Political Science First Year Courses

The department’s program is designed to provide students with an understanding and appreciation of politics in the broadest sense, both domestically and internationally, and to introduce them to the skills needed for research and analysis. The curriculum includes courses in the principal fields of the discipline, including American and comparative government and politics of European, Asian, South American, Middle Eastern, and African nations; international relations; and normative political theory. Through coursework and independent study projects, students confront some of the enduring questions of politics while studying political institutions, processes, behavior, and theory. Students who major in political science are likely to be well prepared for future careers or graduate study in such fields as law, public service, international affairs, business management, teaching, journalism, and many others.

The 100-level courses are designed for students likely to major in other fields of study as well as those still considering a major or minor in political science. The 200-level courses are intended to serve as gateway courses to the major as well as to particular subfields. Both the 100- and 200-level courses, then, are general introductions providing a broad foundation in the discipline and are particularly suitable for first– and second–year students. The 300- and 400-level courses are, in most instances, somewhat more demanding and less general than lower-level courses and allow students to explore a specific topic in greater depth. These courses are generally directed, but not limited, to the needs of juniors and seniors.

In addition, the Department of Political Science sponsors study groups to Washington, DC and Geneva, Switzerland. Colgate’s Washington study group, the oldest such program in the nation, offers students the opportunity to live, work, and take courses in the nation’s capital. Students with interests in American politics and government, constitutional law, or public policy are encouraged to apply. Before doing so, you should take one of the following courses: POSC 150 (also offered as an FSEM), POSC 210, or POSC 211.

The Geneva (Switzerland) study group allows students to study international organizations and the rise of global governance, along with Western European politics and cultures. Internships are a part of the experience and include placements in international organizations, non-governmental organizations, or private concerns with interests in international relations or comparative politics. At least one college-level French course is a prerequisite for the study group. Study group directors may specify other prerequisites, but it is strongly recommended that students take POSC 151, POSC 152POSC 232 (also offered as FSEM 198), or POSC 260, and at least one other political science or history course in the politics, culture, history, international relations, or economies of Europe.

Questions about political science programs may be directed to the department administrative assistant, Cindy Terrier, or Professor Nina Moore, at 315-228-7521; students should also closely consult the University Catalog and the department’s web page.


Faculty Profile for Professor Kraynak 

What is a just society? What is the best form of government? How should we live as individuals and citizens of a political community? These questions lie at the foundations of political thought and have been debated since the time of the ancient Greeks to modern America. Students examine and discuss the works of Aristotle, Aquinas, Locke, the American founders, Rousseau, and Nietzsche for their answers to these enduring and challenging questions. Students who successfully complete this seminar will receive credit for POSC 260 and satisfy one half of the Social Relations, Institutions, and Agents area of inquiry requirement. 

Professor Robert Kraynak teaches political science with special interests in classical political philosophy, religion and politics, and the political theory of the American founding.

An introduction to Middle Eastern politics, including historical foundations of the modern Middle East, competing strategies of state building, the Arab-Israeli conflict, the Gulf War, the rise of political Islam, and American policy toward the region.

While most Americans take it for granted that our political system is a democracy and that it serves as an ideal by which other systems might be measured, the United States is only one of many stable democratic polities in existence today. This course identifies various characteristics of democratic systems that set them apart from others, and compares the operation of our presidential system with the parliamentary model adopted by many industrialized democracies. (AM)

This introduction to political theory addresses the ways in which personal morality and ideas of human flourishing determine one's perceptions and responses to political institutions that shape the life and culture of one's nation. Using a wide variety of texts, the moral underpinnings of different political systems are discussed in terms of fundamental normative concepts such as right, duty, virtue, liberty, and equality. Other essential terms, basic to building a foundational political vocabulary, such as liberalism, conservatism, individualism, communalism, and modernity are also explored. This introduction to normative political theory gives special emphasis to the genesis and development of liberal democracy and the tensions between its component parts, particularly as they relate to visions of a well-lived, moral life. This course is designed to enrich one's perceptions of the evening news and the political discourse of our times. (TH)

Nearly 200 independent states coexist in the world today. Although they are all unique, political scientists study them in systematic ways, comparing them to discover fundamental political patterns that can help produce broadly applicable generalizations across different cultures and geographies. Themes such as democratic or authoritarian regime type, models of economic development, state institutions, civil society, and issues of national and ethnic identity all form important realms of inquiry for researchers engaged in the practice of comparative politics. This course introduces students to the principle themes and basic theories of comparative politics using examples from Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America, including both authoritarian and unstable democratic countries. (CO)

Analyzes the legislative process with a special emphasis on the relationship between Congress and the presidency. Students examine the historical development and structural attributes of Congress that determine its role in the executive-legislative relationship. Since the decision-making process varies enormously by issue area, students focus on several distinct policy areas. Course materials include classics of congressional scholarship as well as results from some of the latest research in the field. (AM)

An introduction to Middle Eastern politics, including historical foundations of the modern Middle East, competing strategies of state building, the Arab-Israeli conflict, the Gulf War, the rise of political Islam, and American policy toward the region. (CO)

An introduction to the basic approaches to international relations, such as realism, idealism, and the interdependence school. Students also consider fundamental problems of national security, the uses of power, the causes of war, the nature of international institutions, the relationships among security, deterrence, conflict escalation, and nuclear proliferation. (IR)