Bard envisions the liberal arts institution as the hub of a network, rather than a single, self-contained campus. Numerous institutes for special study are available on and off campus, connecting Bard students to the greater community.
The Center for Civic Engagement at Bard College embodies the fundamental belief that education and civil society are inextricably linked. In an age of information overload, it is more important than ever that citizens be educated and trained to think critically and be actively engaged with issues affecting public life.
Omar G. Encarnación (director), Sanjib Baruah, Jonathan Becker, Roger Berkowitz, Kevin Duong, Simon Gilhooley, Samantha Hill, James P. Ketterer, David Kettler, Artemy Magun, Christopher McIntosh, Walter Russell Mead, Michelle Murray
Politics can be understood in many ways: as a struggle for power over other people, groups, and nations; as a social process that determines who has what kinds of authority and how this affects particular communities; as a series of conversations or disputations about what counts as a “public problem” and how to address public problems; or as an art or science of institutional design, especially the design of governments and international institutions. However it is defined, politics matters. Political outcomes shape the choices we can make as individuals and the fates of communities, nations, and states.The Political Studies Program at Bard welcomes students who care about politics and want to reason critically about political outcomes and debates at the local, national, and international levels. The program intends to inform responsible participation in American and global public affairs. It also prepares students for work and/or further study in political science, international affairs, public policy, law, cultural studies, and related fields.
At Bard, six broad clusters of political studies are identified: political theory, American politics, comparative politics, political economy, public law, and international relations. The clusters necessarily overlap one another and other fields. Students are encouraged to combine courses in political studies with relevant courses in other disciplines, such as history, economics, sociology, and literature.
Prior to Moderation, a student must have taken at least four courses in the program, including two from the core curriculum (see “Courses”). After Moderation, students are required to take three politics seminars. Depending on the interests of the student, and with the approval of the academic adviser, one of the seminars may come from a related social science discipline, such as economics or sociology; from study abroad; or from Bard’s Global and International Affairs (BGIA) Program in New York City. All students are required to complete a Senior Project that examines a political problem/puzzle or that synthesizes the political science literature on a major subject, such as democracy, development, or war.
Political Studies offers a core curriculum comprising the following courses: Introduction to Political Thinking, Comparative Politics, American Politics: Issues and Institutions, Political Economy, Foundations of the Law, and International Relations. In addition to this curriculum, the program offers a wide range of courses in area studies (Africa, Latin America, East Asia, and the Middle East), and thematic seminars on American foreign policy, international security, democratization, terrorism, civil society, development, and political methodology, among other topics.The following descriptions represent a sampling of courses from the past four years.
International RelationsPolitical Studies 104cross-listed: gis, human rightsAn introduction to competing theories about the structure, functioning, and transformative potential of the international system. The course begins with the traditional problem of international life: maintaining order among relatively equal states in a condition of anarchy. Part two calls the assumption of anarchy into question by looking at hierarchical power relationships in a variety of issue areas. The course concludes by addressing contemporary challenges to the state’s authority and the problems of governing in an increasingly global community.
Comparative PoliticsPolitical Studies 105cross-listed: gisThe intellectual premise of comparative politics is that we can better understand the politics of almost any country by placing it in its larger, global context. This perspective allows us to address some of the most fundamental questions of politics. Students examine not only the key institutions of liberal democracies, but also democracies constructed after dictatorships (Germany, Japan) and federalism as an emerging trend in contemporary regional politics.
Political EconomyPolitical Studies 109cross-listed: eus, gis, human rightsPolitical economy refers to the interrelationship between politics and economics. However, political scientists and economists do not always use the term in the same sense, and within these two disciplines the term has multiple meanings. This course reviews the ideas of major thinkers such as Adam Smith, Karl Marx, John Maynard Keynes, and John Kenneth Galbraith, and introduces two subfields: international political economy and the political economy of development.
Introduction to Political ThinkingPolitical Studies 115cross-listed: human rightsFrom Plato to Nietzsche, great thinkers in the Western tradition have asked about the nature and practice of political action. Thinking about politics is, knowingly or not, conducted against the background of this shared tradition. This is no less true of political thought that aims to break away from “the classics” than of political thought that finds in them a constant resource for both critical and constructive thinking. This course explores fundamental questions of politics through a core body of writings.
American Politics: Issues and InstitutionsPolitical Studies 122cross-listed: american studiesThis course introduces students to the basic institutions and processes of American government. It aims to provide students with a grasp of the fundamental dynamics of American politics and the skills to be an effective participant in and critic of the political process. During the semester, students examine how the government works, interpret current political developments and debates, and consider how to influence the government at various levels.
Case Study in International Policy: RussiaPolitical Studies 124cross-listed: gis, res Following an introduction to core concepts of U.S. global strategy, this 1-credit course uses Russia to explore the many factors that policy makers must take into account. These include Russian motivations and policies; the internal situation in countries like Ukraine and Syria; the role of actors like the European Union, Turkey, China, Japan, and Iran; the military equation; and the nature of American interests as they are affected by Russia. Students look at current U.S. policy and leading alternatives, and are challenged to propose an American strategy for Russia.
The Political Life of MourningPolitical Studies 142cross-listed: gis, human rights Can we transform moments of loss into an opportunity for democratic politics? How are these formative moments of loss—the death of a son, 9/11, the murder of Eric Garner—constitutive of a collective politics? The class explores the political life of mourning within the tradition of Western political thought, drawing on texts from Sophocles, Freud, Derrida, Douglas, Du Bois, Morrison, Moten, and others.
Human Rights in Global PoliticsPolitical Studies 145cross-listed: gis, human rights This course addresses the main actors and debates behind the rise of human rights in global politics. The course is divided into three core sections: the philosophical foundations of the notion of human rights and its contested universality; the evolution of the so-called international human rights regime; and the shifts from “first generation” human rights (political freedoms) to “second generation” human rights (social and economic rights, such as housing, employment, and education), to “third generation human rights” and beyond (cultural self-determination, economic sustainability, and sexual freedoms, among others).
Foundations of the LawPolitical Studies 167 / Philosophy 167cross-listed: human rights As the novelist William Gaddis writes: “Justice? You get justice in the next world. In this world, you have the law.” This course explores the apparent disconnect between law and justice. Through readings of legal cases as well as political, literary, and philosophical texts, students grapple with the problem of administering justice as it emerges in the context of contemporary legal institutions. Texts include Kant’s Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals, Melville’s Billy Budd, and selections from Dostoevsky, Twain, and Plato.
American Political ThoughtPolitical Studies 181cross-listed: american studies Drawing upon material from across the entire span of American history, the course attempts to develop an understanding of concepts such as democracy, liberty, individuality, and republicanism, and to discuss how understandings of these concepts have influenced political and social choices in the United States. Readings include works by Jefferson, Lincoln, Du Bois, and Goldman.
Radical Political ThoughtPolitical Studies 202Tracing the historical development of radical thought from the German tradition of critical theory in the so-called Frankfurt School through the emergence of poststructuralism in France, students examine questions of power, critique, and reason as well as the relationship between political action and critical thinking. Readings include works by Marx, Horkheimer, Adorno, Foucault, Habermas, and Butler.
Gender and the Politics of National SecurityPolitical Studies 206 / GIS 206See GIS 206 for a full course description.
Global CitizenshipPolitical Studies 181cross-listed: gis, human rightsWhat does it mean to be a global citizen? This question has gained increasing salience as the world has become more globalized, and new problems surface that cut across national borders and fall outside the jurisdiction of individual nation-states. In response, new forms of political organization have emerged that challenge the state as the primary locus of political authority and individual rights. This course critically examines the conceptual and theoretical foundations of the concept of global citizenship and investigates how the idea might work in practice.
U.S.–Latin American RelationsPolitical Studies 214cross-listed: american studies, gis, human rights, lais An overview of U.S.–Latin American relations from the early 19th century (and the advent of the Monroe Doctrine) to the present. The course is divided into three sections: the years between 1821 and 1940, with an emphasis on American military interventions intended to establish economic and political hegemony across the region; the Cold War era, during which perceived threats from Marxist-inspired revolutions led to covert U.S. actions in several countries; and post–Cold War issues such as economic integration, narco-trafficking, immigration, and the War on Terror.
Western European Politics and SocietyPolitical Studies 215cross-listed: gisToday, the nations of Western Europe are involved in a common project of transnational government, although they each possess their own governance systems, economic priorities, and political cultures. Focusing especially on France, Germany, Italy, and Britain, the class explores how each state was formed; how they were transformed by experiences of continental war and revolution; how nationalism intersects with transnational government; and how Europe is struggling to cope with new challenges like immigration, xenophobia, and the decline of the welfare state.
The Legacy of the Civil Rights MovementPolitical Studies 221cross-listed: american studies, human rightsThe 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act provides an opportunity to reflect on the history and legacy of the Civil Rights Movement. The course explores the domestic, international, and ideological origins of the movement; the structures and actions of organizations such as SNCC, SCLC, NAACP, and CORE; and the consequences and legacies of the “classical” period of 1954–66. Also considered are the effects of the movement on subsequent mobilizations, contemporary American society, and the modern American political landscape.
Latin American Politics and Society Political Studies 222cross-listed: gis, human rights, laisThe course is organized in three main sections, beginning with a broad overview of patterns of political development in Latin America from the independence period to the present. The second part highlights theoretical approaches to Latin American political development drawn from cultural analysis, Marxism, and state-centric perspectives. The final section examines democratic development in six countries: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Cuba, and Venezuela.
Religion and Political ThoughtPolitical Studies 230cross-listed: human rights, religionModern secular wisdom has it that religion is a private affair, and as such it must be kept separate from political life. But historically, political philosophers have had complicated views concerning religion’s role in political life. Some blamed religion for political oppression, violence, alienation, and the subordination of minorities and women, while others saw religion as the primary source of political morality, and an important basis of national community. The class explores the political consequences of these different ways of theorizing about religion.
Humanitarian Military InterventionPolitical Studies 231 / GIS 231See GIS 231 for a full course description.
International Politics of South AsiaPolitical Studies 233cross-listed: asian studiesThis course provides a historical overview of South Asia, a region that has 21 percent of the world’s population. It covers the British colonial period, the Kashmir conflict, the war in Afghanistan, India-Pakistan relations and the regional nuclear arms race, the politics of outsourcing, and the United States and South Asia, among other topics. Students are expected to keep up with current developments and relevant policy debates by reading South Asian and U.S. newspapers online.Occupy Political Theory: Social Theory Critics from Montesquieu to MarcusePolitical Studies 234The course considers the challenges to political theory from social theory, which was initiated by Montesquieu; expanded by Rousseau and Ferguson; and further developed in the 19th and 20th centuries by Harriet Martineau, Karl Marx, Peter Kropotkin, Karl Mannheim, and Herbert Marcuse. Students examine thinkers who challenge the social foundations that give meaning to the political forms that ordinary political theory takes as its focus.
Comparative Politics of the Middle East and North Africa Political Studies 237cross-listed: africana studies, gis, mesAn introduction to the major questions and theoretical approaches involved in the study of comparative politics as applied to the states of the Middle East and North Africa. Topics include state formation and consolidation, the persistence of authoritarianism, nationalism and identity, civil society and democratization, uprisings and revolutions, the role of oil, political economy of the state, gender, and Islamist politics. The course covers core literature in the field, relevant case studies, and pressing issues facing policy makers.
The United Nations and Model UNPolitical Studies 239cross-listed: gis, human rightsThe first part of this two-semester course explores the history of the United Nations, providing an introduction to its structure and principal aims. It examines the role of specialized agencies and how alliances impact on the UN’s day-to-day operations. The second part of the course focuses on an assigned country whose history, politics, and economics are studied. The course concludes with the writing of position papers that reflect that country’s approach to issues confronting the UN.
Public Opinion and the Challenges of DemocracyPolitical Studies 242Public opinion is considered by many to be the key legitimation of modern democratic politics. However, how public opinion is constituted—and by whom—has always been a matter of great controversy. The class explores how theorists and critics imagine the relations in democratic politics between truth and fiction, the public and the private sphere, speech and “popular” voice, ideology and critique, reason and affect. Texts by Spinoza, Rousseau, Kant, Tocqueville, Marx, Mill, Lippmann, Schmitt, Gramsci, Adorno, Marcuse, Fanon, Arendt, Habermas, Derrida, and Rancière.
Constitutional Law: Theory and Comparative PracticePolitical Studies 243 / Human Rights 243An introduction to constitutional theory and practice in comparative context. The first part of the course looks at the history of the idea of constitutionalism in Ancient Greece, 18th-century England, France, and the United States; the remainder is devoted to a critical examination of the contemporary workings of constitutional law, focusing primarily on decisions of the highest courts of the United States, India, and South Africa relating to human rights issues. Beyond legal cases, readings include Aristotle, Montesquieu, Bodin, Arendt, and the Federalist Papers.
The Politics of the Civilian-Military Divide in the United StatesPolitical Studies 244cross-listed: american studiesSince at least Eisenhower’s warning of the developing military-industrial complex, scholars have been concerned with the intrusion of the military into modern civilian life. This course critically examines the claim that a militarization of society has occurred, how it may have taken place, and what the consequences of such a development would be. Topics include the rise of privatized military companies, the growth of paramilitary police units, military-industrial relations, and the effects of the Afghan and Iraq wars on U.S. society.
The Politics of Central AsiaPolitical Studies 246cross-listed: asian studiesCaught in the middle of such neighbors as Russia, China, Afghanistan, and Iran, the countries of Central Asia present a mix of problems in comparative politics. This course, anchored on the theme of state building, takes up a range of issues salient for the region: the Soviet legacy, informal politics, authoritarianism, corruption, identity politics, and geopolitics. The course also specifically posits the question of the possibility of democracy and the challenge of democratization in a difficult geopolitical context.
Security and International PoliticsPolitical Studies 254cross-listed: gis, human rightsSecurity is one of the foundational concepts in the study of international politics. As the principal rationale for war, the quest for security influences the behavior of states both internationally and domestically. This course interrogates the concept of security in an attempt to denaturalize the ways in which security is taken for granted. Students consider critical approaches to the politics of threat construction, alternative conceptualizations of security, and the ethics of conducting torture and suspending civil liberties in the name of national security.
Race and Political TheoryPolitical Studies 262cross-listed: human rightsTopics addressed include the political production of the excluded; the relations between race, nation, and class; imperialism and anticolonial liberation struggles; the relations between racism, secularism, and religion; intersections of antiracist politics and feminism; multiculturalism as a reality and as ideology; and the concept of dispossession. Texts by Hannah Arendt, Aimé Césaire, Max Horkheimer, Theodor Adorno, Frantz Fanon, bell hooks, Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X, Talal Asad, Mahmood Mamdani, Athena Athanasiou, Angela Davis, and Drucilla Cornell.
Campaign 2016Political Studies 265This course integrates the experience of campaigns within a broad study of the nature of democracy and the mechanisms of modern campaigns. Topics include the role of campaign finance, the idea of “the permanent campaign,” the invisible primary, the role of media, and the potential for activist organization within the modern political system. Students design and undertake a collective project engaging local electoral campaigns.
Self-Thinking and Political Courage from Antigone to Edward SnowdenPolitical Studies 269 / Philosophy 269cross-listed: human rightsAn anonymous protestor in a white shirt faced down tanks in Tiananmen Square and halted a massacre. Rosa Parks would not give up her seat and launched the Civil Rights Movement. What makes some people dare to resist injustice while others cooperate in oppression or evil? Where can we find the courage to be advocates for good in a world where all the incentives lead us to turn quietly away? Class readings combine theoretical accounts (Arendt, Emerson, Plato, Milgram, Tillich) with examples of political courage, including Antigone, Lincoln, Kennedy, Ellison, Gandhi, and Snowden, among others.
All Politics Is LocalPolitical Studies 270Students meet with local, county, and state officials; attend sessions of local government bodies; and read primary and secondary sources concerning the issue of local governance. Fieldwork allows them to contextualize their in-class study. Several sessions occur at night to accommodate public meetings of local governing bodies.
East Asian SecurityPolitical Studies 272cross-listed: asian studies, gisEast Asia has always been imagined as an important area of concern for those studying international security, and the potential for instability animates much of American foreign policy. Topics discussed include intraregional concerns, such as the proliferation and development of nuclear weapons and the potential remilitarization of Japan; regional maritime disputes; tensions between China and Taiwan; multilateral security institutions; and potential areas for security and cooperation within the region as well as with major players internationally.
Diplomacy in International PoliticsPolitical Studies 273 / GIS 273See GIS 273 for a full course description.
Nations, States, and NationalismPolitical Studies 280cross-listed: gis, human rights, mesThe course examines the idea of the nation, its historical and contemporary competitors, the emergence of the nation-state system, and the challenges confronting this system. The approach is comparative and draws on the experiences of all world regions.
Privacy: Why Does It Matter?Political Studies 285cross-listed: experimental humanities, human rights, philosophyEdward Snowden’s revelations inaugurated a national discussion about the right of privacy. Over 50 percent of Americans still support the National Security Administration (over 60 percent of those under 30). We share our private lives on social media sites and think little of leaving digital signatures as we shop, read, and drive. We willingly trade privacy for the promise of both increased security and convenience. Privacy is being lost and few seem to care. Students read material on privacy by Hannah Arendt and others.
International Relations of the Middle East and North AfricaPolitical Studies 289cross-listed: gis, mesWhile the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region continues to be a site of conflict, developing trends, emerging actors, and competing explanations are often overlooked. Major themes in this course include the nature of the state system and causes of conflict within the region; the roles played by outside powers; and the causes and effects of transnational forces such as Arab nationalism, Islamic radicalism, criminal networks, media, and global economic actors.
TotalitarianismPolitical Studies 290cross-listed: gis, human rights“Totalitarianism” is a conceptual lodestar of 20th-century politics. It is supposed to point to everything that contemporary American and European political culture is not—terroristic, homogeneous, authoritarian, ideologically manipulative, and unfree. Yet critics have used the concept to describe regimes as different as the Soviet Union, Nazi Germany, Maoist China, ISIS, and occasionally even the United States. What is totalitarianism? The class engages this question by studying specific cases—especially Nazi Germany, Vichy France, and Mussolini’s Italy—alongside theoretical works.
Dealing with Data in Political SciencePolitical Studies 291The central element of making a convincing argument in politics is the ability to show that it is supported in the “real” world. This course examines the different ways in which scholars of politics make use of data in constructing and supporting their arguments, as well as the advantages and disadvantages of various approaches, including game theory, discourse analysis, experimentation, and historical analysis. For students considering a Senior Project in political studies, the course provides the opportunity to think about how to construct a research project.
Revolutionary ConstitutionalismPolitical Studies 295cross-listed: human rights, philosophyIn the United States and around the world we are experiencing a radical loss of political legitimacy. On the most existential political questions of war, taxes, corruption, and trust, there is a credibility gap—not only are those in power not believed, they are held in contempt. It is in periods like these when the possibility of new political systems emerges. These are revolutionary times. But what makes a successful revolution? The class reads Arendt’s On Revolution with a focus on the constitutional aspects of her argument.
Rationality and Politics: From Enlightenment to Climate ChangePolitical Studies 313cross-listed: eus, sociologyThe course looks at competing theoretical designs aimed at ensuring that state policies attend to the findings of science. The class begins with Francis Bacon and the Enlightenment in France (the Encyclopedists) and Scotland (Adam Smith and Adam Ferguson); considers Karl Marx, Friedrich Engels, and John Stuart Mill as representative 19th-century thinkers; and works through a number of 20th-century writers, including Walter Lippman, John Dewey, Karl Mannheim, and Charles Lindblom.
Political Economy of DevelopmentPolitical Studies 314This Upper College seminar examines the economic development of the “Third World” through the lens of several generations of scholars. After reading representative authors of competing theoretical traditions, students move on to concrete cases.
The U.S. Constitution as a Political TextPolitical Studies 321In place of a traditional constitutional law course that covers the accepted and contested meanings of the law derived from the Constitution, this course considers the influence that the Constitution has had on American society. Students are introduced to the debates within political thought about the nature of the Constitution and to the Constitution as it now exists in contemporary political life, specifically with regard to the first two amendments of the Bill of Rights, which deal with free speech and firearms regulation, respectively.
Critical Security StudiesPolitical Studies 324As the principal rationale for war, the quest for security influences states’ behavior in the international system as well as the structure of state and society relations in domestic politics. Too often, however, the meaning of security is taken for granted in the study of international relations, with individuals, societies, and states homogenized into one coherent model that focuses exclusively on the threat, use, and control of military force. This seminar interrogates this narrow concept of security by engaging with a diverse literature termed “critical security studies.”
Democracy after DictatorshipPolitical Studies 331What makes democracy possible in the wake of dictatorial rule? This question serves as an entry point for the seminar. The first half examines concepts and issues in the study of democratization, such as the meaning of democracy and the factors aiding in the rise and consolidation of democratic governance. The second half explores the politics of democratization in five cases: Germany after the Nazi regime, Spain after the Franco dictatorship, Argentina after military rule, Russia after Communism, and Egypt after Mubarak.
The Politics of GlobalizationPolitical Studies 334cross-listed: gis, human rights, sociologyUntil the financial crisis of 2008, it was common for advocates of free markets to argue that globalization is a positive force that can generate employment and raise living standards. Critics argue that the transformations captured by the term “globalization” are best seen as a phase in the history of capitalist development. The course considers these arguments through discussion of texts by Arjun Appadurai, Eric Cazdyn, James Ferguson, Thomas Friedman, David Harvey, Karl Polanyi, Saskia Sassen, Joseph Stiglitz, Imre Szeman, and Karl Marx.
Humanism, Human Rights, and the Human ConditionPolitical Studies 341 cross-listed: human rights, philosophyIn 1946, just after the defeat of the Nazis, a French schoolteacher wrote to the German philosopher Martin Heidegger, asking two questions: How are we, in the wake of the Holocaust, to restore sense to the word “humanism”? And how are we to understand the relationship between philosophy and ethics? Heidegger’s response, later published as “The Letter on Humanism,” is one of the great efforts to think through the ethical and philosophical significance of the human being. Texts by Heidegger, Sartre, Arendt, and Sloterdijk.
Ideology in America: From Jefferson to TrumpPolitical Studies 351 cross-listed: american studiesThe successes of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders during the 2016 election cycle once again brought the issue of ideology to the fore. This course looks at Jeffersonian republicanism, antebellum slavery, abolitionism, Progressivism, Cold War neoconservatism, and neoliberalism, and considers whether any of these impulses amount to an ideology and what, if any, legacy they left for subsequent American political thought.
Terrorism Political Studies 352The September 2001 terrorist attacks irrevocably changed U.S. politics and foreign policy, giving rise to more than a decade of war, expanded surveillance domestically and abroad, the use of torture and indefinite detention, and a targeted killing policy through the use of drone strikes around the globe. This seminar examines terrorism as a political phenomenon, the role of religion and ideology in motivating terrorist groups, the importance of state sponsorship in supporting terrorist activity, and the challenges of counterterrorism.
The End of Trade UnionismPolitical Studies 353 This course examines the political importance of organized labor, especially in the post–World War II period and primarily in the United States, in order to assess the causes and consequences of the present steep decline in the power of unions. The common reading during the first half of the semester covers both empirical-historical and theoretical studies. The second half consists of seminar reports on group or individual projects.
Grand Strategy from Sun Tzu to ClausewitzPolitical Studies 354cross-listed: gisThe question of what war is and how wars can be won has exercised great minds from the dawn of recorded history. Students in this advanced seminar examine classic texts on conflict, from ancient China to modern Europe. Issues addressed include the nature of conflict, the role of chance in human affairs, the definition of power, and the development of strategic thought.
Radical American DemocracyPolitical Studies 358cross-listed: american studies, human rights, philosophyThis course explores the essence of democracy as a specifically modern way of life, rather than as a form of government. To do so, it turns to such great thinkers on American democracy as Emerson, Thoreau, Whitman, Ellison, Du Bois, and Arendt. What unites these radical democrats is the conviction that democracy is a practice of individuals rather than an institutional form of governance. Texts include Emerson’s The American Scholar and Experience, Thoreau’s Walden, Ellison’s Invisible Man, and Arendt’s On Revolution.
Ethics and International AffairsPolitical Studies 363cross-listed: gis, human rightsCurrent foreign policy debates have centered on drone strikes, civilian casualties, the targeted killing of Americans, and humanitarian intervention, with advocates on both sides citing moral and ethical justifications for their respective positions. Each of these debates begs the central question: What does it mean to be ethical in international politics? To whom are we responsible? Do ethical concerns cross borders? This course explores the issues and tensions informing these questions by engaging the underlying theoretical traditions.
Promoting Democracy AbroadPolitical Studies 368cross-listed: american studies, gisAlmost alone among the world’s superpowers, the United States has made promoting democracy abroad a central objective of its foreign policy. This course explores three questions about this “mission” to spread democracy: What explains the genesis and persistence of the centrality of democracy in American foreign policy? How have American administrations tried to construct policies to advance democratic development abroad? Why have these attempts to promote democracy abroad so often fallen short of their intended goals?
Great Power PoliticsPolitical Studies 369cross-listed: gisThis course explores the military, economic, and social sources of great power competition in international politics. Historical cases covered include the rise of U.S. hegemony in the Western Hemisphere, the Anglo-German naval race, World Wars I and II, and the Cold War. Contemporary topics include the emergence of new nuclear powers, the War on Terror, and the rise of China. Students gain an understanding of the relevance of great power politics to international order and learn the art of using historical research in international relations.
The American PresidencyPolitical Studies 378cross-listed: american studies, historical studiesAn examination of the development of the U.S. presidency from the founding until the present day, with special attention given to the Jeffersonian and Progressive Eras; the expansion of executive power under Franklin Roosevelt; how modern presidents contend with multiple and, at times, conflicting roles and responsibilities (party leader, chief executive, commander in chief, media celebrity); and the problem of contemporary presidential power. Also considered is what role presidential power and leadership should play in the life of contemporary U.S. democracy.
Hannah Arendt SeminarPolitical Studies 420 / Philosophy 420cross-listed: human rightsStudents read some of Hannah Arendt’s seminal works, with a particular focus on citizenship and thinking as these two activities relate to the human condition. Texts include Arendt’s The Human Condition, “The Crisis in Education,” “Reflections on Little Rock,” and other essays. Undergraduates are joined in the class by visiting fellows from Bard’s Hannah Arendt Center for Politics and Humanities and the Center for Curatorial Studies.