Pol 203: Introduction to Political Ideas
Description: This class explores the relationship between democracy and domination. Not only does it explore different theoretical ways of understanding domination, it also examines the relationship between violence and politics. Beginning with Plato’s Trial of Socrates, the course focuses on at least three different themes: 1) different ways of understanding democratic institutions, 2) understandings of the justifiable use of violence and 3) the education of democratic citizens. Moreover, the course is designed to teach students how to use language in a precise way and to make political arguments in a clear and persuasive manner.
sample syllabus for POL203
Pol 323 Modern Political Thought: Truth and Politics
Description: This course examines the relationship between truth and politics—specifically, whether the truth is necessary for political advances or whether political progress requires lying. In this way, students are going to grapple with the question: How should democratic citizens view the lies of their politicians? The course is divided into three sections. The first part of the course is historical and philosophical. Starting with Immanuel Kant, the course traces how different modern understandings of the truth are reactions to and trapped by Enlightenment notions of truth and progress. The second part of the course turns to contemporary analysis of particular instances of lying in politics. We will explore various empirical studies on lying as well as ethical approaches to understanding the impact on lying on democratic politics. In the final section of the course, students are required to present their research projects.
sample syllabus for POL 323
Pol 326 American Political Thought: Tracing the American Dream
Description: Unlike many political philosophy courses, which focus on the genius of individual thinkers, this course is organized around a theme that recurs throughout American history and shapes American identity—namely, the American Dream. We examine both the continuous nature of the American Dream as well as how our understanding of the American Dream changes and is changed by people and events. We will also focus on the virtues and defects of organizing a society in accord with such an ideology, propose alternatives, and discuss the American Dream has been perceived by Americans of various persuasions at different periods of history. By contrasting different visions of the Dream, this course highlights various tensions in American political ideas. This course is designed to help students think through how Americans have defined success, help view the United States through different perspectives, and to develop clear and concise writing skills.
sample syllabus for POL326