times as arranged Staff
POSC 651 M.A. Thesis Research  (6 credit hours. Graduate students only. Permission from supervisor and graduate committee is required. Grade is for the thesis itself, so Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory) Times as arranged Staff
POSC 701 Dissertation Ph.D.  (1-9 credit hours. Prerequisites: see description) Times as arranged Staff
  Integrated Graduate Studies (See description)    

POSC 109
The U.S. Political System                                                                                      

Joseph White
TR 1:00-2:15

The U.S. political system was created to bring cooperation, the ability to work together for public ends, out of conflict, the disagreements about ends and means that were common in 1787 and at least as common now. That is the fundamental task of government, and how well that works depends on how much people disagree (beliefs) the rules of the game (how political authority is exercised), and the policy environment (the severity of problems, such as economic conditions or security threats). For this class the basic questions involve what Americans fight about through politics, how decisions are made, whether decisions tend to favor some groups of people over others, and whether decisions can be made at all.

With those questions in mind we will survey the basic institutions and dynamics of the U.S. political system. These include public and elite attitudes and why they matter; how attitudes are mobilized to influence the government, through political parties, interest groups and the media; the separated institutions that share powers to make governmental decisions, such as Congress, the presidency, courts and government agencies: and the elections which link mobilized attitudes to who holds office in the government.

POSC 160
Introduction to Comparative Politics                                                                      

Kelly McMann
TR 10:00-11:15

Comparative politics is the study of processes and institutions within countries.  Prompted by real-world puzzles, comparativists investigate broad, theoretical questions:  What constitutes a revolution, and why do revolutions occur?  How does one country become more democratic than another?  Why do relations between some ethnic groups turn violent?  This course introduces some of the central puzzles and theories of comparative politics in order to help students better understand world events. Counts for CAS Global and Cultural Diversity Requirement.

POSC 172
Introduction to International Relations  
Kathryn Lavelle

TR 11:30-12:45

This course is a survey of international relations.  It will address the major questions about the ways that states interact: what is anarchy, and what are its consequences?  Can we mitigate its effects, and if so how?  Has globalization—the increasing flows of goods, people and knowledge across borders—changed the nature of the way states relate to each other?  Has the rise of non-state actors diminished the authority of the state?  This course will take up these large questions by examining the nature of anarchy and sovereignty and their effects in world politics.  It will also ask under what conditions can international cooperation—through treaties, laws and less formal arrangements—help provide peace, security and prosperity.  The course will cover the fundaments of the discipline, including a review of the theoretical approaches and major questions in contemporary international relations.  We will also look at specific issues in contemporary world politics such as human rights, environmental protection and other issues decided upon by the class.

POSC 319/419
Politics and Money
Justin Buchler
MWF 2:15-3:05

One of the most famous definitions of politics comes from Harold Laswell, who described it as the struggle over “who gets what, when, how.”  Money is at the center of most political conflict.  It is a resource, a motivation, and an end unto itself.  This course will examine the role of money in politics, with particular emphasis on American politics.  We will discuss the role of money in elections, in the policy-making process, and what it means for representation.  The course will begin with the question of the role that financial consideration play in public opinion and voting behavior.  We will then address the role that money plays in election results, both in terms of its role in financing campaigns, and the relationship between the state of the economy and election results.  Finally, we will discuss the policy-making process.  In that context, we will address the role that interest groups play in the process, and how the quest for economic benefits for one’s constituency motivates the behavior of elected officials.  We will conclude by discussing how policy changes at the systematic level occur and the influence that various groups have on policy outcomes.

POSC 322/422
Political Movements and Protest
Karen Beckwith
MW 12:45-2:00

Political Movements and Political Participation is concerned with the variety of ways citizens engage in collective activism in the United States and across national boundaries, and with the conditions under which citizens identify common concerns and join together in political movements to bring about change.  The course begins with an examination of three general bodies of theory and research on political movements: resource mobilization, political opportunity structures, and cultural framing.  We will also investigate frameworks of political participation for understanding the relationships among different expressions of collective activism and representation.  In the context of these sometimes competing theories, we will consider 1) the conditions under which political movements are likely to emerge, as well as the circumstances in which collective political action is precluded; 2) how citizens come to recognize collective grievances and shared political identities; 3) the strategies and tactics of organized movements, and their likelihood of political success; and 4) the relationship between political movements, political parties, and the state.

POSC 323/423
Judicial Politics
Michael Wager
M 7:00-9:30

Rejecting the view that judges mechanically apply the law, the study of judicial politics seeks to understand the behavior of judges as political actors with policy goals. Topics include judicial selection and socialization, judicial policy change, judicial strategy (especially the strategic interaction of judges on multi-judge panels), the interaction of courts in hierarchical judicial systems, the policy impact of judicial decisions, and the courts’ interactions with coordinate branches of government (the executive, Congress, state governments, state courts). Primary focus will be on the federal judiciary, with some discussion of state judicial systems.

POSC 327/427
Civil Liberties in America
Laura Tartakoff
TR 11:30-12:45

Supreme Court’s interpretation of the First Amendment: liberty of religion through the establishment and free exercise clauses, freedoms of speech and the press, of assembly and association.  The “pure tolerance” view examined against subversive speech, “fighting words,” libel, and obscenity.  Survey of content-neutral regulation, symbolic expression, and current efforts to limit expression (campus speech codes and the feminist anti-pornography movement).

POSC 358/458
Political Strategy
Justin Buchler
MWF 11:40-12:30

This course examines practical applications of prominent political science theories.  It is partly a how-to course covering a broad range of political activities, but the primary objective is to link practical issues with theories to help you understand why events happen the way they do.  The course focuses on American politics, but the materials will be applicable to a wide range of situations.  The course is a seminar requiring regular student presentations that will generate discussion about the readings and current events. Papers consist of analysis of current events, and require students to analyze the strategies used by prominent figures in the context of the theories we discuss in class. 

POSC 369/469
Ehtnicity, Gender, and Religion in Latin American Politics and Society
Laura Tartakoff
TR 4:00-5:15

This course focuses on aspects of Latin America’s social and political realities and dilemmas.  It will first explore race, gender, and religion, and then tackle revolution, democracy and populism.  Throughout, the entire region’s history, geography, and culture(s) will be considered; for example, the European and indigenous legacies in Mexico and Peru, Bolivia, Chile, and Ecuador; the Asian presence in Peru and Brazil; the African contributions to Cuba and Brazil, female heads of state, such as Nicaragua’s Violeta Chamorro, Chile’s Michelle Bachelet, Argentina’s Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, Costa Rica’s Laura Chinchilla, and Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff.  The class will explore Liberation Theology and the new Pope’s worries about the declining number of Catholics in the region.
Today’s multiparty democracy in Mexico, Hugo Chavez’s 14-year rule in Venezuela, and Cuba’s international humanitarian aid would not be possible without revolution(s) and populism.  They are intertwined with ethnicity, gender, and religion.

POSC 370F/470F
Financial Politics in the United States and the World
Kathryn Lavelle
TR 2:30-3:45

This course explores how political institutions make policy in the financial area with particular emphasis on the United States.  Using a bureaucratic politics framework, it examines money, banks and the securities industry by integrating a wide range of literature in economics and political science.  Specific objectives include familiarizing students with different approaches to the political economy of finance from different disciplines, exploring the historical evolution of finance, examining the changing relationship between public and private authority within the financial system, considering how politics operates in a crisis, and evaluating the role of international financial institutions in the global economy.  By taking this course, students will equip themselves for further research into politics and economics, as well as offer them tools to analyze future policy developments as they unfold.

POSC 373/473
Politics of the European Union
Elliot Posner
MW 12:45-2:00

The evolution of the European Union ranks among the most significant developments in contemporary European and international history.  Yet scholars have disagreed about nearly every important aspect of the EU’s origins, nature and implications; And now they argue about whether and how it can endure a conjuncture of challenges and crises. The seminar’s readings, discussions and written assignments will introduce students to the main debates by addressing five questions:  What is the EU? What accounts for its origins and evolution?  How does the EU work and what does it do?  What impact has it had on the national societies, polities and economies of Europe?  How does the EU influence relations among members, neighboring countries, global society and international politics and economics?  The class will cover topical contemporary developments including the politics surrounding the massive inflow of refugees, the ongoing banking crises, security threats from Russia and extremists, the UK’s departure and authoritarian tendencies of some member state governments.

POSC 374/474
Politics of Development in the Global South
Paul Schroeder
TR 1:00-2:15

Exploration of the post-World War II emergence of the Global South nations of Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Latin America, and the Eastern Europe arena.

POSC 386/486
Making Public Policy
Joseph White
TR 10:00-11:15

Politics is about who wins, who loses, and why.  Policy, by contrast, is often depicted as more “neutral;” policies are the means through which political decisions are carried out.  In this class, we examine the notion that policy is the rational, impartial counterpart to the political arena.  We will ask: How are public policies made?  Why do some issues make it on to the agenda, while others do not?  Can we separate facts from values, or are both always contested?  We will examine how decision-making in a group introduces distinct challenges for policymaking.  The course focuses on widely applicable themes of policymaking, drawing on both domestic and international examples.

POSC 390/490
Special Topics in IR: Power, Law, and International Order
Elliot Posner
MW 3:20-4:35

This special topics seminar in International Relations varies from semester to semester depending on the interests of the department’s faculty.  Students may take the course more than once (for up to 9 credits) so long as the topics are different.

In the spring of 2017, the seminar will focus on three topics related to the concept of international order.  The first – its contested nature – addresses deep scholarly divisions over the meaning of international order; its relationship to peace, stability, prosperity and war; whether it can be engineered by world leaders and, if so, how; and where it should rank in the hierarchy of their goals.  The second topic – governance – explores how international law and institutions intersect with a changing distribution of power among states.  Most analysts have focused on formal international organizations (such as the World Trade Organization), asking whether they can accommodate “rising” powers (mainly China but also Brazil, India and Russia).  This unit will instead give special attention to informal organizations (that is, non-treaty-based ones) and international soft law (that is, agreed, codified, yet non-binding rules), on the one hand, and authoritarian regimes such as China and Russia, on the other.  Does regime type matter?  The final topic – transnationalism – considers the potential ordering effects of cross-border networks (housed in international human rights and environmental advocacy organizations, industry and professional associations or regulatory bodies) and their ideas.  Do these networks foster similarity (in political culture, regulatory approaches, domestic state-society-market relationships, etc.) that subsequently supports international cooperation and institutional order?  The readings for this seminar will draw from classic works and contemporary research.

POSC 395
Special Projects

(Requires consent and a permit from instructor)  Study of a topic of particular interest, or an approved internship. The student must submit to the departmental office a project prospectus form, approved and signed by the faculty supervisor, no later than the end of the second week of classes. The prospectus must outline the goals of the project and the research methodology to be used and is part of the basis for grading. The prospectus form is available from the departmental office of from the department’s Web page.

POSC 396
Senior Project SAGES Capstone
Times as Arranged

(Requires consent and a permit from instructor)  Capstone experience for political science majors or senior POSC minors as part of the SAGES program, providing opportunity to do an in-depth paper on a topic of particular interest to them. Students must obtain approval from a faculty project advisor and list that advisor on the registration form. The advisor must sign and student submit to the department a prospectus including goals, schedule, and research methodology. This paper should demonstrate, and ideally even extend, the skills and expertise developed over the course of study in the department. Upon completion of the capstone, students will be expected to present their work in a public forum. Recommended preparation: Junior or Senior political science major or senior political science minor and departmental prospectus form. Counts as SAGES Senior Capstone.

POSC 495
Independent Study
Times as Arranged

(Requires consent and a permit from instructor)  Independent study on particular topics that are not covered by individual graduate courses or are not available in a timely manner for the student’s needs.  In order to receive a permit, the student must complete a prospectus form, approved and signed by the faculty project supervisor and the student.  The prospectus must outline the material to be covered and the basis for grading of the course, and a copy of the form will be filed with the Department Office.  POSC 495 is designed especially for reading courses but can be used for other purposes as well.  Note that this course will result in a letter grade.  Graduate students wanting to take independent study on a pass/fail basis should speak with their project supervisors about registering for POSC 601, “Individual Investigation.”

POSC 601
Individual Investigation
Times as Arranged

(Requires consent and a permit from instructor)  POSC 601 permits a graduate student to do an in-depth study of a topic of particular interest for which no regular course is available.  It should be particularly helpful in preparing for field exams.  Students must develop their course of study with a supervising professor, who will set requirements for written work.

Credit (1-6 hours) and times as arranged.  Note that this course may be taken only on a pass/fail basis.  Graduate students who wish to do a project for a letter grade should speak with their supervising professors about registering for POSC 495, “Independent Study.”

IMPORTANT:  In order to obtain a permit, the student must complete a POSC 601 project prospectus form, signed by the faculty project advisor and the student, which will form the basis of a “contract” of expectations for the project.  The prospectus form, available in the Department Office (Mather House 111), will outline the goals of the project and the research methodology to be used and thus will be part of the basis for grading.  A copy of this completed and signed form will be filed with the Department Office.

POSC 651
M.A. Thesis Research
Times as Arranged

Independent study of a research question and completion of a major paper under advisor supervision. The School of Graduate Study requires 6 credit hours be completed.  The thesis will be reviewed by the advisor and a departmental committee.

POSC 701
Dissertation Ph.D.
Times as Arranged

(Requires consent and a permit from instructor)  Credit (1-9 hours) and times as arranged.  However, Graduate School regulations specify that a student must register for a minimum of 3 hours of 701 per semester until 18 hours of 701 credit have been completed.  After having earned 18 hours of 701, a candidate may be permitted to register for less than 3 hours per semester, but only with the prior approval of his/her dissertation advisor and only for a maximum of four semesters.  Thereafter, the student must resume registering for a minimum of 3 hours of 701 credit per semester until the dissertation is completed and defended.  See the Political Science Graduate Brochure or your POSC dissertation advisor for complete details on eligibility to register for 701.

Integrated Graduate Studies (IGS)
Special Program

It is possible for a qualified student to obtain an M.A. in Political Science simultaneously with, or shortly after, completion of the baccalaureate program.  If by the end of the senior year the student has completed successfully 90 undergraduate hours, 30 graduate hours (for a total of 120 hours), and the Political Science M.A. Examination, that student can receive both the Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees within the four undergraduate years.

Admission to the Political Science IGS program is competitive, and only a limited number of students are accepted in any academic year.  Admission is determined by fulfillment of specific requirements (see below), and by the Department’s estimate of the student’s potential for advanced study and independent work.

Phase I of IGS alerts the Department and the School of Graduate Studies to your interest in the program and allows the monitoring of your junior year for fulfillment of the undergraduate prerequisites to graduate study.  Application to Phase I must occur no later than second week of classes at the beginning of the junior year, but preferably earlier.  To qualify for Phase I, the student must have completed 54 hours of undergraduate work and must have minimum grade point averages of 3.7 in Political Science courses and 3.3 overall.

During Phase I, the student must complete 90 undergraduate hours (ordinarily by the end of the junior year) and must have satisfied all general requirements for the B.A., including at least 21 hours in the Political Science major, the Arts and Sciences Core Curriculum, and one minor program.  Included in the 21 Political Science hours must be one course each in American, Comparative, and International politics taken at CWRU.  Also, the student must maintain minimum GPAs of 3.5 in Political Science courses and 3.3 overall to qualify for admission to Phase II.

Before enrolling for any graduate-level course work, the student must be formally admitted to the School of Graduate Studies (Phase II of IGS).  Therefore, it is mandatory that application to Phase II occur during the second semester of the junior year, specifically no later than April 1 or November 1 (for graduate status to begin the following semester).  If admitted to the M.A. program, the student will take, or begin to take, 30 hours of graduate-level Political Science courses during the senior year, adhering to all departmental regulations governing the Master’s degree program; and if completed successfully with maintenance of academic standing as pertains to both the B.A. and M.A. programs, these hours will count simultaneously toward both degrees in Political Science.  The B.A. will be awarded upon completion of all requirements for that degree, including total hours; the M.A. will be awarded upon successful completion of the 30 hours of graduate-level Political Science courses and the M.A. Examination or Thesis.

For additional information on application procedures and program requirements, make an appointment to see Professor Pete Moore  (Mather House 219, 368-5265, e-mail: