POLS - Political Science

Note: Some courses may be taken at either the 200- or 300-level. Majors and potential majors should enroll at the 300-level. For all such courses the 300-level version requires separate readings, sessions, and expectations for advanced discussion and research. Students cannot receive 200- and 300-level credit for the same course.

POLS 110 Introduction to American Politics (4)

An examination of political life in the United States with attention to the environment in which politics takes place and the traditional institutions that comprise the federal government. This course may be used for teacher certification. (SB)


POLS 140 Introduction to International Politics (4)

Basic survey of the contemporary international political system with emphasis on key concepts of power, sovereignty, and national interest; studies global patterns and trends in relations between major state and non-state actors. Special attention is devoted to sources and consequences of conflicts, global politics of transnational problems of environment, development, and international political economy. Promotes development of critical thinking, analytical reading and writing, research skills and collaborative learning. (SB, GPN, GS)


POLS 211 American Political Parties (4)

An examination of the American political party system and its many changes over the past 200+ years. Discussion will focus on the history of the party system, the role that political parties play in American democracy, and ways that the parties have adapted to the technological and legal challenges of the 21st century. (HP)


POLS 212 Congress (4)

An examination of parliamentary and legislative behavior focusing on the U.S. Congress.  Discussion will focus on the implications of legislative behavior on the formation of public policy, why institutional rules and procedures matter, and how American political institutions help maintain our democratic form of government.


POLS 213 Courts (4)

An examination of judicial behavior focusing on the U.S. court system.  Discussion will focus on the implications of judicial behavior on the formation of public policy, why institutional rules and procedures matter, and how American political institutions help maintain our democratic form of government.


POLS 214 The Presidency (4)

An examination of executive behavior focusing on the U.S. presidency.  Discussion will focus on the implications of executive behavior on the formation of public policy, why institutional rules and procedures matter, and how American political institutions help maintain our democratic form of government.


POLS 215 The Politics of State and Local Governments (4)

An examination of government and politics at the state and local level. Topics covered will include state-level institutions and processes, local-level institutions and processes, urban politics, and Iowa politics. Emphasis will be placed on how state and local governments fit into the American political system.

POLS 216 Political Behavior: Political Participation, Elections, and Media (4)

An examination of the major topics in political behavior, including political participation, voting behavior, elections, and media. Discussion will be directed toward assessing the impact of the aforementioned upon the formation of public policy, implications for political institutions, and the maintenance of democratic government.


POLS 222 African Politics Since 1935 (3)

A comparative historical analysis of African countries’ political institutions and processes, from the early nationalist period to the present. Special focus on political, economic, and foreign policy problems and strategies of independent African countries. (HP, GPN)


POLS 225 Modern Latin America (4)

A cross-national comparison of political, socioeconomic and cultural development in Latin America from 1870 to the present. Countries of focus are Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Mexico, and Cuba. Studies the cycles of dictatorship and democracy, economic boom and bust, and political and social economic liberalization since the mid-1980s. (HP, GPC, WRT)


POLS 231 The Middle East in World Affairs (4)

A comparative historical and institutional analysis of post-colonial foreign policies of selected state and non-state actors in the Middle East, including Israel, its Arab neighbors, and Iran. Special attention is given to the historical roots of major contemporary regional conflicts and domestic social, economic, political, and religious influences shaping contemporary external relations. (HP, GPN, WRT)


POLS 233 American Environmental Politics and Policy (4)

Investigates the political and public policy dimensions of major American environmental issues and problems from 1945 to the present.  Identifies and analyzes major U.S. environmental actors, including industry groups, environmental NGOs, as well as major governmental actors and policy bodies in the environmental arena at the national state, and local levels. (GS)


POLS 235 The U.S. in World Affairs (4)

An examination of the historical evolution of major U.S. foreign policy-making institutions and processes, with emphasis on the post-1945 era. Analysis of guiding principles and patterns in U.S. foreign diplomatic, economic and military relations since 1898. (HP)


POLS 241 International Political Economy (4)

An introduction to the politics of international economic relations focused on finance, trade, development, security, migration, illicit markets and the key institutions involved in those areas. In addition to weekly assignments involving critical reading, viewing, writing and discussion, students complete a semester-long case study analysis on some topic of personal interest. The project involves evaluation of reliable, relevant primary and secondary sources and the application of a formal case study analysis framework. Final products of the project include a formal written report and oral presentation. (SB, GPN, WRT)


POLS 242 Global Sustainability Politics (4)

Prerequisite: second-year standing or instructor permission. A policy-oriented overview of selected global sustainability issues, problems, and solutions drawn from across the political, economic, and social justice realms.  Examines roles of key international, governmental, and non-governmental actors. Emphasizes engaged citizenship at the local, national, and global levels. Opportunities for participation in campus and community outreach sustainability projects are included. (SB, GS)


POLS 249 Political Science Statistics (4)

Introduces students to statistical techniques used to explore and understand political phenomena. Students will learn how and when to use descriptive and inferential statistics ranging from measures of central tendency and dispersion to linear and logistic regression.  Students will also learn how to use statistics software to aid in answering political science research questions. (MR)


POLS 250 Methods of Political Research (4)

Prerequisite: POLS-249.  Students learn to define a research problem and to formulate and test hypotheses using a variety of methods. To successfully complete the course students must submit a proposal for a research project that includes a thorough literature review on a topic in political science, a set of well-formulated hypotheses based on the literature review, and a defensible research design to test those hypotheses with adequate data and appropriate methods. In addition, students will complete a one-hour lab component to learn the basics of applied statistical analysis in SPSS.


POLS 287 Presidential Inauguration Seminar (3)

Prerequisite: GPA of 2.5 or above. An examination of the inauguration and how new presidents operate during the early weeks of a new presidential administration. Discussion will be directed toward the outcome of the current presidential election and how it might impact American politics and policy. Course will be offered every fourth spring after a presidential election. Students must participate in The Washington Center’s Inauguration Program prior to the semester beginning.


POLS 316 Presidential Elections (4)

Prerequisite: Second-year standing, third-year recommended. An examination of presidential elections. Discussion will be directed toward electoral processes, how voters make decisions in elections, and strategic campaigning by candidates, political parties, and other political actors. Course will be offered every fourth fall during a presidential election year. (SB)


POLS 326 Political Violence and Terrorism (4)

An inquiry into the causes of political violence and terrorism focused on theories of human nature and institutions. Causal explanations are evaluated against particular cases involving different types of political violence in different historical, cultural, and political contexts. In addition to weekly assignments requiring critical reading, viewing, writing and discussion, students complete a semester-long Event Structure Analysis (ESA) on some particular case of political violence. The ESA project involves evaluation of reliable, relevant primary and secondary sources and the application of a formal social sequence analysis framework. Final products of the project include a formal written report and oral presentation. (SB, GPC, WRT)


POLS 344 International Law and Human Rights (4)

A prior course in Political Science; POLS-140 strongly recommended.  Examines major international legal principles and organizations in a changing global system. Special emphasis on evolution of human rights norms in a changing international order. Emphasis on the United Nations system, particularly peace and security and sustainable development functions.  Examines the growing role of non-governmental organizations (NGOs in world politics.  (SB, WRT)


POLS 355 Seminar in Public Policy (3)

Examination of the formulation, implementation, and analysis of public policy in the United States. Discussion will focus on the implications of institutional behavior on the public policy process, the role of procedures and rules in the policy process, and the role of the policy-making process within our democratic form of government. In addition, students will gain firsthand experience in a particular policy domain through a service-learning experience.


POLS 361 American Political Philosophy (4)

An examination of the contribution of American thinkers to the literature of political philosophy. Emphasis will be upon the “founding fathers,” but concern will be given to developing themes, ideas and topics relevant to citizens today.  (LP)


POLS 390 Topics: Political Science (3)

Offered as needed to cover the interests of staff and students when these cannot be accommodated by regular offerings. The student’s transcript will carry an indication of the topic pursued.


POLS 397  Internship: Political Science (Arr)

These are off-campus experiences designed to enrich a student’s education through supervised practical experience in a civic, governmental, or business institution. Three structured programs are currently available: The Washington Center in Washington, D.C.; the Intern Program in Des Moines; and the Chicago Semester Program. Approved independent programs are also available. Unsupervised political activity does not qualify. Total credit for full time internship may not exceed 15 hours per semester; no more than 3 credits may count toward a major or minor in political science. Pass/No Credit basis.


POLS 399 Independent Study (Arr)

Offered on an individual basis to those students who demonstrate that their interest cannot be met by scheduled offerings. Students seeking to enroll must consult the staff member involved the semester beforehand and obtain approval of their projects.


POLS 489 Research Seminar (4)

Prerequisite: POLS 250, SOC 350 or ANTH 366. A senior capstone experience primarily for Political Science majors. Students work closely with the instructor in conceiving, executing, and communicating an original empirical research or civic engagement project on some topic or issue of personal interest. The final products include a long written project report and oral presentation to satisfy the political science department’s major communication skills requirement.