Academic Calendar

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New Courses for Spring 2014

The Politics Department is proud to offer the following new courses for Spring 2014. For a full list of department course offerings, consult the University Registrar course listings

Pol 89A: Political Science Internship 

Pol 101A: Parties, Interest Groups, and Public Opinion

Pol 132A: Religion, Nationalism, and Violence in Comparative Perspective

Pol 192B: Seminar: Topics in Law and Political Theory: "Constitutional Theory and Constitution-Making"

Pol 193B: Track II Diplomacy: Theory and Practice

Pol 214B: Graduate Seminar: Selected Topics in World Politics: "The United States and the War in Bosnia: US Secret Intelligence and White House Decision Making on Intervention: 1991-1995"




Pol 89A: Political Science Internship 
Instructor: Ryan LaRochelle

Note: Students must have an approved internship either before or concurrent with the class.  Instructor’s signature required.  Please contact the instructor, Ryan LaRochelle (larochel@brandeis.edu) for a form, which must be filled out and approved before students are permitted to enroll in the course. 

What can you do with a degree in politics?  The political science internship allows students to gain practical experience about the job market and test potential avenues for future employment.  This is a unique opportunity for students to apply the knowledge they have learned in the classroom to the everyday practice of politics.  In an increasingly congested job market, internships help students build their resumes and learn skills that will ease their post-graduation transition.  Students in the seminar will spend approximately 100 hours over the course of the semester at their internship sites.  The course allows to learn about careers in state and local governments and congressional offices, advocacy groups, non-profits, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), legal offices, media outlets, and numerous other organizations.  Course readings inform students’ understandings of how political scientists analyze these various institutions. Weekly seminar meetings and assignments tie students’ field work back to the broader study of politics and political science.  The seminar is organized around a fundamental question in the discipline: Can academic political science and its theories and empirics help us understand and practice real-world politics?  Throughout the course will we examine whether political scientists can do a better job of informing citizens and improve the practice of democracy. 

In addition to their work at their internship sites, students in the course are required to submit an evaluation by their internship supervisor, complete a daily log and journal of their work in the field, write a term paper that evaluates the applicability of political science research to a question or problem at their internship site, and present their paper in class.




Pol 101A: Parties, Interest Groups, and Public Opinion
Instructor: Leanna Barlow

Next fall, the Scottish National Party will spearhead a referendum on Scottish independence that could have dramatic consequences for the future of the United Kingdom. From the National Front in France to the Tea Party in United States, extreme party politics are changing the structure and function of party systems around the world. Over the course of the semester, students in this seminar will examine this particularly influential party grouping: niche or radical political parties. These will include green parties, regionalist and separatist parties, and parties of the radical right. From both an institutional perspective (electoral rules, devolution) and an agency-oriented perspective (leadership, social movements), we will look at the development of "extreme" parties in several case countries, shedding light on their respective origins, evolutions, and success or failure in a changing world. 




Pol 132A: Religion, Nationalism, and Violence in Comparative Perspective
Instructor: Matthew Isaacs

Recent events across the globe have drawn attention to the complex relationship between religious belief, nationalism, social mobilization, and violence. While the bulk of popular attention has been paid to the role of religion in Middle Eastern politics, the past several decades have seen a dramatic resurgence of public religion and religious conflict across the globe. This course examines the relationship between religion, nationalism, and violent conflict globally with a particular focus on religious violence in Sri Lanka, India, Nigeria, and Northern Ireland. In each of these conflicts, students will consider variation in the ways in which religion and religious identity are used by political leaders, the mechanisms linking the virtues of individual religious belief with the tragedy of large-scale ethnic violence, and what it means for a conflict across religious lines to be "religious" or "ethnic" in nature. This course also considers a series of topics unique to religious conflict, including the politics of holy space, the logic of deadly religious violence, and the volatility of public religious imagery. This course requires a commitment to interdisciplinary thinking about religion and politics. A significant portion of the reading material is outside of the field of political science and incorporates aspects of anthropology, philosophy, theology, and sociology. 

The instructor of this course has been awarded a University Prize Instructorship (UPI). These prestigious awards give exceptional doctoral students from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences the opportunity to design and teach an upper-division course in their field of research. Enrollment in this course is open to undergraduate students only and is limited to 20 students. Special one-time course offering.




Pol 192b Seminar: Topics in Law and Political Theory: "Constitutional Theory and Constitution-Making"
Professor Jeffrey Lenowitz

Constitutions are in the news. Politicians criticize each other for violating constitutions daily. Conventions and assemblies around the world are trying to make new ones. Citizens take to the streets to demand the revision or replacement of unwanted constitutions. And recently Google launched a digital archive of them. But what exactly is a constitution? Why should it matter if someone violates one? What purpose do constitutions even serve. This course, which lies at the intersection of political theory, law, and institutional design, focuses on such questions. Specifically, the course divides into three parts. First, we will look at the history, theory, and function of constitutions. Second, we will examine the procedures used to create new constitutions and the effects that these procedures might have. And third, we will look at the amendment, enforcement, and interpretation of constitutions. Students should be prepared to read a diverse array of material, from Aristotle to rational choice discussions of decision-making to the Chilean Constitution, and to deploy a diverse array of methods and analytical tools to discuss and understand them. Students with a background in political or legal philosophy and theory will be at an advantage, but this is not a prerequisite.




Pol 193B: Track II Diplomacy: Theory and Practice
Professor Shai Feldman and Professor Alain Lempereur

Enrollment in this class will be limited to 30, with preference to juniors, seniors, and graduate students. 

In Track II Diplomacy: Theory and Practice students will explore the theory, conceptual framework, and practicalities of Track-II diplomacy using case studies in the Middle East and Africa. Prof. Shai Feldman, director of the Crown Center for Middle East Studies, is a former director of the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University in Israel. Prof. Alain Lempereur, is the Alan B. Slifka Professor of Coexistence and Conflict Resolution and Program Director of the Master’s in Coexistence and Conflict.




Pol 214B: Graduate Seminar: Selected Topics in World Politics: "The United States and the War in Bosnia: US Secret Intelligence and White House Decision Making on Intervention: 1991-1995"
Professor Steven Burg

Open to Juniors, Seniors, and Graduate students. Signature of Instructor Required (to be obtained by interview with Professor Burg (burg@brandeis.edu). Enrollment will be limited to 25.

Students will analyze hundreds of recently declassified CIA, State, DoD and BTF (inter-agency Balkan Task Force) intelligence reports, and minutes of White House meetings of the most senior officials in the Clinton Administration to understand the sources of American policy in Bosnia, particularly the long-deferred decision to intervene. We will compare our conclusions to those in the most important academic and memoir literature, and confidential-source reporting in the news media (NY Times and Washington Post). We will read and discuss some of these analyses first, to establish a baseline of common understanding. We will consider others only after going through the documents and deciding for ourselves what's there. We will conclude by evaluating the official retrospective analysis ordered by the State Department, completed in 1997 and immediately classified, but then declassified.

The seminar will be conducted in the style of a governmental "working group". It will be an intensive reading, writing and research experience, requiring careful reading, contextualization and analysis of documents, the drafting of weekly analytical memos for circulation to the group in advance of each session, and informed, critical participation in the weekly class sessions. In addition to weekly memos, students will be required to write an analytical term paper on any relevant question that interests them personally, using the documents as original sources (this paper may incorporate work done in the weekly memos).

 This is a unique opportunity for Juniors contemplating a senior thesis next year in Politics, History, American Studies or any other social science program to begin intensive, original research for their project, and for Seniors to apply their analytical, writing, and presentation skills to the understanding of real-world world issues and events. Graduate students in political science, history, or another social science discipline are also invited to enroll.