Special Topics Courses

In addition to courses listed in the catalog, almost every quarter the department offers "special topics courses" in history and political science. These are listed under Hist 298 and PSci 472, and you may take more than one special topics course for credit. Hist 299 is also a special topics course but one focused on the Historical Background of Current Issues.

Summer 2014

PSCI 472 001 42615 – ST: International Perspectives on Population and Development

Instructor: Jose Tapia, PhD

International Perspectives on Population and Development: This course provides a survey of issues related to the idea of development from demographic, social, economic, and historical perspectives. Issues to be discussed include the concepts of human progress and social and economic development as viewed by different schools of thought, as well as the hypothesized relationships and links between economic growth, social development, population growth, and health progress. The concept of standard of living, human development index, the demographic transition and the gender aspects of development will be also discussed. The goal of the course is to provide a general introduction to the major issues involved in the concepts of social and economic development.

This 3 credit course will meet Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11:00 a.m. - 12:20 p.m. Location: TBA.

Spring 2014

HIST 298 002 34888 – ST: History of Disability

Instructor: Amy Slaton, PhD

History of Disability: Normal. Healthy. Fit. These are words we use every day to describe our bodies and minds without a second thought. But each of these words carries a powerful message about its opposite, defining who is abnormal, sick, or incapable. The history of "disability" is a history of perceived differences, of judgments about ourselves and others, and this class asks how those notions of difference have emerged in American society and how they have shaped all of our lives. We will ask: How have wheelchairs, hearing aids, cosmetics, prosthetic limbs, and definitions of schizophrenia developed over time? What societal priorities lie behind the origins of Ritalin and the phrasing of the Americans with Disabilities Act? What is a beautiful body, a dangerous personality disorder, or an inclusive society, and crucially, who decides? Using original sources (including texts, images, objects, and visits to buildings and streetscapes) along with historical analyses, we will study 19th century medical ideologies, 20th century laws, and 21st century fashion trends as each reflects American ideas about ability and disability. We will study, as well, our own standards of health, beauty, competence, and fairness, and our own beliefs about difference.

This 3 credit course will meet Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3:30 - 4:50 p.m. Location: TBA.

201335 PSCI 472 001 34093 - ST: Latin America’s Left Turn

Instructor: George Ciccariello-Maher, PhD

Latin America's Left Turn: Beginning with the 1998 election of Hugo Chávez in Venezuela, Latin America has undergone a radical leftward shift, of which a string of elected leaders in Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Nicaragua, Uruguay, Paraguay, Honduras, and Ecuador is only the most obvious indicator. This course will approach this leftward turn as a response to neoliberal reform efforts in the 1980s, and through the lens of the popular social movements that made such elections possible in the first place.

This 3 credit course will meet Tuesdays and Thursdays from 12:30 - 1:50 p.m. Location: TBA.

201335 PSCI 472 002 34094 - ST: Democratic Transitions

Instructor: Daniel Friedheim, PhD

Democratic Transitions: explores why and how more countries have been choosing to govern themselves democratically. It explores both general theoretical reasons for democracy’s popularity and the rights and institutions required to make democracy work. It looks at patterns of transitions from dictatorship to democracy, such as the uncertain role of the middle class and the alternatives of elite negotiation or “people power” uprisings. And, since many of these transitions fail, it also looks at key “complications,” from economic inequality to illiberal religious groups and international intervention. The course looks deeply into several country cases of democratic transitions, both successful and failed, including examples of “competitive authoritarian,” or false democracies. Students will use both “most-different” and “most-similar” comparisons in their own original research papers.

This 3 credit course will meet Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays from 4 - 4:50 p.m. Location: TBA.

Winter 2013

201325 HIST 298 004 – ST: Intro to South Asian History

Instructor: Madhumita Saha, PhD

What does it mean to study the history of the “Indian civilization”?  What can such a history tell us about the people and places of South Asia? Is the making of the India civilization the work of rulers and the literati that represented cultural achievements, economic progress, imperial conquests and good governance? How have the people in the margin-the tribes, the women, the lower castes and the poor- experienced and contributed to the history of the subcontinent?In this course, we shall seek answers to these questions by looking into 3 broad themes in South Asian history: 1) Age of Empires 2) Colonialism 3) Nationalism. We will mainly look into the political, economic and cultural history of the subcontinent.  We will see how events, people, and actions related to the history of South Asia are subject to different interpretations depending on the narrator.

201325 HIST 298 001 24901 - ST: American Expansionism

Instructor: Jonson Miller, PhD

This course is an overview of American territorial acquisition and expansion from the late eighteenth to the late nineteenth century.  This will include perspectives from cultural and political history, historical sociology, and American Studies.  In addition, student presentations and projects will allow for a broader range of historical perspectives, such as economic or military history.

PSCI 272 001 25689 – Environment and Health

Instructor: Alison Kenner, PhD

In this course, we will examine the complexity of and controversies about environmental health issues, issues that are notoriously difficult to address through research, regulation, and medical care. Students will examine how "environment" and "health" are defined by different stakeholders. How is health impacted by environment, and how are environmental factors addressed in healthcare? How do scientists study human exposure in everyday environments? What institutions are responsible for regulating hazardous materials? How is community health impacted by pollution and what actions do communities take to protect health? Using historical and contemporary case studies, students will engage with these questions at different scales of analysis, learning about the politics of knowledge, social movements, the medical establishment, and the ethics of health in late industrialism.