Santa Clara University - Undergraduate Courses
Poli 2: Introduction to Comparative Politics
This course provides a broad overview of the study of comparative politics, introducing students to some of the key concepts, theories, approaches, and substantive issues in the field. The focus of the course is on the comparison of the dynamics of politics within countries. We will address questions regarding the causes of political outcomes (e.g., why are some countries democratic and others authoritarian), as well the effects of these various political systems (e.g., how different political systems moderate or aggravate social conflict). Rather than concentrating on a handful of countries, the lectures and readings draw on the empirical experience of a wide range of countries, including both advanced industrial countries and the developing world. In addition, each student will become a “resident expert” on one particular country, in order to acquire in-depth knowledge about a specific political system. The resident experts will all write a research paper about their country and serve on a panel leading an in-class discussion on one of the course topics. This course fulfills the Social Science and Cultures and Ideas 3 Requirements of the Core Curriculum.
Poli 155: Political Psychology
This course serves as an introduction to the interdisciplinary field of political psychology, which applies theoretical ideas from psychology as tools to help us understand political processes. In so doing, political psychology tends to focus on how politics works at the individual (micro-) level. While there are many political applications of psychological theories, this course will focus on the psychological roots of the political behavior of ordinary citizens. It does so through an application of psychological theories about personality, learning, cognition, emotion, social influence and group dynamics to help us understand three "cases" of political behavior: Racism, Terrorism and Genocide.
Poli 192 AW: Senior Seminar: Identity Politics in Comparative Perspective
This senior seminar investigates the unique challenges faced by states with diverse populations. Specifically, we interrogate the tension between the need to promote social cohesion and the desire to preserve the cultural integrity of the various groups that make up the state’s population. This tension between unity and diversity lies at the root of identity politics, which is not a uniquely American phenomenon. The readings present psychological, historical, and sociological explanations of the processes by which the categories of “us” and “them” are constructed socially and mobilized politically. The first part of the course provides an introduction to two, very different theoretical approaches for thinking about identity politics: normative political theory and social psychology. The second part of the course examines the construction and political mobilization of identity categories in several country cases. Past versions of the course have investigated Brazil, Cameroon, Uganda, Lebanon, Syria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, and Indonesia. In our approach to each case, we attempt to move beyond explanation to prescription. In each case study, we consider possible means that could be implemented to diminish conflict and to achieve ethnic accommodation without a resort to repression. We consider the effectiveness of specific state policies and discuss whether lessons from one case can be applied to others. This senior seminar satisfies the advanced writing core requirement, and students are required to write a 15-20 page research paper that explores the tension between unity and diversity in one or more countries.