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University Bulletin
Undergraduate Degree Programs

These course descriptions are not being updated as of August 1, 2016. Current course descriptions are maintained in LionPATH.

Political Science (PL SC)

PL SC 083S (GS) First-Year Seminar in Political Science (3) Exploration of current topics of interest in political science, international relations, and/or political theory.

PL SC 083S First-Year Seminar in Political Science (3)

(BA) This course meets the Bachelor of Arts degree requirements.

Every first-year seminar in Political Science focuses on several of the major questions of the field. Many of these questions concern the constitutional arrangements of governments:

What is it that we want governments to do, and what is the ideal government arrangement? Why does every nation (and every state and city) have somewhat different constitutional provisions for legislation, judicial, military and executive functions of government? What can we learn from careful comparisons of different types of government? What is unique to the American system and what are the consequences of this uniqueness?

Other questions concern power: To what extent do wealthy individuals and wealthy organizations have disproportionate power in society? Is this appropriate or not? What is the impact of governmental attempts to limit the influence of the wealthy?

We are also very much interested in the international system: What types of foreign policies and diplomatic strategies reduce the likelihood of war? What is the role of international organizations (such as the UN or World Bank) and multinational corporations in shaping conflicts between nations?

Finally, we are interested in ordinary citizens: Do citizens know enough to formulate rational opinions on public issues? Why are many citizens apathetic? What motivates citizens to support one candidate over another or to favor particular policies and philosophies?

Each first-year seminar will select a special topic of interest and use that topic to explore a subset of these questions in order to provide a challenging introduction to political science. In the course of doing so, each first-year seminar in political science will also introduce students to specialized materials (such as government documents), library resources, and appropriate electronic media. In addition, each seminar will emphasize the standards of evidence, logic, and critical thinking required to develop effective and persuasive reports and oral presentations. Students will write essay exams and one or more written reports on the relevant topic of their own choices. Class participation is required. The course fulfills both a first-year seminar and a general education or Bachelor of Arts social/behavioral science requirement. The course will be offered three times per year with a maximum of 20 seats per offering.

In addition to the academic topic and issues of this course, students can expect to gain a general introduction to the University as an academic community and have the opportunity to explore their responsibilities as members of that community. Students will develop an understanding of the learning tools and resources available to them, including the opportunity to develop relationships with faculty and other students who share their academic interests.

General Education: GS
Diversity: None
Bachelor of Arts: Social and Behavioral Science
Effective: Summer 1999

Note : Class size, frequency of offering, and evaluation methods will vary by location and instructor. For these details check the specific course syllabus.


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Course descriptions are stored in LionPATH, the University-wide student information system. Please visit the LionPATH Course Catalog to access current course descriptions. At that point, you will be leaving the University Bulletin website.

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