Upper-Level Courses That Cross-Subfields


Topics Courses that Cross Subfields

This course will enable regular or visiting faculty members to examine topics not treated in the established curriculum. Subjects may therefore vary each time the course is offered. Dist. varies.

GOVT 20 - Topics Courses That Cross-Subfields

Business & Politics in Resource-Rich States

This course focuses on the political economy of resource-rich countries. Drawing on cases from the Middle East, Latin America and the post-communist region, we will critically examine the intersection between states and markets, and the interlinked challenges of political and economic development. The class will introduce students to the major theoretical frameworks used by political scientists, economists, and sociologists to understand the role of the so-called "rentier state" in the economy, and how the presence of natural resource wealth (e.g. oil, gas) affects the relationship between the public and the private sectors. We will begin by investigating how states endowed with natural resources impact economic growth and business development. What is the "resource curse" and how does it affect both governments and business? Does resource abundance, perhaps counter-intuitively, pose an obstacle to both economic and political transformations? We will then address how socio-political factors influence economic outcomes, and how economic factors, in turn, shape political outcomes.  Does oil prop up illiberal regimes? Do economic crises spur political reforms? Through readings and discussion we will delve into such seminal questions, and consider a range of issues relevant to understanding contemporary economic and political events in key regions of the global economy.

GOVT 20.01

Women and Politics (Identical to WGST 31.04)

This is a general course about gender and politics in which we will examine the roles of women and men as voters, activists, and politicians.  We will begin by examining a wide range of relevant issues, including: how gender affects political participation and partisan preferences, how boys and girls are socialized differently into politics, how public opinion regarding domestic and foreign policy sometimes differs for women and men, and how a different gender balance among office holders might be expected to affect representation, policy, and governance.  The course will then critically examine various barriers that women may face in the pursuit of elected office in the U.S., and we will also expand our view beyond politics, by analyzing women in non-political leadership positions in order to draw useful comparisons.  Finally, the course will examine the role of gender in an international context, comparing gender dynamics in the U.S. with those of other countries in order to better understand the future of women in politics in the U.S. and in the world at large. This course is appropriate for all students, from all majors (there are no prerequisites).  Dist. SOC, WCult CI.

GOVT 20.02

Foundations of Political Economy

We use the term government and "commonwealth" interchangeably because we expect government to advance the actions of free people creating wealth—not just rich and propertied people, but all who benefit from economic development. As Adam Smith put it, it is the responsibility of the "sovereign" to "facilitate commerce-in-general."  This course will trace the career of this assumption back to its originators. It will begin with the evolution of market relations from the peculiar history of seventeenth-century Britain. It will then look at the succession of thinkers who, having embraced the novel scientific methods of the day, sought to understand economic affairs as themselves governed by scientific laws; and who then sought to ground the legitimacy of commonwealths in laws, regulations and interventions that engendered wealth. One goal of the course is to familiarize students with foundational thinkers who gave us the discipline of economics: Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Smith, Ricardo, Marx, Mill, and Spencer. But the final goal is to consider how foundational ideas have shaped political economic debates in America for the past hundred years: Keynes, Von Hayek, and Schumpeter. Dist: SOC.

GOVT 20.03 - Topics Courses That Cross-Subfields

Morality and Political Economy (formerly Virtue and Political Economy)

How do people attach moral significance to their economic activity? How durable or malleable are religious and philosophical traditions in shaping moral ideals surrounding economic phenomena? And what is the role of government in promoting a “moral” economy? By surveying the thought of Greeks and Romans, Christians, Muslims and Jews, ancients and moderns, students will experience a wide-ranging introduction to the problem of how to define economic virtue in an age of globalization.

GOVT 20.04 - Topics Courses That Cross-Subfields

Federalism and Decentralization

We consider arguments for and against federalism and the territorial decentralization of power, taking into account economic, security, and sociocultural aspects. Some scholars argue that federalism can provide a ‘credible commitment’ to market incentives, boosting economic growth. Others claim that decentralization can prevent or settle ethnic and secessionist conflicts. Still others provide a skeptical case against these alleged benefits. We will pay careful attention to the different forms and dimensions of decentralization around the world.  Dist. INT or SOC; World Cult. W.

GOVT 20.05 - Topics Courses That Cross-Subfields

Revolution, Reform and Reaction: The Cold War in Latin America (Identical to LACS 50.10)

This course examines and analyzes the key variables that determined the course of Latin America's political, economic, and social evolution during the period of the Cold War (1946-1990).   It focuses on the relationship of Latin America to the global Cold War, the manifestation of U.S. and Soviet foreign policy in the region, and the responses of key actors in Latin America to the geo-strategic, ideological and political rivalry between the two superpowers. 


Welfare State Politics

After 1945, "political settlements" in the industrial democracies involved the construction of welfare states. Governments used policy instruments to promote full employment and to guarantee to all citizens a certain standard of housing, health care, education, and financial security. Since the 1970s, the democratic welfare state in its varied forms has come under sustained challenge- from diverse quarters. Why? What arguments have been used against it? What alternatives have been proposed? Does the challenge herald a new type of state and a new type of politics--perhaps even a new understanding of "democracy"? To explore these questions, we will look both at theoretical texts justifying or criticizing the welfare state and at empirical cases, comparing politics and policy in democratic welfare states such as the United States, Britain, France, and Germany. Prerequisite: Government 3 or 4. Dist: SOC or INT.


Righting Wrongs

This course examines the intellectual and political issues that arise as societies try to cope with the legacies of past injustice (including slavery, genocide, and colonialism). Dist: SOC or INT. Class of 2008 and later: WCult: CI.


Politics of Asian Development

This course provides an introduction to the newly industrializing countries (NICs) of East Asia: Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore. The course examines two major questions: First, why did these countries grow so rapidly during certain stages of their economic development? Second, what were the political foundations that provided the basis for their respective development paths? Topics to be covered include alternative explanations for the economic development experience of these countries, the politics of economic policy-making, the role of specific policies in the process of industrialization, historical influences on economic growth, and the impact that growth has had on the process of democratization. Prerequisite: Government 4 or by permission of the instructor. Dist: SOC or INT; WCult: NW.

GOVT 20.07 - Topics Courses That Cross-Subfields

Religion and World Politics (Identical to REL 19.17)

This course examines the relationship between religious and political change, focusing on Africa, the Middle East, South Asia, and Ireland.  Within Africa, we will examine the development of a theology of racial separation, known as apartheid, and its opponents; as well as religious tensions in Nigeria, most notably the challenge of Boko Haram to the cohesion of the Nigerian state.  Topics will include theories concerning the clash of civilizations, the rise of fundamentalist political movements, liberation theologies, religion and violence, the relationship of  religions to the State, and the religious dimensions of political movements.  We will also examine the way in which religious and political perspectives on such issues as gender, sexuality, race, and war reinforce or clash with one another in the public arena of national and/or regional debates.


Development in Emerging Economies

Countries in developing regions of the world face a number of unique challenges within a globalized economy as their financial and trade links become ever closely intertwined with those of powerful, developed countries that dominate international economic institutions.  Drawing on a wide range of case studies, this course investigates some of these new developments in the world economy.  What strategies can developing countries adapt in order to develop most efficiently in a global market-oriented economy?  How can a country maximize its chances for economic success, and what precisely is the role of international financial and trade institutions in their development?  Readings in this course range from theoretical academic writings on development strategies to policy pieces written by local practitioners and by those working for international financial and trade institutions.  Dist: SOC or INT; WCult: NW. 


Problems of Political Development: India, South Africa and China

Is democratic government always better than the alternatives? In the contemporary world, what is the relationship between economic development, democratic politics, and political order? What kinds of justice does democracy promote? This course will address these questions by examining institutional arrangements, elite politics, and popular movements in India, South Africa, and China. Prerequisite: Government 4 or the permission of the instructor. Dist: SOC or INT; WCult: NW.


Elections and Reform

This course examines the problem of how politicians and policies are selected by citizens.  Politicians fight tenaciously to shape the rules under which they compete because how elections are conducted has enormous impact on what sorts of choices voters are offered, what sorts of coalitions politicians form, and whose interests get represented.  This course investigates what rules matter, and why.  It draws from a broad array of cases to illustrate the most important issues at stake in current electoral reforms around the world, and here in the United States.  Dist: SOC.


Democracy and Democratic Theory

The democratic movement has changed the politics of countries throughout Eastern Europe, Africa, Asia and Latin America during the last two decades. But whether each of the countries that has adopted democratic forms will actually practice democracy is another question. To understand what is involved, we will discuss what constitutes democracy, which factors and processes facilitate and which inhibit its adoption and its institutionalization. We will consider the contemporary challenges to democracy in terms of both the great issues posed by democratic theorists and philosophers and the authoritarian, military, religious, ethnic, and economic problems faced by countries undergoing democratization. Prerequisite: Government 4, Government 6, or any 20s or 40s series course, or by permission of instructor. Dist: SOC or INT.