Course Descriptions

Need to fulfill some degree requirements? Looking for courses in the summer or fall? Check out these intriguing courses. For more information, and to learn about our other course offerings, contact one of our advisors, or view the course catalog for more information.

Summer courses in political science

Political science course descriptions. Please review the course catalog for accuracy.
Course Number Course Name Professor Description
PSC 405D US Foreign Policy Allison Evans This course spans from diplomacy to war, and everything in between. Learn how US priorities are translated into the international arena, and the theories that help scholars understand the web of institutions that shape our world. This course fulfills the Culture, Geography, and Ideas requirement of the IAFF major.
PSC 400F Politics in Film Nicholas Seltzer Perhaps the biggest misconception about science fiction is that it is about the future rather than the present. Like social science, science fiction attempts to build from what we know - or what we think we know - of the trends and mechanisms underlying society in order to glimpse at the future that will result. Conversely, by studying the science fiction of a society we can learn a great deal about their ideas, dreams, frustrations, and fears. Come join us, as we explore the present and past through our collective imaginations of the future, as represented in science fiction print and film.
PSC 407W Terrorism Susanne Martin What do we do in 'Terrorism' class? We talk about important questions, such as: How do we know that an act of violence is terrorism? Why are terrorist attacks becoming more frequent? What do terrorists hope to gain, and how can they be stopped? During the short semester, we seek a better understanding of this contemporary threat, while fulfilling CO11 (Global Contexts) and CO13 (Capstone; Integration and Synthesis). Exceptions for prerequisites can be made with instructor approval.
PSC 408E Labor, Economy, and Protest Ian Hartshorn This course explores when economic conditions send people to the streets in protest. With special sections on campus based activism, and stretching from progressive protests in South Africa to conservative protests in California, this course fulfills CO11 as well as the International Economic Institutions requirement of the IAFF major (no Calculus needed!)

Just in time for the Fall 2020 elections

Political science fall course descriptions. Please review the course catalog for accuracy.
Course Number Course Name Professor Description
PSC 401G/601G Political Campaigns and Elections Christina Ladam Elections serve as the primary mechanism linking citizens with their elected officials, and are essential to a functioning representative democracy. This course is designed to provide an in-depth look at the American electoral process. Learn about the ways in which election laws, public opinion, media, political advertisements, and campaign finance influence election outcomes - and what it all means in the context of the 2020 presidential election.
PSC 401H American Political Parties and Electoral Behavior William Eubank Ever wonder why the United States only has two major political parties, and why it is those two in particular? In this course, you'll learn about the evolution of the American political party system, that developed from a multi-party, state and regionally based system to the current two party nationally oriented system, yielding one of the world's most bizarre presidential election systems. We'll compare the differences among state and national party systems, and compare with party systems in other countries. We'll also examine how and why individuals vote, and how the internal coalitions and groups within political parties have changed over time, culminating in a look at the parties in 2020.

What's the deal with data collection and privacy? What is "Big Data"? Why is it political?

Political science fall course descriptions. Please review the course catalog for accuracy.
Course Number Course Name Professor Description
PSC401P Big Data, Politics and Society Nicholas Seltzer The technologies associated with the collection, storage, and analysis of extraordinarily large volumes of information is transforming our economies, our politics, and even our cultures. In this course, we will discuss Big Data in the context of previous revolutions in information technology, including written language, the book, and the movable type printing press. Subsequently, we will introduce major theories describing the relationship between technology and society. With these in mind, we will consider implications of Big Data, as a technological revolution, and social change. Finally, we will explore applications of big data in industry and government, with eyes simultaneously on opportunities to better meet the public's needs, but also the social and political consequences of the loss of privacy and private spaces. No computer programming skills or math required.

Invoking "national defense" invokes the military, but did you ever wonder what is the nature of this institution that fights the nation's wars (or, as Congress now euphemistically calls them, "overseas contingency operations")? Consider taking:

Political science fall course descriptions. Please review the course catalog for accuracy.
Course Number Course Name Professor Description
PSC407Z Special Topics in Comparative Politics: the Military Carolyn Warner In democracies, why do militaries obey the governments they serve? What is the military-industrial complex and how does it affect national defense policy and the lives of our servicemembers? How has privatization of many aspects of the military affected its operations and the state's responsibility for national defense? This course also will explore whether there is a connection between our concept of the sacrifice of the soldier and religion, and how the military has addressed contentious societal issues such as racism and sexual assault. In investigating these subjects, you'll learn about the connection between military discipline and lethality (to quote then Defense Secretary General Mattis), about military law, and military-civilian relations in the US.

Want to learn about law and our legal systems? Check out these two courses:

Political science fall course descriptions. Please review the course catalog for accuracy.
Course Number Course Name Professor Description
PSC 332 Judicial Process William Eubank As an introduction to legal systems of the United States, the course focuses on the origins and meaning of the authority of the law, the structure and process of the American legal systems (federal and state), how these systems function, the role of judges, lawyers and litigants, and how these have changed over time. The course also looks at examples from other countries' legal systems.
PSC 409K Jurisprudence Robert Morin This course examines and provides an understanding of law and jurisprudence in American history and contemporary society. American law, both private and constitutional, has been central to the development of American society. American law mirrors the political and social values of our culture, and that at any given time American law can also be seen to reflect the economic preferences or the political ideology of particular groups in the polity. We will utilize a variety of legal theories to analyze issues of criminal and civil justice in history and contemporary society. We critically review, analyze and discuss American law and its English heritage, focusing upon issues of race, gender, labor, and class. This course satisfies the general capstone (CO13) course requirement. Prerequisites will be waived.

Want help making sense of an interconnected world? In a time when our challenges –pandemics, climate change, terrorism, and financial crises- come from beyond our borders, these courses in comparative and international politics help you navigate this global era.

Political science fall course descriptions. Please review the course catalog for accuracy.
Course Number Course Name Professor Description
PSC405F Problems of World Politics: organized crime and drug wars Laura Blume This class explores the politics of organized crime, transnational gangs, and migration, as well as the interconnections between these issues. Specifically, we will examine the ongoing drug war in Mexico, the challenges of responding to the mara gangs (MS-13 and M-18) in Central America, as well as US immigration policies, and the militarization of the US-Mexico border.
PSC405Z Special Topics in International Relations and Foreign Policy: Russia and the United States Allison Evans What's the deal with President Trump and President Putin? This course will explore and analyze the history and current state of US-Russian relations. The United States and Russia (formerly the Soviet Union) have historically gone from allies to enemies to something in between. What explains this variation? Why are relations today so strained?
PSC 407A/607A Political Systems of Western Europe Susanne Martin Let's take a trip to Europe this semester from the comfort of our classroom at UNR. Learn how Western European states are organized and how politics work in what is arguably the most democratic region of the world. What do European states do well? What do they do differently? What sorts of variations do we see across the region, including in Covid-19 responses, healthcare more generally, and in education, and policies about religion. Why did Brexit take hold and what are the ramifications not just in the United Kingdom but for Western Europe? This is an upper-division course in Comparative Politics. Exceptions for prerequisites can be made with instructor approval.
PSC 407F Political Systems of China Xiaoyu Pu No matter what your future career goal is, you cannot understand the future of the world without understanding contemporary China. China's global emergence is shaping the world in a fundamental way. From artificial intelligence to global climate change, China is a key player. For better or worse, the US-China relationship is the most consequential bilateral relationship in the 21st century. This class will examine China's domestic politics, political economy, and foreign policy. From Covid-19 to the trade war, we will also discuss many hot topics related to US-China relations.
PSC407I Politics and Problems of Developing Areas Laura Blume Drawing on the cases from Latin America, this course analyzes the intersections of conflict resolution, indigenous politics, forest preservation, and illicit economies. How has coca production entrenched conflict in Colombia and influenced identity politics in Bolivia? How has cocaine smuggling contributed to deforestation and undermined indigenous land rights in Central America?
PSC 407X/607X Suicide Terrorism Susanne Martin What do we learn about in a class on Suicide Terrorism? Firstly, we ask important questions relating to why suicide attacks have increased so dramatically in recent years, why political groups use suicide tactics, and why individuals participate in these attacks. We seek to understand what the perpetrators hope to gain, and how can we stop them. You can fulfill CO11 (Global Contexts) and CO13 (Capstone; Integration and Synthesis) while discussing these contemporary threats. This class is distinct from Terrorism (PSC 407W/607W).