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The Department of Government's Classes

We are excited about the political science courses we are teaching in spring 2015!   Here are some examples.

The courses are in numerical order, but higher numbers are not intended to indicate degrees of difficulty.

POL 319, Canadian Politics (29419). TR 12:30-1:45, Combs 223. Instructor: Dr. Jane Rainey.

Robin Williams described Canada as  “like a loft apartment over a really great party.” What did he mean?  And is it still true today?  A soldier killed while

guarding the War Memorial, an attack on the Parliament building, and two soldiers killed by a deliberate hit-and-run, all in one week!  What is happening to our northern neighbors?  Canada is the ideal introduction to comparative politics with everything needed to make a class interesting— a Queen, parliamentary democracy, federalism, diversity, bilingualism, multiculturalism, multiparty system, French-Canadians, African-Canadians, same sex marriage, medical marijuana, religious extremism, prostitution, and secessionists! The textbook is written by a Canadian for Canadians, so you can learn how they see themselves—and us! You will also read about a rock musician-turned-politician and his crucial vote in the House of Commons. Instead of a research paper, you will write a book review on one of a choice of books with topics ranging from First Nations to language rights to gay marriage. POL 319 counts as a political science elective and as an Element 6 “Diversity” course. Prerequisite ENG 102 or 105.

POL 347, “Politics and Religion in the United States”  (27192). TR 3:30-4:45, Combs 225. Instructor: Dr. Jane Rainey.

This is your chance to talk about those two topics we are told to never discuss at the dinner table. We will debate and disagree enthusiastically but politely! Was America founded as a Christian nation? Is God a Republican or a Democrat? Why can’t you pray in school?—Or can you? Which religious lobbyist represents you in Washington? Should churches—or mosques—or synagogues—ever receive government funding? Should they be taxed? Could an atheist be elected President? What role did religion play in the 2014 mid-term elections?  We will read some major Supreme Court First Amendment cases including Kentucky’s own Ten Commandments case. And we will look at how such diverse groups as Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Jews, Muslims, and Native Americans have fared in the U.S.  POL 347 counts as a POL diversity course and counts toward the legal studies minor. People of all religions or no religion are invited to join our “dinner table” discussions. There are no prerequisites.

POL 405, “Eco

nomic Analysis of Political Science” (27195),

TR 12:30-1:45, Combs 225. Instructor: Dr. Matthew Howell,


Political Science and Economics have long been related disciplines.   As the expression “office politics” indicates, politics can influence economic activity.  Economic behavior, though, can also influence government.  Why do dictators have large armies that can’t win wars?  Why are some interest groups highly effective and others aren’t?  Why do states have written constitutions?  How can we avoid environmental catastrophes when no one has any power?  Economic incentives, rational behavior, and organization

can provide answers that complement the theories common to political science.If you are a political scientist interested in learning how other disciplines can inform politics, or an economist interested in how your discipline can provide insight into other fields, this is the class you should take.  Any student interested in interdisciplinary study will see a clear example in this class.  If you were a fan of Freakonomics, you might like this class, too.  NOTE: POL 405 is a “special topics” course. It may be repeated  up to six hours so long as the topic is different each time.

POL 410: Politics of Afghanistan and Pakistan(29337), TR 11-12:15, Combs 114. Instructor: Dr. Steve Barracca.

Afghanistan and Pakistan have been called “the epicenter” of the war on terrorism. In this region of the world, where the United States has invested heavily in terms of human and economic resources, a successful American foreign policy and national security strategy requires that policy makers and citizens have a solid understanding of these two countries. Dr. Barracca’s course introduces students to the history, culture, politics, and socio-economic conditions of these two troubled states. Students will learn how historical legacies shape contemporary issues and how the complex political, social and economic realities of today create developmental and security challenges that defy easy solutions.  The course prerequisite is 3 hours of POL (Political Science) or department approval.  Department approval can easily be obtained by emailing the Department of Government Chair, Lynnette Noblitt, at

POL 464: Law and Politics of Civil Liberties (25194); MWF 1:25-2:15, Combs 114. Instructor: Dr. Daniel Bennett,

Is protesting at military funerals protected by the First Amendment? Can a police officer stop you and pat you down without a compelling reason? Can a business cite its owners' religious beliefs when refusing to cover birth control in its employee insurance plans? Just who is covered by the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause? You will learn the answers to these questions (plus many, many others) in this course, as we explore the intersection of law and politics at the Supreme Court over civil liberties.  Counts for the POL diversity requirement. Those planning on applying to law school should take this course, as the bulk of our readings will be Supreme Court decisions and case law. But anyone with an interest in American political institutions or how politics influences the legal system will find this course particularly interesting.



*illustrative images from wikicommons*

Published on November 11, 2014

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