Political Science



POLS 021A ~ American Political System
CRN: 93445

Does the American political system work, or is it fundamentally flawed, as many citizens contend? Why do we face serious policy problems in a range of substantive areas, from domestic policy issues such as the severe economic downturn and health care, to foreign policy matters such as Iraq and the so-called war on terrorism? What impact has the election of President Obama had on the functioning of the system? And has the national policy-making scene become too partisan, so that the three branches of the federal government cannot fulfill the roles envisioned by the framers of the Constitution? In surveying the American political system, POLS 021 will explore these and other questions. By learning about the basics of the American political system (ideas on which the Republic was founded, principal institutions of national government, and participation in government and politics), students will gain the requisite knowledge to analyze the key problems facing our constitutional democracy. Students will be expected to fully engage in class discussions, to write weekly analytical papers on assigned Washington Post articles, and to complete quizzes, hourly exams, and a final exam.

Requirements Satisfied: one Social Science course
Meets: Monday, Wednesday, Friday 12:50pm-1:40pm
Contact: 802-656-0840, Eileen.Burgin@uvm.edu

Eileen Burgin: Associate Professor of Political Science, is particularly interested in Congress and health policy, especially biomedical research issues, and Congress and foreign policy.


POLS 041A ~ Introduction to Problems of Political Thought
CRN: 93459

Political philosophy is systematic thinking about the purposes of government, not just a description of its functions and institutions. It is an investigation into the nature of justice and what sort of government can best achieve it. The questions that have engaged Western political philosophers for the past 2,000 years have been remarkably constant, though their answers have differed dramatically due to their differing conceptions of human nature and the purpose of human communities. This course presents the opportunity to explore questions of deep and enduring significance from the perspective of great representative thinkers of the Western tradition.

Requirements Satisfied: one Humanities course
Meets: Tuesday, Thursday 11:30am-12:45pm
Contact: 802-656-4316, patrick.neal@uvm.edu

Patrick Neal: Associate Professor of Political Science, teaches courses in political theory. His scholarly writing is primarily about modern liberal political thought since the seventeenth century and its critics. He is the author of the book Liberalism and Its Discontents and various articles in political theory, and is working on a book on religion and democratic political theory. Neal was born and grew up in West Virginia, and received his Ph.D. from the University of Toronto. He has three teenage children, and will thus occasionally seem befuddled for no apparent reason.


POLS 041B ~ Introduction to Problems of Political Thought
CRN: 93465

Political philosophy is systematic thinking about the purposes of government, not just a description of its functions and institutions. It is an investigation into the nature of justice and what sort of government can best achieve it. The questions that have engaged Western political philosophers for the past 2,000 years have been remarkably constant, though their answers have differed dramatically due to their differing conceptions of human nature and the purpose of human communities. This course presents the opportunity to enter into a conversation with great, representative thinkers of the Western tradition about questions of deep and enduring significance.

Requirements Satisfied: one Humanities course
Meets: Thursday 2:30pm-3:45pm
Contact: 802-656-8229, alex.zakaras@uvm.edu

Alex Zakaris: Assistant Professor of Political Science, writes about the ethics of citizenship: What does it take to be a responsible citizen? How is it possible to participate meaningfully in a democracy as vast and complicated as ours? He is also interested in business corporations and their power to erode democratic accountability. Zakaras grew up in Europe and California, and also worked in Washington with an international development group.


POLS 071A ~ Comparative Political Systems
CRN: 93441

The goal of this class is to help students look at "politics" from a comparative perspective. Students will gain a greater comprehension of politics outside of the United States and become familiar with the central theories and concepts that political scientists use to analyze politics. In doing so, we will better understand the world around us and make more informed, comparative judgments about politics in the United States. Questions we might seek to answer include: What are the prospects for democracy in Russia? What factors have hindered the economic development of Mexico? What are the political reasons for Japan's economic success and more recent downturn? These kinds of questions address critical topics that pertain both to our own well-being and that of the rest of the world.

Requirements Satisfied: one Social Science course
Meets: Monday, Wednesday, Friday 9:35am-10:25am
Contact: 802-656-4451, peter.vondoepp@uvm.edu

Peter VonDoepp: Assistant Professor of Political Science, is a specialist in African politics with more than three years' experience conducting research and working in southern Africa. He enjoys travel, skiing, and wiffle ball with his children in the backyard.


POLS 071B ~ Comparative Political Systems
CRN: 93455

Why are some governments democratic and others authoritarian? Why are some countries rich and other countries poor? How do different types of political institutions influence political outcomes? These are the central questions of comparative politics. The goal of this course is to teach students how to answer important political questions by comparing international political systems.

Requirements Satisfied: one Social Science course
Meets: Tuesday, Thursday 10:00am-11:15am
Contact: 802-656-8384, caroline.beer@uvm.edu

Caroline Beer: Associate Professor of Political Science, is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese and has traveled and studied extensively in Latin America. Currently, she is writing a book on the consequences of women holding powerful positions in Latin American governments. Previous publications focus on local democracy and human rights.