Seminar Pre-Registration

Declared political science majors who would like to take part in seminar pre-registration will submit their rank-ordered preferences on the Spring 2020 Seminar Pre-Registration form. Students will identify, in order of preference, three seminars in which they would like to be pre-registered. Participants will be able to enter and revise their preferences from Monday, December 2 through 9:00 a.m. on Monday, December 16.
Students will also be asked to provide their cumulative GPA, and brief answers to the following questions:
1. Do you wish you write your senior essay in one the seminars selected?  If yes, on what topic?
2. Do you have any previous course work that is related to the topics of the selected seminars?
3. Why do you wish to take these seminars?

When pre-registration closes at 9:00 am on Monday, December 16, the undergraduate registrar will forward the pre-registration selections to participating seminar instructors for review.

Notice of pre-registration assignments will be emailed to all participants before OCS opens on Wednesday, January 8.

Please keep in mind that the Political Science Department has developed a pre-registration system that is partial and voluntary - partial in that only a portion of the places in a seminar can be pre-registered and voluntary in that neither students nor faculty are obliged to participate.  Participating faculty are asked to consider pre-registering up to 12 students in each undergraduate-only seminar they teach and up to 8 students in each seminar that is cross-listed either as a graduate course or with another department or program.  Students who take part in pre-registration but are not selected for one of their ranked choices, will be able to shop remaining seminar spots during the course selection period.

Below is a current list of the spring 2020 seminars that will be open for pre-registration, along with a brief course description for each.
If you have any questions, please email the political science undergraduate registrar at

Spring 2020 PLSC Seminars Participating in Pre-Registration as of November 26, 2019

PLSC 135
Media and Conflict

Graeme Wood
The theory and practice of reporting on international conflict and war, and its relation to political discourse in the United States and abroad. Materials include case studies of media coverage of war in Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.

PLSC 137

Bonnie Weir
Theoretical and empirical literature used to examine a host of questions about terrorism. The definition(s) of terrorism, the application of the term to individuals and groups, the historical use and potential causes of terrorism, suicide and so-called religious terrorism, dynamics within groups that use terrorism, and counterterrorism strategies and tactics. Theoretical readings supplemented by case studies.

PLSC 165
Gender, Race, and the Everyday Politics of the Global Political Economy

Stephanie Redden
Introduction to the Everyday Politics approach to international relations (IR) and international political economy (IPE), which has steadily gained in popularity in the field over the last ten years. Students become familiar both with more recent feminist and mainstream articulations of this approach, as well as examine its earlier beginnings within feminist IR and IPE scholarship. In addition to providing a broad overview of this approach, the course allows students the opportunity to consider several case studies that showcase the importance of considering everyday spaces and actors in order to better understand the current global political and economic climate in more depth. Through these case studies, students unpack the multidirectional relationship between the global and the everyday, as well as investigate the highly gendered and racialized realities of both spaces. In doing so, students reflect on what impacts these factors have on how people of various social identities choose to resist and what potential impacts their actions have within—and beyond—everyday spaces. Finally, in exploring this material, students gain a deeper understanding and awareness of how their own choices and actions are connected—and contribute to—broader, global systems and processes.

PLSC 167
Mass Atrocities in Global Politics

David Simon
Examination of the impact of global politics and institutions on the commission, execution, prevention, and aftermath of mass atrocities

PLSC 210
Political Preferences and American Political Behavior

Joshua Kalla
Introduction to research methods and topics in American political behavior. Focus on decision making from the perspective of ordinary citizens. Topics include utility theory, heuristics and biases, political participation, retrospective voting, the consequences of political ignorance, the effects of campaigns, and the ability of voters to hold politicians accountable for their actions.

PLSC 213
The Legislative Process: Theoretical and Empirical Approaches to Studying the US Congress

Patrick Tucker
This course covers important theoretical and empirical approaches to the study of legislative politics. The main objectives are to come to a deeper understanding of the motivations and institutions that influence legislator behavior in the U.S. Congress, as well as to think critically about existing explanations for these behaviors. While we focus mainly on the United States Congress, many of the theories and empirical strategies are applicable to other legislative institutions. Each week we read at least two important pieces of theoretical or empirical research to demonstrate how to engage in rigorous social science.  
Prerequisite: PLSC 113.

PLSC 219
Politics of the Environment

Peter Swenson
Historical and contemporary politics aimed at regulating human behavior to limit damage to the environment. Goals, strategies, successes, and failures of movements, organizations, corporations, scientists, and politicians in conflicts over environmental policy. Focus on politics in the U.S., including the role of public opinion; attention to international regulatory efforts, especially with regard to climate change.

PLSC 224
Political Leadership

Stephen Skowronek
Examination of political leadership as both a concept and a practice. Survey of classic works by Machiavelli, Carlyle, Weber, Lenin, and Schumpeter. Consideration of the difference between transformational leadership and transactional leadership, and between executive leadership and reform leadership. Issues include the conundrum of “democratic leadership” and the role of narrative in leadership.

PLSC 226
Congress: How Legislating Works

John Dearborn
This course examines the United States Congress and lawmaking. Topics are divided into six categories: the Constitution and legislative power, congressional behavior, congressional structure, theories of lawmaking, polarization, and Congress’s impact on America’s political development.

PLSC 236
Presidential Campaigns and the Media

Walter Shapiro
The intersection of two institutions in the midst of major transformations—the political campaign industry and the news business. Presidential campaign coverage during the last third of the twentieth century; the beleaguered economic structure of the news business in the twenty-first century; media coverage of the 2008 and 2012 presidential races, with emphasis on how campaigns adapted to the changed news landscape and to new ways of communicating with voters.

PLSC 237
Persuasion and Political Communication

John Henderson
The history of political communication, persuasion, and demagoguery in the American political tradition, from the design and ratification of the Constitution to modern debates over terrorism and authoritarianism. The limits of democratic deliberation and representation; elite communication strategies that influence policy making and elections.

PLSC 243
Leadership, Ethics, and Economic Crisis

John Kane
The global financial crisis of 2007–2009 explored from an ethical perspective. The crisis as not just a financial-economic failure but a systemic ethical failure. The theoretical foundations of ethical inquiry, the concept of an ethical culture, and the applicability of such a concept to economics generally and to financial systems in particular; ethical dimensions of the crisis and its aftermath.

PLSC 244
Journalism, Liberalism, Democracy

James Sleeper
The news media’s role in configuring the democratic public sphere, from the early synergy of print capitalism and liberalism through the corporate consolidation of mass media and the recent fragmentation and fluidity of “news.” Classical-humanist and civic-republican responses to these trends.

PLSC 256
American Political Institutions

Michael Fotos
The origins and development of American political institutions, especially in relation to how institutions shape the policy process. Issues of temporality, policy feedback, and policy substance.

PLSC 265
The Politics of Economic Security

Scott Bokemper
This course examines the politics of economic security in the United States. Topics include the psychology of risk pooling, the design of social policy, and why people want (or don’t want) to address economic insecurity and poverty. We also consider how local contextual factors and family structure affect support for redistribution and social insurance.

PLSC 271
Policymaking under Separation of Powers

Christina Kinane
NOTE: This is a new course.  PLSC 271 will be offered during the spring 2020 semester and it should appear in the Yale Course Search shortly.  This seminar is scheduled to meet on Tuesdays from 1:30 – 3:20.
This seminar provides an overview of the literature on the politics of separation of powers, with an eye toward understanding how the various interbranch constraints on American political institutions impact the development and implementation of public policy.

PLSC 272
Social Media and Politics

Adam Thal
Examination of how social media is shaping politics. Topics include the role of social media in elections, polarization, protest movements, racial and ethnic tension, and government censorship. We also consider whether or not the government should do more to regulate social media.

PLSC 273
The Ethics of Journalism

Jacob Weisberg
An examination of key issues about the rights and responsibilities of the press. Topics include truth and verification, bias and objectivity, the handling of government secrets, the use of misrepresentation and deception, privacy, and the protection of sources. Case studies including WikiLeaks and the Pentagon Papers will supplement readings from critics such as Walter Lippmann, George Orwell, Janet Malcolm, and Neil Postman.

PLSC 275
The Rise of “Presidentialism” in the United States

Stephen Skowronek
This course is about the rise and makeshift character of “presidentialism” in the United States. It will examine different sources of power that have, singly and in combination, put the presidency at the center of government and politics. These include: 1) popular power: in elections, public opinion, parties, and social movements; 2) institutional power: in control of the executive branch, military command, and war making. Readings will delve into cases in which each of these sources of power figured prominently. In every particular, the seminar will consider the strains that this power has put on the constitutional frame.
For advanced undergraduates, or by permission

PLSC 276
Wrongful Convictions in Law and Politics

Nilakshi Parndigamage
This course will examine the problem of wrongful convictions and the various political and social factors that result in innocent people being convicted of serious crimes. Topics include eye-witness misidentifications, unreliable forensic science, false confessions, jailhouse informants, prosecutorial and law enforcement misconduct, race and gender, criminal justice reform, and varied approaches to wrongful convictions across the world.

PLSC 278
Politics and the Supreme Court

Kelly Rader
The role of the U.S. Supreme Court in the American political system. Ways in which the political preferences of Congress, the President, and the American public shape, constrain, or compel the Court’s decision making. Supreme Court justices as political actors who issue decisions that make policy.

PLSC 291
Justice, Taxes, and Global Financial Integrity

Thomas Pogge
Study of the formulation, interpretation, and enforcement of national and international tax rules from the perspective of national and global economic justice.
Previous courses in one or two of the following: law, economics, political science, or political philosophy.

PLSC 304
Business Ethics and Law

Robin Landis
This seminar is intended to provide frameworks for the analysis of ethical issues that may arise in the context of business decisions, including such aspects as the role of ethics, competing values and interests, and tools for making principled decisions. The course also covers, as appropriate, some aspects of law as they relate to business ethics.
Previous courses in philosophy and ethics may be helpful.

PLSC 305
Critique of Political Violence

Boris Kapustin
Methods of conceptualizing political violence that are prevalent in contemporary political philosophical discourse. Use of theoretical-analytical tools to examine the modes violence assumes and the functions it performs in modern political life as well as the meanings and possibilities of nonviolence in politics.

PLSC 320
Ethics, Law, and Current Issues

Karen Goodrow
Examination of how freedom of speech and bias influence the criminal justice system, focusing on wrongful convictions and administration of the death penalty. Understanding the role of potential bias at various levels and the competing interests of protecting speech, due process, and the innocent. Topics include limitations on speech, practical effects of speech, the efficacy of the death penalty, actual innocence, gender/race/economic bias and its effects on the justice system, as well as best practices for improving our sense of justice.

PLSC 327
Advanced Topics in Modern Political Philosophy

Steven Smith
Advanced survey of modern political philosophy. Focus on democracy and inequality from Rousseau to Marx. The identity of the modern representative republic, the nature of capitalism or commercial society, and the relation between the two. Close analysis of the writings of Rousseau, Smith, and Marx.
Prerequisite: substantial course work in intellectual history and/or political theory.

PLSC 343

John Roemer
Egalitarian theories of justice and their critics. Readings in philosophy are paired with analytic methods from economics. Topics include Rawlsian justice, utilitarianism, the veil of ignorance, Dworkin’s resource egalitarianism, Roemer’s equality of opportunity, Marxian exploitation, and Nozickian procedural justice. Some discussion of American economic inequality, Nordic social democracy, and the politics of inequality.
Recommended preparation: intermediate microeconomics.

PLSC 345
Introduction to Research Design

Dawn Brancati
This course is strongly recommended as preparation for writing a year-long or one-term senior essay. Seniors may not write their senior essay within the course. Students learn in the course how to pose research questions, conceptualize and operationalize problems, draw hypotheses from theories, and test hypotheses using various methodologies. Students design their own research projects in the course.

PLSC 358
Comparative Political Parties and Electoral Systems

Andrea Aldrich
This course explores democratic representative through political parties around the world and the effects of electoral systems on party system development. In doing so, we critically examine the role of political parties in the representation of societal interests, party system evolution, the consequences of electoral law, and challenges facing modern political parties today with a particular focus on the growth of authoritarian and far right parties around the world.
Prerequisite: It is helpful, although not mandatory, to have taken Intro to American Politics and Intro to Comparative Politics. A course on research design in the Social Sciences is also helpful.

PLSC 366
European Politics

David Cameron
Comparison of the political systems of the major European countries. Topics include political institutions, electoral politics and political parties, public policies, and contemporary problems.

PLSC 367
Contemporary Spanish Politics

Maria Jose Hierro
During the second part of 2017 and the first part of 2018, Spanish politics has been in turmoil. Today, a new central government is in power. What will be the consequences of this change in everyday Spanish politics? In this seminar, we consider contemporary problems in Spanish politics and we study these problems in comparative perspective. Topics include secession, transitional justice, corruption, terrorism, institutional crisis, and populism.    

PLSC 374
The Economic Analysis of Conflict

Gerard Padro
Introduction to the microeconomic analysis of internal conflict. In particular, how conflict imposes economic costs on the population and how people react to conflict. Topics include the correlates of war; the economic legacies of conflict on human capital, local institutions, households’ income, and firma performance; and the causes and impacts of forced displacement.
Prerequisites: Intermediate microeconomics and econometrics.

PLSC 379
Party Politics and the Media in Russia

Andrei Semenov
The course covers critical junctures in party and media systems development in Russia, discusses the choices made by elites and their consequences for shaping the party and media systems, and unpacks the strategic considerations behind these choices. It also tackles the issues of party and media system regulation, restructuring, alongside the electoral performance of the ruling and opposition parties.
Proficiency in Russian language is not required.

PLSC 385
Contentious Politics and Political Mobilization in Post-Soviet Russia

Andrei Semenov
This course aims at exploring and discussing the patterns and trends in collective actions in post-Soviet Russia; it also aims at unraveling the interplay between contention and regime dynamics. Students examine the ebbs and flows of mobilization, its cross-temporal and cross-regional specifics, and its impact on the political processes.
Russian language proficiency not required.

PLSC 398
Comparative Political Economy

Frances Rosenbluth
Introduction to issues in political economy across time and place. The field’s diverse theoretical underpinnings and its place in the context of political science and of the social sciences more generally; theoretical perspectives such as materialism, institutionalism, and cognition/culture/beliefs; interactions between government and the economy in democratic and nondemocratic regimes and in developed and developing countries.
Enrollment limited to senior Political Science majors.

PLSC 406
Sexual Violence and War

Elisabeth Wood
Analysis of patterns of sexual violence in war. Assessment of how well scholars in various disciplines and policy analysts account for these patterns.

PLSC 415
Religion and Politics of the World

Katharine Baldwin
A broad overview of the relationship between religion and politics around the world, especially Christianity and Islam. Religions are considered to constitute not just theologies but also sets of institutions, networks, interests, and sub-cultures. The course’s principal aim is to understand how religion affects politics as an empirical matter, rather than to explore moral dimensions of this relationship.

PLSC 431
War and Peace in Northern Ireland

Bonnie Weir
Examination of theoretical and empirical literature in response to questions about the insurgency and uneasy peace in Northern Ireland following the peace agreement of 1998 which formally ended the three-decade long civil conflict known widely as The Troubles and was often lauded as the most successful of its kind in modern history. Consideration of how both the conflict and the peace have been messier and arguably more divisive than most outside observers realize.

PLSC 443
Political Economy of the Middle East and Northern Africa

Allison Hartnett
This course examines the distribution of power and economic resources in the Middle East and North Africa. The course begins with a historical analysis of the institutional legacies of pre-colonial and colonial rule, and then moves on to primarily focus on the political economy of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. We cover themes including, but not limited to, identity politics, collective action, gender, rentierism, foreign aid, conflict, and institutions, and their intersection with political and economic development in the region.

PLSC 450
The Geopolitics of Democracy

Lauren Young
The threats to liberal democracy are being widely debated, from the US and Europe to developing nations.   In order for democracy to continue to thrive as the cornerstone of Western governance, it must adapt and be relevant to citizens of the 21st century. This course examines our appreciation of what constitutes democracy today and how to apply those understandings to the challenges of the 21st century. Our discussions look at the characteristics of democratic leaders and debate whether America, the bulwark of liberal democracy in the 20th century, is still an exporter of democracy and how that matters in today’s world. We then look at how to protect and adapt democratic institutions such as free elections, civil society, dissent, and the free press in the face of a rising wave of populism and nationalism. The course examines how refugee crises from conflict regions and immigration impact democracies and debate the accelerating paradigm shifts of income inequality and technology on democratic institutions.  We conclude the course with a discussion of the forms of democratic governance that are meaningful in the 21st century and the practicalities of designing or reforming democratic institutions to confront current challenges.

PLSC 451
Political Violence in the Modern World

Louis Wasser
This course offers an overview of political violence in the modern world. We begin by exploring the evolutionary roots of violence (and cooperation) for humans and other primates, then shift to a more explicitly political approach, gaining a better conceptual and theoretical understanding of “political violence.” The course then segues to a discussion of different types of political violence, including inter- and intra-state militarized conflicts, terrorism, genocide, and ethnic conflict.

PLSC 455
Big Data, AI, and Political Science: Applications to Russian Politics

Anton Sobolev
NOTE: This is a new course.  PLSC 455 will be offered during the spring 2020 semester and it should appear in the Yale Course Search shortly.  This seminar is scheduled to meet on Tuesdays from 9:25 – 11:15
This cross-disciplinary course focuses on two broad questions. First: how do politicians use new technologies to influence politics? Second: how do scholars use new technologies to study politics? It uses Russia as a laboratory to explore these questions. The course consists of four parts. It starts with a review of contemporary Russia and pays attention to the quantitative studies of its economy and politics.  Next, the course provides a non-technical introduction to Big Data and AI algorithms. Finally, it outlines the applications of the new technologies to the study of Russian politics.
Prerequisites: A prior statistics course at Yale (e.g., PLSC 425, S&DS 242), Programming experience in R.  A course on research design in the Social Sciences is helpful (but is not required).

Revised 11/26/2019