Foundations of Political Thought

This course examines the foundational thinkers of political science and their treatment of perennial problems of political life—including the question of who should rule, the tension between freedom and order, and the nature of justice. Its goal is to add breadth and depth to your understanding of government and politics.

This is a required course for political science majors, but it also fulfills the social science requirement for the Thematic Liberal Arts (TLA) part of the Core Curriculum and the Freedom, Equality, and Common Good theme.

You should come to class having mastered the material to the best of your ability--watch the videos, do the reading, and take the quiz. The bulk of classtime will be spent on activities designed to use what you've already learned.

Over the course of the semester, you'll be expected to: (1) understand the foundational themes and concepts of political science and describe key perspectives on them, especially how they illuminate American ideas; (2) discern the difference between normative and empirical theories; (3) evaluate the strengths and weaknesses and relevance of the thinkers we cover; (4) write thoughtfully and clearly about the material; and (5) think more critically about the political world.