Current Course Offerings

FALL 2019

PSCI 107 Intro to Data Science

Daniel Hopkins (MW 10:00 – 11:00 AM)

Understanding and interpreting large, quantitative data sets is increasingly central in political and social science. Whether one seeks to understand political communication, international trade, inter-group conflict, or other issues, the availability of large quantities of digital data has revolutionized the study of politics. Nonetheless, most data-related courses focus on statistical estimation, rather than on the related but distinctive problems of data acquisition, management and visualization--in a term, data science. This course addresses that imbalance by focusing squarely on data science. Leaving this course, students will be able to acquire, format, analyze, and visualize various types of political data using the statistical programming language R. This course is not a statistics class, but it will increase the capacity of students to thrive in future statistics classes. While no background in statistics or political science is required, students are expected to be generally familiar with contemporary computing environments (e.g. know how to use a computer) and have a willingness to learn a variety of data science tools. (Counts toward Core Competency 2: Statistics)


PSCI 130 Introduction to American Politics 
Matthew Levendusky (MW 2:00 – 3:00 PM)

This course is intended to introduce students to the national institutions and political processes of American government. What are the historical and philosophical foundations of the American Republic? How does American public policy get made, who makes it, and who benefits? Is a constitutional fabric woven in 1787 good enough for today? How, if at all, should American government be changed, and why? What is politics and why bother to study it? If these sorts of questions interest you, then this course will be a congenial home. It is designed to explore such questions while teaching students the basics of American politics and government. (Counts toward Core Competency 1: American Politics)


PSCI 207 Applied Data Science: Data Science and American Elections 
John Lapinski (MW 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm)

Jobs in data science are quickly proliferating throughout nearly every industry in the American economy. The purpose of this class is to build the statistics, programming, and qualitative skills that are required to excel in data science. Students will learn the skills required to conduct research using surveys and experiements, and will further develop their programming abiliites in R. The substantive focus of the class will largely be on the topics related to politics and election, although the technical skills can be applied to any subject matter. it is expected that students come in having some experience using R, which can be acquired by taking either PSCI 107, PSCI 338, or an equivalent course prior to enrolling in this class. (Counts toward Core Competency 3: Survey Research)


PSCI 231 Race and Ethnic Politics 
Daniel Q. Gillion (TR 1:30 pm - 3:00 pm)

This course examines the role of race and ethnicity in the political discourse through a comparative survey of recent literature on the historical and contemporary political experiences of the four major minority groups (Blacks or African Americans, American Indians, Latinos or Hispanic Americans, and Asian Americans). A few of the key topics will include assimilation and acculturation seen in the Asian American community, understanding the political direction of Black America in a pre and post Civil Rights era, and assessing the emergence of Hispanics as the largest minority group and the political impact of this demographic change. Throughout the semester, the course will introduce students to significant minority legislation, political behavior, social movements, litigation/court rulings, media, and various forms of public opinion that have shaped the history of racial and ethnic minority relations in this country. Readings are drawn from books and articles written by contemporary political scientists. (Counts as an elective)


PSCI 232/COMM 226 Intro to Political Communication
Doron Taussig (T 1:30 pm - 4:30 pm)

This course is an introduction to the field of political communication, conceptual approaches to analyzing communication in various forms, including advertising, speech making, campaign debates, and candidates' and office-holders' uses of news. The focus of this course is on the interplay in the U.S. between television and politics. The course includes a history of televised campaign practices from the 1952 presidential contest onward. (Counts as an elective)


PSCI 320/URBS 320/GAFL 509 Who Gets Elected and Why
Ed Rendell (M 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm)

What does it take to get elected to office? What are the key elements of a successful political campaign? What are the crucial issues guiding campaigns and elections in the U.S. at the beginning of the 21st century? This class will address the process and results of electoral politics at the local, state, and federal levels. Course participants will study the stages and strategies of running for public office and will discuss the various influences on getting elected, including: Campaign finance and fundraising, demographics, polling, the media, staffing, economics, and party organization. Each week we will be joined by guest speakers who are nationally recognized professionals, with expertise in different areas of the campaign and election process. Students will also analyze campaign case studies and the career of the instructor himself. Edward G. Rendell is the former Mayor of Philadelphia, former Chair of the Democratic National Committee, and former Governor of Pennsylvania. (Counts as an elective)


PSCI 332 Survey Research and Design 

David Dutwin (R 3:00 pm - 6:00 pm)

Survey research is a small but rich academic field and discipline, drawing on theory and practice from many diverse fields including political science, communication, sociology, psychology, and statistics. Surveys are perhaps the most ubiquitous tool of measurement in the social sciences today. Successful practitioners develop expertise in the art and science of survey methodology, including sampling theory and practice, questionnaire instrument development and operationalization, and the analysis and reporting of survey data. Survey researchers are scientists of the method itself testing various practices by which surveys can be improved upon, as well as developing a keen understanding of the nature of error in surveys and how to control it. This course is a canvass course on survey research and design, highly experiential but also based upon introductory statistical theory and analysis. (Counts toward Core Competency 3: Survey Research)