Department of Political Science
As Harold Laswell famously noted, politics is “who gets what, when, and how.” As a discipline, political science focuses on the study of political ideas, institutions, processes, policies, and behavior in the United States and around the world. The Department of Political Science offers a broad range of courses across five subfields: American politics, comparative politics, international relations, political theory, and political methodology.
Political science majors gain a versatile set of analytical and organizational skills that can be applied in a wide range of exciting careers in government, law, business, international organizations, nonprofit organizations, survey research, journalism, and teaching.
All majors have a primary academic advisor assigned in ConnectCarolina. Students are strongly encouraged to meet regularly with their advisor and review their Tar Heel Tracker each semester. Students seeking advice about the political science major are encouraged to meet with the department’s undergraduate advisor or the director of undergraduate studies during their office hours (see contact information above). Further information on courses, undergraduate research opportunities, the honors program, careers, and graduate schools may be obtained from the department’s website.
Graduate School and Career Opportunities
Students with a major in political science may choose to continue their studies in a number of professional areas, including law, business administration, public administration, public policy analysis, international relations, and area studies. Students seeking to become professional political scientists should pursue graduate study in a Ph.D. program in political science.
The following is a brief listing of careers for which a major in political science is valuable preparation:
- positions with government agencies, such as the Foreign Service
- positions with international organizations, such the United Nations
- positions with nongovernmental and nonprofit organizations
- law-related professions
- business professions, including data analysis and survey research
- media and journalism
- governmental research in universities, libraries, and think tanks
- secondary- and university-level teaching and administration
- federal and state government employment
- municipal management and public administration
Navin Bapat, Frank Baumgartner, Pamela Conover, Mark Crescenzi, Stephen Gent, Jonathan Hartlyn, Marc Hetherington, Liesbet Hooghe, Evelyne Huber, Gary Marks, Kevin McGuire, Jason Roberts, Graeme Robertson, Donald Searing, Jeffrey Spinner-Halev, John Stephens, Milada Vachudova.
Cameron Ballard-Rosa, Anna Bassi, Susan Bickford, Christopher Clark, Cecilia Martinez-Gallardo, Santiago Olivella, Sarah Treul Roberts, Timothy Ryan, Isaac Unah.
Ashley Anderson, Mary Kroeger, Lucy Martin, Alexandra Oprea, Alexander Sahn, Ye Wang.
John Aldrich, Daniel Gitterman, Rebecca Kreitzer, Holger Moroff, Jonathan Oberlander, Candis W. Smith, Jonathan Weiler.
Teaching Associate Professor/Advisor
Teaching Assistant Professors
Suzanne Globetti, Nora Hanagan, Niklaus Steiner.
Postdoctoral Research Associate
Virginia Gray, Michele Hoyman, Michael Lienesch, Lewis Lipsitz, Stuart Elaine Macdonald, Michael MacKuen, Timothy McKeown, Dick Richardson, Lars Schoultz, James Stimson, James White.
Movies often reflect important social and political issues. In this course students will see a set of movies, discuss them, and put them into social and political contexts.
This seminar will explore what relationships have been designated "friendship" in the past, and why they are of such concern to political and ethical philosophers like Plato, Aristotle, Cicero, Montaigne, and Emerson. Honors version available.
This course will survey a wide range of topics on the American Laborer and the American Worker unions.
This seminar explores challenges in democratic governance in contemporary Latin America. With important regional variations, the exercise of state power reflects historical continuities of corruption, patronage politics, and other abuses of state resources. There are also demands for accountability and transparency across the region and more independent judiciaries.
This course explores the politics of economic globalization, with a focus on the relationships among trade, multinational corporations, and workers' rights.
We examine the political theory of revolution at two dramatic moments in history: The American Revolution and The French Revolution. This course is throws students into New York City in 1775 and Paris in 1791 by recreating and engaging with the ideas and arguments of these times through two, role-immersive simulations.
Unconventional collective political behavior: mass movements, riots, demonstrations, revolts, and revolution.
The alliance between America and the European Union is one of the most important political relationships today.
Introducing the study of using political institutions as levers of conflict management in ethnically plural, postconflict national states.
This course examines the politics of the European Union in comparison with the United States.
This is a survey course of entrepreneurial strategies as they are used in community and economic development. It involves an individual research or service project by each student.
This seminar explores the notion of a rule of law, statutory and case law, legal analysis, and the realities of the adversarial system and legal practice. Students will be engaged in analytical thinking and expression through classroom discussion, analytical papers, and examinations.
This course examines the presidency of Barack Obama, the first African American to serve in the nation's highest office.
What, if any, responsibilities accompany democratic citizenship? Voting? Active participation in political meetings? Obeying laws? Volunteering in one's community? Preserving natural resources for future generations? Adhering to certain values? Protesting unjust laws? This course offers an overview of the different ways in which Americans have answered these questions.
Special topics course. Content will vary each semester.
Why do Americans love democracy, but hate politics? Why are there only two political parties? Why do voters hate, yet respond to negative campaigning? This course will introduce students to politics in the United States, addressing these and many more questions about how American democracy works. Honors version available.
This course examines the diversity of political arrangements in societies across the globe. Honors version available.
An introduction to the study of political and economic relations in the international system. Topics covered include international conflict, trade, global finance, international institutions, civil war, and human rights. Honors version available.
This laboratory section introduces students in POLI 150 to contemporary research methods in the study of international relations and world politics. Students will design and conduct independent research related to international politics. Permission of the instructor.
A detailed examination of selected topics in the field of political science. Honors version available.
An opportunity to obtain credit for an internship in a government or public service organization. Pass/Fail only. Does not count toward the political science major. Requires permission of the department. Open to political science majors only.
An analysis of the roles and influence of the president, the Congress, and other participants in the making of national policy.
Problems of the public service; internal dynamics of public organizations; acquisition and allocation of public funds; the roles of bureaucracy in relation to public policy, clients, the citizenry, and society.
Examination of the process of policy making on the Supreme Court. Focuses upon the selection of justices, factors affecting the court's decision making, and the impact of its policies.
A large majority of Americans supports the death penalty in the abstract, but the number of death sentences and executions has been declining since the mid-1990s. This course explores the decline of the death penalty by looking at race, questions of innocence, and the new politics of capital punishment.
This course examines the politics of the American South. Each state is studied separately and we examine the region from a broad/general perspective. Both academic books and journal articles are read. By the end of the course, students should be familiar with historical and contemporary politics in the South.
State and local governments in the United States exercise considerable power over public policies such as education, social welfare, and taxation. This course examines similarities and differences across the U.S. states to better understand the causes and consequences of politics in these settings. Previously offered as POLI 101. Honors version available.
This course surveys scholarly literature on political psychology, electoral institutions, racial politics, and access to the ballot in the United States. In 30 hours of community service with partner organizations, students forge deeper connections between the university and the broader community. Through consistent reflections on the importance and potential downfalls of service learning, students gain a multi-faceted view of the practice and learn how to become better service learners.
This course examines how interests organize themselves, enter into and then interact within interest communities, and seek to influence government policy through electoral activity and lobbying legislators, executives, and courts.
An analysis of the dynamics of party alignment and realignment and of nomination and election to public office in American national government. Honors version available.
A study of forces affecting public opinion and its expression in various political activities. Emphasis on gathering and analyzing opinion data. Course may be taught in the computer classroom. Honors version available.
Survey of international social, political, and cultural patterns in selected societies of Africa, Asia, America, and Europe, stressing comparative analysis of conflicts and change in different historical contexts. LAC recitation sections offered in French, German, and Spanish.
Religion and politics are deeply intertwined in contemporary America, as evidenced by heated and often highly partisan debates over a wide variety of political issues such as abortion and immigration. This course addresses the variety of ways in which religion and politics intersect for voters and political elites with a focus on understanding how scholars operationalize religious concepts and use data to make empirical claims about the relationship between religion and politics.
Findings of the behavioral sciences are examined as they relate to politics. Includes such issues as human nature, community, political socialization, alienation, mass movements, belief systems, and personality.
A comparison of men and women as political actors at the mass and elite level in America. Topics considered include the "gender gap," the women's movement, abortion, and the Equal Rights Amendment.
This course examines the electoral representation of racial and ethnic minorities in the United States. While multiple ethnic groups are studied, there will be an emphasis on the two largest minority groups in the country: Latinos and African Americans.
A survey of the events, institutions, and issues that have dominated relations between Latin America and the United States.
An introduction to contemporary UK politics emphasizing the political battle between socialist and conservative ideologies. Honors version available.
This course is designed as an introduction to contemporary Middle Eastern politics for advanced undergraduates. To explore this topic, the course combines systematic analytical approaches to big questions with concrete knowledge of events and developments in specific countries. In so doing, it aims to give students a critical understanding of politics while simultaneously building empirical knowledge about the Middle East/North Africa region. Honors version available.
An overview of politics and government in the Global South, emphasizing theories and challenges of development, modernization, and democratization. Regional emphasis may vary by instructor.
Factors and forces that explain the rise and demise of the Soviet political system and consideration of emerging new political configurations in the area. Honors version available.
Examines contemporary politics in east-central Europe by looking at the communist period, the 1989 revolutions, and the political, economic, and social transformations underway in the area. Honors version available.
An introduction to the politics of People's Republic of China with a focus on the Reform Era. Provides a working knowledge for understanding political events in contemporary China in three parts: historical background, evolution of political institutions, and changing relations between ordinary people and the Chinese state.
An introduction to politics and political economy of Latin America, emphasizing Latin America's position in the Global South and including consideration of leading theoretical explanations of development and political change. Country emphasis varies with instructor. Honors version available.
A treatment of the political institutions and processes of western European democracies, with special attention to France, Germany, England, and Italy. Honors version available.
A survey of African American political development from emancipation to the present. The course examines the dynamics of minority group politics with African Americans as the primary unit of analysis. Students consider African American politics in domestic and global contexts and issues of local, regional, national, and international relevance.
Political behavior is the study of attitudes, ideology, and engagement with the government. Why are some individuals more likely than others to support specific policies? How do we understand the connection between voters and political parties? What makes an individual more likely to vote? When and where are broad social movements, wars, rebellions and revolutions most likely to occur? Comparative political behavior studies how these phenomena operate across different institutional and cultural environments. Honors version available.
The first goal of this super course is to give students real tools for how to address multiple modes of difference and identity formations like race, gender, class, and sexuality.
Examines international organizations and their relationships with and impact upon international politics, international law, and selected global issues. Honors version available.
An examination of selected topics in international relations, such as security and defense, international integration, and north-south relations.
Covers the politics of environmental issues, with a focus on issues that have become internationalized. It focuses on the special problems that arise in creating rules for environmental management and regulation when no single government has authority to enforce those rules.
This class explores the moral, economic, political, and cultural dimensions of international migration. It is discussion-based and tackles such thorny questions as, Do we have an obligation to let poor people into our rich country? What constitutes persecution? How do foreigners affect national identity? How should citizenship be allocated? Honors version available.
This course considers the politics of international trade and finance on the eve of World War I. We explore the factors, domestic and international, that facilitated integration prior to World War I, as well as those that prevented a return to economic openness in the 1920s and 1930s.
The interdisciplinary seminar will explore cultural, historical, and political issues of contemporary Germany and analyze German developments from the postwar period to the present. Readings and discussions in English.
Draws on historical, political, economic, and sociological perspectives to analyze social, cultural, and institutional change.
Introduction to feminist theory and its implications for the study and practice of political theory. Topics: women in feminist critiques of the Western political tradition, schools of feminist political theory.
Survey designed to introduce students to major political thinkers and ideas of the ancient world and of the medieval period. Honors version available.
Survey course designed to introduce students to major political thinkers and schools of thought dating roughly from the 16th century to the present. Honors version available.
An analysis of ethical issues that arise in peace, war, and defense, e.g., the legitimacy of states, just war theory, terrorism, weapons of mass destruction.
Examination of the theories of nationalism and immigration, followed by an analysis of the interplay between national identity, immigration, and populism. This course first explores these issues theoretically and then more concretely by examining these issues in England and Scotland. Honors version available.
An examination of major issues in political thought, including equality; obedience; violence and nonviolence; justice; forms of social, economic, and political life; liberty; and human nature and politics. Honors version available.
A survey course in American political ideas from the 17th century to the present, with emphasis on the role of politics, society, and economy in American thought. Honors version available.
The Information Revolution has had a transformative effect on business, journalism, law, policy, and more. This course illustrates the breadth of ways in which data can help solve important social problems and increases students' comfort handling and analyzing data themselves. Students leave with a foundation for acquiring more advanced techniques.
The course familiarizes students with experimental research methods in political science, including laboratory experiments, field experiments, and survey experiments. Students will design and conduct an experimental research project on a research question about US or European politics.
Introduction to the study of strategic decision making in international relations, with an emphasis on the application of basic game theoretic models. Incorporates in-class simulations of international relations scenarios.
Offers an introduction to positive political theory, the application of rational choice analysis (or economic models) to the study of political phenomena. Topics include social choice theory, legislative voting, problems of cooperation and collective action, and public choice theory. Encourages students to think about politics from a critical vantage point.
A detailed examination of special topics in political science.
This course is for students selected as Undergraduate Learning Assistants (ULAs) for political science courses during the semester they serve as ULAs. This course will provide support and structure to make them effective in their role, including training in pedagogy and University policies; ongoing mentorship and supervision; and opportunities for reflection, assessment, and evaluation. May not count toward the political science major. Permission of the instructor.
This course is facilitated by a Fellow from the UNC Institute of Politics, an experienced political practitioner who has held elected or appointed office. Over the course of the semester, students will engage in active and sustained dialogue with the Fellow and with one another on topics relevant to the Fellow's professional experience in public life. May not count toward the political science major.
Exploration of the relationship between race and public policy in the U.S. Primary focus on African Americans, but other racial groups also studied. Key areas include reproductive justice, health care, employment, labor, welfare, education, housing, environmental justice, policing, criminalization, foreign policy, immigration, and war.
Students will gain an understanding of the role interest groups play in American public policy and how that role has shifted over time. The course emphasizes the role of interest groups in four policy areas: civil rights, the environment, social policy, and campaign finance.
This Course-based Undergraduate Research Experience (CURE) introduces students to the practice of quantitative research on peace, conflict, and conflict resolution. Students work in teams to develop original research projects that answer policy-relevant questions in the field of peace science.
New approaches to data analysis are having a transformative effect on business, journalism, law, and policy - to name just a few sectors. This course is for students who have a basic familiarity working with social science data. It uses this foundation to teach more advanced ways to think about inference and uncertainty, with an emphasis on cutting-edge techniques and applications to real world problems.
One course in economics strongly recommended. This interdisciplinary gateway course provides an introduction to subjects and quantitative techniques used to analyze problems in philosophy, political science, and economics. Honors version available.
Required preparation, six hours of POLI course credit. Permission of the instructor. Students carry out a research project under the direct supervision of a faculty mentor. Learning contract required. Open to political science majors.
Required preparation, six hours of POLI course credit. Permission of the instructor. Directed readings in a special field under the direction of a faculty member. Learning contract required. Open to political science majors.
Advanced Undergraduate and Graduate-level Courses
This course explores how presidents select policy options, how they decide timing, what shapes their congressional support, and how they build successful coalitions.
Problems of the national government in managing capitalist development and economic growth; political constraints; patterns of conflict among domestic actors.
This course provides a survey of the literature on race, immigration, and urban politics in the contemporary United States. The goal is to understand the complex relationship between racial/ethnic identity and local political processes. Students explore topics such as police brutality, immigration, the education system, and coalition politics.
Advanced topics in state government and politics, including political behavior and processes, governmental institutions, public policies. Emphasis on how states serve as the laboratories of democracy in a federal system.
Students employ their understanding of political philosophy and practical politics to write a new constitution for the United States. Emphasis is on creative blending of theory and practice.
A study of the fundamental principles of constitutional interpretation and practice in the United States by means of lectures, textbooks, and cases. Emphasis will be on the political context surrounding and the impact following Supreme Court decisions.
An analysis of the complex political problems created by the expansion of protection for individual liberties in the United States. Emphasis will be on contemporary problems with some supplemental historical background. Honors version available.
Course studies United States presidential and congressional elections. Emphasis on individual vote, changing party strengths, and the relation of outcomes to policy. Honors version available.
Analysis of the structure and functions of judicial systems emphasizing the organization, administration, and politics of judicial bureaucracies and roles of judges, juries, counsel, litigants, and interested groups in adjudication processes.
Examines in greater depth issues in the field of political psychology, including conflict and conflict resolution, socialization, attitude formation, mass movements, leader-follower relationships, and psychobiography. Honors version available.
Junior-senior standing required. Examination of the role, behavior, and influence of the mass media in American politics.
Restricted to juniors and seniors. Surveys the vast literature on race and politics in the contemporary United States and examines the complex relationship between racial and ethnic identity and political outcomes. It explores broad political science concepts in the context of racial and ethnic groups. Honors version available.
Examines the politics of the United States Congress. Emphasis on representation, the legislative process, and policy making. Honors version available.
This course will focus on the process by which policies get framed, or defined, in public discussions. Framing is focusing attention on some elements of a complex public problem rather than others. Readings combine psychological background with case histories of United States and comparative public policy changes over time.
This class explores the political representation of blacks, Latina/os, women, and gays and lesbians in the American states. How do these groups achieve descriptive and substantive representation? How does state context shape the political representation of these minorities? Students taking this course should have a strong interest in state politics.
Examines legislative procedure in Congress. Requires active participation in a Model Congress.
Analyzing the impact of the descriptive representation of marginalized communities on public policy, legislation, and social change. Sexual orientation, identity, gender, ethnicity and race, and the intersectionality of these communities. We seek to understand the role that elected officials can have in driving change, affecting their colleagues and constituents.
Diversity is sometimes cited as a facilitator of political cooperation but more often it is considered a challenge for constructive civic engagement. This course engages the various ways in which different forms of diversity (e.g., racial, ethnic, religious, linguistic, national origin) and politics interact across a wide range of societies.
Course explores contemporary threats to national security, approaches to national security strategy, policy instruments, the role of military force, and the policy-making process.
The problems of race, class, and ideology are explored in the countries south of the Zambezi River, along with the political and economic ties that bind these countries.
This course will compare the theory and practice of tolerance in the United States and Europe, with particular attention to Great Britain and France.
Examines the politics and political economy of institutional change and policy making in the European Union in comparative perspective. Honors version available.
This course provides a survey of 20th-century politics in Mexico, including the construction of the single-party regime under the PRI and the political and economic changes in the second half of the century that marked the end of the one-party regime and inaugurated a new era of political competition.
The analysis of central issues of democracy and development in Latin America. Honors version available.
Explores the collapse of communist rule in 1989 and the reaction of international institutions to the challenges of democratization, economic transition, ethnic conflict, and European integration in an undivided Europe.
The course introduces students to the theory and practice of studying European public opinion. The course is split into four parts. In the first part, we will discuss core concepts and important problems in the study of public opinion. In the second part, we will study tools and common data sets for the analysis of European public opinion. In the third part, we will examine several recent contributions on different aspects of European public opinion.
Dictators do not rely on consent of the people to stay in power. But they do still face constraints and must perform a delicate balancing act to maintain enough support to stay in office and reap its rewards. This class seeks to understand when autocrats are successful and when they fail.
This course will explore Israeli society, Israeli politics, and the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Theories of international political economy, major trends in international economic relations, selected contemporary policy issues.
The role of Congress, the press, public opinion, the president, the secretary and the Department of State, the military, and the intelligence community in making American foreign policy. Emphasizes the impact of the bureaucratic process on the content of foreign policy.
The U.S. 9/11 attack represents the defining terrorist attack to Americans, but in most of the world, terrorism has long been part of politics. We will examine what motivates individuals to consider violence, how individuals organize to protect their political interests, the types of tactics used by violent groups and the state's response, before concluding with a study of collapsed states, the international implications of political violence, and possibilities for conflict resolution.
Immigrant integration has been one of the most intense political issues in Western Europe in recent decades. The extent to which these immigrants have successfully integrated is a hot topic of debate across Europe, and there is no consensus about the best way to promote integration. This course explores these debates. Honors version available.
Political authority is changing around the world. Decision making has shifted down to state and local governments, such as Catalonia and Scotland, and up to international organizations such as the European Union and the World Health Organization. What does this mean for the future of the national state?
This course explores the politics behind taxation, foreign aid, natural resources, and debt, focusing on how each affects accountability and state capacity. Topics include when governments tax; whether taxation causes democratization; the effects of foreign aid and oil money on corruption and conflict; and how government debt shapes domestic politics.
A comprehensive analysis of hemispheric international relations and foreign policies of individual Latin American nations. Honors version available.
The course examines the interplay of race, ethnicity, political institutions, and political mobilization in modern state and nation-building. Through the use of broadly drawn international case studies, the politics of ethnicity and race is analyzed from the perspective of global processes of state building, colonialism and decolonization, and capitalist development as well from local development of ideology and political organizations.
The purpose of this course is to examine Africa's conflicts using an historical examination and advances in international relations theory. We will examine European colonial intervention, the wars of independence, the Cold War, and the use of proxies, insurgencies, the African World War, the Sudanese War, and the "war of terrorism."
What happens when countries go broke? This course considers the complex historical relation between revenue generation and the development of the nation-state, and details a variety of major crises facing governments today, including the political determinants of and responses to major recent financial crises.
Analysis of international conflict and the causal mechanisms that drive or prevent conflict. Emphasis is on the conditions and processes of conflict and cooperation between nations.
Examines the management and resolution of international and civil wars. Honors version available.
The course explores the development of Euro-Atlantic security institutions (NATO, EU) and compares security policy in the United States and Europe. Cases include policy toward the Balkans, Afghanistan, Russia, and Ukraine. Includes review of concepts of security and selected international relations approaches to international organizations. Honors version available.
Focuses on ethnic and political conflicts in the former Yugoslavia and efforts by the international community to end conflict and promote peace and reconstruction. Honors version available.
An examination of the logic of social and political thought with an analysis of such concepts as society, state, power, authority, freedom, social and political obligation, law, rights. Honors version available.
Survey of the historical foundations, central tenets, and political consequences of prominent 20th-century political theories. Topics include contemporary liberalism and Marxism, fascism, theories of development, populism, feminism. Honors version available.
Major problem areas in democratic theory including definitions, presuppositions, and justifications of democracy, liberty, equality, minority rights, public interest, participation, dissent, and civil disobedience. Honors version available.
Identifies and interprets political ideas using historical and contemporary literary sources. Examines literature as political practice.
A role-immersive simulation of the Constitutional Convention of 1787. Students employ their knowledge of the political theory and science of the founding period to become the Convention of 1787 and write a constitution.
Examines in greater depth and complexity current issues in feminist political theory. Topics: theories of subjectivity and solidarity, feminist poststructuralist and post-Marxist thinking, gender in the public sphere.
The course explores the politics, philosophy, and economics of US education. We will cover topics such as the goals of education; education politics at the local, state, and federal levels; school finance; accountability; markets in education; the role of philanthropy; and student debt.
Increasingly, political and social scientists are using game theory to analyze strategic interactions across different settings. This course aims to give students a deep technical understanding of the most relevant concepts of game theory and how these concepts have been applied to the study of political and economic phenomena.
A detailed examination of advanced special topics in political science. Honors version available.
Examines recent developments in the European integration process by exploring the potential for political contestation concerning European Union matters in national politics. Familiarizes students with the main theoretical approaches and the extensive empirical work dealing with the effects of European integration.
Permission of the instructor for undergraduates. Since the collapse of communism from 1989 to 1991, the European Union has faced a fundamentally different geopolitical neighborhood and an evolving relationship with the United States. We will explore how Europe has addressed new challenges to its security in its neighborhood and beyond.
Permission of the instructor for undergraduates. This seminar introduces students to basic theoretical approaches to both international relations and the European Union by focusing on the European Union's external relations and foreign policies.
Required of all students in the honors program in political science.
Required of all students in the honors program in political science.
Required of all students in the honors program in political science.
Permission of the department. This capstone course advances PHIL 384, focusing on such theoretical and philosophical issues as the analysis of rights or distributive justice and the institutional implications of moral forms.