Course Descriptions

PPLE 210 American Politics (1)

This course reviews elements of American government in light of contemporary political issues, analyzes political processes through which public concerns are translated into public policies and develops analytical tools with which to examine American politics in its economic and social context.

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Social Sciences
  • Prerequisite: No seniors without instructor consent
  • Offering: Every semester
  • Instructor: Ellis, Michaux

PPLE 220 (EV) Politics and Ethics (1)

This course is an introduction to questions of ethics and politics. Topics to be discussed may include justice, the nature of the good, different conceptions of happiness, virtue, ethical theory, moral relativism, feminist ethics, liberty, equality, and the foundation of rights, as well as particular applied topics in moral and political philosophy (such as economic justice and the ethics of war).

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Examining Values
  • Prerequisite: First or Second Year Students Only
  • Offering: Every Semester
  • Instructor: Gutterman, Ellis

PPLE 314 (EV) Politics and Religion in the United States (1)

Exploration of the vital and often contentious relationship between politics and religion in the United States. Topics include theories of justice, authority and morality, religious and American culture, contemporary public policy issues.

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Examining Values
  • Prerequisite: One 200-level PPLE Course
  • Offering: Annually
  • Instructor: Gutterman

PPLE 315 Topics in Politics (1)

This course enables faculty and students to focus on a specific topic in politics be it within or across the discipline's subfield. Topics will involve attention to some aspect of the interconnections between ideas, images, personalities, power, and institutions as these arise in the political, socio-economic, and cultural spheres. Designation of specific topic and relevant cases and theories will be made at the time of course offering.

  • Prerequisite: One PPLE course at the 100/200 level or consent of instructor
  • Offering: Alternate years
  • Instructor: Staff

PPLE 317 Political Judgment (1)

How and why do individuals and collectives decide to pursue certain courses of action and avoid others? What is the basis and process of good judgment and how can it be recognized and valued? What is the role of habit, reason, force, emotion, desire, faith? Different approaches to political judgment will be examined and applied to vexing social and moral issues.

  • Prerequisite: One 200-level PPLE course
  • Offering: Annually
  • Instructor: Gutterman

PPLE 319 U.S. Welfare Policy (1)

This course examines the nature and development of welfare policy in the United States, analyzing both the philosophical underpinnings of social provision and the role of politics in shaping and changing the extent of that provision. In addition, we consider the most recent attempts to reform welfare, the obstacles to implementation of new policy, and the efforts of states to address poverty issues.

  • Prerequisite: PPLE 210 or consent of instructor
  • Offering: Alternate years
  • Instructor: Michaux

PPLE 330 Topics in Public Policy (1)

This course examines the American public policy process through a case study approach. Attention will be paid to issues of policy formation and implementation with a focus on the role of national and state institutions in altering policy outcomes. Case studies will vary but may include: tax and budget policy, crime, education, housing, health care, morality policies.

  • Prerequisite: PPLE 210 or consent of instructor
  • Offering: Alternate years
  • Instructor: Michaux

PPLE 334 Law and Public Policy (1)

This course examines the law in its social context and the extent to which law reflects social philosophy and public policy. It analyzes law in its formal setting - opinions, precedents and rules - and its informal setting - policy discretion and the political nature of juries and prisons. The course considers the impact of legal education on values and social responsibility.

  • Prerequisite: PPLE 210 or consent of instructor
  • Offering: Annually
  • Instructor: Carella

PPLE 337 Constitutional Law (1)

This course examines the development of the U.S. Constitution from 1803 to the present from the perspective of Supreme Court decisions. Primary emphasis is placed on the definition of and the priority among principles of limited government, the protection of private property, the promotion of commerce and individual liberty.

  • Prerequisite: PPLE 210 or consent of instructor
  • Offering: Annually
  • Instructor: Carella

PPLE 338W Reforming Criminal Justice (1)

The United States currently incarcerates about 2.4 million men, women and children. The number of incarcerated does not take into account how many people’s lives are affected by our extensive system of punishment, including those on parole or probation; children of incarcerated parents; and communities that support prison systems. Furthermore, racial disparities in arrests, sentencing, and prison time call into questions our guarantees of equal justice and fundamental fairness. Inside the prison walls, many prisoners are subject to a system of control that prioritizes punishment over rehabilitation. This course explores these elements of the penal system with a group of prisoners at the Oregon State Penitentiary (OSP), a maximum security male prison, and asks, what can be done to reform and improve the system? Eight of our classes will be held at OSP; students and prisoners will work together on reform ideas, culminating in a research project that will go to a lawmaker, advocacy group or corrections organization for consideration. (Note: Students must have a government-issued identification, submit to and pass a criminal background check, and follow the rules of dress and conduct established by the Oregon Department of Corrections.).

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Writing-centered
  • Offering: Spring
  • Instructor: Buis Michaux

PPLE 351W Sex, Gender and American Politics (1)

A wide range of political issues, from abortion to marriage equality, raise fundamental questions about the nature of sex, gender roles, and the role of government. These issues play out in an electoral arena where female voters outnumber male voters but the percentage of female candidates for office remains low. Is politics a man's game? Is there a distinctive feminist politics? What are the institutional opportunities and barriers to political equality? Questions about the gendered dimensions of political life will animate our analysis of American democratic life.

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Writing-centered
  • Prerequisite: PPLE 210 or consent of instructor
  • Offering: Alternate years
  • Instructor: Michaux

PPLE 353 Parties, Elections and Campaigns (1)

This course explores the uneasy position of political parties in a constitutional system designed in part to thwart majority action and asks, to what extent do American political parties and elections enhance or obstruct democratic control of government? Topics include: The Founders' views of political faction and the development of a party system; the historical exclusion of women and African-Americans from party politics; and the role of parties today in shaping and governing political conflict. Finally, the course analyzes a variety of reform proposals from alternative "citizen" organizations to calls for proportional representation.

  • Prerequisite: PPLE 210
  • Offering: Alternate falls
  • Instructor: Michaux

PPLE 354 The American Presidency (1)

This course analyzes the development of the American presidency and its place in contemporary politics. The particular presidencies and themes studied will vary from year to year, but the course will typically investigate the empirical sources of presidential power, including the Constitution, individual political skill and leadership style, and historical circumstances. The course will also explore the development of presidential power and pose the normative question of whether modern presidents have too much or too little power.

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Social Sciences
  • Prerequisite: One 200 level PPLE course
  • Offering: Annually
  • Instructor: Ellis

PPLE 358 American Exceptionalism?: Policy and Politics in Comparative Perspective (1)

This course examines a wide range of American public policies in cross-national and historical perspective. The course investigates the extent to which American politics and outcomes (e.g., health care, economic inequality, welfare state, taxation, gun violence, incarceration rates, hate speech laws, environmental regulations) diverge from those of other advanced industrial societies and assesses rival explanations, including institutional, cultural, and historical explanations. Finally, the course explores what American citizens and policy makers can learn from the experiences of other countries.

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Social Sciences
  • Prerequisite: One 200 level PPLE course
  • Offering: Annually
  • Instructor: Ellis

PPLE 372 (TH) American Foreign Policy (1)

This course analyzes the substance and sources of American foreign policy since World War II and examines the complexity of interests and issues that affect U.S. relations with selected countries and regions.

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Thinking Historically
  • Prerequisite: One of POLI 214, POLI 216 or POLI 218
  • Offering: Annually
  • Instructor: Marks

PPLE 383 Dissent in 20th Century American Political Thought (1)

This course examines dissent in 20th century American political thought. Major areas of political divisiveness, such as Capitalism, Labor and (anti-) Communism, Race and Racism, and Sex, Gender, and Sexuality, will be explored through works of political activism and analysis on both the Left and Right.

  • Prerequisite: 200-level PPLE course
  • Offering: Alternate years
  • Instructor: Gutterman

PPLE 390 Independent Study (variable credit)

Opportunity to conduct a major research project, which cannot be satisfied through any existing course in the department's curriculum, under faculty supervision. Proposed projects must be submitted to the Department Chair and must be approved by the department faculty.

  • Offering: Every semester
  • Instructor: Staff

PPLE 396 Governmental Internship (1)

Supervised internships in state and local government. Interns are placed only in positions which provide academic learning opportunities and the availability of such positions may be limited. A student is accepted for internship at the discretion of the instructor on the basis of demonstrated capabilities, including research and writing skills. Interns are expected to work 12 hours a week, meet regularly with the instructor, attend periodic seminars, and write a final research paper.

  • Prerequisite: PPLE 210 and sophomore status
  • Offering: Alternate years
  • Instructor: Ellis

PPLE 398 Legislative Internship (1)

Supervised internships in the Oregon State Legislature. Interns are placed only in positions which provide academic learning opportunities and the availability of such positions may be limited. Students are admitted to the course by consent of the instructor and are selected on the basis of their demonstrated capabilities, including research and writing skills. Interns are expected to work 12 hours a week, meet regularly with the instructor, attend periodic seminars, and write a final research paper.

  • Prerequisite: PPLE 210 and sophomore status
  • Offering: Spring of odd-numbered years
  • Instructor: Michaux

PPLE 480W Knowledge into Action Senior Capstone (2)

This two-credit senior seminar invites students to go beyond dealing with identifying problems in a given area of policy and politics, to designing solutions and analyzing how the desired change can be brought about. Students are required to engage in collaborative problem-solving in devising their action proposals. Although the seminar will have a few common texts, the bulk of the semester’s work will be organized around smaller group projects that will require students to draw on the relevant academic literature, available data, and community expertise. The final written product will be a briefing memo and research report, which will be presented orally in a public setting. The course cannot be taken credit/no credit.

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Writing-centered; Social Sciences
  • Prerequisite: Completion of 8 PPLE credits toward the major
  • Offering: Every semester
  • Instructor: Ellis, Gutterman, Michaux

POLI 203 (EV) Themes in Political Theory (1)

This course examines central themes in the field of political theory. Students will examine such topics as the importance of order and authority, the tension between faith and reason, and the relationship between tradition and notions of progress through analysis of vital texts in the field of political theory. Emphasis will be placed on the interplay between such themes and contemporary political issues.

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Examining Values
  • Offering: Annually
  • Instructor: Gutterman, Basu

POLI 216 (US) Comparative Democratic Systems (1)

Comparative examination of the processes of change that give rise to new patterns of political and social behavior in advanced industrial society; analysis of the causes of these changes and their impact on political, social and economic life in selected countries. Closed to seniors except with consent of instructor.

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Understanding Society
  • Offering: Spring
  • Instructor: Marks

POLI 303 (EV) Topics in Political Theory (1)

This course examines selected topics and themes in political theory, combining conceptual and normative analysis with applications to actual social and political institutions, processes and phenomena. Designation of specific topics will be made at the time of course offering.

  • Prerequisite: One of 100 level POLI, POLI 203, POLI 212, POLI 213W or consent of instructor
  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Examining Values; Death Cluster
  • Offering: Annually
  • Instructor: Basu

POLI 316 The Politics of International Justice (1)

How can the international community hold leaders responsible for genocide, crimes against humanity and other human rights violations? In this class we will examine the ways in which international criminal courts and tribunals have sought to end impunity for human rights abuses. We will consider key institutions and innovations in international criminal law, explore political and scholarly debates in the field of international and transitional justice, and analyze the relationship between international, national and local justice mechanisms. Our focus will be on historical and contemporary case studies, including Yugoslavia, Rwanda, and on-going International Criminal Court trials, paying particular attention to cases involving sexual violence and child soldiers.

  • Prerequisite: POLI 214, POLI 218 or any 300-level Politics class or consent of instructor
  • Offering: Alternate years
  • Instructor: Staff

POLI 318 (EV) Death in America (1)

An ethics and public policy case-based seminar that proceeds from the premise that the patterned mal-distribution of mortality rates is a conspicuous consequence and hence robust measure of social justice. Four distinct cases are addressed from philosophical, ethical and policy perspectives, on topics such as the automobile, capital punishment, food, environmental causes, health-care, being health uninsured, gun ownership, HIV/Aids, occupational fatalities, oil and petroleum, physician-assisted suicide, and tobacco. Pedagogy includes discussion, exams, digital field-work, and service-learning.

  • Prerequisite: One POLI course or consent of instructor.
  • General Education Requirement: Examining Values
  • Offering: Alternate years
  • Instructor: Basu

POLI 328W Political Metaphors (1)

This course provides an opportunity for students to critically interrogate the use of metaphors in political discourse. Metaphors often are deployed by individuals inside and outside government to frame political issues, shape policy debates, influence public discourse, and persuade government officials and the population at large to act in specified ways. Through readings, in-class discussion, and extended writing students will investigate political metaphors and their role in politics around the world.

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Writing-centered
  • Prerequisite: One 200 level Politics course
  • Offering: Alternate years
  • Instructor: Marks

POLI 370W Europe and the International System (1)

This course is designed to introduce students to politics and foreign policy in modern Europe. Special emphasis is placed on the evolving relationships among European countries in a rapidly changing international environment. Through lectures and discussions, students will explore the political, economic and security relations among European states and Europe's interactions with the rest of the world. The course will also examine various theoretical approaches designed to explain the changing relationships among countries in post-Cold War Europe.

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Writing-centered
  • Prerequisite: POLI 214 or POLI 216 or consent of instructor
  • Offering: Alternate years
  • Instructor: Marks

POLI 373 International Security and Cooperation (1)

This course introduces students to various important theoretical approaches to the study of international security and cooperation. It also applies these approaches to empirical cases and concrete issues of international harmony and discord. Among the strategies of cooperation examined are strategic interaction and institution-building. These approaches will be analyzed in light of traditional theories that focus on military relationships and armed conflict. Special emphasis is placed on security and cooperation in the post-Cold War world.

  • Prerequisite: POLI 214 or consent of instructor
  • Offering: Annually
  • Instructor: Marks

POLI 384 Transnational Feminist Politics (1)

Many feminists try to think, dialogue, and organize transnationally. This raises challenging questions: Is there a global sisterhood of women? Can feminists promote solidarity across divides of class, race, nationality, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, religion, and language? And should feminists question these categories of analysis? This course asks students to critically examine these questions through case studies on topics related to imperialism and colonialism; war and genocide; the international human rights movement; campaigns against violence; and the global economy. The course will examine the emergence of transnational feminism as interdisciplinary field of study, introduce students to key concepts such as identity difference, solidarity, and intersectionality, and explore major debates surrounding transnational feminist activism, theory and praxis.

  • Prerequisite: Any WGS course or POLI 214, 216, 218 or consent of instructor.
  • Offering: Alternate springs
  • Instructor: Koomen

POLI 387 Africa and the World (1)

Colonialists, politicians, aid workers, peace corps volunteers, missionaries, human rights advocates, scholars and many others have asked, "How can we save Africa?" This class critically interrogates this question, its motivations, and the ways in which people have answered it by examining international efforts to "save" Africa, as well as African liberation struggles and social movements. Focusing on texts by African and Pan-African authors, we will study the ways in which international relations and the colonial legacy shape contemporary African politics. Special attention will be given to the politics of "tribes," ethnicity, race, class and gender, as well as ideas about culture, tradition, and modernity. We will focus on the international dimensions of violent conflicts in Africa, the dilemmas of humanitarian intervention, and efforts to promote peace, justice and reconciliation. We will investigate the historical roots of "underdevelopment," African contributions to the development of Europe and the Americas, and contemporary development and aid projects. Case studies include Rwanda, Maasailand, Darfur and South Africa.

  • Prerequisites: POLI 214, POLI 218, HIST 119, ANTH 232, or consent of instructor.
  • Offering: Alternate springs
  • Instructor: Koomen

POLI 480W Senior Thesis (2)

The Senior Thesis is the capstone experience in the Politics major. It involves the writing of a major research paper under the close supervision of a faculty member. The paper is subject to multiple stages of criticism and rewriting. This process is intended to deepen students' insights into different forms of inquiry, methods and literature; hone their skills of critical thinking; sharpen their abilities to analyze theory and test ideas through research; and ensure that their research designs and methodologies are effective and appropriate.

  • General Education Requirement Fulfillment: Writing-centered
  • Prerequisite: A minimum of seven Politics credits, and three-credits at the 300 level, two of which must be completed in residence at Willamette; POLI 390, POLI 396 and POLI 398 do not count toward the three credit minimum
  • Offering: Every semester
  • Instructor: Staff