Program Learning Outcomes

Students completing the requirements for a B.A. degree in Political Science will be able to:

  1. write clearly and with purpose on issues of international and domestic politics and public policy;
  2. participate as a civically engaged member of society;
  3. analyze political and policy problems and formulate policy options;
  4. use electronic and traditional library resources to research key local, state, national and international policy issues and present results;
  5. demonstrate competency with basic tools underlying modern social science research including competency in statistics and qualitative analysis
  6. demonstrate critical thinking, including the ability to form an argument, detect fallacies, and martial evidence, about key issues of public policy and politics;
  7. discuss the major theories and concepts of political science and its subfields; and
  8. deliver thoughtful and well articulated presentations of research findings.

Course Learning Outcomes

POLS 102 Comparative Government

  • Discuss the theory and apply the methodology of comparative analysis within the discipline of political science.
  • Analyze contemporary problems in the countries under consideration in light of the conceptual frameworks presented in class.
  • List the differences between scholarly and popular publications in Comparative Politics.
  • Use library search tools to identify scholarly articles on country-specific government institutions in a nation state other than the United States.
  • Use the Internet and library search tools to find sites on government, international humanitarian organizations, and newspapers originating from their topic country.
  • Write an analysis of the institutions, political behavior and political ideas of another country comparing these attributes to the U.S. model.

POLS 103 Introduction to International Politics

  • Identify the names and geographic location of most contemporary states.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of: the key historical events which shaped the international system in the 20th century, the basic structures of the contemporary international system; and the key actors, institutions and their functions.
  • Describe the role of individual and cultural values and perceptions, and the importance of empirical evidence in analyzing international problems.
  • Discuss the main international relations theories, and the values implicit in each of these different ways of looking at the world, thus giving them the tools necessary to understand the day-to-day events reported in the media.
  • Analyze articles of varying complexity on international topics.
  • Locate resources on international politics through on-line library resources as well as those available on the world wide web.
  • Assess the arguments and evidence surrounding a controversial issue in world politics and write a brief paper on the issue.

POLS 104 Introduction to Peace Studies

  • Identify the core normative philosophy of the field of peace studies.
  • Explain the causes of war at several levels of analysis.
  • Differentiate between the ideas of positive peace and negative peace.
  • Describe and analyze cases in the past century in which conflict was resolved without violence.
  • Critique a contemporary conflict in terms of the theories and concepts exposed to in the course.
  • Develop specific ways in which contemporary challenges we face within our national and global society can be addressed peacefully.

POLS 140 California Government and Politics

  • Describe the structure of the California State Government and explain the duties of each branch of government.
  • Identify the strengths and the weaknesses of direct democracy in contemporary California.
  • Explain the demographic composition of California in the 21st century, and the relationship between demography and political behavior.
  • Discuss the major public policy issues confronting California today.
  • Compare and contrast the main institutions and processes of California government with those of the national government of the United States.

POLS 150 American Political Institutions

  • Discuss and evaluate the institutional structure and operations of the major national and state political institutions.
  • Analyze the strengths and weakness of American political processes, both in terms of their effectiveness in responding to public policy needs and to retain constitutional protections.
  • Analyze the American political system in terms of its adherence to democratic principles of access to government, protection of minority group rights, respect for the rule of law, and limited government.
  • Locate current political issues in the context of wider debates about democratic life in the United States and the capacity of political institutions.
  • Demonstrate an understand historically how American institutions have responded to demands for access and participation by racial, ethnic, and other minorities.

POLS 300 Political Science Research Methods

  • Conduct a literature review for a question in political science research.
  • Design a survey to collect political science data.
  • Perform content analysis on a document.
  • Design an elite interview protocol.
  • Distinguish appropriate data for answering a political science question from inappropriate data.
  • Analyze quantitative data using statistical software.
  • Write up research findings in correct format.
  • Present research findings to an audience using visual aids.

POLS 301 Political Theory

  • Distinguish systematic normative inquiry from other kinds of inquiry within the discipline of political science.
  • Write a clear and coherent expository synopsis of the theory of a major thinker in the history of political thought.
  • Identify the most important contributors to modern Western political thought and explain why their contributions are important.
  • Explain the central concepts in modern Western political thought.
  • Demonstrate the ability to apply abstract theory to concrete problems by using the ideas of political theorists to address contemporary social issues such as affirmative action, pornography and capital punishment.

POLS 303 Statistical Applications in the Social Sciences

  • Apply quantitative problem-solving skills to social scientific questions.
  • Select, apply and interpret descriptive statistics in social science research.
  • Select, apply and interpret hypothesis testing methods in social science research.
  • Demonstrate inductive and deductive reasoning in the social sciences using statistical data and results.
  • Use and explain measurement models in social research and analysis.
  • Use SPSS to conduct statistical and psychometric analysis of data.
  • Be able to demonstrate quantitative literacy in reading and understanding research literature.

POLS 305 Gender and Politics

  • Analyze the role of women in American politics.
  • Use feminist and other gender-related critical methods to evaluate arguments, language, and evidence about power relationships within government, politics and broader society.
  • Analyze the effect that public policies have had on women in the United States.
  • Discuss the evolution of constitutional law and its interpretation as it relates to issues of gender.
  • Assess trends in political participation of women including women as elected officials.

POLS 306 The Politics of Race and Ethnicity

  • Analyze contemporary public policies designed to address racial discrimination and evaluate their effectiveness.
  • Describe the racial and ethnic composition of the population of the United States and California.
  • Discuss the political history of race relations and immigration in the United States and California.
  • Assess the political participation of racial and ethnic minorities in the US and California.
  • Write a research paper on a recent California ballot initiative that dealt with an issue with racial implications.
  • Locate primary and secondary source material on contemporary issues of race and politics.

POLS 312 Interest Groups and Collective Action

  • Discuss the emergence of interest groups in the historical context of federalism, pluralism, and representative government (majority rule, minority rights)
  • Discuss the interest group role in government elections.
  • Discuss the logic behind collective action and agenda setting.
  • Analyze issue frames and political stories of a variety of groups.
  • Discuss and analyze group strategies, including venue change.
  • Discuss the role of economic interests in shaping American institutions.
  • Differentiate group types on the continuum of interest group and social movement organizations.

POLS 313 The United States Congress

  • Describe the institutional design and historical development of the Congress.
  • Define the nature and function of democratic representation in a legislature.
  • Summarize the historical development of the institution.
  • Explain the dynamics of contemporary congressional elections.
  • Break down the internal mechanisms of the institution (rules, committees, leadership) and analyze how each contributes to the functioning of the institution.
  • Analyze the institution using the dominant theories in the subfield.
  • Describe how Congress formulates public policy.

POLS 314 The American Presidency

  • Describe the basic structures of American government and the place of the president within those structures.
  • Explain the relationship between the president and the public, from elections to governing.
  • Apply the major theories of presidential behavior to the contemporary office.
  • Recognize how the presidency is organized.
  • Analyze how the organization of the presidency influences the ability of presidents to govern.
  • Describe how domestic policy is made.
  • Describe presidents lead in policy formulation and implementation and how they are constrained by other governmental and non-governmental actors.
  • Apply their knowledge to a particular case study of a president or policy.
  • Critically assess the office and make recommendations for changing the presidency.

POLS 315 Congress and the Presidency

  • Demonstrate an understanding of the policy making process by preparing a legislative history of a major law, including an analysis of the Statement of Administration Policy as well as all stages of the legislative process.
  • Play the role of a member of either institution in an in-class simulation with a high level of authenticity.
  • Analyze a public policy and prepare a written report in both issue brief and policy paper formats.
  • Describe the Constitutional origins of presidential and congressional power and the evolution of institutional power over time.
  • Locate, read and analyze major policy documents produced by the Executive Office of the President and Congress including: The Federal Budget, Laws and Report Language, Congressional Testimony, regulations, and Congressional Budget Office Reports.
  • Discuss the major theories of congressional behavior and presidential power that have been put forth by scholars.

POLS 316 State and Local Politics and Policy

  • Think critically about the advantages and disadvantages of the system of direct democracy as it exists in California today.
  • Discuss the major issues of public policy and the problems that currently impact California today.
  • Evaluate alternative public policies and make recommendations for implementation based on quantitative tools of analysis.
  • Assess the status of federalism and the struggle for power between the branches.
  • Conduct a research project on a local government issue facing California today.

POLS 317 Judicial Power and Process

  • Discuss and critique the structure and function of the American court system both at the state and federal levels.
  • Evaluate the degree to which the justice system in the United States is fair and impartial.
  • Describe the policymaking role of the Courts and the evolution of the courts' role in policymaking since the founding.
  • Research important judicial topics and locate important judicial documents (briefs, decisions, opinions, etc.) using electronic databases and primary sources.
  • Apply theories of judicial decision making to actions of American courts.

POLS 318 Campaigns and Elections

  • Explain why elections are essential to the democratic process.
  • Discuss how the right to vote in the United States has gradually expanded over a period of time.
  • Evaluate why voter turnout as a percentage of eligible voters has declined at the same time that the base of suffrage has expanded, and consider why voter turnout is lower in the United States than in most European countries.
  • Describe how structural factors such as constitutional rules, unequal access to resources, and cultural ideas help determine why some groups participate more than others.
  • Assess how elections affect the behavior of public officials.
  • Outline the process by which a viable candidate would campaign for the office of president.
  • Explain what role money plays in elections and distinguish between the effects of soft money and hard money in political campaigns.
  • Evaluate the alternative theories of responsible party government, electoral competition, and electoral reward and punishment.

POLS 319 Political Behavior and Public Opinion

  • Describe the formation of political attitudes.
  • Recount the process of political socialization.
  • Outline how public opinion is formed.
  • Illustrate how attitudes and opinions are measured.
  • Describe the history and development of polling.
  • Build a survey intended to measure attitudes and opinions.
  • Analyze the linkage between public opinion and elite political behavior.
  • Outline how political elites use opinion data.
  • Perform research using public opinion data to answer a substantive question regarding political behavior.
  • Critically analyze public opinion data and quantitative data results.

POLS 320 Public Administration

  • Research and write a decision memo for a public policy maker.
  • Prepare a line item budget using spreadsheet software differentiating between operating and capital expenditures.
  • Draft a position description for a civil service employee.
  • Use the internet (world wide web) to develop a profile of a government bureau or agency.
  • Demonstrate the definitional and factual knowledge necessary for understanding what public administrators actually do and how they do it.
  • Identify and describe the major theories of public organizations, and bureaucratic behavior.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of the institutional, political and ethical context within which public services are delivered in the United States.
  • Identify and apply key provisions of the Constitution and public laws as they pertain to the powers of States and the Federal Government.

POLS 321 Public Budgeting

  • Forecast revenues based on an historic pattern of collections using spreadsheet software.
  • Estimate budgetary expenditures based on policy need and accurate cost estimation.
  • Using the internet, locate and interpret local, state and federal budget documents.
  • Discuss the major theories of budgeting and budget politics in the US.
  • Describe the major patterns of historic fiscal policy in the United States.
  • Evaluate the various options being proposed for reform of the budgeting system (e.g. balanced budget amendment, biannual budgeting)
  • Evaluate the fiscal impact of major public policy proposals such as Social Security and Medicare reform.

POLS 325 American Public Policy

  • Describe how American political institutions function from the perspective of the products of political activity.
  • Distinguish key factors shaping the success and failure of efforts to address domestic policy problems.
  • Discuss how political influences and power shift based on the type of policy in question.
  • Learn how public policies gave usefully be examined from several different and competing perspectives or models.
  • Describe how policy making involves several discreet steps in a process, from initial visibility and definition to enactment and implementation.

POLS 326 Government and Politics of Selected Areas

  • Discuss in detail the political and policy making structures of a specific foreign nation.
  • Compare the institutions, political culture and behavior of United States government with another nation.
  • Apply the theories of comparative politics to a specific non-US case.
  • Research and write clearly about an aspect of politics or policy making of a selected nation.
  • Critique the constitutional design of a foreign nation.

POLS 327 International Relations of Selected Areas

  • Discuss the major issues of international relations and diplomacy affecting a region of the world today.
  • Apply the major theories of international relations to a regional case study.
  • Research an issue of international relations using the major political science journals.
  • Identify the major threats to world and regional peace emanating from the selected region.
  • Describe the economic integration and threats to free trade found in the region of study.

POLS 328 United States Foreign Policy

  • Discuss and evaluate the major theories of American foreign policy.
  • Describe the history of American foreign relations.
  • Think critically and write about the role of the United States in the world today.
  • Evaluate major decisions of foreign policy made by US policy makers.
  • Describe the foreign policy making process and players in the US system.
  • Take part in a simulation of foreign policy decision making with accuracy.
  • Analyze the strategic interests of the United States in different regions of the world.
  • Compare and contrast the use of diplomatic and military means in a hypothetical case.
  • Discuss the war on terror and new modes of conflict in the 21st century.

POLS 329 International Law and Organizations

  • Describe theoretical approaches to understanding international cooperation.
  • Apply these theories to specific behaviors in the international system to evaluate their validity.
  • Describe the functions and politics of the United Nations Security Council and General Assembly.
  • Outline the range of functions performed by various international organizations.
  • Explain how international law varies from national legal systems.
  • Demonstrate knowledge of how international law has developed in specific issue areas.

POLS 330 Political Sociology

  • Discuss the political behaviors of social classes, racial and ethnic groups, genders, generations, elites, masses, gays, religious, and other groups in American Society.
  • Analyze how social forces shape policy on issues such as welfare, health care, international trade, information policy, education, abortion, criminal justice, defense, and foreign policy.
  • Compare and contrast the major theoretical insights in the field of political sociology of influential scholars such as Marx, Weber and Durkheim.
  • Identify and describe the ideologies and utopian visions that motivate political action.
  • Assess how politics and power is influenced by trends such as the growth of the internet and the global economy.

POLS 331 Narratives of the Working Class

  • Explain class structures in the U.S. and internationally.
  • Discuss issues of blue-collar and pink-collar employment and unemployment.
  • Analyze textual representations of working-class life.
  • Explain the historical development of class stratification.
  • Discuss issues of classism.

POLS 333 Nonprofit Organizations

  • Describe the features of a nonprofit organization.
  • Differentiate a nonprofit from for-profit organization.
  • Discern the relationship between board members, staff and volunteers.
  • Participate with a nonprofit organization.
  • Identify rules used to run a meeting.
  • Recruit volunteers.
  • Analyze a budget statement for a nonprofit organization.
  • Analyze legal constraints faced by nonprofit organizations.

POLS 335 Politics and Film

  • Identify and discuss the major works of political film of the 20th century.
  • Discuss the the ideas presented in motion pictures and distinguish facts from perspectives.
  • Discuss the portrayals of race, gender, class and alternative lifestyles as they are depicted in film.
  • Write clearly about film as an art form and a method of communication.
  • View and critique films based on an understanding of the institutions and processes of government and politics.
  • Discuss the influence of pop culture and the entertainment industry on political beliefs and participation.

POLS 340 Politics and the Environment

  • Write persuasively about major issues of environmental politics.
  • Describe the environmental policy making process, including the influence of local constituencies on national decision makers.
  • Evaluate the competing claims made by interest groups in various environmental politics issue areas.
  • Analyze the legislative and rule making processes and the use of environmental science by decision makers.
  • Research the role of the courts in environmental policy making in the US.
  • Compare and contrast environmental politics in the US with the politics of other nations.

POLS 341 The National Park

  • Describe, understand and analyze the the struggle to balance competing social, political and economic interests impacted by the operation of parks, particularly in the context of mission of the Park Service.
  • Describe the role of scientific study within the park and the use of scientific data by decision makers.
  • Describe and analyze the policy making and administrative processes that impact the management of a national park.
  • Analyze the effectiveness of programs designed to attract and educate diverse groups in the park.
  • Analyze how the interpretive (educational) programs of the park are connected to what children learn in schools.
  • Describe issues facing parks in the 21st century.
  • Write persuasively about major issues of conservation, public policy and education related to national parks.

POLS 345 Science and Public Policy

  • Discuss news media depictions of scientific policy issues.
  • Discuss the science that underpins major issues of public policy covered in class.
  • Distinguish high quality scientific research from writing that is opinion or ideology driven.
  • Evaluate claims made by policy makers regarding the scientific merit of public policies.
  • Describe the US science policy making process and evaluate the role of interest groups in decision making.
  • Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of major public policy decisions.
  • Present scientific information in a format understandable by policy makers.
  • Locate serious scientific scholarship on issues of public importance.

POLS 401 Constitutional Law

  • Compare and contrast the various theories of constitutional interpretation.
  • Write a clear and thorough brief of a Supreme Court case.
  • Participate in a mock Supreme Court case by preparing and presenting an effective oral argument.
  • Identify and discuss the major Supreme Court cases that have had landmark importance in our interpretation of the distribution of power in the American structure of government.

POLS 402 Civil Rights and Civil Liberties

  • Identify and discuss the major Supreme Court cases dealing with Civil Liberties and Civil Rights.
  • Interpret hypothetical Supreme Court cases using the lens of established court precedent in the area of Civil Liberties and Civil Rights.
  • Write a clear and thorough case brief for a major Supreme Court case.
  • Locate major Supreme Court opinions using electronic resources.

POLS 403 Comparative Foreign Policy

  • Describe theories of comparative foreign policy.
  • Illustrate with case study examples how theories explain contemporary cases.
  • Demonstrate the utility of theoretical approaches by applying to current events.
  • Discriminate among cases in terms of which theories apply and under what conditions.
  • Know about the foreign policy challenges faced by a range of states around the world.
  • Compare the making of foreign policy in different issue areas such as national security policy, foreign economic policy, human rights policy, environmental policy, and the fight against terrorism.
  • Integrate theoretical perspectives to consider innovative ways of explaining foreign policy behavior.

POLS 404 Policy Leadership

  • Explain the "crisis of leadership"
  • Compare and contrast definitions of leadership across the literature.
  • Explain and defend an integrative definition of leadership.
  • Understand various theoretical approaches to leadership in the fields of political science, political psychology, and education.
  • Compare and contrast political and educational leaders, and analyze similarities and differences.
  • Apply theories of leadership to contemporary cases of political and/or educational leadership.
  • Analyze substantially a political or an educational leader of the student's choice, employing perspectives from the course to analyze the leadership efforts and outcomes of the chosen leader.

POLS 426 Politics of Developing Countries

  • Explain the demographics of the developing world.
  • Outline the major theoretical approaches to understanding political and economic development, and enumerate their strengths and weaknesses.
  • Describe the effects of colonialism on the political systems, societies and economic problems of developing states.
  • Specify the developmental problems and the effects of their economic situation on the role of women and environment.
  • Analyze and compare the negative and positive impact of globalization on the third world.
  • Appraise several specific relationships among the diverse peoples of the world—especially the rich and the poor.
  • Explain the foreign policy challenges faced by these states.
  • Enumerate the Millenium Development Goals.

POLS 430 Political Communication

  • Discuss the role that symbols play in the political process.
  • Describe the concepts of agenda setting and framing in political communication.
  • Compare and contrast different sources of media communication to identify bias.
  • Design and write a persuasive media campaign based on a contemporary political candidate or ballot issue.
  • Analyze campaign advertising for fallacies.

POLS 431 Education Policy and Politics

  • Discuss and evaluate the institutional structure and processes of the major national, state, and local political institutions pertaining to education policy.
  • Analyze the interaction between the various institutions.
  • Discuss how political factors shape policy formulation and implementation.
  • Analyze and discuss the values and assumptions that underlie different policy designs.
  • Analyze and discuss the links between policy and education practice using a current or pending policy as a case study.
  • Critically analyze how American educational political institutions have responded to demands for access and participation for minorities, including students from diverse cultural, ethnic, linguistic, and ability backgrounds.

POLS 450 Environmental Conflict Resolution

  • Identify various processes and models of environmental dispute resolution and their appropriate application.
  • Articulate the key differences between mediation and facilitation.
  • Extrapolate the value of environmental dispute resolution.
  • Explore the critical interplay between science, policy and technology as it relates to dispute resolution processes.
  • Determine the role of public communication in environmental conflict resolution processes and collaborative policy development.
  • Investigate the importance of environmental justice in designing environmental resolution dispute processes.

POLS 490 Special Topics in Political Science

  • Identify specific problems in political science.
  • Apply appropriate analytical tools to address specific problems in political science.
  • Summarize and report findings related to the description, assessment or resolution of problems in political science.
  • Apply theoretical concepts to specific international or domestic political issues.

POLS 492 Service Learning in Political Science

  • The objectives, goals and standards of conduct will be identified in a contract between the student, faculty advisor, and community agency. Sample objectives include:
  • Draw connections between course readings and field experience.
  • Reflect upon the political power structure of society based on community experience.
  • Think critically about the need for and delivery of various public policies and services.
  • Discuss their community's attributes, challenges and political situation with clarity.

POLS 493 Internship in Political Science

  • Learning objectives vary by internship assignment and will be developed by the student and the advisor on a case by case basis. Students who successfully complete internship course shall have:
  • Complied with the terms of the mutually agreed-upon contract.
  • Articulated in an appropriate format the manner in which the objectives of the course were achieved.
  • Demonstrated an ability to collaborate toward the achievement of a common goal.

POLS 494 Independent Research

  • Use advanced methods of political science analysis.
  • Complete a major research project with limited guidance.
  • Report on a topic of political science research.

POLS 499 Capstone

  • Research issues of politics and policy using appropriate research design and quantitative and/or qualitative research methods.
  • Analyze policy alternatives and recommend policy solutions.
  • Conduct a literature review on a topic important to the policy project.
  • Locate and obtain quality sources of information using electronic and traditional paper based sources.
  • Present findings in both written and oral forms in a professional and polished manner.
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