2014-15 Catalog courses

The courses listed here are those published in Calvin College's current academic catalog. Not all courses are offered in the current year.


Ideas/Institutions in American Politics

A study of American national politics. The course emphasizes the social context, constitutional foundations, processes, and functions of American politics. Different faculty members employ a wide variety of teaching methods, from lectures to small groups to simulations.

  • Course code: POLS-101
  • Credits: 3
  • Semester: Fall, Spring
  • Department: Political Science

Persons in Political Community

This course examines how different conceptions of identity relate to different understandings of political community, and therefore, to the question of who and what a citizen is. Students analyze a variety of conceptions of citizenship, drawn from a range of philosophical traditions and empirical models. They then explore how a Reformed understanding of citizenship affects the way we think of ourselves as members of different political communities.


State Politics & American Federalism

This course provides a comparative study of American politics at the state level. Attention is given to the historical development of state governments, their structural characteristics, and policy-making in important areas such as education, social welfare, land-use, criminal justice, and transportation.


International Cooperation & Conflict

This course explores different theoretical approaches to the study of international politics. Students are introduced to a variety of explanatory frameworks for phenomena such as war, ethnic conflict, economic inequalities, environmental degradation, international trade, and globalization.

  • Course code: POLS-207
  • Credits: 3
  • Semester: Fall, Spring
  • Department: Political Science

Urban Politics

This course examines urban politics in the United States, giving attention to the historical development of urban government in America, power and politics in contemporary American cities, and metropolitics and metropolitan reform. Not offered 2012-2013.


Public & Non-Profit Administration

This course introduces students to public administration, focusing on political management (political environment, intergovernmental relations, administrative ethics), program management (planning, decision-making, organizing, leading, implementing) and resources management (personnel management, budgeting, information management). It also examines the politics of public agencies and non-profit organizations. Not offered 2012-2013.

  • Course code: POLS-209
  • Credits: 3
  • Semester: Fall, Spring
  • Department: Political Science

American Public Policy

As an introduction to public policy, this course focuses on (1) the ways social, economic, and political institutions influence policy formation, (2) methods of evaluating public policy, and (3) the historical development and current content of American public policy in key areas such as defense, social welfare, criminal justice, and education.


Governments and Globalization

(3). S. This course introduces students to a variety of theoretical and methodological approaches used in the study of comparative politics. Students will explore political institutions, intrastate conflict, human rights, environmental protection, and social welfare policies from a comparative perspective. Special attention is given to thinking about how states fit within broader regional communities that collaboratively address these issues.


American Foreign Policy

This is an analytical view of American foreign policy, including its domestic sources, the process of formulating policy, the instruments of American diplomacy, the nature of U.S. relations with hostile powers, allies, emerging powers, and the United Nations, and the limitations and potential of American foreign policy.


Global Politics of Human Rights

This course examines the emergence and institutionalization of human rights in the international arena during the 20th century. It analyzes the idea of human rights and examines the place of this idea in particular areas of concern, such as race, gender, religion, and the meeting of basic material needs. It questions the assertion and defense of human rights, by examining issues such as genocide, displaced persons, humanitarian intervention, and the role of international organizations. Not offered 2012-2013.


The President & Congress

The course analyzes the powers and processes of these two institutions of American government and the changing relationship between them. Not offered 2014-2015.


Parties & Interest Groups

The course investigates the nature and importance of political parties and elections for American politics. Topics include party development, interest group mobilization, and party organization. In election years, students enrolled in the course are encouraged to participate in the political campaign of the party or candidate of their choice.


Freedom, Justice & Political Authority

This course provides an introduction to the history of political thought. By examining such concepts as freedom, authority, and justice, as they are understood by representative modern and pre-modern political thinkers, the course attempts to uncover the major strands of historical development in Western political thinking.


Foundations of Political Sci Research

This course examines the philosophical assumptions, theoretical issues, methodological approaches, and analytical tools used in analyzing American, comparative, and international politics. Not recommended for first-year students. As a supplement to this course, Mathematics 143 is strongly encouraged.


Latin American Politics

The course provides an analysis of modern Latin American politics with special emphasis on historical patterns, democratic transitions, economic development, and human rights.

  • Course code: POLS-276
  • Credits: 3
  • Semester: Fall, Spring
  • Department: Political Science

Asian Politics

The course examines the governments and politics of China, Japan, and select Asian states such as the Philippines and South Korea.


African Politics

This course is a study of the politics and governments of African states. It questions why some states make better progress towards the goals of stability, democratization and socioeconomic development than others. Specific issues examined are military rule, corruption, ethnic and religious strife, poverty, human rights, and health. Not offered 2012-2013.


Special Topics in Pol. Science

Content for this course varies.


Institutions, Civil Society & Revolution

(3) S. This course introduces students to the political institutions of different types of states and focuses on how these institutions impact the citizens of those states. Students are trained to analyze how political institutions shape legal protection, conflict, political and economic development, and states' ability to interact regionally and internationally. The course has a special emphasis on contestation within political systems and how this contestation can induce peaceful change or foster conflict. Recommended: Political Science 214.


International Peace & Security

The course examines the theory and practice of international peace and security since the end of the Cold War, causes of war and war termination, military strategy, proliferation, nonproliferation and counterproliferation, civil wars and ethnic conflict, peacekeeping and peace enforcement, human security, and international order.


Political Liberalism and Its Critics

The course focuses on representative political theorists from the sixteenth through the nineteenth century. Not offered 2012-2013.


Civil War, Ethnic Conflict & Terrorism

This course explores the origins, motivations, and methods of political terrorism as well as possible responses to it. The course questions definitions of terrorism, the factors that feed terrorism, terrorists' changing tactics, and possible responses to terrorism, particularly by the United States. Not offered 2012-2013.


Internationl Organizatns & Law

The course examines international organizations and international law, including their function and processes, their limits and possibilities, and their relationship to the international system.


American Constitutional Foundations

The course is a comprehensive study of the role of the courts in the American political system, focusing on the Supreme Court's role in constitutional interpretation.


American Elections & Mass Media

The course provides a survey of the relationship between American politics and the mass communications media. The course covers the way the federal government, through its regulations and its dissemination of information, affects the operations of the media, and how the media influence the social and political values of Americans and the functioning of the political system. Not offered 2012-2013.


Intern'l Political Economy

This course examines how competing political philosophies and ideologies explain different economic practices of states, how political forces and institutions affect the operation of international markets, and how global economic institutions operate. The course investigates the political controversies that surround the actions of central global economic institutions as well as the domestic political issues that result from international economic forces. Recommended: Political Science 207, 309, Economics 222.


Contemporary Political Thought

A study of representative contemporary political theorists, considering their points of emphasis and their fundamental assumptions regarding politics and political reality.


Religion & Politics in Comparative Pers

This course examines religion as an agent of political mobilization and change across different cultural contexts in terms of its historical development, cultural manifestation, and its effects on the political system. Attention is given to such topics as the Christian Right in the United States, liberation theology in Latin America, Islamic fundamentalism in the Middle East, and the role of ultra orthodox Jews in Israeli politics. Not offered 2012-2013.


Global Democratization

This course examines the factors that have contributed to and hindered the recent emergence of democratic governance in Southern Europe, Latin America, Eastern Europe, Russia, and Africa. Attention is given to the relationship among democracy, development, and political culture.


Internship in Politics & Government

These internships, which require students to apply the tools of political science in state or local government settings, involve sixteen hours of work a week under the direction of an agency supervisor and Calvin instructor. Students apply for spring internships by contacting the Calvin Office of Career Services early in the fall semester. Each intern keeps an analytical journal, submits a final summary paper, and participates in a weekly seminar. Prerequisites: sophomore, junior, or senior status, appropriate course background in political science or related fields, and permission of the Calvin instructor.

  • Course code: POLS-380
  • Credits: 2
  • Semester: Fall, Interim & Spring
  • Department: Political Science

Independent Study

Reading or directed projects for majors. Open with the permission of the chair and the instructor under whom the work will be done.

  • Course code: POLS-390
  • Credits: 1
  • Semester: Fall, Spring & Interim
  • Department: Political Science

Research Seminar in Political Science

This capstone course examines the relationship between the Christian faith and public life. The first half of the course reviews and addresses Christian (and specifically, Reformed Christian) public responsibilities and the ways such responsibilities may relate to life in contemporary pluralistic, democratic contexts. The second half of the course permits students to engage in a major research project that focuses on the relationship between their Christian faith and some particular aspect of public life. Prerequisites: junior or senior standing, biblical foundations I or theological foundations I, developing a Christian mind, and philosophical foundations.


Political Science Interim

Interim course descriptions are posted online at: www.calvin.edu/go/interim/

POLS-101 Ideas/Institutions in American Politics 3
POLS-110 Persons in Political Community 3
POLS-202 State Politics & American Federalism 3
POLS-207 International Cooperation & Conflict 3
POLS-208 Urban Politics 3
POLS-209 Public & Non-Profit Administration 3
POLS-212 American Public Policy 3
POLS-214 Governments and Globalization 3
POLS-218 American Foreign Policy 3
POLS-228 Global Politics of Human Rights 3
POLS-234 The President & Congress 3
POLS-237 Parties & Interest Groups 3
POLS-240 Freedom, Justice & Political Authority 3
POLS-251 Foundations of Political Sci Research 3
POLS-276 Latin American Politics 3
POLS-277 Asian Politics 3
POLS-279 African Politics 3
POLS-295 Special Topics in Pol. Science 3
POLS-301 Institutions, Civil Society & Revolution 3
POLS-304 International Peace & Security 3
POLS-306 Political Liberalism and Its Critics 3
POLS-307 Civil War, Ethnic Conflict & Terrorism 3
POLS-309 Internationl Organizatns & Law 3
POLS-310 American Constitutional Foundations 3
POLS-318 American Elections & Mass Media 3
POLS-319 Intern'l Political Economy 3
POLS-320 Contemporary Political Thought 3
POLS-321 Religion & Politics in Comparative Pers 3
POLS-322 Global Democratization 3
POLS-380 Internship in Politics & Government 2
POLS-390 Independent Study 1
POLS-399 Research Seminar in Political Science 3
POLS-W80 Political Science Interim 3
Political Science Rhetoric Program

The Political Science program has always emphasized rhetoric and excellent writing skills.