We The People


For students of political science, Stetson offers a diverse array of courses taught in small-class settings. Courses range from traditional introductory subjects of American Government and Comparative Politics to more specialized classes and seminars in such topics as Russian Foreign Policy and Religion and Politics. Class size in the Department varies from 8 to 30 students.

The requirements for the political science major are designed to allow students to follow their special interests in the discipline while ensuring that they obtain a broad education in political science. To achieve this end, majors are required to take five designated courses (including a senior seminar in the fall semester of their senior year) and to research and write a senior thesis. The remaining courses in the major are electives. Beginning in the Fall of 2018, students must complete a total of 11 unit courses of required and elective courses.

To give their major added cohesion and to prepare themselves for the writing of the senior thesis, political science majors may choose to concentrate their elective courses in one or two of the four major areas of the discipline: American government, comparative politics, international relations or political theory. Students may also wish to seek out courses in other departments that relate to their particular interests in political science. Those interested in Latin-American politics, for example, should consider enrolling in appropriate language and culture courses at Stetson. And all political science majors should seriously consider taking a year of economics (macro and micro) and some history. By graduation, majors should understand the outlines of modern world history and have a detailed knowledge of 20th-century history in their area of concentration (United States, Latin America, Russia, etc.).

The political science curriculum

I. General Education Requirements

The student must complete the general requirements for the College of Arts and Sciences for the Bachelor of Arts or a Bachelor of Science degree.

II. Core Requirements (6 Courses)

  • POLI 100: Introduction to Political Science
  • POLI-200: American Politics
  • POLI 201S: Comparative Politics
  • POLI 203: International Relations
  • POLI 325: Political Analysis
  • POLI 497 and POLI498: Senior Research

III. Elective Departmental Requirements (5 Courses)

Five Additional courses from the Political Science Catalogue of which four courses must be at the 300 or 400 level.

POLI 100 Introduction to Political Science

This introductory course will expose students to a variety of topics, theories and methodological approaches to the study of political science. The course will examine topics including representation, power, inequality, justice, elections, institutions, partisanship and socialization. The ultimate goal of the course is to help students learn to think like political scientists and to understand the role of political science in the larger society.

POLI 101S American National Government

The course focuses on tools for understanding and evaluating to major policy choices in the American political system. Specific topics treated include principles of American democracy and the United States Constitution; political culture; interest groups, parties and elections; and the major policy-making institutions (Congress, the President, the Bureaucracy and the Courts).

POLI 102S Florida Politics

Study of the federal system and the role of the states and communities in the American political system. Contemporary politics and public policies in the state of Florida are examined and discussed.

POLI 105B Political Ideologies

Explores the differing value bases for major ideological/ philosophical streams of political thought and orientations such as classical liberalism and socialism, modern neoliberalism, and social democracy and the third way, additional options could include Greenism, Multiculturalism and/or Islamicism. The concepts of human nature and natural rights are stressed, including the debate over human rights as exclusively inhering to the individual or including group/community rights as well.

POLI 145S Politics of the Developing Worlds

Looks at the interaction between the pursuit of economic development and the social and political systems of Third World nations since 1945. After reviewing basic notions and theories of development, it deals with central development issues and broader development-related problems associated with social disorder, corruption, drug traffic and violence.

POLI 190 Special Topics

POLI 201S Comparative Politics

An introduction to the study of comparative politics. Political institutions and behavior in selected European, Communist, and developing countries are examined in their cultural contexts and in relation to the general theories of comparative politics. The course is designed to expose the student to the tools of comparative political analysis as well as to the varied structures and functions of modern political systems.

POLI 203S International Relations

A survey of the diplomatic, legal, economic, military, and organizational relations of nations and the major contemporary problems of world politics. The forces of change in the international system and the impact of sovereignty, nationalism, and power politics are given special attention.

POLI 211 Politics of Public Policy

Policymaking is seen as a methodical process of identifying a problem, weighing the costs and benefits of policy alternatives, and implementing the ideal solution. In reality, politics makes this process far messier. Students in this course will be the policymakers and explore how every step, from developing, passing and implementing policy solutions, is complicated by the United States' complex political system.

POLI 215V Sustainable Communities: Participation, Planning, and Policy

This course focuses on Stetson's Environmental Responsibility Value. How do we make our communities more sustainable in terms of the environment, economic development, civic life, and equality? This course explores the answers to that question by reviewing the evolution of the metropolitan system in the United States, comparing contemporary approaches to comprehensive sustainability in local communities, and engaging in community-based projects to understand the practical problems of community sustainability. Topics include urban planning, smart growth, demography, civic engagement and regional policy-making systems.

POLI 204 Introduction to Political Theory

Political theory was a field of study before it had a name. It encompasses how people have conceived of justice, power, and political organization, as well as the ways in which people have ascribed meaning to their political practices. The unifying question that connects political theorists across space and time is: What is political?    

In this survey course, we examine political theorists from the Ancients to the present, with the aim of obtaining knowledge of past theories in order to sharpen the way we think and engage with the politics of our own time. 

POLI 304 Russian Foreign Policy

An examination of Russia's role in world affairs. After a brief introduction to the history of Russian foreign policy, the course addresses three major topics: the development of the Soviet Union as the leader of the Communist movement; the behaviour of the Soviet Union as a superpower; and Russia's descent from power in the Gorbachev and Yeltsin eras and beyond. Considerable attention is given to Russia's current attempt to define for itself a new world role.

POLI 306V Law and Society

The issues of American civil liberties and civil rights are viewed within the framework of decisions of the United States Supreme Court.

POLI 311 Political Opinion and Voting Behavior

Public opinion is critical for the success of a representative democracy, but it is not clear citizens possess the political sophistication to effectively meet normative ideals. To assess whether this is the case, this course introduces students to many facets of public opinion in the United States. Some of the topics we will examine are: citizens? political knowledge and attitudes, the role of elites and groups in opinion formation, and the extent to which elites respond to public opinion.

POLI 314 Public Administration

The course in designed to introduce the student to the world of public bureaucracy and to further an understanding of the ways in which public policies are shaped through administrative processes. Administrative organization and decision-making and problems of management, personnel administration, and budgeting are covered.

POLI 315 American Health Care Policy

This course will review the history of healthcare in America, concentrating on the history of healthcare public policies (Medicaid, Medicare). We will study the parties involved in shaping healthcare policies. The course reading will be supplemented by speakers representing the healthcare industry, Health Care Consumers and the government. We will also look at the ethical and political problems posed by Healthcare issues such as AIDS and genetic testing.

POLI 316V Environmental Politics

The course applies public policy analytic models to help explain why governments pursue the policies they do, and what the consequences of these policies are. The development of the environmental movement is traced, as well as policy responses, and the difficulty of shaping effective policy to address global phenomena.

POLI 318 The American Presidency

The course examines individual presidencies, as well as the presidential election process, and political science theories of the presidency. In a discussion format, students will examine changing criteria for a "successful" presidency and dilemmas of leadership for American presidents in the media age.

POLI 319 Voters, Campaigns and Elections

An in-depth examination of contemporary American electoral politics. After placing U.S. elections in a comparative context, the course will focus on the factors that shape the nature of U.S. elections and their outcomes. Special attention will be given to campaign strategy and finance, the role of the media, the factors shaping citizens voting decisions and the interpretation of election outcomes.

POLI 320 Congress

Examines the role of Congress in the process of formulating and overseeing public policy. The course will also focus on the politics of legislation and the dilemma of the "constant campaign." The course provides preparation for the Model Senate program held in the spring.

POLI 322 The American Judicial Process

Roles of American courts and judges in the processes of formulating public policy. Emphasis is placed on the interplay of politics and jurisprudence in the operation of the courts.

POLI 323V Western Political Thought: Classical to Modern

Through an analysis of such primary texts as Plato's The Republic, Augustine's City of God, and Machiavelli's The Prince, this course traces the development of political thought from its ancient concerns with virtue and political community to the modern emphasis on freedom and statecraft. In learning how others thought about the role of politics in human society, students will better understand their own value preferences and philosophical orientations in politics.

POLI 324V Western Political Thought: Modern to Contemporary

This course begins with texts that reveal the origins of modern American and European democratic theories. After an assessment of the conservative arguments against these theories, the course tackles the development of the two dominant political ideologies of the 19th and 20th centuries, liberalism and Marxism. Texts to be studied include Leviathan by Hobbes, On Liberty by Mill and The Communist Manifesto by Marx.

POLI 325 Political Analysis

An introduction to key concepts in the hypothesis formulation and the application of basic statistical techniques. The course covers descriptive statistics, hypothesis testing, correlation and regression analysis and how they are applied in political analysis. Prerequisite: junior or senior standing (or permission of the Department).

POLI 325V Global Nuclear Politics

This course focuses on Stetson's Social Justice Value. Nuclear politics dominates headlines in contemporary international relations. From the growing threat of nuclear proliferation to controversies over the safety and security of nuclear weapons stockpiles to the growth of local anti-nuclear activism around the world, the conflict over nuclear energy and weaponry continues to be a major site of contestation in global politics. How can we understand the development of nuclear technology and its international and domestic consequences? What is the relationship between this technological development and politics, both local and interstate? This course will explore both the historical development of and contemporary conflicts surrounding the growth of nuclear technology. Junior Seminar.

POLI 326V Politics, Policy, and Public Health

This course focuses on Stetson's Social Justice Value. Our nation faces multiple public health crises including a global COVID-19 pandemic, an opioid epidemic, a resurgence of diseases, and more. Solving these crises requires government intervention at every level in our federal system. How does politics affect public health in the United States? How do institutions and culture affect our public health decisions? How does public health affect subsequent politics? Who gets what in public health policy? This course will explore the relationship between politics and public health in the United States. Writing Enhanced course. Junior Seminar.

POLI 327 Russia, China, and the World

Over the past several years, Russia and China have drawn in closer cooperation on issues ranging from trade to energy to the military. However historical tensions in the political relations between the two regional powers continue to inform their relationship. This upper-level seminar examines Russia and China's parallel political development, their relations with one another, and their relations with the outside world from their communist revolutions to the present day.

POLI 328V Civic Engagement

This course focuses on Stetson's Social Justice Value. Begins with an analysis of the causes and consequences of contemporary civic disengagement and widespread cynicism about all things political. We then ask, "What can students do about it?" Students design and implement their own service-learning or community-based research project and commit themselves to creating and/or significantly participating in a local action-oriented social and/or political organization. Junior Seminar.

POLI 340 Russian Politics

An examination of the domestic policies of the USSR and its successor states. The central concern of the course is the perennial dominance of authoritarianism over democracy in Russian political culture and behavior. Through a study of relations between ethnic groups, political institutions, citizens and the state, and the center and provinces, the course illustrates the torturous path toward political change in Russia and the neighboring lands of Eurasia.

POLI 346 Latin American Politics

Introduces the student to the study of the political systems of Latin America, and presents some elements and characteristics common to most states of the region, examining subsequently the great political revolutions that Latin America has experienced in this century. The central focus is on the description of the political systems of selected states of the region.

POLI 348 Politics in Africa

This course will explore contemporary political regimes in Sub-Saharan Africa in the context of the continent's complicated historical relationship with globalization, and its equally complicated mix of indigenous cultures, social systems, and political practices. Special emphasis will be placed on the experiences of, and prospects for, democratic governance in the region. Prerequisite: POLI 201S.

POLI 353V International Law

The course is focused on the relationship between international law and international politics. It provides the students with insight into historical, cultural, and theoretical aspects of law as well as basic information on traditional international law topics such as the law of the sea, laws on the use of force, and international human rights.

POLI 355V International Environmental Activism

This course focuses on Stetson's Environmental Responsibility Value. Reviews the development of environmentalism as a social movement, both national and transnational, and as a pragmatic endeavor involving thousands of non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Students delve into the theoretical literature on the subject and examine a variety of small and large environmental NGOs. They also learn about the difficult and rewarding task of creating an environmental NGO and sustaining it over time. Junior Seminar.

POLI 397 Political Internship (Pass-Fail only)

The student is provided with the opportunity to seek out an intern experience in some aspect of the political process. A student will be accepted into the course by permission only, and must be a junior or senior, have at least 6 hours of political science and an overall 2.5 GPA. Students will be required to present a journal that not only describes some of the aspects of the experience but attempts some analysis of politics pertaining to this area and obtain a letter of evaluation from the supervisor of the project.

POLI 415 American Constitutional Law

An analysis of cases and controversies arising from the constitutional principles of separation of powers and federalism. The case method will be used in studying issues such as federal-state and congressional-presidential conflict.

POLI 425V Contemporary Political Thought

This course is directed at current major theoretical statements concerning some of the most important ideas in political philosophy: justice, freedom, liberty, equality, self, community, individual rights, pluralism, and democracy. Current philosophers such as John Rawls, Robert Nozick, Michael Sandel, Seyla Benhabib, and Juergen Habermas will be studied. The goal is not to come up with the "correct interpretation," given the controversy surrounding each philosopher, but to come to the best understanding we can of the ideas presented and most importantly, how they fit with, and perhaps change our ideas. Key "isms" of the day such as liberalism, libertarianism, communitarianism, conservatism, feminism, Marxism and postmodernism will be discussed.

POLI 426 American Political Thought

The objectives of this course are (1) an inquiry into the politics of ideas in America and (2) an attempt to draw a connection between theories, religious values, and American institutions. Students will read Jefferson's letters to Madison, and Alexis de Tocqueville's Democracy in America, among other works.

POLI 427V Democracy and Political Participation

This course focuses on Stetson's Social Justice Value. Examines theoretical and practical relationships between democracy and the political participation of groups and individual citizens. Contemporary issues of declining participation and interest in democratic politics (?civic disengagement?) throughout the world are discussed alongside efforts to address these problems through participatory and elite-restraining institutional reforms.

POLI 451 Politics of International Trade and Finance

The course presents the theoretical framework for the study of the political aspects of international economic relations. It concentrates on the evolution and deterioration of the Bretton Woods system, looking in particular at Atlantic interdependence and North-South cooperation, and discussing patterns and regimes of global and regional coordination and cooperation.

POLI 485 Independent Study

POLI 497 Senior Research I: Proposal Design and Literature Review

This course is the preparatory portion -- Part One -- of the two-semester Senior Project. Students develop their research question, design, and initial literature review.

POLI 498 Senior Research II: Research & Writing

This course is the execution portion -- Part Two -- of the two-semester Senior Project. Students carry out their research project, write up their findings, relate them back to the theoretical debates articulated in their literature review from the previous semester, participate in an oral defense of their arguments and evidence, and conclude their Senior Project.