American Political System
Department of Political Science / Lehman College / Autumn 2011
This introductory-level course will explore the historical and theoretical foundations of the American political system, its major political institutions (Congress, the Presidency, the Bureaucracy, and the Supreme Court), and various other topics affecting political life and political behavior in America (political parties, interest groups, elections, the media, etc.). During each phase of this course we will focus on both a historical perspective as well as a clear connection to the modern state of American politics. A major focus will be on the concept of power and how it affects the processes and institutions in contemporary American politics. In examining the diverse apparatuses of power that operate within the American political system, we will look at the major social dimensions that give structure to our thoughts, experiences and actions as a result of our participation in society—including class, race, and gender. Also of particular interest for us this semester will be issues surrounding the second half of the Obama Presidency and the major policy battles that will be discussed heavily as the 2012 campaign kicks off. Over the course of the semester, we will develop a critical sense for analyzing some of the more pressing issues in contemporary American politics.
Politics of the Middle East
Department of Political Science / Brooklyn College / Spring 2011
This course aims to provide graduate students with a general introduction to the politics of the contemporary Middle East. It will be impossible to sufficiently cover the entire Middle East region in one semester. Therefore, the course is structured around the broad theme of identity and will be conducted at two levels: (1) a macro level which focuses on the Arab Middle East in general—and does not include details about Iran, Turkey, Afghanistan or Pakistan—and (2) a micro level which focuses specifically on Israel/Palestine. As we look at the development and evolution of political identities over time, we consider the Arab context generally and the specific case of Israeli and Palestinian political identities in particular. This approach will allow students to grapple in some depth with the complexities of an important part of the region and to acquire a feel for wider political issues in the contemporary Middle East.