Course descriptions by subfield can be found below the weekly schedule, or click the following links directly:
General and Crossfield
PSC = Political Science SOC = Sociology HIS = History PHIL = Philosophy
RD = Research Design M = Methods Course WS = Women Studies AS = American Studies
[Click here for past semesters]
|11:45-1:45||UN & Changing World Politics |
Thomas Weiss (IR)
(Class # 64442)
|2:00-4:00||Writing Politics |
Peter Beinart (WP)
(Class # 64421)
Bruce Cronin (IR)
(Class # 67710)
|Introduction to Public Policy |
John Krinsky (PP)
(Class # 64456)
Between Theory and Practice
Carol Gould (PT)
(Class # 67721)
(Crosslist with PHIL 80300)
|Introduction to Research Design|
Keena Lipsitz (G/RD)
(Class # 64434)
Perspectives on Modernity
Uday Mehta (PT)
(Class # 64454)
|Politics of Identity
(Class # 64441)
Race, Nation & Narrative
George Shulman (PT/RD)
(Class # 67719)
|4:15-6:15||Politics of Neoliberialism |
Sanford Schram (AP)
(Class # 67725)
Basic Theories and Concepts in IR
Peter Romaniuk (IR)
(Class # 64443)
|Basic Theories and Concepts of Comparative Politics|
Susan Woodward (CP)
(Class # 64439)
Public and Social Policy Development, Analysis, and Evaluation
Michael Jacobson (PP)
(Class # 68486)
(Crosslist with SOC 84700)
|Ethnography of Public Policy |
John Mollenkopf (PP/RD)
(Class # 64457)
(Cross list with SOC 82800)
The Causes of War
Zachary Shirkey (IR)
(Class # 67727)
|6:30-8:30||American Politics: Theories & Core Concepts |
Brian Arbour (AP)
(Class # 64436)
Authoritarian National Populism and The Crisis of Democracy
Richard Wolin (PT)
(Class # 64464)
Cross list with HIST 72400
(Class # 67704)
Future of Work
Anne Kirschner (G)
(Class # 64460)
Comparative Urban Politics and Policy
Alan DiGaetano (PP)
(Class # 64458)
|Crime and Violence in Comparative Politics
Mark Ungar (CP)
(Class # 64440)
Benedetto Fontana (PT)
(Class # 67706)
Sanford Schram – Politics of Neoliberalism (AP)
PSC 82609 – 4 credits
An examination of neoliberalism as today’s default logic for choice making across all spheres of society, on the collective as well as individual level. Historical background provided on the genealogy of neoliberalism as a theoretical perspective and ideological orientation. Focus is on neoliberalism’s influence in the current period in structuring relationships between politics and economics, specifically state-market relations and most especially public policymaking. The marketization of the state is examined indepth. Prognosis for change and strategies for responses for conducting politics and making public policy in an age of neoliberalism. Seminar format with student led-discussion and independent term paper projects.
Brian Arbour – American Politics: Theories & Core Concepts (AP)
PSC 72000 – 3 credits
This seminar surveys the major scholarly debates in the study of American politics today. It draws on prominent theoretical perspectives for understanding empirical issues regarding: (1) the history of American political development; (2) the constitutional and institutional structure of American government in its contemporary form; (3) the structure of power and the behavior of political elites; and (4) ordinary people’s political behavior as manifested in studies of public opinion and political participation broadly construed. As a seminar, the course emphasizes dialogue about assigned readings. Students are to be active participants in the conversation. The course is designed to help students prepare for the doctoral exam in American politics and to acquire the background to teach American politics at the undergraduate level. The course will regularly address issues in contemporary American politics and how the literature on American politics addresses these issues.
Susan Woodward – Basic Theories and Concepts of Comparative Politics (CP)
PSC 77901 – 3 credits
Tuesday, 4:15pm – 6:15pm
This seminar is a graduate-level introduction to the literature in comparative politics. It can serve as a survey or review for advanced students as well. Because the key theories and concepts are also key political science concepts and theories, it is not exclusively intended for those majoring or minoring in comparative politics; all are welcome. It is not a course in methods or methodologies of research. The focus is on substantive topics within comparative politics: the role of concepts and theoretical approaches, the state, political regimes (e.g., democracy, authoritarian government) – origins, stability, and transition, political institutions, revolution and civil war, collective action, identity politics, institutions of political participation, the state and economic development, and the global context of domestic politics and policy.
Students in this seminar will vary in their goals depending on the extent of their prior knowledge of the subject matter, their particular substantive interests, and their field specialization within the discipline. Overall, the course should prepare them (1) to think, articulate orally, and write theoretically: to identify a theory in a reading, define its key concepts, articulate its causal mechanisms, and evaluate its empirical demonstration; (2) to know the evolution of questions, concepts, and theories within the discipline of comparative politics so as to understand those theories better and to analyze their limitations and biases; (3) to pass the first exam in comparative politics comfortably; and (4) to feel solidly grounded in the questions and literature of comparative politics so as to identify areas of further interest and specialization and to begin to prepare a dissertation proposal.
These goals are basic, foundational; many other benefits for critical thinking and analysis will also result, but the foundation comes first. Requirements include reading the assigned material prior to each class meeting, participation in class discussion, three brief written essays summarizing and analyzing the readings on one substantive topic in the syllabus, and a final examination.
Julie George – Politics of Identity (CP/RD)
PSC 87800 – 4 credits
Thursday 2:00pm – 4:00pm
Identity helps shape how people understand their interests, how they interpret the world around them, and how they interact with power. Likewise, governments and societies interact with identity groups variously, often constructing hierarchies that either open or limit outcomes and opportunities. This class investigates the politics of identity and identity salience. It highlights the main theoretical frameworks that have come to dominate the scholarly discourse, focusing particularly on the politics of ethnicity, nationalism, race, and religion.
The course will take a geographically comparative approach, closely examining identity politics in Eurasia, Africa, South Asia, and Latin America. Students will also have an opportunity to read on areas of their own geographical or identity interest. The course will have a paper component and focus on research design components that underpin scholarly inquiry. In engaging the readings, we will pay attention to the arguments and findings therein, but also in the underlying structures of the study, the evidence considered, and the effectiveness of the choices made by the author. We will likewise engage with literature of varied methodologies. Students will write a research paper during the course, as well as short reading analyses. Students will read an equivalent of a book a week and will lead the discussions.
Mark Ungar – Crime and Violence in Comparative Politics (CP)
PSC 77902 – 3 credits
Thursday, 6:30pm – 8:30pm
This course examines the impact of crime and violence on politics and democracy around the world. From a comparative perspective, we will examine the political impacts and changing roles of violent crime, organized crime networks, state security forces, policing, citizen rights, and criminal justice. Analytical focus will be on the interaction between criminality and regime: in particular, how crime shapes democratic and non-democratic regimes in the contemporary world
Bruce Cronin –International Law (IR)
PSC 76210 – 3 credits (CRN#)
Monday, 2:00pm – 4:00pm
This course will focus on the role of public international law in regulating the relations among sovereign states from both a theoretical and practical perspective. We will begin by examining various approaches toward the concept of “rules” in world politics and discuss the development and changes in international law over the past several hundred years. We will then explore the nature and sources of international law, its relationship to domestic law, the rights and duties of states, sovereignty, territoriality, international treaties, jurisdiction, international adjudication, the role of international institutions, the use of force and human rights.
Peter Romaniuk – Basic Theories and Concepts in International Relations (IR)
PSC 76000 – 3 credits
Monday, 4:15pm – 6:15pm
The purpose of this course is to introduce students to the different theories and concepts that scholars use to understand and explain world politics. The course examines the major theories in the field of International Relations (IR) and some of the central theoretical debates. Throughout the course, the relevance of specific theories and theory in general for how we make sense of world politics will be critically assessed. The focus of this course will be theoretical rather than empirical. Thus, each class will be devoted to an in-depth discussion of a different theoretical perspective in IR, focusing on its key concepts, foundational assumptions, and central arguments.
Thomas Weiss – UN & Changing World Politics (IR)
PSC 76203– 3 credits (CRN#)
Tuesday, 11:45am – 1:45pm
The object of this course is to situate the United Nations (UN) within the context of international relations theory and contemporary world politics. It is an introduction to the subject, which figures prominently in first exams, second exams, and other programs of study at The Graduate Center. It is geared to students who have not taken their first exams and are without significant professional or analytical exposure to the UN system.
The seminar will focus on a number of concrete cases referencing the history, administration, and especially the politics and some international legal dimensions of the UN system in its three main areas of activity: international peace and security; human rights and humanitarian action; and sustainable development. Given its impact in budgetary and political terms, the “high politics” of security receive the most emphasis. Consideration is also given to other actors (non-governmental and regional organizations) that interact with the UN in the processes of “global governance”—another topic that will appear with some regularity. Because of the importance of the United States to multilateralism, American foreign policy toward the world organization figures prominently in discussions, including the roller-coaster rides during the Clinton, Bush, Obama, and now Trump administrations. Finally, we pay attention to the role of ideas within international institutions (that is, constructivism), an important orientation in recent international relations scholarship as well as a particular interest of mine after the United Nations Intellectual History Project.
Every student enrolled or auditing is expected to lead two discussions (perhaps three, depending on enrollment) of the required readings (which requires going beyond them to consult the “suggested” readings); these presentations will constitute about one-third of the final grade. About two-thirds will be constituted by two simulated “First” Exams taken under exam-like conditions on 18 October and 6 December.
Zachary Shirkey – Causes of War (IR)
PSC 86404– 4 credits
Wednesday, 4:15pm – 6:15pm
The course will familiarize students with many of the theories about the causes of war and war duration prevalent in the field of political science, especially rationalist and psychological causes. One theme that will run throughout the course is that causes of war and peace are intrinsically linked. Students should be advised that this is an upper-level course and that a familiarity with the basic concepts in international relations is assumed. Students should also note this is not a course on foreign policy or current events, but instead will focus on the theoretical concepts which underlie the behavior of states and rebel groups regarding war and peace. Both interstate and civil wars will be examined.
Richard Wolin – Authoritarian National Populism and The Crisis of Democracy (PT)
PSC 71902 – 3 credits
Monday, 6:30pm – 8:30pm
Cross list with HIST 72400
With communism’s unexpected demise in 1989, optimistic forecasts concerning the worldwide triumph of democracy proliferated. During the 1980s and 1990s, authoritarian regimes unraveled not only in Europe, but also in Asia, Latin America, and South Africa, spurring hopes that a long overdue “Third Wave” of democratization was underway.
Recently, it has become painfully evident just how premature and naïve these prognoses were. Over the last ten years, instead of the triumph of liberal democracy, we have witnessed the global ascendancy of authoritarian national populism.
In part, these developments signify a defensive response to the depredations of globalization and neoliberalism. But they also represent a rejoinder to problems that, historically, have been endemic to modern democracy – problems such as: (1) how to determine who counts as part of the demos (women? those without property? religious and ethnic minorities?); and (2) which institutional mechanisms ensure that that the “will of the people” is adequately reflected by the representatives who purportedly govern in its name.
Today, the disturbing rise of political authoritarianism and ethnic nationalism reflects diminished confidence in the capacity of parliamentary democracy to remedy the acute social disequilibrium – economic, cultural, and political – intrinsic to political liberalism. Our approach to these problems will be threefold: (1) historical, (2) theoretical, and (3) political. Among the noteworthy theorists of political authoritarianism that we will discuss are: Hannah Arendt, Carl Schmitt, and leading representatives of the Frankfurt School (T. W. Adorno, Herbert Marcuse, etc.)
Uday Mehta – Perspectives on Modernity (PT)
PSC 80304 – 4 credits
Wednesday, 2:00pm – 4:00pm
This seminar will consider several accounts of what constitutes modernity, along with the hopes and challenges associated with it. It will draw on thinkers such as Kant, Hegel, Marx and J.S. Mill and others who challenged the technological, economic and broadly progressive and optimistic accounts given in favor of modernity. As part of this latter group the seminar will consider the writings of various religious thinkers and others who had a more skeptical understanding of modernity. The seminar will conclude with a consideration of contemporary thinkers with a special focus on issues relating to democracy and the environment. The readings for the seminar will draw on the writings of both western and non-western thinkers.
George Shulman – Race, Nation & Narrative (PT/RD)
PSC 80609 – 4 credits
Thursday, 2:00pm – 4:00pm
Crosslist with ASCP 81500 & WSCP 81000
This course uses social analysis, political speeches, and artistic fictions to explore the relation of race making, nation building, and narrating in the case of the United States. Our broadest premise is that collective subjects (nations, peoples, classes, religions, races) are formed and reformed through narratives joined to collective action. Our specific premise is that “American nationhood has been formed by racial domination and opposition to it, as represented in and through contesting narratives.” The first half of the semester therefore uses social theory to explore the intersections of settler colonialism, chattel slavery, and immigration restriction -and of social movements and counter-narratives opposing them- in shaping imagined (national) community and conceptions of democracy.
The second half of the course attends to and explores idioms of critique: what difference does it make to contest racialized nationalism by a scholarly treatise, by a political speech, or by a work of literary or cinematic fiction? What can and cannot be said (and thereby done) through these different genres of expression? How do we assess the rhetorical and literary dimensions of theoretical texts and how might we discern the theoretical implications of literary and cinematic fictions? Texts of theory include Michael Rogin, Glenn Coulthard, Mae Ngai, Loic Waquant, Hortense Spillers, Saidiyah Hartman, Frank Wilderson, Fred Moton. Authors include James Baldwin, Toni Morrison, Colson Whitehead, Claudia Rankine; Films include Bamboozled, GET OUT, and Black Panther.
Benedetto Fontana – Machiavelli (PT)
PSC 71908 – 3 credits
Thursday, 6:30pm – 8:30pm
This course focuses on Machiavelli and his interpreters. Machiavelli is one of the most contentious and protean thinkers in the history of Western political thought. That he has had, and continues to have, a broad and profound influence on political thought cannot be denied. He has been called teacher of evil, a founder of modernity, partisan of republican government, defender of tyranny, defender of the liberty and equality of the people (the many), discoverer of the autonomy of politics and of a new science of politics, amoral realist, impassioned idealist and ardent patriot. In his thought and action he combines simultaneously ferocity and cold calculation. It seems that one cannot discuss politics without confronting and coming to terms with his thought.
The course will examine different interpretations, or different ways of reading, Machiavelli-—such as reason of state, republican, democratic, Straussian, feminist, rhetorical and revolutionary. What is striking about Machiavelli is his complexity—-of ideas, levels of historical reflection, motivations, methods and style. Benedetto Croce long ago observed that Machiavelli is an enigma that can never be resolved, and his resistance to simple categorization makes him perennially open to controversy and reinterpretation. The course explores the various stands of the densely textured web that is his thought. In effect, it offers a reading of several of Machiavelli’s writings, and at the same time looks at the various approaches to, and interpretations of, his politics and thought.
The major political works and some of the minor writings will be read. The former are: The Prince, the Discourses on the First Decade of Titus Livius, and the Art of War. The latter are: The Life of Castruccio Castracani, A Provision for Infantry, Tercets on Ambition and On Fortune, A Pastoral: the Ideal Ruler, An Exhortation to Penitence, Description of the Method Used by Duke Valentino in Killing, Discourse on Remodeling the Government of Florence. The critically trenchant comedy Mandragola will also be read.
Course requirements: One take-home final examination and one paper on a subject chosen by the student, both due at the end of the semester.
Carol Gould – Social Ontology: Between Theory and Practice (PT)
PSC 80605 – 4 credits
Tuesday, 2:00pm – 4:00pm
Crosslist with PHIL 80300
Does a social or political collective exist over and above the individuals who comprise it? Are individuals constituted by their social relations or are they free to choose the relations they have with other people? What are collective intentions and actions? Are gender and sex socially constructed or are they natural kinds? And do the answers to these questions have important normative implications for contemporary politics? These and related questions arise at the intersection of metaphysics and political theory and have garnered interest in both Anglo-American and Continental traditions of thought. It can be suggested, too, that social and political theories operate (however tacitly) with conceptions of the entities that make up social reality—of the nature of individuals and of their relations, where these conceptions range from radically individualistic to fully holistic ones of a community or body politic within which individuals gain their identities. Moreover, philosophical theories themselves, however abstract, may reflect ways of thinking rooted in forms of practical life, which in turn delimit their universality or reach. These various issues form the core of the project of social ontology.
This seminar will begin by analyzing this project as it emerges in the work of Hegel, Marx and Lukacs, and as it has developed in contemporary analytic theories such as those of Margaret Gilbert and Michael Bratman. It will consider notions of alterity, plurality, and the second-person perspective in Simone de Beauvoir, Emmanuel Levinas, Hannah Arendt, and Stephen Darwall, and will take up feminist relational ontologies and care approaches (e.g., in Seyla Benhabib and Virginia Held). The course will then focus on key topics in social ontology, including collective intentionality (Raimo Tuomela and the Bratman-Gilbert debate), the nature of institutions (John Searle, Steven Lukes), and of structures (Anthony Giddens and Sally Haslanger), moving to the ontology of groups in both continental and analytic frames (Jean-Paul Sartre, Iris Young, and Philip Pettit). The seminar will then consider some of the normative and practical implications of social ontological perspectives, including the vexed question of collective responsibility (e.g., Larry May), the metaphysics of sex and gender (Carol Gould, Asta Sveinsdottir), the ontology of race (Anthony Appiah, Philip Kitcher, and Charles Mills), and finally, feminist notions of relational autonomy and intersectional group identities and their import for understanding contemporary social and political life (Jennifer Nedelsky and Diana Meyers, among others). Seminar members will be encouraged to relate the course materials to their ongoing research projects through oral presentations and analytical term papers, and will be expected to be active participants in the seminar discussions.
Alan DiGaetano – Comparative Urban Politics and Policy (PP)
PSC 84501 – 4 credits
This course is designed to furnish students with sufficient knowledge of comparative methods and analysis to conduct a cross-national study of urban politics and policy. The first part of the course explains how comparative methods have been applied to urban political and policy analysis, such as case studies and cross-national quantitative approaches. The next portion of the course critically examines how different theoretical perspectives—political economy, political culture, and governance theories—have been employed to explain cross-national differences and similarities in the processes, institutions, and outcomes of urban politics and policy making. The third portion of the course investigates comparative analysis of political phenomena (e.g., governing, leadership, elections, and so on), while the final segment focuses on comparisons of particular policy areas (environmental, development, education, and public safety).
John Krinsky – Introduction to Public Policy (PP)
PSC 73100 – 3 credits
This course is an introduction to public policy or the study of a large part of what states do within their borders, and what governmental leaders try to do—through a variety of institutions—about a wide range of issues. The course deals with policy as a process, rather than as accomplished fact, and through the lens of policy, considers the ways in which power, institutions, states, and subjects and objects of states take shape. Put differently, policy is a process in which people who want something try to get it, and often, people who don’t want it, try to prevent it; it’s a process in which people do things to other people, deeply affecting their lives, and hope to get the sanction of the state—a more universal legitimacy—for their actions, and, perhaps, too, to get employees of the state to carry out those actions for them. In many respects, then, the study of policy is the study of politics more broadly.
Michael Jacobson – Public and Social Policy Development, Analysis, and Evaluation (PP)
PSC 73901 – 3 credits
Tuesday, 4:15pm – 6:15pm
Cross list with SOC 84700
This course is designed to provide students with an overview of public policy development, implementation, and evaluation in real-world settings, using local and national examples from the work of the Institute for State and Local Governance (ISLG), a research and policy organization within the City University of New York (CUNY). The Institute currently has 40 full time staff and has projects in over 40 cities nationally. ISLG works with government, nonprofit, private, and philanthropic organizations to reform and improve the structure, financing, delivery, measurement, and evaluation of vital public services in areas that include criminal justice, health care, child welfare and governmental budgeting. Specifically, the Institute provides state and local governments a range of technical assistance, research and analytical expertise, including project development and management, performance measurement and evaluation, cost-benefit analysis, and fiscal planning.
During the course, students will develop a foundational knowledge of the formal and informal policy making process with particular attention to how reforms can be proposed and implemented in what have become deeply politicized and resource constrained environments. Specific areas of focus will include the translation of research into policy and practice, the importance of relationship building, and the role of fiscal constraints in state and local decision-making.
Students will complete a semester-long capstone project that addresses the learning objectives in the context of the work of the CUNY Institute for State and Local Governance. Students will complete readings and assignments related to social and public policy development, analysis, and evaluation to supplement their capstone work.
John Mollenkopf – Ethnography of Public Policy (PP/RD)
PSC 72500 – 3 credits
Wednesday, 4:15pm – 6:15pm
Cross list with SOC 82800
Most approaches to the study of public policy either use statistical analysis to address questions of efficiency and effectiveness or institutional analysis to understand how actors form (or block) coalitions to advance their policy agenda within a particular political opportunity structure. This course investigates a third approach: using the tools of ethnography and qualitative analysis (participant observation, in-depth interviewing) to investigate how the participants inside a given policy domain interact to formulate, adopt, and most importantly carry out programs. This approach focuses on the “front line workers” who actually do the work of delivering public policies by interacting with clients on an every-day basis. We are particularly interested not only in the details of how such interactions ‘socially construct’ clients, but how clients react to the ways in which public and nonprofit programs process them, but also in how front line workers interact with the managers and policy-makers who try to reshape the co-production of public services from time to time. In other words, we will examine the operating context for “street level bureaucrats,” including not only their interactions with clients and managers, but also with elected officials, the press, advocacy organizations, consultants, policy scholars, and the concerned public. The course introduces approaches these issues through a close reading of Michael Lipsky’s classic Street Level Bureaucracy, then moves takes up a series of policy ethnography case studies, which will be chosen to reflect the interests of the seminar members and instructors.
General and Cross-field
Peter Beinart – Writing Politics (WP)
PSC 79001 – 3 credits
Monday 2:00pm – 4:00pm
Graduate students spend their days reading scholarly work about politics. This class aims to teach them how to write about it so non-scholars will care. To that end, students will read a lot of political writing, most of it fabulous, some of it awful, and try to figure out what distinguishes the two. They will also come up with many, many ideas for political columns, essays and blog posts of their own, see those ideas dissected by their classmates and the instructor, and then write the best ones up. Prominent editors and writers will come as guests.
Sherrie Baver – M.A. Core Course (G)
PSC 71000 – 3 credits
This course has two primary objectives: 1) to introduce students to and provide an overview of major perspectives, problems, and approaches in political science; 2) to foster intellectual community within our program. The seminar proceeds through the various subfields of the political science discipline engaging key texts and debates in these modes of analysis through course sessions led by faculty members in the program. It also engages the conduct of current scholarship in the discipline through course sessions where advanced graduate students discuss their own research. An important theme throughout the course is how conceptions of democracy, democratization, and de-democratization now inform political questions and political science inquiry
Ann Kirschner – The Future of Work (G)
PSC 70100 – 3 credits
Mind the Gap will address this question: As we think about the range of possibilities — from the utopian to the dystopian — what are the policies, technologies, and social systems that should be anticipated today to ensure positive outcomes for the future? The course will examine the historical role of work, the outcomes of previous technological shifts, and the ethical dimensions that should inform our planning for the future. The focus will not only be on technology but on drivers for change, the context in which they are taking place, from changing demographics to globalization to climate change. The course assumes that technology is not created in a vacuum, that the future is a page not yet written, and that we have a window of time in which business, government, and the individual can proactively adapt and shape a better future.
Keena Lipsitz – Introduction to Research Design (G/RD)
PSC 79100 – 3 credits
Wednesday 2:00pm – 4:00pm
This course will provide students with an overview of the quantitative and qualitative research methods commonly used in political science. They will learn how researchers move between theories, concepts, variables, and hypotheses, as well as the techniques they use for collecting data. Students will generate a number of brief research proposals based on the methods discussed, as well as a full dissertation proposal that follows the department’s guidelines.