Spring 2022

Course descriptions by subfield can be found below the weekly schedule, or click the following links directly:
American Politics
Comparative Politics
International Relations
Political Theory
Public Policy
General Courses
[Click here for past semesters]
2:00-4:00The Law and Politics of Emergencies
Feldman (PT)
PSC 80608

Critical Urbanisms and Just Cities: Reimagining Social Infrastructures and Politics from Below
Su (PP)
PSC 82505
*cross-listed (PSYC/UED/EES)*
4:15-6:15Security Studies
Liberman (IR)
PSC 76400

Data Analysis for Urban Politics and Public Policy
Mollenkopf (PP)
PSC 72500
*crosslisted (SOC)*
Comparative Political Institutions
Woodward (CP)
PSC 77902/ 87800

Women, Work, and Public Policy
PSC 72500

Participatory Democracy and Social Movements
Su (PP)
PSC 73904
*cross-listed (PSYC/UED/EES)*
Politics of the Image
Buck-Morss (PT)
PSC 71906

Core, Theories & Concepts in American Politics
Schram (AP)
PSC 72000

Comparative Foreign Policy: Non-Western countries
Braveboy-Wagner (IR)
PSC 86105

Intersectionality in the Social Sciences
McCall (G)
PSC 70200
6:30-8:30Workshop on the Dissertation Proposal
Woodward (G)
PSC 89100

MA Core Course
Colburn (G)
PSC 71000
U.S.-China Relations
Xia (IR)
PSC 86401

Middle East Politics
Schwedler (CP)
PSC 87620
*cross-listed (MAMES)*
Quantitative Methods I: Regression Analysis
Tien (G)
PSC 85507
Polarization in American Politics
Jones (AP)
PSC 82602

Politics of Identity
George (CP)
PSC 87800
AP – American Politics    <>CP- Comparative Politics     <>IR – International Relations      <>PT – Political Theory                <> PP – Public Policy      <> G – General Course

American Politics

PSC 72000– 3 credits
Topic: Core, Theories & Concepts in American Politics (AP)
Faculty: Schram
Day/Time: Wednesdays, 4:15 PM-6:15PM
Course Description: This seminar surveys the major scholarly debates in the study of the fundamental issues of American politics, especially as related to the current constitutional crisis regarding Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the 2020 election and the Republican Party’s related campaign to undermine advancement to achieving a multi-racial democracy. The course draws on prominent theoretical perspectives in the literature for understanding key issues regarding: (1) the effect of the history of American political development in creating opportunities and obstacles for realizing an inclusive multi-racial democracy; (2) the strengths and limitations of the constitutional and institutional structure of American government enabling and constraining the democratic backsliding we are currently witnessing; (3) the overhanging influence of the structure of power and the behavior of political elites in affecting democratic possibilities; and (4) the perplexing role of ordinary people’s changing political behavior for enhancing and undermining democracy as best understood in studies of public opinion and political participation broadly construed. The seminar encourages discussion of the relevance of assigned readings for assessing the sustainability of the constitutional system in the United States going forward. Students are to be active participants in the conversation by applying the assigned readings to diagnosing the current crisis. 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 in a way that helps students become active participants in today’s politics.

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PSC 82602– 4 credits
Topic: Polarization in American Politics (AP)
Faculty: Jones
Day/Time: Thursdays, 6:30PM-8:30PM
Course Description: To what extent has the American public become more politically polarized? What about political elites running in elections and serving in government? Is there any connection between mass and elite polarization? Why does polarization seem to be taking place, and what are its consequences? This class will delve deeply into all of these questions. We will begin by taking a historical perspective and asking whether current levels of polarization within the U.S. government are unusually high, or whether the seemingly low levels from a half-century ago were the real aberration. We will explore several different possible causes for why the parties in government have become more divided from each other over the past 60 years or so, including institutional, electoral, and activist-based explanations. After that, we will shift our attention to the mass public. We will examine evidence both for and against the notion that the American public is currently polarized, and try to document the specific ways in which the American public has—and has not—become more polarized over time (e.g., culturally, economically, geographically). To the extent that the public has polarized, we will explore possible causes including the influence of polarized elites and of polarized news media. Finally, we will analyze the consequences of elite and mass polarization—for public policy, for representation, and for the public’s attitudes towards politics and government. Many of the readings in the class will be drawn from the American politics reading list – integrating both American institutions and processes.
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Comparative Politics 

PSC 77902/87800– 3 or 4 credits
Topic: Comparative Political Institutions (CP)
Faculty: Woodward
Day/Time: Tuesdays, 4:15 PM-6:15PM
Course Description: Many consider political institutions and institutional analysis to be the essence of comparative politics; after all, for example, states and regimes are particular complexes of institutions, and much of the variation in political and policy outcomes across countries is best explained by variation in their institutions. This course has two objectives: (1) an introduction to the concept of institutions, to institutional analysis, and to key debates and studies in the literature on political institutions and (2) an exploration of some key questions of the day that an institutional focus addresses – e.g., the causes of and solutions to civil war, stability or instability in ethnically heterogeneous countries, the bases of stability of authoritarian vs. democratic regimes (including variation within these types, such as military regimes, one-party systems, parliamentary vs. presidential democracies), varieties of capitalism, ongoing academic and policy debates on the role of institutions in economic growth and development, including developmental vs. neoliberal states, the nature of political order under empire, colony, or regional integration, the choice of institutions, including during periods of political transition, and how institutions evolve, and the new focus on informal institutions. Students may take this seminar at the 700-level, for 3 credits with an examination as the final evaluation, or at the 800-level, for 4 credits and with a research paper as the culminating product. I will contact students who register for this course and wish to take it at the 800-level to make sure that readings are tailored to their research interests, while students wishing to take this at the 700-level should be reassured that the course will provide the introduction and appropriate reading level that they seek.

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PSC 87620-4 credits
Topic: Middle East Politics (CP) (Crosslist with Middle Eastern Studies)
Faculty: Schwedler
Day/Time: Tuesdays, 6:30PM-8:30PM
Course Description: This course is designed to introduce graduate students to the key debates in the comparative study of Middle East politics. No prior knowledge of the region is required, but would be helpful. The readings are organized thematically rather than geographically, covering major issues in comparative politics and some of the most important recent scholarship on Middle East politics. The readings cover a range of methodologies and many are interdisciplinary, which is characteristic of the field of Middle East politics.

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PSC 87800-4 credits
Topic: Politics of Identity (CP)
Faculty: George
Day/Time: Thursdays, 6:30PM-8:30PM
Course Description: 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 showcases 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 also 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.

International Relations

PSC 76400-3 credits
Topic: Security Studies (IR)
Faculty: Liberman
Day/Time: Mondays, 4:15PM-6:15PM
Course Description: This course examines contemporary theory-testing research in security studies. Topics examined include the sources of peace and war, coercion, strategy, arms races, alliances, and international institutions designed to control arms and conflict. The focus is on states, but we will also examine insurgencies and terrorism insofar as these have international reach. The works studied represent diverse methodologies and theoretical approaches; each week’s readings address a common question (or a set of related questions) using different theories and methods. This is not a security policy course, but most of the work examined focuses on questions whose answers would help policymakers (not necessarily U.S. ones) make important decisions about peace and security.

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PSC 86401-4 credits
Topic: U.S.-China Relations (IR)
Faculty: Xia
Day/Time: Tuesdays, 6:30PM-8:30PM
Course Description: U.S.-China Relations, a course of both international relations and foreign policy, focuses on one of the most important bilateral relations in the post-cold era and probably in the first half of the 21st century. Its main content includes the structures, dynamics, decision-making processes, actors at global, state and societal levels, and under these constraints the interactions between U.S. and China. Although the course will review the major historical periods of almost two centuries, the bilateral relationship after Nixon’s visit to China in 1972 and its evolution from a partnership under a strategic triangle to the G2 partnership (so-called Americhina or Chimerica) and then to a possible new Cold War II constitute the backbone of the class. Through assessing geopolitical, economic, military, ecological and cultural aspects of this relationship, the course will critique some major conceptual, cultural and geopolitical failures on both sides and explore a new theoretical framework for understanding and managing the U.S.-China relationship for a peaceful and sustainable world order based on universal values.

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PSC 86105-4 credits
Topic: Comparative Foreign Policy: Non-Western countries (IR)
Faculty: Braveboy-Wagner
Day/Time: Wednesday, 4:15 PM-6:15PM
Course Description:
The focus will be on the historical, economic and cultural influences on the foreign policies of the so-called “non-Western” (Global South countries and what I call “GS plus” countries such as Chinas) and the tensions and contradictions these create for leading Western nations . While issue and case oriented, the broader focus is on critiquing the utility of “mainstream” scholarship (that is, the well-accepted paradigms and approaches) as they apply to these countries, although no preconceived assumptions are made about the relevance of traditional scholarship. Among topics covered are the impact of histories of colonialism and subject-imperialism on both political and economic stances of Latin American, Asian and African nations, the foreign policy influence of a variety of identity/cultural/religious/gender/racial factors, the social and psychological content of worldviews of certain non-Western leaders and how this may or may not impact state foreign policies, and finally, the outcomes: that is, the usefulness of related GS strategies such as institutionalism, regionalism, local attempts at conflict resolution, promotion of alternative global norms etc.
Grading: As is appropriate for this kind of course, 40% of the grade will be based on class participation and preparation of the reading assignments (which may involve individualized oral assignments); 40% of the grade will be assigned to your semester research paper; an additional 20% will be given for a related bibliographic essay assigned during the semester.
PSC 76402 – 3 credits

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Political Theory

PSC 80608-4 credits
Topic: The Law and Politics of Emergencies (PT)
Faculty: Feldman
Day/Time: Tuesdays, 2:00 PM-4:00PM
Course Description: This course will explore emergencies and emergency powers as central elements of contemporary political life. Topics and concepts explored include the state of exception and necessity, “models” of emergency powers, the political and legal dynamics of particular kinds of emergencies (natural disasters, pandemics, economic crises, humanitarian emergencies, terrorism), the development of emergency rule in settler colonialism, racialized policing as a state of exception, and the political dynamics of constituting a phenomenon as an emergency. Authors will include: Locke, Rousseau, Machiavelli, Schmitt, Benjamin, Agamben, Rubenstein, Dyzenhaus, Gross and others.

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PSC 71906-3 credits
Topic: Politics of the Image (PT)
Faculty: Buck-Morss
Day/Time: Wednesdays, 4:15 PM-6:15PM
Course Description: This course deals with the image in its relation to political theory. Topics include: visibility and truth (Plato and Moses); The King’s two bodies (Kantorowitz), Hamlet’s doubt (Benjamin); Las Meninas (Foucault); Hobbes’ Leviathan (Schmitt); book of Revelation (John of Patmos and Toussaint-Louverture); the invisible hand (Smith and Malthas); seeing capital (Manet and Mapplethorpe); constructing a world (Beatus’ T-O maps and Aponte’s picture book); commodity and fetish (Marx and Pietz); culture industry (Adorno and Baudrillard); society of the spectacle (Debord); Family of Man (Steichen); photos from Little Rock (Eckford and Arendt); Husserl and the movies; Sokurov on sovereignty (Lenin, Hitler, Hirohito); the earth from the moon (Heidegger), ecosystems and lines in the sand (Ristelheuber, Mosher, Denes, and others)

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Public Policy

PSC 72500-3 credits
Topic: Data Analysis for Urban Politics and Public Policy (PP) (Crosslist with Sociology)
Faculty: Mollenkopf
Day/Time: Mondays, 4:15PM-6:15PM
Course Description: This course will take students through all of the key data sources relevant to the study of urban politics and introduce the analytic techniques used to combine and interpret them. Census data sources will include the American Community Survey (both the geographic files and the microdata), the decennial Census (block level data used for redistricting), and the Current Population Survey voting and civic engagement supplements. Administrative electoral data sources will include the voter registration file, the voter history file, and augmented sources such as L2 and VAN. Survey data sources linked with geographic identifiers will include the CUNY Civic and Electoral Engagement surveys, the Cooperative Congressional Election Study, the American National Election Study, and related large scale surveys of minority and immigrant voting behavior and political attitudes. Analytic techniques will include basic descriptive statistics, cluster analysis and taxonomy, multiple regression, HLM, ecological inference, and spatial statistics (with GIS). The goals of the course include achieving facility with these data sources and working towards defining the political-electoral ecology of New York City (or other places of particular interest to seminar participants). Competence in at least one statistical software program, such as SPSS, STATA, or R, is required. Introductory familiarity with a GIS program would also be valuable preparation, but is not required.

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PSC 72500-3 credits
Topic: Women, Work, and Public Policy (PP) (Crosslist with Sociology and WSCP)
Faculty: Gornick
Day/Time: Tuesdays, 4:15 PM-6:15PM
Course Description: This course provides an overview of key issues affecting women in the workplace in the United States and in other high-income countries.

We will begin with an overview of basic economic principles of labor markets, specifically as they concern gender inequality. We will examine both theory and empirical research, taking a multidimensional approach to understanding gender inequality at work – covering gender gaps in employment rates, in working time, in occupation, and in earnings.

We then turn to a series of book-length studies of women’s experiences in paid work, both historically and in the contemporary United States. Throughout this section, we will take an intersectional approach – considering how women’s employment experiences have been shaped by race, class, nativity, sexuality, and place.

In the final section of the course, we will turn our attention to policies and institutions that shape women’s experiences in paid work, and gender inequality in the labor market more generally. We will assess the institutional landscape in the United States and compare that to policy configurations operating in other affluent countries.

Students will complete weekly reaction papers, and a semester-long research project which will culminate in a paper.

*All Master’s students must obtain permission from Professor Gornick before registering.*

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PSC 82505-4 credits (Hyrbid)
Topic: Critical Urbanisms and Just Cities: Reimagining Social Infrastructures and Politics from Below (PP) (Crosslist with PSYC/UED/EES)
Faculty: Su
Day/Time: Tuesdays, 2:00 PM-4:00 pm
Course Description: This seminar examines histories of spatialized inequities and case studies of current mobilizations for alternative futures and more just cities. What might alternatives to housing financialization and hypergentrification, pervasive segregation in schools and neighborhoods, and slow violence and environmental injustice look like? Drawing upon academic literatures in urban studies and planning, political science, critical geography, urban education, and other disciplines, we interrogate various social justice-oriented models and theories of urban planning and policy-making (including participatory, insurgent, pluriversal, and decolonial models), dissecting their implicit criteria and prescriptions for action. We do so by focusing primarily not on city administrations and official public policies, but on different forms of politics from below. Our readings include comparative and emergent case studies of community-driven attempts to create and sustain structures and spaces for sociability, care, and solidarities. These span from attempts at school community control and community land trusts, to rent strikes and environmental justice campaigns, to abolition and disability justice campaigns. We pay particular attention to how various social struggles are entangled (and try to grapple) with intersecting structures and axes of power, including but not limited to race, class, gender, sexuality, settler colonialism, and disabilities.

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PSC 73904-3 credits (Hybrid)
Topic: Participatory Democracy and Social Movements (PP) (Crosslist with PSYC/UED/EES)
Faculty: Su
Day/Time: Tuesdays, 4:15 pm-6:15pm
Course Description: This seminar takes a look at what ordinary citizens do to shape public policies and engage in politics— in ways other than voting. We explore the notion that popular participation can make democratic governance more legitimate, fair, and effective. We examine theories and existing evidence on the promises and challenges of participatory democracy— alternatively called bottom-up participation, maximal democracy, or direct democracy. Specifically, we will examine forms and functions of civil society from a comparative perspective by looking at specific examples of (1) participatory institutions (neighborhood councils, urban budgeting, school governance, etc.), (2) participation in non-governmental organizations and development projects, and (3) social movements around the world (potential cases include landless people’s movements, transnational networks, mothers of political dissidents who have “disappeared,” AIDS protest groups, etc.). Sometimes, these three categories blur into one another. We will try to focus on case studies in “Global South” middle-income countries like Brazil, Argentina, India, and South Africa, though we also include domestic cases as a point of reference. How much should ordinary citizens participate in policymaking, and how? Under what circumstances?

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General and Cross-field

PSC 89100-0 credits
Topic: Workshop on the Dissertation Proposal (G)
Faculty: Woodward
Day/Time: Mondays, 6:30PM- 8:30PM
Course Description: This workshop aims to assist students in writing their dissertation proposal in political science and passing the second examination. It introduces students to the principles and organization of a defensible proposal, provides advice on conceptualization and research strategies, and, where relevant to the workshop participants, discusses methodological questions. It is a genuine workshop, where students provide each other a mutually supportive setting to share the stages of their written drafts, get feedback, identify and resolve issues being faced by many, and learn the skills of analytical criticism necessary to one’s own future research and teaching. Each member works at a personal, self-identified pace, but also accepts the obligation of reciprocity to attend all meetings of the workshop and read the drafts of all other workshop members. Key to progress is the obligation to write every single week, even if it only means a paragraph (although, of course, one hopes more). The first meeting of the workshop will lay out the principles of a dissertation proposal and advice about how to proceed; anyone missing it will be at a distinct, even possibly irreparable, disadvantage for the rest of the workshop.

The workshop does not give course credit, therefore has no grading, and can be taken more than once.  That said, more than a decade of experience shows that a very large percentage of those who take the workshop produce a completed dissertation proposal within the one semester and succeed in passing the second exam either at the end of the spring semester or at the end of the summer before the deadline for moving to Level III in the fall.

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PSC 71000-3 credits
Topic: M.A. Core Course (G)
Faculty: Colburn
Day/Time: Mondays, 6:30PM- 8:30PM
Course Description: TBA
*MA Students Only*

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PSC 85507-4 credits
Topic: Quantitative Methods I: Regression Analysis (G)
Faculty: Tien
Day/Time: Wednesdays, 6:30PM-8:30PM
Course Description: This is the second course in a new three-course quantitative methods sequence in the CUNY graduate political science program. Students should take Research Design before registering for this course, which is open to MA and PhD students. The aim of this course is to introduce graduate students to linear regression models. These models are the foundation of empirical political science research and the most commonly used statistical method in the field. Thus, it is important for graduate students to understand the theory and practice of regression analysis. The course will start with a review of univariate statistics and then proceed to bivariate statistics. By the end of the course, students will understand the assumptions behind ordinary least squares regression, be able to locate and analyze data of their choice using univariate and bivariate statistics and linear regression, and be ready to tackle more advanced methods.

Another aim of the course is to have students think of themselves as future contributors of empirical work, as well as critical consumers. In that spirit, there will be an emphasis on “learning-by-doing.” Student will locate a political science data set of interest to them by the third week of the semester that will be used to carry out weekly homework exercises. By doing so, students will complete preliminary analysis on a quantitative project that could be the foundation of a research paper in a higher level class that could be presented at a conference or submitted for publication. Students will be evaluated on weekly homework assignments and an in-class final exam.

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PSC 70200-3 credits
Topic: Intersectionality in the Social Sciences (G)
Faculty: McCall
Day/Time: Wednesdays, 4:15-6:15PM
Course Description: This course will begin with an overview of key original texts by intersectionality scholars in and connected to the social sciences in the United States, such as texts by Patricia Hill Collins, Kimberle Crenshaw, and Evelyn Nakano Glenn. This will be followed by readings of key later texts that introduced and amplified on the concept within different social science disciplines (e.g., Ange-Marie Hancock in political science; Elizabeth Cole in psychology), and also raised questions over the definition and scope of the term (e.g., Jennifer Nash). For the remainder of the course, we will examine intersectional research on a wide range of topics, including intersectional inequalities in political representation, income, education, family, health, and criminal justice. We will also consider different approaches to the topic across the globe, and I will welcome suggestions for readings on other aspects of intersectionality related to students’ areas of interest and expertise.

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