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Political Science

Are you fascinated by the forces that shape our world and our daily lives? Have you ever wondered what lies beneath the surface of gripping newspaper headlines? The answers wait for you in the world of political science.

Politics surrounds us every day, yet few venture beyond the surface. We, however, are not content with mere glimpses; we seek to uncover the hidden patterns that govern our lives. Through rigorous investigation and the use of cutting-edge research methods, we shed light on a vast array of political behaviors, institutions, and outcomes.

In Political Science at Yeshiva College, we investigate fundamental questions related to liberty, equality, democracy, power, and justice. Our mission is to explore the very essence of the human experience, armed with careful research and passionate curiosity.

We develop insights into the intricacies of voting, elections, social movements, terrorism, war, and so much more. From healthcare policies to partisan polarization, international cooperation to public opinion – the stakes are high, and we're here to equip you with the knowledge and skills to thrive in a dynamic and fast-changing global world and career environment.

The power of political science doesn't stop at being an engaged citizen; it opens doors to multiple career opportunities. Picture yourself making a difference in government, business, law, research, consulting, non-profit management, journalism, social media, or international organizations. Let your ambitions soar as you step into the realms of political communications, electoral politics, or education.

As part of our department, you'll be at the forefront of the action. Engage in Honors level courses through the Jay and Jeannie Schottenstein Honors Program. Embrace hands-on experiences with summer internships, where classroom knowledge comes to life, and your career dreams take shape.

We believe in camaraderie, and our tight-knit community proves it. Join the Political Science Society and enjoy thrilling trips to the U.N., captivating lectures, enriching films, and much more. Express your voice in "The Clarion," our student-run journal delving into the fascinating world of politics.

International affairs take center stage through the Rabbi Arthur Schneier Program, where you'll attend stimulating lectures on a wide range of global issues. Student board members help steer the program, offering you a chance to make a real impact.

Mission Statement

The mission of the Department of Political Science is for undergraduates majoring in political science to be prepared and to be qualified to pursue advanced studies in political science, law, and public policy and/or to pursue employment in various government, law-related fields, and the private sector.  These milestones will be achieved by providing courses covering a spectrum of subfields with political science, so as to provide majors in political science with a comprehensive background in the fundamentals of political science, current disciplinary controversies, and an understanding of political institutions and processes, current issues both US and international, and developing proficiencies in written and oral communication.

Student Learning Goals

  • Understanding of the operation of American political institutions, processes, and policy outcomes.
  • Effective analysis of the behavior of state and non-state actors in international politics, including foreign affairs, security, economic cooperation, interstate conflict, and terrorism.
  • Deeper comprehension of the political institutions and processes of other countries.
  • Developing critical capabilities -- the application of scientific research methods, data analysis, hypothesis testing, and evaluating competing factual claims.
  • Effective communication of social scientific information both verbally and in writing.

For further information about the Political Science Department at Yeshiva College, please contact Professor Joseph Luders at luders@yu.edu or 646-592-4849. 

Program Information

 

Please see the Schedule of Classes for the current semester’s offerings.

Courses in Political Science are grouped according to the four fields of the discipline. Those numbered x1xx are courses in American Politics; x2xx are in Comparative Politics; x3xx are in International Relations; and x4xx are in Political Theory. Courses numbered 1xxx are introductory level courses; 2xxx are electives, for which the introductory course may be required; 3xxx are seminars that will usually have particular prerequisites and 4xxx courses are independent reading or research projects.

Below is a sample of courses and brief descriptions:

 

POL 1101: Introduction to American Politics

This course is an introduction to the American political system and the core theories that seek to explain U.S. politics. We will cover basic information, like what powers Congress and the president have, as well as deeper questions like: Why do elected officials behave as they do? What role do parties and interest groups play in representing the diverse views and interests of the American people? Why does America rarely have a credible third-party alternative? Why do citizens participate in politics? Students will gain a solid foundation for understanding U.S. politics in a sophisticated and systematic way, beyond what they might get from simply following current events. We will discuss scholarly perspectives on how the American political system operates and will hone our critical thinking and reading skills by interrogating ideas, arguments, and evidence. Finally, we will learn to ask questions about the political world by examining how political scientists have asked and answered their questions about American politics. 

 

POL 1301: Introduction to International Relations

This course provides an introduction to the systematic study and analysis of international politics. It exposes students to major theoretical approaches in the study of international affairs and applies these approaches to the analysis of historical and contemporary political issues. The course has three main objectives: 1) to enable students to distinguish between different explanations of world events; 2) to teach students to evaluate strengths and weaknesses of varying explanations; and 3) to teach students to think critically about international politics and to develop their own analytical stance.

 

POL 2145: American Constitutional Law

Students will gain a deeper understanding of and appreciation for the Supreme Court’s role in creating, defining, interpreting, expanding and limiting civil rights in the United States by reading and analyzing Court decisions and the U.S. Constitution. Through an analysis of majority opinions, concurrences and dissents, we will identify, explore and discuss the various methods of constitutional interpretation -- such as Textualism, Original Meaning, Judicial Precedent, Pragmatism, Moral Reasoning, among others – and question the utility, fairness, limitations and risks of each approach. Topics will include right to privacy, free speech, racial and gender discrimination, freedom of religion, right to bear arms, freedom of the press and rights of the criminally accused.

 

POL 2215: Latin American Politics: Challenges of Democracy and Economic Development

Why do countries transition from authoritarianism to democracy? How did colonialism influence Latin America’s lasting affair with authoritarianism? What role does economic development play in a country’s transformation? This course provides answers to these ambitious questions by using a comparative analysis of Latin American countries. Other topics include women and indigenous movements, poverty and inequality, U.S.-Latin American relations, as well as a series of case studies that focus on Mexico and Central America (El Salvador, Nicaragua and Panama), the Southern Cone (Argentina, Brazil and Chile), the Caribbean, and the Andes region.

 

POL 2305: American Foreign Policy

The course examines the sources and conduct of U.S. foreign policy in both historical and theoretical perspectives. The first part of the course explores the domestic and international sources of American foreign policy. In particular, it looks at the roles of international system, ideas, government agencies, and public opinion, as they relate to various issues of U.S. foreign policy in the post-1945 period. The second half of the course examines several key issues of American policy-making, including U.S.-Soviet relations during the Cold War, globalization, nuclear proliferation, the Arab Spring, humanitarian intervention, among others.

 

POL 2330: Terrorism

The course introduces students to the study of modern terrorism. It explores terrorism’s definitions, history and typology with a particular focus on the internationalization of terrorism in the last couple of decades. The course further aims to understand terrorists’ goals, tactics, sources of financing, and recruitment. The second half of the course focuses on counter-terrorism, including evaluation of terrorism’s success and the prospects of effectively combating it in the future. The objectives of course include: 1) exposing students to the complexities of modern terrorism; 2) refining students’ oral and written skills through a series of group-based terrorism case studies; 3) challenging students to think critically about solutions and approaches to terrorism. (Limited to majors and minors or instructor’s permission. Toward HBSI. For poli sci majors, toward International Relations distribution requirement)

 

POL 2391: Writing Social Science

This course introduces upper-level majors to the practice of writing, revising, and presenting original social science research. The course teaches students how to select a research topic, write a paper proposal, compile a bibliography, do original research in the library and online, write and rewrite drafts, and present the findings of their research in an oral format. Students will also learn how to comment on and critique each other’s written work. Finally, students will experiment with condensing their research into an op-ed format. The course aims to help students in the major to refine their writing, research, and oral skills. In addition, the course teaches majors how to evaluate work of their peers in a collaborative and supportive environment. 

 

POL 2410: Modern Political Theory

What is the nature of liberty? What is the nature of equality? How do economic rights relate to political rights? What relationship should religion have to politics? How should we conceive of the individual’s relation to his peers and to the state? What role should ideology play in politics? What is the role of men and women in politics? What is the role of constitutions in permitting good government? These questions have been explored in profound and profoundly relevant ways by thinkers in the modern period. This course will examine these questions through a deep reading of important thinkers of the later modern period (i.e. in the wake of the French and American Revolutions—the late 18th century through the 19th century). Thinkers to be studied include Edmund Burke, Joseph de Maistre, Benjamin Constant, Alexis de Tocqueville, Karl Marx, and Mary Wollstonecraft. Through an in-depth study of the core texts of these writers students will, in addition to thinking about the questions posed at the outset, learn about the origins of ideologies still relevant in the contemporary world including liberalism, conservatism, and socialism.

POL 3575: Research Methods

This is a course on research methods in the social sciences, with a focus on political science and experimental methods. In this course, we will learn how to analyze data in order to answer questions. First, we will discuss the scientific method, and what we need to do in order to make causal inferences. Next, we will learn some statistics to enable us to evaluate, critique, and design experiments. Then, we will cover survey experiments, laboratory experiments, field experiments, and natural/quasi experiments. We finish the semester with a unit on data analysis and visualization using R. Some of the questions we may attempt to answer are: How do we increase voter turnout and political participation? How do we measure things that people won’t admit like prejudice or bribery? What are the effects of campaign advertisements? How do we measure discrimination in the labor market and in access to government services? How do we improve trust and cooperation among groups following violent conflict? Working in pairs, students will complete a series of eight assignments. Along the way, we will develop some skills that will be valuable to students in future coursework and a wide array of career paths. This course does not assume or require any background in mathematics or statistics.

 

POL 5497: Biblical Ideas and American Democracy

The purpose of the seminar is to bring classic Jewish philosophical, theological and halakhic texts about government into conversation with the foundational philosophical works of American political thought. In so doing, we will consider the following questions: How did Jewish political philosophy, and its concept of covenant impact the eventual structure and nature of the United States? How did the Bible figure in the philosophical debates about democracy and monarchy that took place in Britain and the colonies during the century before America’s founding? What role might Hebraic ideas have played in influencing philosophers and thinkers such as Locke, Milton, Paine and Burke? What tensions exist between the notion of religious authority and the modern conception of personal autonomy, and how do we see this dialectic play out in the Enlightenment philosophers' debates about identity and human nature? In what way is the United States different from European democracies, and what is the role of religion in American public life? This course is offered through Straus Center Graduate Certificate in Jewish Political and Social Thought. 

 

 

Political Science involves the systematic study of the public affairs or politics of the state. Political Scientists study all factors instrumental and influential in the acquisition and exercise of power for the purposes of public control or governance on the local, national and international level. In a globalizing world emphasizing organizational skill, socio-political knowledge and communications, political scientists find a wide array of career options and opportunities. The Yeshiva College Department of Political Science seeks to help equip students with the knowledge, research and analytical skills necessary to live and to work in a competitive and fast changing global world. The major is designed to give the student a breadth of knowledge of the discipline while affording him the opportunity to gain specialized knowledge through an area of concentration of his choice.

Political Science Major Requirements: 33 Total Credits

There are three parts to the major:

  1. Introductory courses that provide a foundation to the different sub-fields of the discipline
  2. Elective course distribution that provides greater breadth and deeper understanding of each sub-field
  3. Free electives that allow students to pursue the area(s) that they find most interesting. 

Introductory Courses - Students must take three of the five following courses: 9 Credits

  • POLI 1101  Introduction to American Politics (offered every Spring)  3 Credits
  • POLI 1201  Introduction to Comparative Politics (offered every Fall) 3 Credits
  • POLI 1301 Introduction to International Relations (offered every Spring) 3 Credits
  • POLI 1401 Great Political Thinkers (offered every Fall) 3 Credits
  • POLI 1501 Fundamentals of Political Science* (offered every Fall) 3 Credits

It is advised to take the introductory courses by the end of the first semester of the junior year.

Electives: 24 Credits

Students must take at least one elective course in each of the subfields of political science: 12 Credits

  • American Politics
  • Comparative Politics
  • International Relations
  • Political Theory

Note: One of these courses may be a 4th introductory level course (not Fundamentals of Political Science)

The remaining four courses may be taken in any subfield of political science: 12 Credits

Since introductory courses are meant to provide a foundation in a subfield, it is strongly recommended that students take a field introductory course before they take an elective course in that subfield.

Students may use up to two courses cross-listed with other departments toward their elective requirements.

Students may also take one internship to count towards the elective requirement. Before students register for internship credit, they need to consult with the department and with the Academic Advisement Center to learn of specific requirements and restrictions of this option.

Political Science Minor Requirements: 18 Total Credits

Introductory Courses - Students must take two of the five following courses: 6 Credits

  • POLI 1101  Introduction to American Politics (offered every Spring) 3 Credits
  • POLI 1201 Introduction to Comparative Politics (offered every Fall) 3 Credits
  • POLI 1301 Introduction to International Relations (offered every Spring) 3 Credits
  • POLI 1401 Great Political Thinkers (offered every Fall) 3 Credits
  • POLI 1501 Fundamentals of Political Science* (offered every Fall) 3 Credits

*Recommended for those considering a major in the department, or for non-majors who would like a comprehensive overview of the discipline.

Electives: 12 Credits

Students must take at least one elective course in three of the four subfields of political science: 9 Credits

  • American Politics,
  • Comparative Politics
  • International Relations
  • Political Theory

The remaining one course may be taken in any subfield of political science: 3 Credits

Since introductory courses are meant to provide a foundation in a subfield, it is STRONGLY recommended that students take a field introductory course or Fundamentals before they take an elective course in that subfield.

The following list includes faculty who teach at the Beren (B) and/or Wilf (W) campus.

Ruth A. Bevan
Professor Emerita of Political Science
David W. Petegorsky Chair in Political Science (W)

Jonathan Cristol
Adjunct Assistant Professor of Political Science (B)
Chuck Freilich
Visiting Professor of Political Science (B/W)

Matthew Incantalupo
Assistant Professor of Political Science (W)

Benjamin Kaminetzky
Adjunct Instructor in Political Science (W)

Pablo Lerner
Visiting Professor / Israel Institute Fellow (2023-2024, W)

Joseph E. Luders
Associate Professor in Political Science (B);
David and Ruth Gottesman Chair in Political Science 
Chair, Department of Political Science

Alexandra Panzarelli
Adjunct Instructor in Political Science (B/W)

Neil Rogachevsky
Straus Center Fellow (B/W)

Joel Strauss
Adjunct Instructor in Political Science (B)

Tevi Troy
Senior Scholar - Straus Center (2023-2024, W)

Maria Zaitseva
Clinical Assistant Professor in Political Science (B/W)

Ariel Malka (B/W)
David & Ruth Gottesman Professor of Psychology and Political Science

Location, Location, Location

For political scientists New York City is an unparalleled social-political laboratory. An immigrant city, with its multi-ethnic, multi-racial and multi-religious population base, New York City represents the pinnacle of cosmopolitanism. Yeshiva University exists in one of the more vibrant immigrant enclaves of the city, Washington Heights, whose cliffs alongside the Hudson River the troops of General George Washington defended during the American revolution. New York’s Wall Street and Madison Avenue are geographic signifiers that denote, around the world, high finance, multinational corporatism, the advertising kingdom and the communications network, all of which make New York City a global hub. Comprised of five boroughs, four of which are clustered around “the City” (Manhattan), an island about 13 miles long and 2 miles wide, with a total population of some eight million inhabitants, how is such a city governable?

Add to this mix the presence of the United Nations. The U.N. brings diplomats to New York City as both employees and privileged residents – privileged because their U.N. status allows them to live  in the city in various ways as “exceptions to the rule”  – like having parking privileges on the busy streets of New York!  You will find consulates of states from around the world nestled among the brownstones on Manhattan’s east side. Anyone can schedule an appointment with a consulate official and get first-hand information about that official’s country. Rising into the clouds from its perch on the banks of the East River around midtown, the tablet-shaped U.N. building with its panoply of national flags decorating its front courtyard has immortalized this New York City vista through photographs snapped by tourists and professionals alike that have appeared in every possible venue around the world. Does the U.N. really help govern the world?

And, of course, one can jump on Amtrak and be in Washington, D.C. or Boston within four hours, in Philadelphia within even less time. Want to attend a session of Congress?  See Independence Hall?  Follow the Liberty Trail?  Or see the Liberty Bell?  You’ll find Amtrak at Penn Station at 34th Street in Manhattan. To get to Penn Station, take the #1 subway train at 181st St. and St. Nicholas Ave – only a few blocks from the YC campus.

And then, of course, there is Jewish New York. A rich history connects Jews with this fabled metropolis! You can devote Sundays to exploring…. The Tenement Museum. The Jewish Museum. The Museum of Jewish Heritage in Battery Park. YIVO. The Leo Baeck Institute. The various Jewish organizations. The synagogues. Brooklyn. The Yiddish theater. The regular theater.  The Israeli consulate. The U.N.’s Isaiah Wall. The Israel Day Parade. And Yeshiva University where you’ll arrive back home!

To study political science in New York City from the vantage point of Yeshiva University in Washington Heights is like studying a body in motion. And we can’t even list all the libraries and archives the city has to offer. It’s impossible not to find what you need or want in New York City – unless you don’t know what you need or what you want. In that case there is another resource available to you – the faculty around you at Yeshiva University who stand ready to help under almost all circumstances.

The very first thing to learn about studying political science is to know where you are -- observe your environment. Look around. Ask questions. What’s going on? Who are those people? What do they want? How do they want to get it? Can they get it given the circumstances?  Should they rightfully get it?  How do you know if they should rightfully get it?  As students of Yeshiva College, you reside in Washington Heights. Where does the name come from again? Who lives in Washington Heights besides you?

People are the resource of political scientists. People make our work exciting and challenging.  Their needs, their hopes for a better life, all of these things figure potentially into eventual political considerations. People’s needs, whether in Washington Heights or Kuala Lumpur or Beersheva, drive the inquiry and research of political scientists in democratic states. The ancient Greeks taught us that the aim of politics should be the good life, meaning the ethically harmonious life. How should we define that good life today in our globalized world? 

Observe. Listen. Question.  These are the tools of the political scientist. Where can you do all of these things as well as in New York City? Doesn’t New York City just beg the question?

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