Courses by semester

Courses for

Complete Cornell University course descriptions are in the Courses of Study .

Course ID Title Offered
GOVT1101 FWS: Power and Politics
This First-Year Writing Seminar is devoted to the study of political power and the interaction of citizens and governments and provides the opportunity to write extensively about these issues. Topics vary by semester.

Full details for GOVT 1101 - FWS: Power and Politics

Fall, Spring.
GOVT1313 Introduction to Comparative Government and Politics
This course will introduce students to comparative politics—the study of the political institutions, identities, and organized interests in countries around the world. Emphasis is on how to make meaningful comparisons between systems in different countries. Towards that goal, we will be looking at a dozen countries with different histories, political systems, and from various regions around the world.  We will also use a comparative framework to use our knowledge of these (and other) countries to examine questions about democracies and democratization, electoral systems and political parties, authoritarian regimes, political mobilization and change, economic development and globalization, nationalism and identity politics, among other topics.  The meta theme of this course is the comparative method as a unique way of leveraging our understanding about social and political phenomena.

Full details for GOVT 1313 - Introduction to Comparative Government and Politics

Spring, Summer.
GOVT1503 Introduction to Africana Studies
This course offers an introduction to the study of Africa, the U.S., the Caribbean and other diasporas.  This course will examine, through a range of disciplines, among them literature, history, politics, philosophy, the themes - including race/racism, the Middle Passage, sexuality, colonialism, and culture - that have dominated Africana Studies since its inception in the late-1960s. We will explore these issues in the attempt to understand how black lives have been shaped, in a historical sense; and, of course, the effects of these issues in the contemporary moment. This course seeks to introduce these themes, to investigate through one or more of the disciplines relevant to the question, and to provide a broad understanding of the themes so as to enable the kind of intellectual reflection critical to Africana Studies.

Full details for GOVT 1503 - Introduction to Africana Studies

Fall, Spring.
GOVT1615 Introduction to Political Theory
This course introduces students to political theory as a distinctive mode of political inquiry. By surveying the wide range of forms through which political theory has been practiced—such as treatises, dialogues, plays, aphorisms, novels, manifestos, letters, speeches, illustrations, and films—we explore the ways in which political theory reflects upon, criticizes, and reshapes the basic concepts, habits of perception, and modes of feeling through which people make sense of the political world, from big events like wars and revolutions to everyday experiences of felt injustice or alienation. Our approach will be both historical and conceptual, attending to the force of each theoretical intervention in its context, while also drawing out the broader philosophical and political questions it continues to pose to us now.

Full details for GOVT 1615 - Introduction to Political Theory

GOVT1623 The World of Modern Japan
In 1868, samurai revolutionaries and their allies seized the reins of power and established a new capital they called Tokyo. Against all odds, this fragile regime survived and made Tokyo a center of power that would transform both Japan and the world. This survey of Japanese history explores the rise and fall of Japan as a modern imperial power; its foreign relations; its economic and scientific development from "feudalism" to futuristic technologies; and Japan's many modern revolutions, from the rule of the samurai to Westernization and democracy, from democratic collapse to fascism and World War II, and from Japan's postwar rebirth to the present. We will examine not only big events but also everyday life, including gender and sexuality, family and schools, and art and popular culture.

Full details for GOVT 1623 - The World of Modern Japan

Fall, Spring.
GOVT2152 (Im)migration and (Im)migrants: Then and Now
One in ten residents of the United States was born outside the country. These people include international students, temporary workers, refugees, asylees, permanent residents, naturalized U.S. citizens and undocumented migrants. The arrival of these newcomers affects the cultural, economic, political and social dynamics of the country. Since immigration shows no signs of slowing down—in the United States or in many other nations of the world—the causes, consequences and repercussions of immigration will be one of the most important topics of the 21- century. Therefore this class will examine the history and contemporary role of immigration in the U.S. political system. The class will focus on two aspects of immigration: First, a historical examination of immigration policy from the founding of the country all the way forward to the current debate over immigration reform. Second, we will evaluate and assess the political incorporation and political participation of immigrant groups in the U.S. and determine whether immigrants are being incorporated, and if not, why? We will reflect on many important questions including the costs and benefits of immigration, issues related to civil rights and civil liberties, and finally propose our own ideas and solutions to the current immigration reform debate.

Full details for GOVT 2152 - (Im)migration and (Im)migrants: Then and Now

GOVT2605 Social and Political Philosophy
This course will examine key issues in social and political philosophy. Topics may include the legitimacy of the state, political obligation, the nature and demands of justice, equality, liberty, and autonomy. Selected readings may be drawn from historical as well as contemporary sources.

Full details for GOVT 2605 - Social and Political Philosophy

GOVT2747 History of the Modern Middle East
This course examines major trends in the evolution of the Middle East in the modern era. Focusing on the 19th and 20th centuries and ending with the  "Arab Spring," we will consider Middle East history with an emphasis on five themes: imperialism, nationalism, modernization, Islam, and revolution.  Readings will be supplemented with translated primary sources, which will form the backbone of class discussions.

Full details for GOVT 2747 - History of the Modern Middle East

GOVT2755 Introduction to Humanities
These seminars offer an introduction to the humanities by exploring historical, cultural, social, and political themes. Students will explore themes in critical dialogue with a range of texts and media drawn from the arts, humanities, and/or humanistic social sciences. Guest speakers, including Cornell faculty and Society for the Humanities Fellows, will present from different disciplines and points of view. Students will make field trips to relevant local sites and visit Cornell special collections and archives. Students enrolled in these seminars will have the opportunity to participate in additional programming related to the annual focus theme of Cornell's Society for the Humanities and the Humanities Scholars Program for undergraduate humanities research.

Full details for GOVT 2755 - Introduction to Humanities

GOVT2897 WIM: Human Rights at War
This course examines the impact of war on human rights and the impact of human-rights law and activism on war. It addresses such topics as genocide and "ethnic cleansing," the role of international law, the Just War tradition, transnational peace activism, humanitarian interventions, environmental, economic, and resource-related sources of conflict, nonviolent movements for social change, terrorism and counterterrorism. The readings freature approaches from a range of disciplines, including political science, history, ethics, law, anthropology, political ecology, and gender studies. Course work consists mainly of reading, lectures, discussion (in lectures and in sections), and regular writing assignments.

Full details for GOVT 2897 - WIM: Human Rights at War

GOVT3042 The Politics of Technology
This course will examine the politics of technology, with an emphasis on dual use technologies such as social media, artificial intelligence, and facial recognition. It will look at political consequences of those technologies, including the way that social media can be manipulated in an electoral context, how AI and automation can affect public policies (e.g., predictive policing) and ways to mitigate algorithmic biases embedded in these technologies, and questions of whether the United States and China are locked in a technology arms race and if global governance proposals can defuse the adverse consequences of great power competition over technology.

Full details for GOVT 3042 - The Politics of Technology

GOVT3071 Enduring Global and American Issues
The US and the global community face a number of complex, interconnected and enduring issues that pose challenges for our political and policy governance institutions and society at large.  Exploring how the US and the world conceive of the challenges and take action on them is fundamental to understanding them.  This course investigates such issues, especially ones that fit into the critically important areas of sustainability, social justice, technology, public health and globalization, security and conflict, among others. Students will engage with these areas and issues and the challenges they pose, using multiple frameworks and approaches, through weekly class discussions and lectures."

Full details for GOVT 3071 - Enduring Global and American Issues

Fall, Spring, Summer.
GOVT3072 The U.S. Constitution: Crisis, Change and Legitimacy
Since its ratification the U.S. Federal Constitution has been a fixed element of the American experience. And yet the meaning Americans attribute to the document—from its structural and rights provisions to its basic ethical project—has been subject to intense debate and change. This class takes an historical approach to explore periods of sustained crisis in the constitutional order—from the founding and the Civil War to the Great Depression and the Civil Rights Movement. In the process, special attention will be paid to the techniques of constitutional interpretation and judicial doctrine as well as to constitutional struggle outside the judiciary. We will also assess broader questions of inclusion, democratic legitimacy, and institutional design. The course will end by engaging with the relationship between the present and those earlier periods of crisis.

Full details for GOVT 3072 - The U.S. Constitution: Crisis, Change and Legitimacy

GOVT3087 International Human Rights Law and Advocacy
This course will introduce students to the law and practice of international human rights. Students will think critically about the effectiveness of the international human rights system by examining its successes, failures, and dilemmas in preventing and responding to human rights abuse. Topics covered include the origins of international human rights; the role of international, regional, and domestic institutions and actors in enforcing human rights; critiques of the human rights movement; challenges encountered in human rights advocacy; and the relationship of the United States to the international system for the protection of human rights. The course will also explore issues such as the immigration, the death penalty, gender justice, climate change, global poverty, racism and xenophobia, and responses to mass atrocities. Throughout this interactive course, students will have frequent opportunities to step into the shoes of a human rights advocate and work individually and with their classmates to address simulated human rights problems.

Full details for GOVT 3087 - International Human Rights Law and Advocacy

GOVT3122 Democracy
The United States has been widely associated with democratic ideals, and yet American democracy has been long in the making, even in recent decades retaining hallmarks of an "unfinished work." It has evolved over time through an arduous and halting process, and it has not always moved in the direction of progress. How would we know if American democracy today was truly endangered and subject to "backsliding?" This course engages this question by grappling with what democracy means, how we can measure its attributes, and how we can assess whether they are robust or deteriorating. We focus on four key threats to democracy: political polarization; conflict over membership and status, particularly around race and gender; economic inequality; and the growth of executive power. We will consider the status of of free and fair elections, the rule of law, the legitimacy of the opposition, and the integrity of rights, including voting rights, civil rights, and civil liberties, studying how these features have developed historically and what happened in periods when they were under threat. We will also evaluate the contemporary political context by applying the same analytical tools.

Full details for GOVT 3122 - Democracy

GOVT3131 The Nature, Functions, and Limits of Law
A general-education course to acquaint students with how our legal system pursues the goals of society. The course introduces students to various perspectives on the nature of law, what functions it ought to serve in society, and what it can and cannot accomplish. The course proceeds in the belief that such matters constitute a valuable and necessary part of a general education, not only for pre-law students but especially for students in other fields. Assigned readings comprise legal materials and also secondary sources on the legal process and the role of law in society. The classes include discussion and debate about current legal and social issues, including equality, safety, the environment, punishment, and autonomy.

Full details for GOVT 3131 - The Nature, Functions, and Limits of Law

GOVT3174 Nationalism and Identity
This comparative course explores key approaches to understanding nationalism and how it interacts with questions of identity in contemporary societies. We will first consider different theoretical approaches to the historical emergence and contemporary relevance of nationalism and concepts used to analyze its different manifestations. In the second part of the course, we will focus on the Russian Federation and the US as case studies to explore the interplay of nationalism, identity and social change in ethnically and racially diverse contexts. In this part of the course, we will use a wide range of sources to consider the impact of nationalism on politics, media, culture and everyday life.

Full details for GOVT 3174 - Nationalism and Identity

GOVT3211 The Whites are Here to Stay: US-Africa Policy from Nixon to Date
GOVT3242 Down the School to Prison Track, and Back
 The "school-to-prison track" refers to policies and practices that facilitate the transfer of students out of the school system and into the prison system (including juvenile detention, county jail, immigration detention centers, or adult prison). This course takes a critical analytical look at the intersections of the prisons and schooling, emphasizing pedagogy, history and policy.

Full details for GOVT 3242 - Down the School to Prison Track, and Back

Fall, Spring.
GOVT3253 Germany in Europe
Since the end of the Cold War a reunited Germany has come to be the European continent's foremost economic and political actor. While its head of government, chancellor Angela Merkel, has increasingly been portrayed as an alternative "leader of the free world", the country is often seen as a rather "reluctant hegemon" by friends and competitors alike. This course introduces students to the German political system in its wider European context and discusses how contemporary German politics have shaped the country's domestic organization and international stance. Given the country's unique history, the course will anchor these discussions in its particular development shaped by factors such as World War II, the experience of communist dictatorship and reunification, as well as its increasing internationalization through European integration and international migration.  

Full details for GOVT 3253 - Germany in Europe

GOVT3261 The US Regime in Comparative and Historical Perspective
This course approaches the study of the United States' political institutions and social cleavages from the perspective of comparative politics, historical political economy, and historical institutionalism. It is organized around core themes in each of these literatures, using the theories and concepts developed there to better explain particular features of the United States' politics and historical development. Topics covered include democratization, subnational authoritarianism, ethnic conflict, economic development, welfare and labor regimes, and party systems. The historical periods analyzed under these themes include the Founding, the Civil War and Reconstruction, the New Deal and its legacies, the Civil Rights movement, as well as the contemporary era.

Full details for GOVT 3261 - The US Regime in Comparative and Historical Perspective

GOVT3273 Politics and Markets
This course explores the tensions between political power and economic exchange in contemporary market economies. It provides a conceptual overview of key economic policy problems in contemporary societies, as well as the strategies for responding to them. Selected topics will include risk and insurance, social cost, taxation, welfare, agriculture, global capital flows, and others

Full details for GOVT 3273 - Politics and Markets

GOVT3333 China-Africa Relations
Put into questions, the aims of this course are as follow: Should anyone worry about China's presence in Africa? Is China's presence part of the recolonizing of the Continent? Alternatively, is China's foray part of a global struggle for positioning between an emergent China and Africa's so-called traditional allies in the West?

Full details for GOVT 3333 - China-Africa Relations

GOVT3686 What Makes Us Human? An Existential Journey Amidst Crises
"What's true of all the evils in the world is true of plague as well. It helps men to rise above themselves," wrote Albert Camus in The Plague. It is not just the current pandemic: climate change, warlike politics, polarization, tribalism, raging anxieties, AI advancement – these are just some of the many existential troubles and challenges we all, and our very "human nature," now face. This is our time to realize our humanity: find out what sets us apart as humans, and live up to it. This course invites you to an existential odyssey into the human condition and politics. Are we truly different from animals and machines? What does it mean to "be yourself"? What's the difference between freedom and liberty? Should we pursue happiness? Why do we yield to fear and anxiety? Is the search for meaning meaningless? Do we live in a post-truth era? What are the roles of morality in our society and politics? Why is God dead, but religion alive? Can we defeat alienation? Is love all we need? How much can, and should, we hope for? In this course, utilizing the award-winning edX HOPE (Human Odyssey to Political Existentialism; see, we will address these questions, and then some more. We shall examine a dozen themes, entwining each with critical reflections, both personal and political, amidst the current crisis: Human/nature, identity & authenticity, freedom, reflection, happiness, death & dread, meaning, morality, truth & trust, God & religion, alienation & love, and finally – hope.

Full details for GOVT 3686 - What Makes Us Human? An Existential Journey Amidst Crises

Winter, Spring, Summer.
GOVT3726 Revolution
In 1989, following the anti-Communist revolutions in the Eastern Bloc countries, Francis Fukuyama famously proclaimed "the end of history" and predicted the final global victory of economic and political liberalism. Marxism had been definitely defeated and the era of revolutions was over. Yet, in the last two decades, revolutions have been spreading across the globe with remarkable speed: from the color revolutions in the former Soviet Union and Balkan states, to the Arab Spring and the widespread anti-globalization and anti-austerity protests around the world. This course will offer a comparative study of the history and theory of modern revolutions—from the American and French revolutions of the 18th century to the anti-colonial independence struggles of the postwar world—with the goal of attaining a more nuanced and contextualized understanding of the revolutions of our time. We will explore the causes and motivations of diverse revolutionary movements, placing particular emphasis on the political ideas that inspired them. We will read works by Paine, Rousseau, Robespierre, Sieyes, L'Ouverture, Marx, Tocqueville, Lenin, Luxembourg, Mao, Fanon, and others. The course is designed as an introductory class and no previous knowledge of the history or political theory we will be covering is required.

Full details for GOVT 3726 - Revolution

GOVT3786 What is a People? The Social Contract and its Discontents
When Jean-Jacques Rousseau introduced the concept of the "general will" in his classic text The Social Contract, he made what was then an unprecedented and scandalous claim: that the people as a whole, and not an individual agent, could be the subject of political will and self-determination. This claim was all the more revolutionary in that historically "the people" [ie peuple] named those poor masses who had no political representation, and who were subjects of the state only to the extent that they were subject to the will of a sovereign monarch. What then is "the people," and how is it constituted as a collective subject?  How does a people speak, or make its will known? Can that will be represented or institutionalized? Do all people belong to the people? How inclusive is the social contract? This course will examine crucial moments in the constitution of the people from the French Revolution to the present day, considering the crisis of political representation they have alternately exposed or engendered and the forms of the social contract to which they have given rise. Our discussions will range from major political events (the French and Haitian Revolutions, the Paris Commune, colonialism and decolonization, May '68) to contemporary debates around universalism, secularism, immigration, and "marriage for all". Readings by Rousseau, Robespierre, L'Ouverture, Michelet, Marx, Freud, Arendt, Balibar, and Rancière.

Full details for GOVT 3786 - What is a People? The Social Contract and its Discontents

GOVT4000 Major Seminar
Major seminars in the Government department are small, advanced courses that cover an important theme or topic in contemporary politics in depth. Courses place particular emphasis on careful reading and classroom discussion, and students can expect to write a significant research paper. The enrollment limit is 15 students. These courses are open to all Cornell students, but preference in admissions is given to seniors over juniors, and to Government majors over other students.  Topics vary by semester and section.

Full details for GOVT 4000 - Major Seminar

Fall, Spring.
GOVT4015 Existentialism
The most intense public encounter between Existentialism and Marxism occurred in immediate post-WWII Europe, its structure remaining alive internationally. Existentialist questions have been traced from pre-Socratic thinkers through Dante, Shakespeare, and Cervantes onward; just as roots of modern materialism extend to Epicurus and Lucretius, or Leopardi. This course will focus on differing theories and concomitant practices concerned with "alienation," "anxiety," "crisis," "death of God," "nihilism," "rebellion or revolution." Crucial are possible relations between fiction and non-fiction; also among philosophy, theology, psychoanalysis, and political theory. Other authors may include: Althusser, de Beauvoir, Beckett, Büchner, Camus, Che, Dostoevsky, Fanon, Genet, Gide, Gramsci, O. Gross, Hamsun, Heidegger, Husserl, Jaspers, C.L.R. James, Kafka, Kierkegaard, Lagerkvist, Lacan, Lenin, Marx, Merleau-Ponty, Mishima, G. Novack, Nietzsche, Ortega, Pirandello, W. Reich, Sartre, Shestov, Tillich, Unamuno. There is also cinema.

Full details for GOVT 4015 - Existentialism

GOVT4021 American Conservative Thought
American conservative thought rests on assumptions that are strikingly different from those made by mainstream American liberals.  However, conservative thinkers are themselves committed to principles that are both quite varied and sometimes contradictory.  This course examines the assumptions upon which rest the libertarian, market/economic, and cultural/traditional strains of American conservatism and asks whether the tensions between them weaken or strengthen conservative thought as an alternative to mainstream liberalism.

Full details for GOVT 4021 - American Conservative Thought

Fall, Spring.
GOVT4037 Making Sense of China: The Capstone Seminar
This course serves as a survey of major issues within Chinese politics and foreign policy and constitutes the capstone seminar for CAPS students.  is intended to give students an opportunity to explore aspects related to Chinese politics, economics, and society that they may have touched upon in other China-focused courses at Cornell, but have not been able to examine as fully, and with the degree of care, that they would like.  In this regard, the substance of the course will be developed through an iterative process between the instructor and the seminar participants.  We will spend the first part of the course doing a series of recent influential readings on contemporary China and developing initial research projects.  The second half of the class will be organized around student led presentations of research projects (accompanied by relevant academic, media, and policy readings).

Full details for GOVT 4037 - Making Sense of China: The Capstone Seminar

GOVT4279 The Animal
In recent years literary representations and philosophical discussions of the status of the animal vis-à-vis the human have abounded.  In this course, we will track the literary phenomenology of animality.  In addition we will read philosophical texts that deal with the questions of animal rights and of the metaphysical implications of the "animal."  Readings may include, among others, Agamben, Aristotle, Berger, the Bible, Calvino, Coetzee, Darwin, Derrida, Descartes, Donhauser, Gorey, Haraway, Hegel, Heidegger, Herzog, Kafka, Kant, La Mettrie, de Mandeville, Montaigne, Nietzsche, Ozeki, Rilke, Schopenhauer, Singer, Sorabji, Sterchi, Stevens, de Waal, Wittgenstein, Wolfe.  A reading knowledge of German and French would be helpful.

Full details for GOVT 4279 - The Animal

Fall or Spring.
GOVT4451 Making Science Policy: The Real World
This course focuses on what happens when science meet the policy-making world. We will discuss theoretical and empirical studies in Science & Technology Studies that analyze the interactions between science, society and politics. We will specifically investigate the mechanisms by which science may impact policy-making by focusing on: the rise of science diplomacy, initiatives to use science in order to further development goals, and efforts to produce evidence-based foreign policy. We will also focus on currently hotly debated political issues in government affairs, including the politization and militarization of space, the rise of big data, the politics of climate change, and the construction of border walls. As part of this course we will hear from experts in the federal government on how they attempt to integrate science into the everyday workings of governance.

Full details for GOVT 4451 - Making Science Policy: The Real World

GOVT4494 Topics in Southeast Asian Studies
A topics course related to Southeast Asian Studies. Spring Topic:  Identity Politics and Ethnic Conflict in Myanmar:  The history of post-independence Myanmar has been marked by conflict between the Burman-dominated government and ethnic minority groups, as well as by communal violence. This course aims to explore the factors driving these conflicts and, in doing so, challenges some of the conventional explanations put forward by Myanmar politicians and analysts. The course will focus in particular on the role that identity politics has played in perpetuating conflict. In particular, the course will highlight the impact of an understanding of ethnicity (and identity more broadly) as a fixed, biological concept. At the same time, the nation-building processes attempted during the colonial and post-colonial periods failed to adopt an inclusive, multiple community-based approach. Moreover, Myanmar has never developed a political system that can accommodate the country's cultural diversity and diverse ethnic identities. The course will trace how the repeated failures to address these interlinked issues in the colonial and post-colonial periods have fueled ethnic divisions and conflict. The course will then turn to the ways in which Burmanization—the attempt to impose the culture and identity of the majority Burman—was used as a social control mechanism. It will show that this backfired; instead of unifying Myanmar's diverse ethnic groups, it contributed to widespread opposition to the State among ethnic minorities. These feelings were harnessed by those wishing to challenge state authority and enabled them to frame their conflicts as a matter of ethnic identity and even survival, prolonging ethnic conflict and communal violence in Myanmar.

Full details for GOVT 4494 - Topics in Southeast Asian Studies

GOVT4723 Peace Building in Conflict Regions: Case Studies Sub-Saharan Africa Israel Palestinian Territories
This course focuses on issues of conflict, peace, and reconciliation in Israel and the Palestinian Territories as well as Sub-Saharan Africa. Both regions exemplify how issues ranging from nationalism and ethnocentrism to land, water and resource management, climate change and migration, as well as socio-psychological dynamics, can exacerbate conflicts. At the same time, these regions also exemplify how trans-border collaboration and regional integration, civilian peace building efforts, strategies for achieving historical justice, as well as science education and science diplomacy can become crucial tools for long-term peace-building, reconciliation and development. In this course we will work with and discuss issues of peace and conflict with policy-makers and local stakeholders involved in peace-building efforts.

Full details for GOVT 4723 - Peace Building in Conflict Regions: Case Studies Sub-Saharan Africa Israel Palestinian Territories

GOVT4959 Honors Thesis: Research and Writing
GOVT 4959 is the second semester of honors thesis research, limited to students who have completed GOVT 4949 - Honors Seminar: Thesis Clarification and Research. There is no formal class meeting. Instead, students will work on their own, with their advisers and other faculty they may consult. Following the plan developed in the fall semester, they will proceed to gather and analyze data or texts, turning in thesis chapters to the adviser on a regular schedule that the student and adviser develop.

Full details for GOVT 4959 - Honors Thesis: Research and Writing

GOVT4999 Undergraduate Independent Study
One-on-one tutorial arranged by the student with a faculty member of his or her choosing. Open to government majors doing superior work, and it is the responsibility of the student to establish the research proposal and to find a faculty sponsor. Applicants for independent study must present a well-defined program of study that cannot be satisfied by pursuing courses in the regularly scheduled curriculum. No more than 4 credits of independent study may count toward fulfillment of the major. Students who elect to continue taking this course for more than one semester must select a new theme or subject each semester. Credit can be given only for work that results in a satisfactory amount of writing. Emphasis is on the capacity to subject a body of related readings to analysis and criticism. Keep in mind that independent study cannot be used to fulfill the seminar requirement. The application form for independent study must be completed at the beginning of the semester in which the course is being taken.

Full details for GOVT 4999 - Undergraduate Independent Study

Fall, Spring.
GOVT6029 Advanced Regression Analysis
This course builds upon 6019, covering in detail the interpretation and estimation of multivariate linear regression models. We derive the Ordinary Least Squares estimator and its characteristics using matrix algebra and determine the conditions under which it achieves statistical optimality. We then consider the circumstances in social scientific contexts which commonly lead to assumption violations, and the detection and implications of these problems. This leads to modified regression estimators that can offer limited forms of robustness in some of these cases. Finally, we briefly introduce likelihood-based techniques that incorporate assumptions about the distribution of the response variable, focusing on logistic regression for binary dependent variables. Students are expected to produce a research paper built around a quantitative analysis that is suitable for presentation at a professional conference. Some time will be spent reviewing matrix algebra, and discussing ways to implement computations using statistical software.

Full details for GOVT 6029 - Advanced Regression Analysis

GOVT6045 Law and Literature
What can lawyers and judges learn from the study of literature? This course explores the relevance of imaginative literature (novels, drama, poetry, and film) to questions of law and social justice from a range of perspectives. We will consider debates about how literature can help to humanize legal decision-making; how storytelling has helped to give voice to oppressed populations over history; how narratives of suffering cultivate popular support for human rights; the role played by storytelling in a trial; and how literature can shed light on the limits of law and public policy.

Full details for GOVT 6045 - Law and Literature

GOVT6053 Comparative Method in International and Comparative Politics
An in-depth, graduate-level introduction to qualitative and comparative methods of political analysis, with special emphasis on the application of these methods in comparative and international politics. Through readings, discussions, and written assignments, students will explore strategies for concept formation, theory construction, and theory testing, using the craft and tools of comparative political analysis.

Full details for GOVT 6053 - Comparative Method in International and Comparative Politics

GOVT6202 Political Culture
This course will explore the relationship between popular belief, political action, and the institutional deployment of social power. The class will be roughly divided in three parts, opening with a discussion of how the material world influences the culture of a society. The middle section will connect culture to political ideology, including symbolism and the construction of group identity. The last part of the course will consider ways in which cultural symbols and ideology can be manipulated in order to legitimate government authority. We will then, coming full circle, trace how political regimes can influence the social practices from which culture originates.

Full details for GOVT 6202 - Political Culture

GOVT6223 Comparative Social Policy
How a society confronts and shapes socio-economic inequality depends largely on the policy tools at its disposal. A range of remedies – in areas as diverse as employment, education, health care, retirement, disability, housing, and parental leave – are available, yet different countries pursue alternative approaches to these issues. This seminar examines how politics shapes a government's social policy strategies. We will review the classic theories of welfare state variation emerging from Western Europe, how they shed light on the American approach to social policy, and to what extent they apply outside affluent democracies. We also will consider whether existing social policies can adapt to emerging issues, such as those posed by the gig economy and climate change.

Full details for GOVT 6223 - Comparative Social Policy

GOVT6241 American Political Economy in Comparative Perspective
This course examines key features of the American political economy in comparative perspective. The increased academic attention to this subject allows us to investigate, moreover, why and how new research areas emerge in the discipline. We will review core literature in comparative political economy, situate the U.S. case within it, and highlight its distinctive aspects. In doing so, we consider a range of topics, such as labor markets, finance, taxation, social policy, and the role of corporate and other affluent interests – and their impact on substantive outcomes like inequality and economic performance. A central goal is to identify promising avenues for further research.

Full details for GOVT 6241 - American Political Economy in Comparative Perspective

GOVT6254 The End of Regionalism?
Regional organizations and integration mechanisms have been a regular feature of politics in many areas of the world. While the number of such organizations has steadily risen over time, today many of these are but empty shells offering little in the way of organizing regional politics. This seminar considers the phenomenal proliferation of regional organizations as well as subsequent developments in world politics which have contributed to their relative decline. In so doing, the seminar will discuss different types of regional integration mechanisms, consider specific ones' such as the European Union, the African Union or Mercosur, and outline how these are challenged by political developments such as nationalism and the increasing globalization of economic relations.

Full details for GOVT 6254 - The End of Regionalism?

GOVT6304 Historical Analysis in Comparative Politics
This is a graduate seminar in political science on the application of historical analysis in comparative politics. The goals of the course are for students to understand the contemporary application of historical analysis in comparative politics and to familiarize themselves with current scholarly standards of such research, and then to produce research that meets those standards. Students will read and analyze peer-reviewed research (or near published research) on this topic each week and write a final research paper.

Full details for GOVT 6304 - Historical Analysis in Comparative Politics

GOVT6604 Topics in Southeast Asian Studies
A topics course related to Southeast Asian Studies. Spring Topic: Identity Politics and Ethnic Conflict in Myanmar:  The history of post-independence Myanmar has been marked by conflict between the Burman-dominated government and ethnic minority groups, as well as by communal violence. This course aims to explore the factors driving these conflicts and, in doing so, challenges some of the conventional explanations put forward by Myanmar politicians and analysts. The course will focus in particular on the role that identity politics has played in perpetuating conflict. In particular, the course will highlight the impact of an understanding of ethnicity (and identity more broadly) as a fixed, biological concept. At the same time, the nation-building processes attempted during the colonial and post-colonial periods failed to adopt an inclusive, multiple community-based approach. Moreover, Myanmar has never developed a political system that can accommodate the country's cultural diversity and diverse ethnic identities. The course will trace how the repeated failures to address these interlinked issues in the colonial and post-colonial periods have fueled ethnic divisions and conflict. The course will then turn to the ways in which Burmanization—the attempt to impose the culture and identity of the majority Burman—was used as a social control mechanism. It will show that this backfired; instead of unifying Myanmar's diverse ethnic groups, it contributed to widespread opposition to the State among ethnic minorities. These feelings were harnessed by those wishing to challenge state authority and enabled them to frame their conflicts as a matter of ethnic identity and even survival, prolonging ethnic conflict and communal violence in Myanmar.

Full details for GOVT 6604 - Topics in Southeast Asian Studies

GOVT6615 Disobedience, Resistance, Refusal
This seminar will survey the field of contemporary political theories of dissent. Beginning with the 'new' civil disobedience debate and the question of whether or not the conceptual framework of civil disobedience can still provide adequate resources for conceptualizing recent protest movements, we will consider alternative theoretical approaches analyzing dissent in terms of repertoires of resistance or practices of refusal. Topics examined will include the relationship of theory and practice, the political functions of dissent, the democracy-inhibiting and democracy-enhancing faces of protest, the politics of in/civility, nonviolence and self-defense, protest policing, freedom and fugitivity, as well as the aesthetic-affective registers of political action. Readings may include recent works by William Scheuerman, Robin Celikates, Candice Delmas, Tommie Shelby, Fred Moten, Audra Simpson, Saidiya Hartman, Bonnie Honig, Banu Bargu, Lida Maxwell, and Judith Butler. 

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GOVT6750 Gramsci and Cultural Politics
Intertwinement of Gramsci's pre-prison and prison writings with his legacy in subsequent political theory & praxis, philosophy, linguistics, architecture, and cinema. Criticism of his work from the Right also the Left (Autonomia Operaia, Red Brigades), the communist critique (Althusser) and anarchist Nihilist Communism (Monsieur Dupont). Situation of Gramsci in "Western Marxism" (Perry Anderson). Gramsci's Politics of Language as "engaging the Soviet Bakhtin Circle and the German Frankfurt School" (Peter Ives). Concepts of 'hegemony,' 'civil society,' 'war of position & war of maneuver,' 'organic vs. traditional intellectuals'—all via less Machiavelli than the "Modern Prince" (Gramsci) and "Machiavelli and Us" (Althusser). Gramsci's "little discovery" in Dante's Inferno as origin of Cultural Politics: Gramscian Architecture (Manfredo Tafuri), Painting Political Expressionism (Leonardo Cremonini), and international cinema.

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GOVT6815 Political Theory and Aesthetics
How should we understand the relationship between aesthetics and politics, and how has this relationship been conceptualized in seminal works of modern and contemporary political theory? This seminar will explore these questions by emphasizing the contested role of aesthetics in both democratic theory and the modern history of democratic politics. We will read works by Hobbes, Rousseau, Burke, Wollstonecraft, Kant, Schiller, Whitman, Arnold, Nietzsche, Sorel, Schmitt, Jünger, Kantorowicz, Benjamin, Arendt, Lefort, Rancière, and several other contemporary political theorists.

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GOVT6897 International Security
This course will examine a variety of international relations theories in studying a broad range of security issues, including the causes of war, alliance formation, balance-of-power politics, security regimes, nuclear and conventional deterrence, the democratic peace, military strategy, international terrorism, and domestic constraints on the use of force. We will use a variety of theoretical perspectives to investigate these and other issues, paying particular attention to evaluating the theoretical arguments with both historical and systematic evidence. 

Full details for GOVT 6897 - International Security

GOVT6998 Inquiry into Politics & Policy
This course is about changing the world, or at least figuring out how. To do that, we have to think clearly about how to turn knowledge into action. We know many of the problems the world has and we understand what causes those problems. The challenge is to figure out how to take that knowledge and apply it; how to use our knowledge to create effective change. This is the central challenge for any decision-maker, public or private. They must make decisions about what to do and how to do it, whether in dealing with natural disasters, winning elections, and everything in between. They base those decisions on larger bodies of knowledge, whether political, economic, historical, ethical, or any of the other broad range of disciplines. The key question is how to apply that knowledge: what is the problem? What is the goal? What will change the current situation? What policies or actions could start that change? Changing the world requires both knowledge and action. This course is about a careful figuring out of both. 

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GOVT7777 Topics in International Relations Research
This research seminar has two primary objectives. First, to build on GOVT 6897 by deepening expertise in specific areas of the field of international security. Second, to guide students through the process of identifying research questions that build on the research agenda in particular topic areas, and guiding them through the process of beginning a research paper suitable for conference presentation. To accompany these goals, we will study the evolution of research in three growing areas of international research. Although topics may vary from year to year, they will sometimes include: 1) the proliferation of nuclear weapons; 2) the international arms trade; 3) cyber-warfare; 4) environmental crises and conflict. Topics will vary from year to year according to student interest.

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GOVT7937 Proseminar in Peace Studies
The Proseminar in Peace Studies offers a multidisciplinary review of issues related to peace and conflict at the graduate level. The course is led by the director of the Judith Reppy Institute for Peace and Conflict Studies and is based on the Institute's weekly seminar series, featuring outside visitors and Cornell faculty. 

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GOVT7999 Independent Study
Individualized readings and research for graduate students. Topics, readings, and writing requirements are designed through consultation between the student and the instructor. Graduate students in government who are looking to use this as an option to fulfill their course requirements should check with their chairs to be certain that the program of study is acceptable for this purpose. Applications must be completed and signed by the instructor and by the chairs of their special committees. They are available from, and must be returned to, the graduate assistant in 212 White Hall.

Full details for GOVT 7999 - Independent Study

Fall, Spring.