Courses in Political Science


Department of Political Science

Please note: This course list is under construction. Course numbers (and possibly names) will change with the conversion to semesters in August 2012. 

Political Science 4282
The Politics of Income Inequality

3 units | Offered one per year
Income inequality has increased dramatically in recent decades. Politicians and citizens sharply disagree on the causes and consequences of this development, as well as its desirability. Income inequality is a central theme in the upcoming elections, with Tea Party supporters on one side of the issue, and Occupy Wall Street supporters on the other. This course introduces students to some of the most fascinating puzzles related to the politics of income inequality and redistribution. Why was there hardly any social policy to speak of before the 1930s? Why are there huge differences in terms redistribution between countries? Why are some welfare programs more popular than others? What are the causes and consequences of income inequality? For concreteness, the course analyzes U.S. social policy in comparison to European countries.

Political Science 7281
The Political Economy of Income Inequality, Volatility, and Mobility

3 units | Offered one every 1.5 years
Income distributions play an overwhelmingly important role in political science. This is hardly surprising since distributional issues are at the core of many theories in the social sciences. This course introduces students to the scholarship on the patterns, political and institutional foundations as well as consequences of income inequality. The course also prominently features dynamic aspects of income distributions, which only recently caught the attention of political scientists. Hence, patterns, causes and consequences of income volatility and income mobility are the other substantive foci of the syllabus. Overall, then, we will explore the political economy of income inequality, volatility, and mobility. Besides familiarity with the literature on the topic and its research frontiers, the course provides a hands-on approach to the methods, measures, and data on the topic. Great emphasis is put on practical issues of data-handling and empirical approaches.