Chair: Kimberly Marten (Professor)
Professors: Severine Autesserre, Sheri E. Berman, Alexander A. Cooley, Paula A. Franzese (Visiting), Xiaobo Lu
Associate Professors: Ayten Gündoğdu
Assistant Professors: Katherine Krimmel, Matthew Lacombe, Michael G. Miller, Eduardo Moncada, Michelle Smith, Claire Ullman (Adjunct)

Other Officers of the University Offering Courses in Political Science: Columbia Political Science Faculty

Requirements for the Major

A total of ten courses are necessary to complete the Political Science major:

  • Three introductory lecture courses at the 1000-level or 3000-level from different subfields,
  • Four elective courses,
  • Three colloquia

Please use the Major Audit to plan your program and track your courses for the major.

The department recognizes four subfields of the discipline:

  • American Government and Politics: the study of all aspects of the American political system, including its development, institutions, procedures, and actors.
  • Comparative Politics: the study of the political systems of other countries and regions, including the use of comparisons across cases in order to gain a broader and deeper understanding of events, institutions, and processes.
  • International Relations: the study of relations between countries and the dynamics and development of the international system.
  • Political Theory: the study of the conceptual foundations of political systems and behavior.

The three colloquia must be taken with faculty at Barnard College. Many of the lecture courses may be taken with faculty at Columbia College, if these courses are cross-listed. Various study-abroad options and summer courses also may meet your specialized interests, but these require

  1. prior consultation with your major adviser, as well as
  2. prior approval by the Departmental Chair and
  3. subsequent approval by the Department Chair once you apply to transfer the credit to Barnard (use the Course Approval Request Form for steps 2 and 3).

Students interested in the Sciences Po–Barnard five-year joint-degree program are encouraged to meet with the Dean for Study-Abroad, also regarding the political science aspects of this BA/MA program. The requirements are at the end of this page.

Please use the Major Audit to plan your program and track your courses for the major.

Introductory-level Lecture Course Requirement (three lecture courses)

The political science department requires all students to take at least one introductory 1000- or 3000-level lecture course in three of the four subfields of political science (listed above).  These courses are designed to provide an introduction to the main subject matter and major theories of each subfield.

These courses also serve to familiarize students with the analytic approaches that political scientists use. After taking lecture courses in the relevant subfields, students are eligible to take the two required colloquium courses.

Advanced Placement Credit

A student granted Advanced Placement (AP) credit by the College in either American Politics or Comparative Politics with an exam score of 5 will have fulfilled the prerequisite for courses that require the prior completion of POLS UN1201 Introduction To American Government and Politics or POLS UN1501 Introduction to Comparative Politics, respectively. If the student wants to take the introductory American Politics or Comparative Politics course, she may do so, but she will forfeit her corresponding AP credit.

AP credit does not count toward the number of courses required for the major or minor, i.e. the student still needs to complete the nine courses for the major or the five for the minor.

Electives Requirement (four additional courses)

All political science courses emphasize social scientific reasoning and theory application. In addition, political science majors chose four electives (normally at the 3000- or 4000-level). These courses are designed to deepen and expand students’ knowledge base and encourage them to apply social scientific reasoning and theories to the analysis of a broad range of political issues and problems.

What fulfills the Four-Course Electives requirement

  1. All courses offered at Barnard or Columbia in political science listed in the Barnard Course Catalogue, including introductory lecture courses and colloquia, satisfy elective course requirements. Courses listed in Columbia catalogues which are not listed in the Barnard catalogue require approval by Barnard Department Chair, before counting toward the major or concentration (use the Course Approval Request Form).
  2. The Independent Study Option POLS BC3799 Independent Study. Students who wish to do an independent study project (ISP) should first speak to a political science faculty member willing to sponsor it. Credit is given for an academic research paper written in conjunction with an internship, but no academic credit is given for an internship or job experience per sé. The student must then apply to the Committee on Programs and Academic Standing (CPAS), which must approve all Independent Study requests. Once the request is granted, the Registrar creates a section and assigns a call number, and the student is notified of the call number so she can enter the course on her program. (Each instructor has a separate section and call number. Each instructor is limited to sponsoring one independent study per semester.) Students will consult with the sponsoring instructor as to workload and points of credit for the independent study course.  Independent study counts as a course for the purpose of the nine-course requirement, provided the project is approved for 3 or 4 points. A project taken for 1 or 2 points does not count as a course toward the major, the minor, or the concentration requirement.
  3. With pre-approval, first from the individual Major Advisor and then from the Department Representative, a student may substitute a course in another department for one of the four elective courses. This course cannot be an introductory course and it must have significant political science content (use the Course Approval Request Form). Approval after the fact will not be granted.
  4. Six of the nine courses for the major must be taken from courses listed in the political science section of the Barnard Course Catalogue. Within the three-course limit of courses taken elsewhere, the following caps traditionally apply: three transfer courses; two Reid Hall courses; two study-abroad courses; one summer session course. On rare occasions the Department Representative may grant an exception (use the Course Approval Request Form).

What does not fulfill the Four-Course Electives requirements

The Independent Study Option POLS BC3799 Independent Study does not satisfy the course requirement if the project is for 1 or 2 points.

College-granted AP credit for American Politics or Comparative Politics does not count as major course credit. (See Advanced Placement Credit, above.)

Courses taken at other colleges, in summer sessions, or abroad, which are not equivalent in rigor and workload to Barnard courses, as determined by the Department Representative, in consultation with other faculty of the department, will not count toward the major or minor requirements.

Colloquium Requirement (three one-semester courses)

Although all political science courses teach students to generate and test hypotheses about political processes, relationships and institutions and/or engage in conceptual analysis and interpretation of political ideas, arguments and phenomena, students are encouraged to do this at a higher level in their three required colloquia. These colloquia feature intensive, small group discussions and a major research paper, and provide students with an opportunity to work more independently than they probably have in previous courses.

The colloquium format involves weekly discussion of readings, and development of research skills through completion of a 25- to 30-page research paper, constituting the major piece of written work for the course. Admission is limited to sixteen students who are assigned by the department, not by individual instructors. Students must have completed one lecture course in the relevant subfield before enrolling in the colloquium (or must receive special permission from the instructor for that requirement to be waived). It is recommended but not required that the three required colloquia be taken with different Barnard instructors and selected from the asterisked colloquium offerings listed in the Barnard course catalogue. Columbia seminars do not fulfill this requirement.

If you plan on spending part or all of junior year abroad

Plan to take a colloquium during the second semester of your sophomore year. This means applying for the colloquium during the first semester of your sophomore year. Indicate on your colloquium application that you plan to be abroad one or both semesters during junior year.

If you plan to be away for the entire junior year, you must plan on taking a colloquium in your sophomore year. Please be sure to e-mail both your academic major advisor and the department administrator by the middle of March of your year abroad, in order to apply for a colloquium if you need to take one in the fall of your senior year.

Senior Projects and the Third Colloquium

Students must designate one of the three colloquia to fulfill the Senior Project. Students must indicate their intention to take a colloquium for the Senior Project colloquium on their application and work completed in this colloquium will be considered for Senior Project Distinction. The designated Senior Project colloquium cannot be changed after the Add/Drop deadline of the semester in which the colloquium is being offered.

All students will display a summary poster of their designated Senior Research Paper written for the third colloquium at the Political Science Majors Senior Event at the end of the Spring semester. Early graduates will be required to submit their poster to the Department prior to graduating. Posters can be displayed in absentia for those students who graduate early.

Requirements for the Combined Major

A student doing a combined major in Human Rights and Political Science must complete the full ten-course requirements for the Political Science major in addition to Human Rights courses. Both departments must agree on the potential departmental honors nomination.

A student doing a combined major in Jewish Studies and Political Science must complete the full ten-course requirements for the Political Science major in addition to Jewish Studies courses. Both departments must agree on the senior requirement grade and the potential departmental honors nomination.

A student doing a combined major in Women's Studies and Political Science must complete the full nine-course requirements for the Political Science major in addition to Women's Studies courses. She must consult both thesis advisors (=sponsors) on a regular basis throughout the colloquium and the completed thesis must integrate the two fields of inquiry. Both departments must agree on the senior requirement grade and the potential departmental honors nomination.

Any other combined major (for example, Art History-Political Science), or a special major, requires a petition to the Committee on Programs and Academic Standing (CPAS) and the approval of the Chairs of the sponsoring departments. (For Political Science, obtain the approval of the Department Chair.) Obtain forms and instructions from the Class Dean in the Dean of Studies Office. The student will be required to take a minimum of seven political science courses of at least three points each, including two lecture courses and three colloquia, to be selected in consultation with the Departmental Representative. The student is expected to take a third colloquium. She must consult both essay advisors (=sponsors) on a regular basis throughout the colloquium, assuring integration of the two fields of inquiry. Both departments must agree on the senior requirement grade and the potential departmental honors nomination.

Requirements for the Double Major with One Integrating Senior Essay

The student is required to complete the coursework for each major with no overlapping courses, but will undertake only one integrating senior requirement project with two thesis advisors (=sponsors), one from each of the two departments. The student must consult both advisors on a regular basis throughout the colloquium and the completed thesis must integrate the two fields of inquiry. Both departments must agree on the senior requirement grade and the potential departmental honors nomination.

REQUIREMENTS FOR THE SCIENCES PO – BARNARD BA/MA EXCHANGE PROGRAM

In order to complete the Sciences Po – Barnard five-year Bachelor/Master of Arts requirements, the Barnard political science major should:

  • Complete all her major requirements at Barnard, including two of three required colloquia;

  • Fulfill her senior thesis requirement by choosing one of the following two options:

Option 1:  Complete a third colloquium while at Barnard.

Option 2: When at Sciences Po, the student takes a personal one-semester tutorial with a Sciences Po professor assigned according to the student’s interest. The tutorial must focus on advice on bibliographical search, research strategy, methodological issues, and writing on a given topic, in order to help the student write a research paper equivalent to a Barnard senior project in political science. The research paper should meet the following criteria:

  • It should be a minimum of 30-40 pages double-spaced;

  • It should be a coherent piece of analytical writing;

  • It should embody the answer to some question about the operation of certain aspects of political or governmental institutions or processes, broadly conceived;

  • It should be based on original research conducted by the student;

  • It should be theoretically informed. It should be a social science paper, and not a policy one;

  • The student should use, at least, secondary sources.

Please use the Major Audit to track your Barnard courses for the major.

Requirements for the Minor

A total of five courses are necessary to complete a minor. Four of these courses must be taken from courses listed in the Political Science section of the Barnard Course Catalogue. Only one political science course taken in a summer session, study-abroad program, Reid Hall Program, or another undergraduate college may be used to satisfy the five-course requirement for the minor, with the approval of the Department Representative.

Faculty and Staff members designated to answer questions:

Kimberly Marten, Professor & Department Chair, (x4-4440 or 4-7912),  kmarten@barnard.edu

Madeleine Lloyd-Davies, Department Administrator, (x 4-8422), mlloydda@barnard.edu

Introductory Courses

Three introductory-level lecture courses, each from a different subfield, are required of all Barnard majors and concentrators. These courses are designed to provide an introduction to the main subject matter and major theories of each subfield. Any lecture course at the 1000-level that is listed in this section fulfills this requirement. In addition, selected lecture courses at the 3000-level may be substituted for a 1000-level course in the same subfield. A list of appropriate Barnard and Columbia 3000-level political science lecture courses is on-line.

The subfields of all Barnard courses are listed. These are:

  • Political Theory: the study of the conceptual foundations of political systems and behavior.
  • American Government and Politics: the study of all aspects of the American political system, including its development, institutions, procedures, and actors.
  • Comparative Politics: the study of the political systems of other countries and regions, including the use of comparisons across cases in order to gain a broader and deeper understanding of events, institutions, and processes.
  • International Relations: the study of relations between countries and the dynamics and development of the international system.

Advanced Placement Credit

A student granted Advanced Placement (AP) credit by the College in either American Politics or Comparative Politics with an exam score of 5 will have fulfilled the prerequisite for courses that require the prior completion of POLS BC 1201 or V 1501, respectively. If the student wants to take the introductory American Politics or Comparative Politics course, she may do so, but she will forfeit her corresponding AP credit.
AP credit does not count toward the number of courses required for the major or minor, i.e. the student still needs to complete the nine courses for the major or the five for the minor.

Introductory Courses

POLS UN1101 Political Theory I. 4 points.

What is the relationship between law and justice? Are capacities of political judgment shared by the many or reserved for the few? What does human equality consist of and what are its implications? Can individual freedom be reconciled with the demands of political community? What are the origins and effects of persistent gender inequalities? These are some of the crucial questions that we will address in this introductory course in political theory. The course is divided into five thematic sections, each addressing an enduring political problem or issue and centered on a key text in the history of political thought: 1. Laws, Obligations, and the Question of Disobedience; Sophocles, Antigone; 2. Democratic Citizenship and the Capacities of Political Judgment; Plato, Republic; 3. Origins and Effects of (In)equality; John Locke, Second Treatise of Civil Government; 4. Paradoxes of Freedom; Jean Jacques Rousseau, On the Social Contract; 5. The Woman Question; John Stuart Mill, The Subjection of Women.

POLS UN1201 Introduction To American Government and Politics. 4 points.

Lecture and discussion. Dynamics of political institutions and processes, chiefly of the national government. Emphasis on the actual exercise of political power by interest groups, elites, political parties, and public opinion.

Spring 2020: POLS UN1201
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
POLS 1201 001/00381 T Th 10:10am - 11:25am
304 Barnard Hall
Michael Miller 4 128/120
Fall 2020: POLS UN1201
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
POLS 1201 001/00238 M W 8:40am - 9:55am
Room TBA
Michael Miller 4 144/300

POLS UN1501 Introduction to Comparative Politics. 4 points.

This course provides a broad overview of the comparative politics subfield by focusing on important substantive questions about the world today. The course is organized around four questions. First, why can only some people depend upon the state to enforce order? Second, how can we account for the differences between autocracies and democracies? Third, what different institutional forms does democratic government take? Finally, are some institutions more likely than others to produce desirable social outcomes such as accountability, redistribution, and political stability?

Fall 2020: POLS UN1501
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
POLS 1501 001/13697 T Th 10:10am - 11:25am
Room TBA
Kimuli Kasara 4 86/85

POLS UN1601 INTERNATIONAL POLITICS. 4 points.

Lecture and discussion. The basic setting and dynamics of global politics, with emphasis on contemporary problems and processes.

Spring 2020: POLS UN1601
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
POLS 1601 001/14434 M W 11:40am - 12:55pm
312 Mathematics Building
Katrin Katz 4 106/112
Fall 2020: POLS UN1601
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
POLS 1601 001/00243 M W 2:40pm - 3:55pm
Room TBA
Kimberly Marten 4 160/160

Lecture Courses

POLS BC3025 American Political Parties. 3 points.

Political parties have evoked widespread scorn in the U.S. since the founding era; and yet, they arose almost immediately and have endured for over two centuries. In this course, we will examine why parties formed despite the Founders’ disdain for them. (In 1789, Thomas Jefferson wrote, “If I could not go to heaven but with a party, I would not go at all.” In 1800, he won the presidency as a candidate of a major party.) We will dig into scholarly debates about what exactly parties are, what purpose they serve, and how and why they have changed over time as organizations, in the electorate, and in government.


Topics will include the presidential nomination process from the founding through the much-discussed 2016 primary election season, the life cycle of third parties, and the relationship between political parties and interest groups. Students will learn what is and is not unique about the current historical moment, and how history might shape our expectations of parties moving forward.


Throughout the course, we will pay particularly close attention to the roots of contemporary party polarization, and the implications of this phenomenon for representation and governance. In 1950, the American Political Science Association released a report criticizing the two major parties for excessive similarity; today, party polarization evokes widespread concern. Is there an ideal level of party difference? How much is too much? We will address these difficult questions, among others, in this broad survey of American political parties. 

POLS BC3254 First Amendment Values. 3 points.

Prerequisites: POLS W1201 or an equivalent. Not an introductory course. Not open to students who have taken the colloquium POLS BC3302.

Examines the first amendment rights of speech, press, religion and assembly. In-depth analysis of landmark Supreme Court rulings provides the basis for exploring theoretical antecedents as well as contemporary applications of such doctrines as freedom of association, libel, symbolic speech, obscenity, hate speech, political speech, commercial speech, freedom of the press and religion. (Cross-listed by the American Studies Program.)

Spring 2020: POLS BC3254
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
POLS 3254 001/00385 T 4:10pm - 6:00pm
Ll103 Diana Center
Paula Franzese 3 54/60

POLS BC3402 The Comparative Politics of Gender Inequality. 3 points.

BC: Fulfillment of General Education Requirement: Social Analysis (SOC I).

Prerequisites: Not an introductory-level course. Not open to students who have taken the colloquium POLS BC 3507. Enrollment limited to 20 students; L-course sign-up through eBear. Barnard syllabus.

Uses major analytical perspectives in comparative politics to understand the persistence of gender inequality in advanced industrial states. Topics include: political representation and participation; political economy and capitalism; the historical development of welfare states; electoral systems, electoral quotas; the role of supranational and international organizations; and social policy.

POLS BC3521 Civil Rights and Civil Liberties. 3 points.

Prerequisites: POLS W1201 or the equivalent. Not an introductory-level course. Not open to students who have taken the colloquium POLS BC3326. Enrollment limited to 25 students; L-course sign-up through eBear. Barnard syllabus.

Explores seminal caselaw to inform contemporary civil rights and civil liberties jurisprudence and policy.  Specifically, the readings examine historical and contemporary first amendment values, including freedom of speech and the press, economic liberties, takings law, discrimination based on race, gender, class and sexual preference, affirmative action, the right to privacy, reproductive freedom, the right to die, criminal procedure and adjudication, the rights of the criminally accused post-9/11 and the death penalty. (Cross-listed by the American Studies and Human Rights Programs.)

Fall 2020: POLS BC3521
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
POLS 3521 001/00650 T 4:10pm - 6:00pm
Room TBA
Paula Franzese 3 55/50

POLS BC3601 International Law and the United Nations in Practice. 4 points.

Prerequisites: POLS V1601 or POLS/HRTS V3001 or equivalent. Limited to 20 students. Admission by approval from Professor J. Paul Martin, jmartin@barnard.edu, Director of the Human Rights Program. For the Barnard Political Science major, this seminar counts as elective credit only.

Examines the development of international law and the United Nations, their evolution in the Twentieth Century, and their role in world affairs today. Concepts and principles are illustrated through their application to contemporary human rights and humanitarian challenges, and with respect to other threats to international peace and security.  The course consists primarily of presentation and discussion, drawing heavily on the practical application of theory to actual experiences and situations. For the Barnard Political Science major, this seminar counts as elective credit only. (Cross-listed by the Human Rights Program.)

POLS UN3213 American Urban Politics. 3 points.

This course examines the pattern of political development in urban America, as the country's population has grown in urbanized locations. It explores the process by which cities and suburbs are governed, how immigrants and migrants are incorporated, and how people of different races and ethnicities interact in urbanized settings as well as the institutional relations of cities and suburbs with other jurisdictions of government. The course focuses both on the historical as well the theoretical understandings of politics in urban areas.

Spring 2020: POLS UN3213
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
POLS 3213 001/14435 M W 6:10pm - 7:25pm
702 Hamilton Hall
Carlos Vargas-Ramos 3 65/86

POLS UN3290 Voting and American Politics. 3 points.

Elections and public opinion; history of U.S. electoral politics; the problem of voter participation; partisanship and voting; accounting for voting decisions; explaining and forecasting election outcomes; elections and divided government; money and elections; electoral politics and representative democracy.

Fall 2020: POLS UN3290
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
POLS 3290 001/14027 T Th 10:10am - 11:25am
Room TBA
Robert Erikson 3 86/86

POLS UN3401 Democracy and Dictatorship in Europe. 3 points.

Not offered during 2020-21 academic year.

This course will examine the development of democracies and dictatorships in Europe from the French Revolution to the present day. It will analyze the nature and dynamics of European political history and use the European experience as a foundation upon which to build a broader understanding of how different types of political regimes emerge, function and are sustained over time. Prior knowledge of European history and comparative politics is welcome, but not presumed.

Fall 2020: POLS UN3401
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
POLS 3401 001/00244 M W 11:40am - 12:55pm
Room TBA
Sheri Berman 3 70/70

POLS UN3565 Drugs and Politics in the Americas. 3 points.

Not offered during 2020-21 academic year.

One of the major challenges for democracy in much of the developing world is the complex links between illegal drug markets and politics. These linkages span multiple levels, from the microdynamics of everyday politics in territories controlled by drug gangs to interdependence between drug trafficking and civil conflict to the contentious politics of global drug regimes. This course will examine these dynamics theoretically and empirically with a focus on the Western Hemisphere (North, Central, and Sough America as well as the Caribbean).

Spring 2020: POLS UN3565
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
POLS 3565 001/00393 M W 10:10am - 11:25am
409 Barnard Hall
Eduardo Moncada 3 32/30
Fall 2020: POLS UN3565
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
POLS 3565 001/00246 M W 10:10am - 11:25am
Room TBA
Eduardo Moncada 3 60/60

POLS UN3604 War, Peace, and International Interventions in Africa. 4 points.

Prerequisites: At least sophomore standing, except in consultation with the instructor. Interested students should join the wait list; attendance at the first class is required in order to secure a spot in the class. Registration to discussion section is mandatory.

This course analyzes the causes of violence in wars and examines the debates around emergency aid, peacekeeping and peacebuilding. In addition, it focuses on recent conflict situations in Africa -- especially Congo, Sudan, and Rwanda -- as a background against which to understand the distinct dynamics of violence, peace, and international interventions in civil and international conflicts.

POLS UN3706 Empirical Research Methods in Political Science. 4 points.

Prerequisites: At least sophomore standing recommended. No prior experience with statistics is assumed.

Corequisites: Computer Lab: TBD (50 minutes per week). Enrollment limited to 40 students: "L" sign-up through eBearNot an introductory-level course. Barnard syllabus.


The course introduces students to the systematic study of political phenomena. Students will learn how to develop research questions and executable research designs. Then, taking an applied approach, students learn basic statistical and case study techniques for evaluating evidence and making empirical claims. No prior experience with statistics is assumed.

Spring 2020: POLS UN3706
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
POLS 3706 001/00394 T Th 2:40pm - 3:55pm
203 Diana Center
Michael Miller 4 37/40
Fall 2020: POLS UN3706
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
POLS 3706 001/00242 T Th 10:10am - 11:25am
Room TBA
Matthew Lacombe 4 40/40

POLS GU4875 Russia and the West. 4 points.

Exploration of Russia's ambiguous relationship with the Western world. Cultural, philosophical, and historical explanations will be examined alongside theories of domestic political economy and international relations, to gain an understanding of current events. Select cases from the Tsarist, Soviet, and recent periods will be compared and contrasted, to see if patterns emerge. 

Spring 2020: POLS GU4875
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
POLS 4875 001/00396 M W 2:40pm - 3:55pm
203 Diana Center
Kimberly Marten 4 25/30

Colloquia

POLS BC3019 American Political Development. 4 points.

Prerequisites: (POLS UN1201)

In this survey of American political development, we will discuss how and why major institutions and policies emerged, why they took certain forms, when and why they have changed over time, and what kinds of factors limit change. We will also discuss how policies, in turn, shape citizens and institutions. 

POLS BC3026 Gun Politics in the United States. 4 points.

Prerequisites: (POLS UN1201) or approved substitute for 1201 Application through department https://polisci.barnard.edu/colloquia

This course examines the politics of guns from a number of different angles. We will critically assess the multitude of direct and indirect explanations of gun control politics that have been offered by scholars and informed observers, including those related to interest groups, political parties, and mass political behavior.

Fall 2020: POLS BC3026
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
POLS 3026 001/00241 T 2:10pm - 4:00pm
Room TBA
Matthew Lacombe 4 14/12

POLS BC3055 * Colloquium on Political Violence and Terrorism. 4 points.

Not offered during 2020-21 academic year.

Prerequisites: POLS V1501 or POLS V1601 or the equivalent. Admission by application through the Barnard department only. Enrollment limited to 16 students. Barnard syllabus.

What causes political violence and terrorism? How should we define "terrorism"--is it true, as the old saw goes, that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter? What is the role of religious belief, as opposed to more immediate political goals, in fomenting terrorist action? Are al Qaeda and those linked to it different from terrorists we’ve seen in various places around the world in the past, or does all terrorism and political violence stem from the same variety of goals and purposes? Can governments take effective action to prevent or counter terrorism, or are we all doomed to live in insecurity? What is the proper balance between protection against terrorism and protection of civil liberties? This course examines these questions through weekly assigned readings, analysis and discussion.

POLS BC3102 * Colloquium on Race and Modern Political Thought. 4 points.

Admission by application through the Barnard department only. Enrollment limited to 16 students.

Prerequisites: POLS 1013 or the equivalent.

Race and Modern Political Thought is a Political Theory colloquium that explores how the concept of race became available to modern thought as a legitimate conceptualization of human being and difference and to political thought as an idea useful to structuring political communities.  Is race best understood in ideological terms, i.e., as a viewpoint shared by philosophers and lay-persons alike about difference that usefully reflected the needs and aspirations of slaveholders and colonialists?  Or is race instead an artifact of modern forms of reasoning?  Or should we ignore questions of origin and simply take seriously the notion that the only practical—ethically correct or politically progressive—approach to theorizing race is to attend critically to the organization of racial power?   What kind of idea is race?

POLS BC3118 * Colloquium on Problems in International Security. 4 points.

Prerequisites: POLS V1501 or POLS V1601 or the equivalent. Admission by application through the Barnard department only. Enrollment limited to 16 students. Barnard syllabus.

Examination of causes and consequences of major current problems in international security. Topics will focus on state power dynamics: the rise of China and the reemergence of the Russian military, challenges facing NATO with the rise of populism and authoritarianism in the West, nuclear deterrence and proliferation, cyber conflict and information war, and chemical and biological weapons.

POLS BC3325 Colloquium: The Politics of Bad Behavior. 4 points.

This course explores the politics of what happens when people, institutions, or states deviate from expected behavior. The course will span all subfields of political science, engaging issues such as lies, scandal, money laundering, corruption, campaign finance, election fraud, racism, and incarceration. 

POLS BC3329 * Colloquium on Harlem in Theory. 4 points.

Prerequisites: Admission by application through the Barnard department only. Enrollment limited to 16 students.

Harlem in Theory is an advanced political theory colloquium.  Its focus is both thematic and methodological.  Joining a two-thousand year tradition of doing philosophy in and for the city, we theorize Harlem as urbs and civitas (place and socio-political association) and bring Harlem to bear on philosophy.  We explore the political theorist's craft by engaging different theoretical approaches and methodologies used by political, social and critical theorists.  Our readings include political philosophy, critical frameworks for interpretation and historical, social scientific and literary works about Harlem - supplemented by film, music and of course periodic trips to various Harlem venues. General Education Requirement: Social Analysis (SOC).

Spring 2020: POLS BC3329
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
POLS 3329 001/00386 W 4:10pm - 6:00pm
Ll018 Milstein Center
Michelle Smith 4 8/16

POLS BC3334 *Colloquium on American Elections and Campaigns. 4 points.

Prerequisites: POLS V 1201 or equivalent American Politics course. POLS V 3222 or equivalent Research Methods course is recommended. Admission by application through the Barnard department only. Enrollment limited to 16 students.

The purpose of this course is to examine how political science can inform the real-world campaign environment, improving our understanding of strategy and outcomes in American elections.

Fall 2020: POLS BC3334
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
POLS 3334 001/00239 W 12:10pm - 2:00pm
Room TBA
Michael Miller 4 15/12

POLS BC3337 Reforming American Elections. 3 points.

Prerequisites: POLS 1201 or an equivalent intro-level course in American Politics.

The purpose of this course is to examine problems in American democracy, and to critically evaluate proposals for reform.  We will examine the manner in which political science has engaged "real-world" problems in election systems and administration, campaign finance, and fraud.

POLS BC3410 *Colloquium on Human Rights in a Diverse World. 4 points.

Prerequisites: Not open to students who have taken or are currently taking POLS UN3002. Prerequisites: POLS V1013 or HRTS UN3001 or the equivalent. Admission by application through the Barnard department only. Enrollment limited to 16 students.

 Examination of human rights within the context of international migration. The course covers topics such as citizenship, state sovereignty, border control, asylum-seekers, refugees, and undocumented immigrants. (Cross-listed by the Human Rights Program.) 

Fall 2020: POLS BC3410
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
POLS 3410 001/00475 T 12:10pm - 2:00pm
Room TBA
Ayten Gundogdu 4 13/16

POLS BC3411 *Colloquium on Building Peace. 4 points.

Prerequisites: POLS 1601 (Intro to International Politics) or equivalent. Admission by application through the Barnard department only. Enrollment limited to 16 students.

How can we build peace in the aftermath of extensive violence? How can international actors help in this process? This colloquium focuses on international peacemaking, peacekeeping, and peacebuilding efforts in recent conflicts. It covers general concepts, theories, and debates, as well as specific cases of peacebuilding successes and failures. Cross-listed with Human Rights.

Spring 2020: POLS BC3411
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
POLS 3411 001/00387 T 12:10pm - 2:00pm
308 Diana Center
Severine Autesserre 4 6/16
Fall 2020: POLS BC3411
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
POLS 3411 001/00240 T 12:10pm - 2:00pm
Room TBA
Severine Autesserre 4 14/12

POLS BC3435 Law and Violence. 4 points.

Prerequisites: Admission by application through the Barnard Political Science Department only. Enrollment limited to 16 students. Requires POLS 1011 (Political Theory) or equivalent.

This colloquium examines how the law can participate in the justification of various forms of violence, exclusion, and inequality. It focuses on the power of law to determine which subjects get recognized as persons entitled to rights. Possible topics include slavery, migration, gender, sexual orientation, disability, homelessness, and nonhuman animals. 

Spring 2020: POLS BC3435
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
POLS 3435 001/00388 T 4:10pm - 6:00pm
406 Barnard Hall
Ayten Gundogdu 4 9/16

POLS BC3445 Colloquium on Gender and Public Policy. 4 points.

In this course, we will examine how notions of sex and gender have shaped public policies, and how public policies have affected the social, economic, and political citizenship of men and women in the United States over time.

Spring 2020: POLS BC3445
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
POLS 3445 001/00389 W 2:10pm - 4:00pm
Room TBA
Katherine Krimmel 4 14/16

POLS BC3500 *Colloquium on Political Economy of Corruption and Its Control. 4 points.

Prerequisites: POLS V1501 or the equivalent. Admission by application through the Barnard department only. Enrollment limited to 16 students. Barnard syllabus.

Comparative political economy course which addresses some important questions concerning corruption and its control: the concept, causes, patterns, consequences, and control of corruption. Introduces students to and engages them in several key social science debates on the causes and effects of political corruption.

Fall 2020: POLS BC3500
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
POLS 3500 001/00441 W 4:10pm - 6:00pm
Room TBA
Xiaobo Lu 4 0/16

POLS BC3501 Urban Violence In Comparative Perspective. 4 points.

Admission by application through the Barnard department only. Enrollment limited to 16 students.

Prerequisites: V 1501 or equivalent

One of the key contemporary challenges for democracy and development across both the developing and developed worlds is urban violence. From urban gangs to paramilitaries to vigilantes to citizen defense committees, the city is increasing a key setting for a range of armed actors that engage in equally diverse forms of criminality and the exercise of coercive force. Major cities throughout the world thus lead two lives: as control and command centers in a globalized (and urbanized) economy, and as the stages where the monopoly over the legitimate use of violence that Max Weber identified as a defining attribute of the state is contested on a daily basis. This course has two overarching objectives. The first objective is to examine and critically assess existing theories of the drivers, functions, and consequences of urban crime and violence.  The second objective is to situate existing research within a broader range of classic and emerging political science research on state building, institutions, democracy,  development, and conflict. The methodological emphasis of the course is comparative analysis, and therefore empirical material will largely draw on analyses of crime and violence in Latin America and Africa, and the United States. This course will introduce students to the key theories, debates, and empirical studies of urban crime and violence. Students who successfully complete the class will: 1.      Acquire a broad knowledge of the theories and concepts used to analyze urban crime and violence. 2.      Develop a theoretically informed and empirically grounded understanding of both historical and contemporary trends in crime and violence in major cities across Latin America, Africa, and the United States. 3.      Draw linkages between news coverage of urban crime and violence and political science theories on a range of broader issues regarding state building, institutions, democracy, and development. 4.      Use existing theories to analyze, assess, and present empirical data, both written and verbal.   5.      Produce a major, original research paper that advances existing knowledge of the origins, dynamics, and/or consequences of urban crime and violence.

Fall 2020: POLS BC3501
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
POLS 3501 001/00247 M 2:10pm - 4:00pm
Room TBA
Eduardo Moncada 4 2/12

POLS BC3505 * Colloquium on Making Democracy Work. 4 points.

Prerequisites: POLS V1501 or the equivalent. Admission by application through the Barnard department only. Enrollment limited to 16 students. Barnard syllabus.

Examination of democratic consolidation and promotion. What makes democracy work and what, if anything, can outside actors do to help this process along? Topics include the theoretical literature on democratic consolidation, historical cases of intervention, debates about America’s role in promoting democracy, and examination of some of the research on democracy promotion. (Cross-listed by the Europen Studies and Human Rights Programs.)

Fall 2020: POLS BC3505
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
POLS 3505 001/00245 W 2:10pm - 4:00pm
Room TBA
Sheri Berman 4 14/12

POLS BC3540 COMPARATIVE POLITICS OF RACE. 4 points.

Prerequisites: POLS V1501 or the equivalent. Admission by application through the Barnard department only. Enrollment limited to 16 students.

The course will examine the development of, and relationship among, the three constituent features of the modern political world: states, nations and democracy. The course will analyze both historical and contemporary cases, tracing how causal processes unfold over time and space and what past conditions and experiences lie behind today's political dynamics and problems.

Spring 2020: POLS BC3540
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
POLS 3540 001/00391 M 2:10pm - 4:00pm
Ll001 Milstein Center
Sheri Berman 4 8/16

POLS BC3543 Non-State Governance in Settings of Crime and War. 4 points.

Prerequisites: (POLS UN1501)

The conventional wisdom is that crime and civil war are linked to disorder. But these are far from disorderly and ungoverned spaces. Unpacking these settings reveals complex forms of non-state governance constructed by a range of actors, including rebel and guerillas, gangs, vigilantes, and protection rackets – sometimes facilitated by the state.

Spring 2020: POLS BC3543
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
POLS 3543 001/00392 M 2:10pm - 4:00pm
Room TBA
Eduardo Moncada 4 11/16

POLS BC3555 Political Behavior. 4 points.

Not offered during 2020-21 academic year.

Prerequisites: Application through Political Science department (https://polisci.barnard.edu/colloquia),,Prerequisite: Introduction to American Government and Politics (POLS UN1201) or equivalent,Strongly recommended: Empirical Research Methods in Political Science (POLS 3706) or equivalent

This course explores how and why people take action in the political sphere. We will pay particular attention to questions such as why people vote, form interest groups, and/or contribute money to candidates. We will also study the origins of partisanship, polarization, opinion, and political ideology. Finally, we will cover topics in "elite" behavior, examining candidates, lawmakers, and party officials.

POLS BC3810 *Colloquium on Aid, Politics & Violence in Africa. 4 points.

Prerequisites: POLS UN1601 or the equivalent. Admission by application through the Barnard department only.

Explores the concepts, theoretical traditions and debates around development and humanitarian aid, focusing on the relationships between aid, politics, and violence. It looks at the political and military impacts of aid, the linkage between humanitarian aid and conflict resolution, and aid's contribution to perpetuating subtle forms of domination. (Cross-listed by the Africana Studies and the Human Rights Programs.)

POLS BC3812 * Colloquium on State Failure, Warlords, and Pirates. 4 points.

Not offered during 2020-21 academic year.

Prerequisites: POLS V1501 or POLS V1601 or the equivalent. Admission by application through the Barnard department only. Enrollment limited to 16 students. Barnard syllabus.

What are sovereign states, why do they fail, does their failure matter, and can the international community help? This course examines these questions using social science theories and historical case studies. It focuses on the political economy and security consequences of two current forms of state failure: warlordism and piracy.

POLS BC3801 Politics of Economic Development In the World. 4 points.

BC: Fulfillment of General Education Requirement: Social Analysis (SOC II).
Admission by application through the Barnard department only. Enrollment limited to 16 students.

Prerequisites: V 1501 or equivalent

Description: The semester-long course aims to study political and social factors behind economic development and exam empirical cases of the success and failure in economic growth in order to understand the key features of the development processes. In the last two centuries, some countries successfully achieved economic growth and development, while other failed to do so. Even in the post-WWII period, the world has witnessed the rise and decline of economies around the world. Why do nations succeed or fail in economic development? How do political institutions affect economic outcomes? What are the ways in which state and market interact and influence each other? Can democracy be considered a cause of development, an outgrowth of development, or neither and to which extent? How do external factors such as foreign aid encourage or discourage development? We will try to examine these questions by taking a historical-institutional and comparative approach and take a critical look at the role of political and other institutions by applying theoretical guidelines and empirical cases. We will explore competing explanations for the successes and failures of economic development in the world. Objective:1. Understand some important concepts and theories within the fields of comparative politics and political economy. To explore the interconnections between politics, economy, and society in the context of development policy and practice.2. Develop basic analytic skills to explore various factors that shape political, economic, and social development and underdevelopment in the world;3. Understand some country specific political economy processes and how these processes prove or disprove certain theories and policies.

Spring 2020: POLS BC3801
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
POLS 3801 001/00395 W 2:10pm - 4:00pm
118 Barnard Hall
Xiaobo Lu 4 9/16

Cross-Listed Courses

NOTE: All 3000 or 4000-level POLS courses taken at Barnard or Columbia are approved as Political Science electives. Below is a list of cross-listed courses from other departments. 

HRTS BC1025 Human Rights in Theory and Practice. 3 points.

BC: Fulfillment of General Education Requirement: Ethics and Values.

Provides a broad overview of the rapidly expanding field of human rights. Lectures on the philosophical, historical, legal and institutional foundations are interspersed with weekly presentations by frontline advocates from the U.S. and overseas.

Spring 2020: HRTS BC1025
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
HRTS 1025 001/00061 T Th 10:10am - 11:25am
328 Milbank Hall
J. Paul Martin 3 46/56
Fall 2020: HRTS BC1025
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
HRTS 1025 001/00682  
Alice Brown 3 12/60

HRTS BC3061 Human Rights & the UN in Practice. 4 points.

HRTS UN3001 Introduction to Human Rights. 3 points.

Evolution of the theory and content of human rights; the ideology and impact of human rights movements; national and international human rights law and institutions; their application with attention to universality within states, including the U.S., and internationally.

MDES UN3260 Rethinking Middle East Politics. 4 points.

CC/GS/SEAS: Partial Fulfillment of Global Core Requirement

This course examines a set of questions that have shaped the study of the politics of the modern Middle East. It looks at the main ways those questions have been answered, exploring debates both in Western academic scholarship and among scholars and intellectuals in the region itself. For each question, the course offers new ways of thinking about the issue or ways of framing it in different terms. The topics covered in the course include: the kinds of modern state that emerged in the Middle East and the ways its forms of power and authority were shaped; the birth of economic development as a way of describing the function and measuring the success of the state, and the changing metrics of this success; the influence of oil on the politics of the region; the nature and role of Islamic political movements; the transformation of the countryside and the city and the role of rural populations and of urban protest in modern politics; and the politics of armed force and political violence in the region, and the ways in which this has been understood. The focus of the course will be on the politics of the twentieth century, but many topics will be traced back into developments that occurred in earlier periods, and several will be explored up to the present. The course is divided into four parts, each ending with a paper or exam in which participants are asked to analyze the material covered. Each part of the course has a geographical focus on a country or group of countries and a thematic focus on a particular set of questions of historical and political analysis.

Spring 2020: MDES UN3260
Course Number Section/Call Number Times/Location Instructor Points Enrollment
MDES 3260 001/13905 M W 11:40am - 12:55pm
614 Schermerhorn Hall
Timothy Mitchell 4 86/90

URBS V3833 New York City: Politics and Governing. 4 points.

This course will examine through readings, class discussions, and in class debate, the complex politics and governing of New York City- the key political institutions, and who holds urban political power, voting and elections, and the changing roles of the electorate will be covered.  We will examine the structure or New York City government and how the New York City Budget is developed and adopted; the interplay between Mayoral and City council powers, the city charter, the process of governing and the role of political parties, special interest groups, lobbyists and labor unions. We will look back in the City’s political history and consider that time in the mid 1970’s when New York City suffered a major fiscal crisis and was close to financial bankruptcy.  In this context, New York City’s relationships with the state and federal governments will also be covered.