Political Studies

Political_Studies_3798278Political Studies examines the dynamics of human interaction in which individuals and groups compete to achieve their goals. The study of politics involves a consideration of the interactions between the individual, the state, government, public affairs and public policy. Political Studies examines the dynamics of these interactions in the context of competing visions, values and interests, particularly in the pursuit of varying public goals, including the quest for political power and the control of government. Politics is thus both a study of conflict among competing interests and a study of how these competing interests achieve compromise and cooperation.

Why Study Politics?

Though you might be attracted to the study of politics by current events, you will soon realize that the most pressing problems are an aspect of that human activity known as politics. Desires, requests, and demands form the raw material of political action among people. Naturally, if everyone shared similar values on all subjects, there would be no need for politics or the study of politics. But of course they don’t. People have different ideas concerning such things as civil liberties, sustainable development, and distributive justice. Consequently they divide into various groups: nations, political parties, trade unions, business associations, environmental organizations, and other interest groups.

Where does the study of politics enter into all this? Political Studies seeks to understand what happens when individuals and groups struggle with one another to achieve their different goals. Within states there are mechanisms called governments to oversee and guide political struggle, and studying politics can help us better appreciate why various types of government behave the way they do.

What makes politics so fascinating is that it is a source of conflict in the world, as well as a mode of activity seeking to resolve strife and create better societies. The student of politics is more than a detached observer; he or she feels involvement and a commitment to explore the conditions promoting more just societies.

For more information, including registration details, contact the Political Studies department.

Gender and Politics in Canada (POLS 3100)

This course introduces the principal themes in the study of gender and politics in Canada. Topics may include women’s political organizing and activism, representation in political institutions, the gendered division of labour in the private and public spheres, gender and public policy, and the gendered nature of political behavior.

Terrorism and Political Violence (POLS 3140)

Human Rights and Civil Liberties (POLS 3160)

An examination of the foundations of modern human rights systems in liberal democracies. Topics addressed include the main philosophical arguments on human rights, dominant legal theories of rights, and international conventions and systems on human rights protection.

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (POLS 3170)

A systematic examination of the rights and freedoms contained in the Charter through Supreme Court decisions. Additional topics addressed include the historical, political and intellectual sources of rights protection in Canada and a review of Canadian human rights legislation.

Feminist Political Theory (POLS 3240)

An examination of feminist approaches to the status and participation of women in political life. The course also includes feminist discourse on ethical issues and state policy.

Political Doctrines of the Twentieth Century (POLS 3510)

A survey of major contemporary systems of ideas which seek to explain or justify political behaviour.

Political Concepts (POLS 3600)

An exposition and analysis of the role and meaning of terms central to political discourse. Among concepts to be studied are power, community, justice, freedom, equality and obligation.

Distributive Justice (POLS 3710)

A study of the question of whether, and to what extent, inequalities of various kinds are compatible with the demands of both justice and community. This course examines contending answers to the question by investigating classical and/or contemporary theories of distributive justice.

Canadian Political Ideas (POLS 4140)

An examination of the ideas that underlie Canadian politics. What are the values at the centre of political movements in Canada and where do they come from? How have these values changed over time and why? We will attempt to answer these questions by exploring the development of Canadian political ideas as well as our current ideological context in Canada. Effort will be made to reflect on ideological debate on contemporary issues of the day.

International Relations Theory (POLS 4170/POLS 7790)

State-Civil Society Relations (POLS 7330)

An examination of how the state relates to civil society actors, notably the voluntary sector in Canada.  Students will critically assess the role voluntary organizations play – and should play – in the governing process.

Canadian Government (POLS 7340)

Examines the core institutions of Canadian Government and politics including parliamentary government, federalism, the Constitution and the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

The Political Classics (POLS 7520)

A thorough study of selected works with special attention to methodology, historical content, theoretical position and universal significance.


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