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 Fall 2019 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 9:00 am on Wednesday, July 17 through 9:00 am on Monday, August 5.

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, August 5, 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, August 21.

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 fall 2019 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

Fall 2019 PLSC Seminars Participating in Pre-Registration as of July 10, 2019


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 152
Global Firms and National Governments
Joseph LaPalombara
Interactions between large-scale firms that make international investments and policy makers and government officials in the “host” countries. National and subnational officials who work to attract investments (or not) and who set policies regulating global firms and their investments. Focus on less-developed countries. Theories as to why firms “globalize”; case studies of controversies created by overseas corporate investments; the changing economic landscape associated with investments by countries such as China, Brazil, and India.

PLSC 171
The Politics of Forced Migration and Population Displacement
Adam Lichtenheld
NOTE:  This is a new course.  PLSC 171 will be offered during the fall 2019 semester and it should appear in the course search shortly.  This seminar is scheduled to meet on Wednesdays from 3:30 – 5:20.
Introduction to global issues in forced migration and population displacement. Topics include distinctions between types of population movements; the history and politics of refugee protection; legal and institutional frameworks governing forced migration; drivers of and responses to refugee and displacement flows; and the political, security, humanitarian, and ethical implications of forced migration. The end of the course investigates solutions to displacement crises, the obstacles to enacting them, and future challenges for policymakers and practitioners. Students will engage in a series of policy simulations based on real-world humanitarian crises.

PLSC 178
US-Mexico Relations
Emily Sellars
Introduction to U.S.–Mexico relations. Historical background on the bilateral relationship. Discussion of contemporary political issues, including trade, border security, the drug war, migration, agriculture, environmental issues, and energy policy.

PLSC 197
National Security in India in the Twenty-first Century
Sushant Singh
This course examines the state and dynamics of national security in India in the past two decades. As an emergent power, India is an important country in Asia, with its economic and geo-political strength noticed globally. A major share of the country’s heft comes from its national security paradigm which has undergone a significant shift in the twenty-first century. This course intends to take a holistic look at the conceptions for the basis of India’s national security, its evolution, the current challenges and its future course by exploring its various dimensions such as China, Pakistan, global powers, Indian Ocean region, Kashmir, nuclear weapons, civil-military relations and defense preparedness.

PLSC 200
The Politics of Crime and Punishment in American Cities

Allison Harris
NOTE:  This is a new course.  PLSC 200 will be offered during the fall 2019 semester and it should appear in the course search shortly.  This seminar is scheduled to meet on Thursdays from 1:30 – 3:20.
This course explores the relationship between politics and crime and punishment. We review literature focused on political behavior and political institutions to better understand the phenomena we hear about in the news from sentencing algorithms, to felon (dis)enfranchisement, to stop-and-frisk, and police use of force.

PLSC 209
Congress in the Light of History
David Mayhew
This course begins by studying analytic themes, including congressional structure, incentives bearing on members and parties, conditions of party control, supermajority rules, and polarization, followed by narrative works of major political showdowns entailing Congress such as those in 1850, 1876-77, 1919 (defeat of the Versailles Treaty), 1937 (defeat of court-packing), 1954 (the McCarthy-Army hearings), 1964 (civil rights), 1973-74 (Watergate), and 1993-94 (defeat of health care). Students also examine a series of policy performances, for the better or the worse in today’s judgments, ranging from early state-building through reacting to the Great Depression, constructing a welfare state, and addressing climate change. This is a reading course and does not accommodate senior essays.

PLSC 212
Democracy and Sustainability
Michael Fotos
Democracy, liberty, and the sustainable use of natural resources. Concepts include institutional analysis, democratic consent, property rights, market failure, and common pool resources. Topics of policy substance are related to human use of the environment and to U.S. and global political institutions.

PLSC 220
Gender Politics
Andrea Aldrich
Exploration of theoretical and empirical work in political science to study the relationship between gender and politics in the United States and around the world. Topics include women’s representative in legislative and executive branch politics in democratic regimes; the impact of gender stereotypes on elections and public opinion; conditions that impact the supply and demand of candidates across genders; and the underrepresentation of women in political institutions.

PLSC 223
Learning Democracy: The Theory and Practice of Civic Education
Amir Fairdosi
This is a seminar on the theory and practice of civic education. We begin by investigating philosophies of civic education, asking such questions as: What is civic education and what is its purpose? What knowledge, skills, and values promote human flourishing and the cultivation of a democratic society? What roll can and should schools play in this cultivation? In the next part of the course we focus on civic education in practice, exploring various approaches to teaching civics and the empirical evidence in support of each method’s effectiveness. We also discuss variations in access to civic education opportunities across socioeconomic, demographic, and national contexts, and how societies might deal with these disparities.

PLSC 225
Ideas of Representation in American Political Development
John Dearborn
This course explores ideas of representation in American political history and our contemporary politics. Topics are divided into six categories: the Founding and the Constitution, Congress and the Presidency, the national interest, partisan mobilization, identity, and contemporary challenges.

PLSC 228
First Amendment and Ethics of Law
Karen Goodrow
This course addresses the First Amendment and freedom of speech, focusing on the ethical implications of restrictions on free speech, as well as the exercise of free speech. Course topics and discussions include the “fighting words” doctrine, hate speech, true threats, content regulated speech, freedom of speech and the internet, and the so-called “right to be forgotten.” By the end of the course, students recognize the role free speech plays in society, including its negative and positive impacts on various segments of society. Students also have an understanding of the competing interests arising from the First Amendment’s right to free speech, and can analyze how these competing interests are weighed and measured in the United States as compared with other countries.

PLSC 235
Political Journalism and Public Policy
Derek Slap
The effects of political journalism on American public policy from 1960 to the present. Focus on changes in the media during the past few decades. The Dewey-Lippmann debate on the role journalism should play in politics, marketing in the 1968 presidential campaign, broadcast news and audience fragmentation in the 1970s, media dysfunction and the Clinton and Obama health care initiatives, the Internet, hyperpartisanship, media bias, and recent gun control initiatives.

PLSC 238
Policy, Politics, and Learning on the Education Beat
Jane Karr
Exploration of the national conversation around education issues, and how to write smartly about them. Classes delve into top stories of the last few years—diversity and desegregation, school choice and culture wars—and their impact on policy. Students learn to develop strong, marketable ideas while crafting features aimed at publication. Journalists on the K-12 beat are frequent guests.

PLSC 241
The Making of Political News
Matthew Mahler
The processes through which political news gets made. How the form and content of political news are shaped in and through the ongoing relationships between political operatives and journalists; ways in which these actors attempt to structure and restructure such relationships to their benefit.

PLSC 249
American Mass Media: Law, Politics and Policy

Brian Libgober
NOTE:  This is a new course.  PLSC 249 will be offered during the fall 2019 semester and it should appear in the course search shortly.  This seminar is scheduled to meet on Mondays from 1:30 – 3:20.
What role does mass media play in the American political system? What role should it play? How do legal and policy choices shape the media market? How do politicians respond to the media environment as they seek office? How can the public and interest groups use the media to get government to do what they want? These are some of the questions we shall grapple with in this course. We will engage with the topic from a variety of academic and professional lenses, whenever possible highlighting cutting-edge empirical research.

PLSC 258
Democracy and Bureaucracy

Ian Turner
NOTE:  This is a new course.  PLSC 258 will be offered during the fall 2019 semester and it should appear in the course search shortly.  This seminar is scheduled to meet on Tuesdays from 9:25 – 11:15.
Exploration of what government agencies do and why; focus on issues of accountability and the role of bureaucracy in representative democracy. Understanding how bureaucracy works internally and how it is affected by interactions with other political actors and institutions.

PLSC 274
Cities: Making Public Choices in New Haven
John DeStefano
Examination of cities, particularly the relationship of people to place and most importantly to one another, through the prism and experiences of the City of New Haven. Exploration of how concepts of social capital and legitimacy of institutions in policy design and execution, are key to the well being of community residents. How cities, in the context of retreating or antagonistic strategies by the state and  federal governments, can be key platforms for future economic and social wealth creation.

PLSC 286
Democracy and the French Revolution
Isaac Nakhimovsky
The French Revolution of 1789 and its legacies, as viewed through the late-eighteenth-century debates about democracy, equality, representative government, and historical change that shaped an enduring agenda for historical and political thought in Europe and around the world.

PLSC 297
Moral Choices in Politics
Boris Kapustin
A study of how and why people make costly moral choices in politics. Figures studied include Thomas More, Abraham Lincoln, Nelson Mandela, Václav Havel, and Aung San Suu Kyi.

PLSC 307
Trials of Uncertainty
Norma Thompson
Is the demise of the trial at hand? The trial as cultural achievement, considered as the epitome of humanistic inquiry, where all is brought to bear on a crucial matter in an uncertain context. Truth may be hammered out or remain elusive, but the expectation in the court case has been that the adversarial mode works best for sorting out evidentiary conundrums. Inquiries into issues of meaning of the trial, its impartiality, and challenges to its endurability. The role of character, doubt, and diagnosis explored in Sophocles, Plato, Cicero, Burke, Jane Austen, Tocqueville, and Kafka, as well as in twentieth-century trials, films, documentaries, and twenty-first-century medical narratives.

PLSC 312
Alexander Rosas
This course is about punishment. The power of the state to restrict freedom, to impose pain, even death, and to mark one as ‘criminal’ is remarkable, and this course interrogates the theories that underlie that power. In what cases and for what reasons should the state have the power to punish, and where should the moral and legal limits on that power lie? What should the goals of punishment be, and which forms of punishment align most closely with them? What is the nature and desired role of vengeance and mercy in determining whether, when, and how to punish? What obligations should a society have to punish but also to those whom it punishes? Should the state have the power to shame and humiliate? What does punishment reveal about society more broadly? This course considers these and other related questions primarily through works in political and legal theory, but it also takes an interdisciplinary approach and elaborates and evaluates the theoretical materials through a discussion of numerous legal and other case studies.

PLSC 313
Bioethics, Politics, and Economics
Stephen Latham
Ethical, political, and economic aspects of a number of contemporary issues in biomedical ethics. Topics include abortion, assisted reproduction, end-of-life care, research on human subjects, and stem cell research.

PLSC 314
The American Imagination: From the Puritans to the Civil War
Steven Smith & Anthony Kronman
Interdisciplinary examination of the uniqueness of the American experience from the time of the Puritans to the Civil War. Readings draw on major works of political theory, theology, and literature.

PLSC 338
Wahhabism: Politics, History, & Ethics
Jeffrey Macris
This course aims to explore the politics, history, and ethical claims of the Wahhabi Islamic movement, from its origins on the Arabian Peninsula in the 18th century to today.

PLSC 354
The European Union
David Cameron
Origins and development of the European Community and Union over the past fifty years; ways in which the often-conflicting ambitions of its member states have shaped the EU; relations between member states and the EU’s supranational institutions and politics; and economic, political, and geopolitical challenges.

PLSC 368
Authoritarianism and Totalitarianism
Aysen Candas
The aim of the course is to familiarize students with the political science literature on two political regime types called authoritarianism and totalitarianism. These regime types are most frequently studied with reference to their systematized negation of liberalism, freedoms, equality, and democracy. This background on literature is followed with readings on the current regimes in Turkey, Russia, Hungary, and Poland to determine the similarities and differences of these new regimes from their forerunners in history and ends with reflections on the new “populisms.”

PLSC 393
Comparative Constitutionalism and Legal Institutions
Steven Calabresi
Introduction to the field of comparative constitutional law. Constitutional texts, materials, and cases drawn primarily from those constitutional democracies that are also members of the Group of Twenty Nations and that respect judicial independence.

PLSC 395
Parties, Interest Groups and Public Policies in Advanced Industrialized Economies
Isabela Mares
This course provides an introduction to the political science literature studying the economic and social policy institutions of contemporary capitalism. In the first part of the course, we introduce the literature examining ‘varieties of capitalist economies’ and examine the most significant factors that explain why the organization of firms, interest groups, and socials policies varies significantly across advanced industrialized economies. In the second part of the course, we turn to the study of change in these institutions in recent decades. We examine how external economic factors (such as globalization) or endogenous economic transformations (such as slowdown in growth, demographic aging) have constrained the policy choices available to labor market actors (such as unions or employers associations) and political parties. We examine the resulting policy choices made in different countries in response to these new economic constraints.

PLSC 401
Democratic Politics and Public Policy in Contemporary Africa
Jeremy Seekings
Examination of how the resurgence of competitive, multi-party elections in Africa has reinfused democratic governance and transformed the process of public policy-making. Emphasis on the political landscape of public opinion and voting behavior; elections and political parties; the state and governance; as well as policy-making, with focus on economic and social policies.

PLSC 409
Civil Conflict
Bonnie Weir
Forms of civil conflict and political violence and theories about reasons for and implications of these types of violence. Natural and philosophical foundations of political violence; the potential roles of ethnicity, economic factors, territory, and political institutions and structures in the onset and dynamics of civil conflict; problems of conflict termination.

PLSC 410
Political Protests
Maria Jose Hierro
The study of political protest, with discussion of theoretical approaches explaining the origin and decline of social movements and protest. Topics include the conditions under which individuals coordinate and start protest actions; what favors individual participation in protests; and when do protests succeed.

PLSC 423
Political Economy of Poverty Alleviation
Ana De La O
Overview of classic and contemporary approaches to the question of why some countries have done better than others at reducing poverty. Emphasis on the role of politics.

PLSC 425

Dawn Brancati
NOTE:  This is a new course.  PLSC 425 will be offered during the fall 2019 semester and it should appear in the course search shortly.  This seminar is scheduled to meet on Mondays from 1:30 – 3:20.
This course will examine why autocratic states democratize and why democracy breaks down in already democratic states. The course will also examine the reasons for and the effectiveness of the different ways that governments resist democratization, including accommodation, censorship and repression.

PLSC 426
Rebellion, Repression, and Revolution: A Comparative Approach to the Arab Uprisings

Louis Wasser
NOTE:  This is a new course.  PLSC 426 will be offered during the fall 2019 semester and it should appear in the course search shortly.  This seminar is scheduled to meet on Thursdays from 1:30 – 3:20.
This course applies a comparative lens to the so-called “Arab Spring” uprisings beginning in late 2010. After establishing a baseline level of knowledge regarding the Arab World for all students, we will explore the dynamics of these recent uprisings – including different patterns of opposition across the region, the actions of both revolutionary and counterrevolutionary forces, and the varied outcomes of these rebellions in different Arab states

PLSC 428
Comparative Welfare Policy in Developing Countries
Jeremy Seekings
Examination of public and private welfare systems in the developing world. Analysis of the evolving relationships between kin or community and states and market. Particular attention to the politics of contemporary reforms.

PLSC 445
The Politics of Fascism
Lauren Young
Study of the rise of fascism in Europe in the 1930s and its deployment during the Second World War as a road map to understanding the resurgence of nationalism and populism in today’s political landscape, both in Europe and the United States.

Revised 07/11/19