Political Science Courses

PO 101 Introduction to Political Philosophy: 3 semester hours
An examination of main ideas, methods, and perspectives of some of the major Western political theorists from Plato to the modern period. Drawing upon study of the original texts, the course aims to convey an understanding of political philosophy as a tradition of inquiry into fundamental questions of human nature, the origins of ethical codes, the role and limitations of government, and social justice. The course also encourages assessment of the relevance of the theories studied for understanding and evaluating politics today.

PO 102 Governments and Politics Around the World: 3 semester hours
The course aims to illustrate the diversity of political life, institutional alternatives, and differences in political processes and policy outcomes in the context of foreign countries with different cultures and at different stages of development. The course introduces basic methods and concepts of comparative study and examines such political phenomena as political parties, elections, executive and legislative institutions, as well as economic, social, and welfare policies. 

PO 103 Introduction to International Relations: 3 semester hours
An introduction to the basic principles underlying the interaction between nation states, such as war, trade, alliances, balance of power, and international law. Students will become familiar with major theories of international politics and will evaluate them in the context of major international events, such as the collapse of the Soviet Union, the global financial crisis, terrorism, environmental degradation, and the rise of international structures such as the U.N. or the European Union. 

PO 111 Introduction to American Politics: 3 semester hours
A broad survey of American politics, including political behavior of the American electorate, the theory and practice of constitutional government, the structure and functioning of American political institutions, and contemporary issues.

PO 112 Global Interdependence and Human Survival: 3 semester hours
An introductory examination of some problems that confront all people today and will require global attention and cooperation for their amelioration. Some problem areas considered include war, peace and security, ecology and resources, and poverty and development. The course also highlights the interconnectedness of the emerging global problems, considers various proposals, which have been made for addressing them, and treats the complications arising from differences of culture and values.

PO 201 The Presidency: 3 semester hours
An examination of the office, powers, and roles of the American presidency, the relationships of the presidency with other elements of the American political system and issues and problems raised by the presidency's performance today. Recommended: PO 111

PO 202 Congress: 3 semester hours
An examination of the powers, activities, and functions of the American Congress, the relationships of Congress with constituents and other elements of the American political system and issues and problems raised by Congress' performance today. The course highlights the tension that exists between Congress as a representative assembly and as a national policymaking institution. Recommended: PO 111

PO 203 The Supreme Court and the American Judiciary: 3 semester hours
An introductory course to the structure and characteristics of the U.S. legal system at both state and federal level, with specific consideration given to the interaction between law and politics. The course will cover topics such as the evolution of the judiciary branch and its interaction with other branches of the government, the institutional structure of the U.S. Supreme Court, models of judicial decision-making, the role of judges, lawyers, and litigants in the judicial process. Recommended: PO 111

PO 204 Political Parties, Voters, and Elections: 3 semester hours
The core elements to any democratic political life are political parties and elections; this course examines both. Topics to be discussed include the causes and evolution of the U.S. two-party system, voting for President and Congress, how voters decide, voter turnout, and the electoral foundations of divided government. Recommended: PO 111

PO 205 History of American Political Thought: 3 semester hours
An examination of writings by selected political theorists throughout American history. Two goals of the course are identification of the distinctive features, themes and preoccupations of American political theory and assessment of the relevance of the theories studied for understanding and evaluating American politics today. Recommended: PO 111 & PO 101

PO 206 State and Local Government: 3 semester hours
The course deals with the theories, principles, and practices of the state and local governments in the United States, with an emphasis on Iowa. Topics include scope and function of the state and local government, federalism, participation, public administration, and budgetary matters. Recommended: PO 111 

PO 209 Interest Groups: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly; 3 semester hours
The course is designed to provide a survey of the many roles of interest groups in American politics. It begins with a discussion of the reasons for and obstacle to the formation of interest organizations. The majority of the course is then dedicated to the analysis of the ways in which organized interests pervade American politics, including elections, legislative action, public policy implementation, judicial decisions, and public opinion. The course concludes with a discussion of the benefits and detriments to democracy of our current interest group system and proposals for reform. Recommended: PO 111 

PO 265 Politics and Film: the Art of Persuasion; 3 semester hours
This is not a popcorn and movie class; it is a course to introduce students to a range of political films and develop their skills in understanding and analyzing their political significance and influence. Film has broad and persuasive appeal to a significant cross-section of the public. Whether through intentional documentary, dramatic renderings of historical events or timeless issues, fictional drama dealing with big issues, or through satire, the cinema has been a powerful medium in influencing public views on the events, people, and places that make our complex political world. The purpose of this class is to introduce the student to the portrayal of the political life through film, its effects on the thinking and attitudes of the public, and ultimately its role in the shaping public policy and decision-making. 

PO 301 Constitutional Law: Structure of Government; 3 semester hours
Survey of the principles, doctrines, and controversies regarding the basic structure and division of powers in American government as defined through the text of the Constitution and its interpretation by the Supreme Court. Specifically, we inquire about the exercise of judicial review, the scope of congressional powers, the nature of executive prerogatives, as well as the tug of war that characterizes the balance of power among the three branches of the government. The Constitution is primarily a legal document, but the historical and political context of constitutional interpretation is inseparable from the legal analysis, so the course will explore each of these areas in detail. Prerequisite: sophomore standing or consent of the instructor; Recommended: PO 111 or PO 203

PO 302 Constitutional Law: Civil Rights & Liberties; 3 semester hours
The course introduces students to the constitutional principles that govern the relationship between individuals and the state. It explores the concept of national citizenship and examines the limits on governmental action imposed by Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the 14th Amendment, as well as the 1st Amendment. The student will be expected to learn about freedom of speech and press, freedom of assembly, the free exercise of religion, privacy, discrimination, and capital punishment. The primary focus of the course is to discuss our rights, therefore, emphasis is on the Constitution and the U.S. Supreme Court cases, which delineate the legal doctrines relevant to defining the Constitution's guarantees of liberty. Prerequisite: sophomore standing or consent of the instructor; Recommended: PO 111 or PO 203

PO 307 Political Science Research Methods; 3 semester hours
Students will learn the basic quantitative and qualitative research methods used in political science research. The course will begin with an introduction to the fundamental principles of scientific research as they are applied to the study of political processes and outcomes. Specific skills emphasized in the course are research design, and hypothesis testing, measurement and data collection. Students will learn to use a statistical analysis software (SPSS) to create and manipulate datasets, and conduct statistical tests and report their results. Students will also learn to read and understand peer-reviewed research published in academic journals in the social sciences. Prerequisite: PO 111 AND PO 102 or PO 103, or consent of the instructor.

PO 311 American Foreign Policy: 3 semester hours
This course examines various internal or external factors that influence the formation and execution of U.S. foreign policy, such as Congress, the executive branch, international organizations, the media and public opinion. Particular emphasis will be placed on the Cold War, the post-Soviet era and the new challenges to the U.S. foreign policy following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 and beyond. Prerequisite: PO 111 or 103.

PO 312 Politics of the Global Economy: 3 semester hours
The course analyzes the interaction between politics and economics at the international level. this course will cover the fundamentals of the global political economy, including the politics of international trade investment, financial systems, and international monetary institutions. Students will be introduced to the fundamental theories of political economy, which will then be used to analyze current issues such as globalization, development, the North/South divide, climate change, terrorism, and international arms trade. Prerequisite: PO 103, PO 112, an introductory course in economics, or an introductory course in economics.

PO 313 International Law and Organizations: 3 semester hours
Analysis of the history, role, and future of international law and organizations in the social, economic, and political development of the world community. Prerequisite: PO 103, PO 112 or permission of instructor.

PO 314 Comparative Political Ideologies: 3 semester hours
A comparative study of conservative, liberal, socialist, religious, fascist, and other ideologies prominent in contemporary national and world politics. Prerequisite: sophomore standing. Prerequisite: sophomore standing; Recommended: PO 101.

PO 326 Politics and Public Policy: 3 semester hours
An analysis of the different policy-making processes incorporated in the American political system and the different kinds of political actors, patterns of conflict, and outcomes found in each. The course also treats policy-making, current policies, and policy debate found in several major areas of public policy, such as business regulation, civil rights, and economic, defense, welfare, and health policies. Prerequisite: PO 111. 

PO 342 Politics and Public Administration: 3 semester hours
An analysis of the different policy-making processes incorporated in the American political system and the different kinds of political actors, patterns of conflict, and outcomes found in each. Topics include policy analysis, organizational theory, budgeting, intergovernmental administration, human resources, the ethics of public service and the impact of information age. Prerequisite: PO 111 or consent of instructor.

PO 353 American Politics and Economic Policy: 3 semester hours
The course examines the relationship between the government and the economy in the United States with a focus on moments of crisis and choice. After examining competing theoretical perspectives and the key institutions of political economy, the course will survey the way in which American political economy evolved after the Great Depression to the present, emphasizing the development of the welfare state, cycles of regulation and deregulation, labor standards, and emerging global economic challenges such as China and India. Prerequisite: PO 111 or consent of instructor.

PO 355 Advanced Studies in Law and Politics; 3 semester hours
Seminar-style course designed to employ various perspectives and methodologies to the study of legal issues, shedding light on both the understanding of law as well as debates central to other disciplines. The course is designed to offer a great deal of flexibility to adapt its content to current and contentious issues relevant to law, society and politics. The course topics change from semester to semester and the course may be repeated with change of content. The course is open to all majors. Prerequisite: sophomore standing and PO 111, PO 102, PO 103, or PO 203, or consent of the instructor. 

PO 368 Advanced International and Area Studies; 3 semester hours
Seminar-style course designed to offer an interdisciplinary, internationally focused study of timely and relevant issues not generally covered in existing courses. Major topics in comparative and international politics will be analyzed in the context of selected nations within distinct geographical areas of the world in order to gain understanding of the institutions and dynamics at play in the area. Areas to be studied include: Western and Eastern Europe, South America, Asia, and the Middle East. The course topics may change from semester to semester and the course may be repeated with the change of topic. Prerequisite: sophomore standing and PO 111, PO 102, PO 103, or PO 112, or consent of the instructor. 

PO 406 Major Political Problems (subtitle): 3 semester hours
An examination of a general problem or issue in politics today. Course content and subtitle will vary. The course may be repeated with consent of the instructor.

PO 425 Public Service Internship: 3-5 semester hours
A supervised introduction to public service through placement in a public agency. It develops an understanding of agency functions and of employees in the public sector. Prerequisite: It is open to non-majors upon completion of PO 111.

PO 441 Seminar in Political Research: 3 semester hours
A seminar having variable content and emphasizing oral and written presentation of independent study and research done by participants. Required for political science majors. Prerequisite: sophomore standing and PO 307

PO 445 Independent Study: credit arranged
Directed readings and research in political science. Topics to the determined by the student and instructor.