Division of Arts and Humanities

Political Science

Course Descriptions - Fall 2012


Mon-Wed-Fri 12:00pm-12:50pm, 138 Hawthorn, Instructor: Nicholas Pyeatt

This course takes a broad look at American national government and American politics. It begins with a discussion of founding principles and documents and concludes by looking at how government uses its power. Readings and discussions cover the governing institutions-Congress, Executive, and Courts-and the institutions that link the American people to these-political parties, interest groups, and the media. Throughout, contemporary political events are placed in the context of theories, concepts, and arguments presented in class. By the end of the course students should have an understanding of how American national government is organized; a sense of what political scientists do, the types of questions they ask and the methods they employ; and the ability to make more informed choices in the political arena. For non majors this course may be used to fulfill a general education or Bachelor of Arts social/behavioral science requirement (BA).


Section 001 Mon-Wed-Fri 1:00pm-1:50pm, 150 Hawthorn, Instructor: Matt Evans
Section 002 Mon-Wed-Fri 2:00pm-2:50pm, 142 Hawthorn, Instructor: Matt Evans

In this course, you will be introduced to the major types of governments in existence today. We will examine a variety of nations, and learn how power is exercised in each major type of government and how different governments grant authority and seek the acceptance and legitimacy of their citizens. We will learn about the variety of ways to organize legislatures and executive branches, the difference between presidential and parliamentary systems, and the varying roles played by the courts and other legal institutions, and compare the different ways of holding elections and the different functions of political parties. The course fulfills one of the lower-division requirements for majors in Political Science and International Politics. For non majors this course may be used to fulfill a general education or Bachelor of Arts social/behavioral science requirement. (BA).


Section 001 Tues-Thur 9:25am-10:40am, 102C Smith, Instructor: Pamela Blackmon
Section 002 Tues-Thur 10:50am-12:05pm, 138 Hawthorn, Instructor: Pamela Blackmon

Characteristics of modern nation-states and forces governing their international relations; nationalism; imperialism; diplomacy; current problems of war and peace. This course has three major goals. First, you should come away from this course with an idea of what the scientific study of Political Science is all about. Second, you should come away from the course knowing some general theories (explanations) for international behavior that you should use when you think about international politics in the future. Third, you will be introduced to a number of important topics in international politics. These include the end of the Cold War, nuclear weapons, international economics, and international development. The course fulfills one of the lower-division requirements for majors in political science and international politics. For non-majors this course may be used to fulfill a general education or bachelor of arts social/behavioral science requirement.


Tues-Thur 1:15pm-2:30pm, 108 Sheetz, Instructor: Dan DiLeo

This course examines how the ideas of selected political theorists have been -- and continue to be--crucial for understanding how best to conduct our political lives. Following an introductory exploration of how political theorists think and write about politics, we will examine how different views about the purpose of human life imply different answers to the question of what end governments might serve beyond the preservation of their own power. Among the answers we will consider and criticize will be stability and the preservation of tradition, obedience to divine will, protection of life and the promotion of prosperity, lawfulness, social and economic equality, freedom, honor and noble action, and free inquiry. Associated with the question of the appropriate end for the political community is the type of person to whom political power should be entrusted. Should it be the devout person, the traditionalist, the technocrat, the courageous person, the humble person, the law-abiding person, the loyal person, or the inquisitive person? We will read those authors who posed these questions in the clearest, most urgent, and thought-provoking form. So that these questions do not remain abstractions, we will explore how particular answers to these questions inform the work of modern and contemporary political theories, regimes, and theoretically informed empirical research. This course serves as a prerequisite for all upper level Political Theory courses, and for non-majors, this course may be used to fulfill general education requirements or the Bachelor of Arts social--behavioral science requirement.


Mon-Wed-Fri 11:00am-11:50am 258 Hawthorn, Instructor: Matt Evans This course will review the social, cultural, and political systems in the State of Israel as they have developed and changed since its inception in 1948. The role of immigration, ethnicity, and religion on Israeli society and cultures will be explored along with the non-Israeli cultures that have helped to shape conditions there. The course will look into the diverse social and political institutions of contemporary Israel, examine the borders and geographic features of the region, and discuss who lives there, where they reside, and for which portions of this period. It will examine the wars and tensions between Israel and neighboring Arab states; the status of the Arab/Palestinian minority in Israel; and the growth of Palestinian nationalism. Social conditions in the State of Israel are the result of a unique history. Israelis have absorbed large numbers of immigrants from many parts of the world while engaged in ongoing political and military conflicts. Jewish settlers in Israel/Palestine revitalized a language (Hebrew) and developed unusual collectivistic institutions (e.g., the kibbutz). Israeli nationalism is founded both on secular and religious ideologies. It includes notions of a return from Diaspora and the desire for personal and collective redemption. The study of social processes such as these will provide an opportunity to consider the foundations and functions of nation-states and social systems generally.


Tues-Thur 2:40pm-3:55pm, 144 Hawthorn, Instructor: Dan DiLeo

Although governments must always attend to urgent matters that cannot be put off, government attention is, and perhaps should be, directed as well toward matters that are of fundamental importance. However, there is substantial disagreement about what those matters are. In this course, through brief summarizing readings and through lectures, students will encounter the arguments of various political philosophers making the case that one or another purpose is most essential to government. Among the candidates for the status of primary purpose of government will be civic and moral education, the defense of life and property, the dismantling of the economic foundations of inequality, and the institution of justice in accordance with universal moral principles. The compatibility of the various conceptions of the purpose of government with the experiences and aspirations of women will receive special attention. Teams of two students each will research and debate the proís and conís of each perspective in light of what it can contribute to our understanding of contemporary political events and controversies. Each student will take a turn as debater and a turn at researching, composing, and organizing the content of the teamís opening statement.


Mon-Wed 4:00pm-5:15pm, 138 Hawthorn, Instructor: Nicholas Pyeatt
(Held with PL SC 429; students may only receive credit for one course)

This course is designed to examine the methods, strategies and evolution of American political campaigns, with a particular emphasis on polling, political consultants, political parties, redistricting and the media. This course will deal with campaigns and elections at the national, state and local level but will principally focus on presidential and congressional elections. As political parties are central to any study of political and electoral behavior in the United States, part of the semester will focus on the nature and evolution of political parties. In order to give students the widest exposure possible to the subject, guest lecturers who are professional practitioners in various political areas will be invited to make presentations before the class.


Tues-Thur 4:05pm-5:20pm, 121W Smith, Instructor: LA Wilson

Data analysis and statistical applications in political research, including data processing; inferential statistics; contingency analysis; correlation and regression; multivariate analysis. This course introduces students to the basic statistical techniques used to study politics quantitatively. It can be taken by itself or as the second course in a two course sequence with PL SC 308. Students in 309 learn about developing questions suited to empirical research; constructing hypotheses; measuring political concepts; and conducting basic univariate and multivariate analyses. The course includes sections on the basic principles of probability, sampling, and statistical inference so that students can understand and implement statistical techniques for describing and explaining political phenomena. There is also extensive coverage of the use and application of various statistical techniques. Exercises both in and out of class will require students to engage with and apply various social science concepts, and to undertake quantitative analyses of political and policy-relevant data.


Tues-Thur 2:40pm-3:55pm 121W Smith, Instructor: Pamela Blackmon

This course will examine how gender impacts politics in decision making and in policy formation. Specifically, we will look at the role of gender in policy making concerning family leave policies and child care in the US and compare these policies with those in other states such as Sweden, Germany, the United Kingdom and Japan. We will also examine the development and language of military and defense policies using the theoretical framework of feminist theory. Finally, we will discuss how gender categories are constructed in the formation of economic development policy in the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. This course fulfills the American Politics and Comparative Politics distribution as well as the advanced course requirement for the Political Science major. It is an elective for the Women's Studies minor, and it fulfills an International/Intercultural competency requirement.


Mon-Wed 4:00pm-5:15pm, 138 Hawthorn, Instructor: Nicholas Pyeatt
(Held with PL SC 130; students may only receive credit for one course)

This course examines elections in the United States, primarily at the national level but with a secondary interest on the state and local level. Elections are the most direct form of political behavior and provide the clearest reflection of the preferences of the public. As such, in order to understand the publicís political actions and interests, it is necessary to have a good working understanding of elections. Students will focus on campaign finance, polling, political consultants, strategy, voting models and election organizations. The central goal of the class will be create linkages between these ideas to understand elections better and to analyze election behavior both visible and underlying.


Tues-Thur 10:50am-12:05pm Eve Chapel Social Room, Instructor: Dan DiLeo

Building on the introduction to the classic political philosophy of Plato and Aristotle in PL SC 17, we will examine the Stoic addition of universal law and civic responsibility to that tradition through the political writings of Cicero. We will then study Aquinasís attempt to synthesize classical political philosophy and Biblical revelation. Following that, we will study Machiavelliís modern effort to scale back the ideal of human excellence formulated by the classics and to harmonize that scaled back ideal with the peace and prosperity of the political community through the pursuit of glory. We will conclude with a brief consideration of the influences of classic political philosophy, its Stoic turn toward universal law, its confrontation with Biblical revelation, and its Machiavellian modernization on contemporary political and legal theory. Prerequisites: PL SC 17, fifth semester standing.

Supporting Courses:

  • PL SC 309, Quantitative Political Analysis, TTH 4:05-5:20pm, 121W Smith
  • HIST 417 (IL), Age of Absolutism, MWF 10:00am-10:50am, 117 Misciagna
  • HIST 435, European History, MWF 2:00pm- 2:50pm, 117 Misciagna
  • HIST 453, US Environmental History, MW 4:00pm-5:15pm, 145 Hawthorn
  • PHIL 200 (GH), Ancient Philosophy, MW 5:30pm-6:45pm, 144 Hawthorn
  • PHIL 233 (GH), Ethics and the Design of Technology, MWF 3:00pm-3:50pm, 145 Hawthorn
  • PSYCH 416 (HDFS 445), Adulthood, MWF 3:00pm-3:50pm, 261 Hawthorn
  • PSYCH 439, History & Systems of Psychology, MWF, 4:00pm-4:50pm, 102B Smith
  • PSYCH 441, Health Psychology, MW, 4:00pm-5:15pm, 120W Smith
  • PSYCH 452, Learning and Memory, TTH, 2:40pm-3:55pm, 261 Hawthorn
  • 475, Psychology of Fear and Stress, TTH, 9:25am-10:40am, 121W, Smith
  • 481, Introduction to Clinical Psychology, MWF, 1:00pm-1:50, 256, Hawthorn
  • SOC 416, (EDTHP), Sociology of Education, T, 3:00pm-5:30pm, 110 Cypress
  • SOC 429, Social Stratification, TTH, 10:50am-12:05pm,
  • SOC 440, (HDFS), Family Policy, TTH, 1:15pm-2:30pm, 142 Hawthorn


Dr. Daniel DiLeo
Associate Professor of Political Science
Arts and Humanities

Office: 129B Smith Building
Phone: 814-949-5284
WWW: http://www.personal.psu.edu/dxd22