Course Descriptions

2017-2018 Academic Year: Grad Lecture Schedule 2017-18

5000 Level Courses

GS POLS 5810 3.0 – Social Justice and Political Activists

Integrated Course: AP POLS 4410 3.0

The focus of this course is on what political directions and strategies are needed to move us closer to the goal of social justice, primarily within the context of advanced capitalist democracies with a focus on Canada. We will explore different conceptions of social justice and its relationship to the goals of individual liberty, capacity development, equality, inclusion, solidarity and democratic participation; examine the relationship between liberal capitalism and social justice; assess to what extent we moved closer to social justice in the era of social democracy, and away from it in the era of neo liberalism; examine the political economy of social justice and injustice in contemporary Canada; critically assess contemporary political and social movements advocating for social justice; and explore to what extent moving towards the goal of social justice requires fundamental changes to our economic and political institutions.

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6000 Level Courses

GS POLS 6000A 3.0 – The MA Colloquium

The purpose of this course is to familiarize students with graduate study in the Department of Political Science, to examine areas of common concern to students, and to prepare students to write their Major Research Paper (MRP). Seminars will include introductions to faculty members and their research, workshops on research preparation and proposal writing, and information on well-being and graduate life.

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GS POLS 6000J 3.0 – The State, Restructuring and the North American Economic Bloc (A new course on NAFTA)

This course will focus on the political economy of integration and disintegration in the North American region.  IT will examine the processes of restructuring that shape these political economic forces through examining the impact of the NAFTA agreement on state institutions, politics, and social and economic relations within the three member countries.

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GS POLS 6000R 3.0 – Histories and Theories of Nationalism

This course covers two eras, 1789-1914 and 1917-1989 moving along two axes: the narrative history of the making of modern nations and nation-states; and the theoretical axis of the history, that is to say the clash, of ideas.

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GS POLS 6010 6.0 – Symposium in Political Theory (Core Course, PhD students only)

An intensive survey of selected political thinkers from Plato to Nietzsche designed to give  students a broad background in the history of political thought. The course will also expose students to different methodological tendencies in the study of the history of political theory.

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GS POLS 6021 3.0 – The Return to Political Philosophy in Contemporary French Thought

This advanced seminar seeks to understand the origins, ideas, and problems of the return to political philosophy in contemporary French thought. This multifaceted intellectual phenomenon presents a particularly rich and intense debate on the fundamental issues of political life such as freedom, democracy, conflict, domination, and social division.

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GS POLS 6070 3.0 – The Critical Theory of the Frankfurt School - Adorno Marcuse, Horkheimer

The course will cover the themes of critique, ‘negative’ thought and utopian possibility in the works of Frankfurt School Critical Theorists Adorno, Herbert Marcuse and Max Horkheimer. We will explore their critiques of western philosophy, Reason, consciousness, ideology, capitalism, mass consumer/popular culture, aesthetics, mass psychology and authoritarianism, as well as their philosophical, historical, social, cultural and political contexts and the implications of their distinctive analysis

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GS POLS 6086 3.0 – Thinking Power and Violence: From Neitsche to Agamben

This seminar begins with the familiar, and perhaps simple, question of whether modernity has a particular relationship to violence. It considers the claim that modernity, in its mostly Western guise from the nineteenth century onward is a violence in the world and among the most violent of formations.
From that starting point the seminar offers students an opportunity to explore theorizing about the place, effects, risks materialities of violence and its relationship to power in a range of well-known thinkers across the last century from Nietzsche, Heidegger, Adorno and Benjamin to Virilio. Butler, Bifo, Agamben, Serres and Braidotti. It asks in what sense violence can be posited as a philosophical and political engagement?
Themes considered will include founding violence, conserving violence, divine violence, redemptive violence, exclusionary violence, the violence of liberalism, counter-hegemonic violence, the violence of excess, the (non)-violence of deconstruction, the violence of the disaster, of the accident, of a relation to “nature,” and “outsiders.”
Also considered is what it might mean to occupy a position in tension with, or even outside, violence and the relationship of power and violence.

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GS POLS 6087 3.0 – Politics of Aesthetics

The Politics of Aesthetics develops an aesthetic framework from eight Continental
philosophers who have an aesthetic theory as part of their philosophy. The philosophers include Hegel, Heidegger, Badiou, Ranciere, Bataille, Baudrillard, Virilio and Deleuze. These are selected because their philosophy facilitates the artwork surpassing the aesthetic theory

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GS POLS 6110 6.0 – Canadian Government and Politics (Core Course, PhD students only)

This course surveys the major approaches and issues in the study of Canadian politics and engages students in the contemporary debates in the field. Through a critical discussion of articles and books, the course evaluates the major theoretical paradigms and methodological approaches that have dominated the study of Canadian politics. The course is designed to prepare students to write the qualifying exam in Canadian politics and also to teach in the field.
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GS POLS 6130 3.0 – The State and Society in Canada

A never-ending economic crisis, declining living standards across western countries, increasing inequalities of wealth and opportunity, the exhaustion of the post-war compromise as embodied in the welfare state, and a seeming lack of clear alternatives to the capitalist status quo: all these conditions suggest there is no better time to explore the intersections of society and the state in Canada to examine how such inequalities are either furthered or challenged. This course will critically examine three arenas of political struggle: civil society, the state, and the institutional means by which they are linked to each other. The state and society are seen here as mutually constitutive; in myriad ways, each helps to shape the other. For instance, inequalities in civil society mean that some have considerably more power to influence the state than others. At the same time, the state plays a crucial role in helping to shape and maintain those inequalities through policies, regulations, institutions, and actions taken by state actors.

The point of the course will be to highlight how many of the seemingly mundane links between society and the state are in fact highly complex and contested terrains of social control and struggle. For instance, events like elections or instruments for gauging public opinion like polling do not merely reflect or register public aspirations but represent important opportunities to shape and control them. Even the institutions themselves can be the site of political struggle as different forces attempt to shape them to produce the results they prefer. This ‘critical institutionalist’ approach will be developed with attention to a divided Canadian civil society, techniques of public mobilization, debates over the capitalist state, and struggles over institutions and the left’s imagined alternatives.

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GS POLS 6133 3.0 – Law, Politics and the Judiciary

This course critically assesses scholarship in the area of law and politics. Its focus is on the role of courts as both an institution of governance and as an instrument of societal change. It compares and contrasts varying explanations of judicial behaviour by addressing a range of issues clustered around the nature, scope and impact of decision-making by courts.

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GS POLS 6145 3.0 – Indigenous Politics: Decolonization or “Development”?

This course explores indigenous development experiences in Canada and throughout the world, in comparative perspective. It draws on theories of development and underdevelopment and examines the sociology, politics and economics of development as well as environmental and cultural implications.

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GS POLS 6155 3.0 – Democratic Administration

This seminar aims to enhance students’ knowledge of democratic administration as a field of empirical investigation, theoretical inquiry, and political practice.  The first objective is to situate the study of democratic administration in historical perspective. The second goal is to build knowledge of different schools of democratic administration thought, as well as the kinds of political interventions they have inspired. The third aim is to provide students with an opportunity to pursue their own research by drawing upon, assessing, and extending key concepts from the field of democratic administration. The fourth purpose is to experiment with democratic administration in course development. Through reading, interpreting, and reflecting upon key texts, through written and oral assignments, as well as by discovering the potential of democratic administration through action, students will complete the course with 1) an understanding of core concepts in the field of democratic administration, 2) the ability to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of major debates and approaches, 3) the competency to apply a democratic administration lens to contemporary political and governmental issues, such as the Occupy Movement, Idle No More, Black Lives Matter, the right to the city, participatory budgeting, etc.; and, 4) the ability to identify and assess the challenges and benefits of enacting democratic administration in a concrete setting. Students enrolling in the class are encouraged to consider pursuing the Diploma in Democratic Administration.


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GS POLS 6185 3.0 – Governing Urban Poverty

This course draws upon diverse analytical tools to investigate the contemporary governance of urban poverty. Drawing upon examples from urban Canada and beyond, readings consider changes in how disadvantage is defined and acted upon in diverse ways as an urban governmental problem. Emphasis is placed on assessing the character and implications of new street-level institutions and practices, their relationship to wider political dynamics, and their implications for democratic governance. Topics typically include: gentrification, sanctuary cities, supervised injection facilities, responses to food and housing insecurity, Indigenous rights and cities, as well as urban activism, such as activism pertaining to Black Lives Matter, Idle No More, the Occupy Movement, and the Women’s March on Washington.

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GS POLS 6200 6.0 – Advanced Study in International Relations (Core Course, PhD students only)

This course is intended as the final preparation for the qualifying examination in
International Relations for Ph.D. students with a major or minor in that field. The course  will cover the core material in four subfields: (1) global political economy; (2)multilateralism; (3) conflict and security; (4) foreign policy analysis.

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GS POLS 6205 3.0 – Hegemony, Imperialism & Globalization

This course analyses theories and concepts of power, supremacy, hegemony and imperialism in different world orders since antiquity. Analytical emphasis is placed on explaining he post-1945 period associated with American hegemony, Soviet power and subsequent patterns of intensified globalization.

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GS POLS 6220 3.0 – Contemporary Security Studies: Conflict, Intervention and Peacebuilding

Since the end of the Cold War, the urgency to build peace and rebuild so called- failed states and societies in the wake of conflict has increasingly become one of the foremost concerns facing the international actors. This international project is commonly referred to as the liberal peace project. These failed states are increasingly perceived as great threats to international security and stability in mainstream international policy. Though these ideas have become central organizing principles in mainstream international policy, in the last twenty years, critical scholars have taken issue with the construction of the failed state and the liberal peace intervention project and peacebuilding processes. This course will critically examine the contemporary strategies and approaches employed to understand conflict, build peace and rebuild states. The course will deconstruct and analyze how these transitions occur, examining both their theoretical roots and practical application with reference to a number of recent case studies. Each topic is examined from a variety of approaches within international studies. The course readings draw from mainstream policy reports to perspectives from within critical schools of thought including, Marxism, post-structuralism and post-colonialism, encouraging the students to develop both a comprehensive and critical approach to some of the most pressing global issues of our time.

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GS POLS 6221 3.0 – World Politics and Popular Culture

What can we learn about world politics from popular culture? Most scholarly
representations of world politics present an image of a ‘higher’ realm of politics, one peopled by elites such as diplomats, heads of state, military officers or, more abstractly, by states-as-actors. Such representations of world politics are typically reproduced in popular culture, such as in spy fiction. However, by virtue of being ‘popular’, popular culture also presents the possibility of a politics that is not abstracted and insulated from the concerns and experiences of ‘ordinary’ people. Thus, world politics in popular culture can be both the reproduction of alienated or elite versions of world politics and the critique of that politics. This course explores the intersections of popular culture and world politics, through a reading of selected popular culture artefacts and scholarly literature, to ask what are the analytic and political possibilities of these sites. The course is held jointly with a similar course at he University of Newcastle (UK), with seminars joined by video conference.

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GS POLS 6280 3.0 – Topics in Political Economy: Comparative and International I

The purpose of this course is to review critical debates and literature in Global Political Economy, a field that is taken to include issues addressed by both international and comparative perspectives and links to social and political theory.  The course will be taught by faculty and student-led seminar discussions, focusing on a range of major works and issues within the field.  The course will address power, governance and resistance in the global political economy, including potential future alternatives – in light of the changing relations between rulers and ruled.  It will discuss selected issues which each year will include some of the following: market civilization, power of capital, inequality and social stratification, the offshore world and progressive taxation, disciplinary neo-liberalism, new constitutionalism, surveillance and panopticism, livelihood and dispossession, food security/sovereignty and sustainability of the biosphere.

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GS POLS 6285 3.0 – Global Capital

What is capital? Despite centuries of debate, there is no clear answer to this question – and for a good reason. Capital is a polemic term. The way we define it attests our theoretical biases, ideological disposition, view of politics, class consciousness, social position, and more.
Is capital the same as machines, or is it merely a financial asset? Is it a material article or a social process? Is it a static substance or a dynamic entity? The form of capital, its existence as monetary wealth, is hardly in doubt. The problem is with the content, the stuff that makes capital grow – and on this issue there is no agreement whatsoever. For example, does capital accumulate because it is productive, or due to the exploitation of workers? Does capital expand from within capitalism, or does it need non-capitalist institutions like the state and other ‘external’ forces? Is accumulation synonymous with economic growth, or can capital expand by damaging production and undermining efficiency? What exactly is being accumulated? Does the value of capital represent utility, abstract labour – or perhaps something totally different, such as power or force? What units should we use to measure its accumulation? Surprisingly, these questions remain unanswered; in fact, with the victory of liberalism, most of them are no longer being asked. But the silence cannot last for long. As crisis and social strife intensify, the questions are bound to resurface. The accumulation of capital is the central process of capitalism, and unless we can clarify what that process means, we’ll remain unable to understand our world, let alone to change it.
The seminar has two related goals: substantive and pedagogical. The substantive purpose is to tackle the question of capital head on. The course explores a spectrum of liberal and Marxist theories, ideologies and dogmas – as well as a radical alternative to these views. The argument is developed theoretically, historically and empirically. The first part of the seminar provides a critical overview of political economy, examining its historical emergence, triumph and eventual demise. The second part deals with the two ‘materialistic’ schools of capital – the liberal theory of utility and the Marxist theory of labour time – dissecting their structure, strengths and limitations. The third part brings power back in: it analyses the relation between accumulation and sabotage, studies the institutions of the corporation and the state and introduces a new framework – the capitalist mode of power. The final part offers an alternative approach – the theory of capital as power – and illustrates how this approach can shed light on conflict-ridden processes such as corporate merger, stagflation, imperialism and the new wars of the twenty-first century.
Pedagogically, the seminar seeks to prepare students toward conducting their own independent research. Students are introduced to various electronic data sources, instructed in different methods of analysis and tutored in developing their empirical research skills. As the seminar progresses, these skills are used both to assess various theories and to develop the students’ own theoretical/empirical research projects.

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GS POLS 6292 3.0 – Illicit Economies and Global Politics

This course examines diverse dimensions of transnational crime and corruption in the global political economy. Theoretical reflection and case-study research are applied to explore the illicit global economy and its relationship to ‘legitimate’ and licit practices. Topics include transnational bribery; money laundering; illicit trade in weapons, drugs, and other goods; human trafficking and human smuggling; and the link to terrorism.

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GS POLS 6404 3.0 – Critical Urban Theory

This course examines the critical urban theories and theoretical debates that have informed research questions and political orientations in the field of urban studies since the 1960s.  Readings will include major texts from feminist, post-structural/colonial and Marxist approaches, and debates over the changing natures of local states, political organizations, justice and subjectivities, generated both in Western and non-Western contexts.  Students are expected to develop faculties of comparing and critically assessing different theoretical approaches.


Please see Lecture Schedule for current Course Offerings

GS POLS 6410 6.0 – The Study of Comparative Politics (Core Course, PhD students only)

The purpose of this course is to survey major approaches and issues in the study of
comparative politics and engage students in the contemporary debates in the field. Students (especially majors) are expected to acquire in-depth knowledge of their principal area of specialization in other courses. Weekly readings are chosen so as to address central themes and introduce students to the diversity of theoretical approaches that constitute the field. In addition to keeping up with weekly readings and participating actively in seminar discussion, students will be required to submit two short papers (ten pages) in each term.

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GS POLS 6435 3.0 – Capitalism and Social Provisioning

This course is concerned with coming to a better understanding of the challenges posed to social policy, and to social provisioning more generally, by neo-liberalism and most recently, the period of economic crisis and austerity. In order to do so, the course first examines methodological and historical perspectives, including the forces that resulted in the establishment of welfare states, and pressures that have led to their transformation. The course then discusses how the role of the state in general in social provisioning has changed, as well as transformations within specific programs and sectors. Topics to be examined include privatization of social services, workfare and approaches to income security, growing inequalities and migrant labour. A major underlying concern is to examine not just the constraints on social policy but also the possibility for alternative directions. A theme running throughout the course is how hierarchies of gender, race/ethnicity and class both formed part of the transformations that have taken place and created differential impacts.

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GS POLS 6525 3.0 – Diasporas: Transnational Communities and Limits of Citizenship

The purpose of this graduate-level course is to understand how people’s intersecting social locations such as their gender, race, and sexuality impact im/migration trends, policies, patterns, and migrants’ lived experiences. We will examine how migration occurs on a voluntary and involuntary basis between, within, and across borders, and interrogate the role of settler colonialism, liberalism, and border imperialism in facilitating the mass movement of people and communities

*  Please see Lecture Schedule for current Course Offerings

GS POLS 6566 3.0 – Advanced Topics in Latin American and Caribbean Politics

This course examines the social impact of “globalization” on Latin America and the Caribbean, focusing on the responses that neoliberal policies call forth. First, we look at the ways in which new social and political movements, including producers’ cooperatives, develop to meet new needs created by neoliberalism. However, collective action is not the only response that may be stimulated by deteriorating conditions. Thus, the second half of the course will consider both non-state violence (gangs and vigilantism), as well as international migration and the “transnationalism” that results from the international flow of capital, commodities, individuals and whole communities.

*  Please see Lecture Schedule for current Course Offerings

GS POLS 6570 3.0 – Advanced Topics in the Politics of the Global South: Developmental States in the 21st Century

This course seeks both to theorize and to examine empirically the interactions between the state, society (class, race, religion, gender, nation, ethnic) and the global economy in a range of “Third World” settings, highlighting questions of development, equity and democracy.


*  Please see Lecture Schedule for current Course Offerings

GS POLS 6700 6.0 – Advanced Studies in Women and Politics (Core Course, PhD students only)

This course provides a comprehensive survey of the theoretical and empirical literature in the fields of feminist theory, feminist epistemology, and women and politics broadly defined.  The course reviews the major streams in feminist theory including liberal, socialist, radical, lesbian, postmodern and postcolonial theory. It also explores the methodological and epistemological critiques of these different theoretical approaches to the study of women, power and social relations. The course contextualizes these theoretical foundations through a detailed consideration of gender and the changing global order. Topics include: gender and restructuring, citizenship, nationalism, migration, security and organizing through human rights discourse.

*  Please see Lecture Schedule for current Current Offerings

GS POLS 6750 6.0 – Gender and the Construction of Global Markets

This course will explore key aspects of the globalization process as they reconstitute existing gender orders related to social reproduction and care I the global North and South. In order to address current transformations, we will focus on the historical development of the concept of social reproduction, and its interplay with changing systems of production, the shifting social relations of these forces and the constitution male and female subjects across time and space.

*  Please see Lecture Schedule for current Current Offerings

GS POLS 6775 3.0 – The Political Economy of Work and Welfare

This course examines the political economy of work and welfare in industrialized contexts. Framed around classic and contemporary debates in feminist political economy as well as in scholarship on welfare regimes and in socio-legal studies, it explores the relationship between labour market trends and welfare state restructuring in comparative perspective, with particular attention to shifting employment norms, gender relations, and citizenship boundaries.

*  Please see Lecture Schedule for current Current Offerings

GS POLS 6900 3.0 – Contemporary Research in Politics: The Politics of Memory - Fall

A course normally offered on a one or two time only basis by a short term member of the Program (usually a visiting Professor) examining the current research of the Course Director.

How has Germany dealt with the Holocaust? How has South Africa confronted its legacy of Apartheid? How have Canadians reckoned with their own history of genocide and discrimination? The course explores the politics surrounding the public remembrance of the past and their impact. Memory politics are understood here to mean political processes of dealing with formative, often traumatic, collective experiences (e.g. war, genocide, persecution). We will discuss some of the classics of the interdisciplinary field of memory studies, as well as tap into contemporary debates about memory policy -making and management, the mobility and migration of memories across various boundaries (national, generational, discursive), grassroots vs. top-down memories and more. We will examine examples of memory politics in different media (including monuments, official pronouncements, institutions, film and literature), different places from across the globe, and different eras.

*  Please see Lecture Schedule for current Current Offerings

GS POLS 6900 3.0 – Contemporary Research in Politics: Intersectionality and Feminist Political Theory - Winter

A course normally offered on a one or two time only basis by a short term member of the Program (usually a visiting Professor) examining the current research of the Course Director.

Has feminism “won the mainstream but lost the movement” (Richie, 2012)? In this course we will examine a variety of feminist co-optations (or merely formations) in which feminist discourse and politics are used to consolidate prevailing power relations rather than challenge them. Critics have labelled these ‘imperial feminism’, ‘carceral feminism’, ‘consumer/corporate feminism’, and so on. This course will use debates over these ‘co-opted’ forms of feminism to survey and assess a variety of contemporary issues within intersectionality studies and feminist political theory, as well as new directions within these fields.

*  Please see Lecture Schedule for current Current Offerings

GS POLS 7000 0.0 – The Dissertation Proposal Workshop - Required for PhD III Students

PhD III candidates are required to register in and attend GS POLS 7000 0.0, the PhD Dissertation Proposal Workshop. The proposal workshop consists of 3 three-hour sessions offered on a monthly basis during the Fall term of the academic year (with dates set for September 21, November 2 and November 30, 2017), plus two individual meetings (totaling 1.5 hours) with the Graduate Program Director to discuss their dissertation proposal, to set up a supervisory committee and to go over the draft proposal.

*  Please see Lecture Schedule for current Current Offerings