Politics and International Relations Department

Politics and International Relations Course Descriptions

General Topics Courses

POLI 100

Issues in Politics

Introduces students to the variety of ways that political phenomena can be studied systematically. A topic is selected as the focus of the course that is examined through the lens of the primary subfields: political theory, American politics, comparative politics, and international relations. Students gain an introduction to the process of social science research as they participate in a research project related to the topic of the course. Students receive early exposure to the full scope of the politics discipline as well as begin the process of preparing for research in politics. Specific content may vary by course section subtitles but all sections repeat core concepts. Only one section may be counted for course credit.


Learning DomainSocial and Behavioral Analysis SB


POLI 201

Normative Research Methods

This course introduces students to normative research methods used in political inquiry. It explores epistemological questions about how we come to know and understand the nature of political phenomena, how we theorize political concepts (the nature of justice; power; authority; sovereignty; legitimacy) and institutions (the state; civil society; global society) with reference to their moral, ethical and normative dimensions.


Learning DomainValues, Beliefs and Ethics VA


POLI 202

Empirical Research Methods

This course covers the main approaches to conducting empirical research in Political Science. Students learn how to do literature reviews, develop theory and perform qualitative and quantitative analysis and answer some of the most pressing questions in Political Science. Prerequisites: MATH 215 is recommended either prior to or while taking this course.


PrerequisitesMATH 215 is recommended either prior to or while taking this course.
Learning DomainSocial and Behavioral Analysis SB


POLI 303

Topics: Analyzing Politics

This advanced-level research design course explores how researchers in political science use different methods (normative, empirical, qualitative, quantitative, etc.) to answer a variety of research questions within specific areas of inquiry. Using these methods, students then develop a research design of their own, which they use in their capstone project (thesis). POLI 303 courses may be used to satisfy major subfield requirements in Politics or International Relations, and students may take more than one POLI 303 course. Several sections focusing on different topics are offered annually. Prerequisites: POLI 201, 202 or consent of instructor.


PrerequisitesPOLI 201, 202 or consent of instructor.


POLI 460

Applied Statistical Methods

This course introduces students to applied statistical methods for testing theories in political science. It focuses on using software such as SPSS for building and analyzing large datasets through multivariate statistical models. This course is appropriate for any upper-level student in the social sciences working on a seminar paper or senior thesis that utilizes a large number of observations. Prerequisites: MATH 215 and POLI 400 (or equivalent social science research methods course).


PrerequisitesMATH 215 and POLI 400 (or equivalent social science research methods course).


POLI 497

Senior Research Seminar

This senior year seminar course is centered on independent research projects in the discipline. Departmental faculty and other seniors give input and critiques as a student completes a significant piece of original research, with a view to formally presenting it at a research conference. Prerequisite: POLI 303 or 400.


PrerequisitesPOLI 303 or 400.
Odyssey CategoryUndergraduate Research UR
CapacityWriting Level 2 W2



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Political Theory Courses



POLI 240

Western Political Thought

A selective survey from ancient times to the 21st century of the political thought of seminal political thinkers in the Western tradition. Selected thinkers may include Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Hobbes, Rousseau, Hegel, Locke, Mill, Marx, Arendt, Foucault, Nietzsche, Rawls, and Habermas.


Learning DomainValues, Beliefs and Ethics VA


POLI 245

American Political Thought

An examination of a variety of works to learn how influential American thinkers have conceptualized political ideas and how their views on the proper organization of American society have changed over time. Particular attention is paid to the development of the concepts of democracy and equality and to political protest movements in the U.S.


Learning DomainValues, Beliefs and Ethics VA
CapacityWriting Level 2 W2


POLI 285

Topics in Political Theory

This course explores new topics in political theory of interest to faculty and students.


Learning DomainValues, Beliefs and Ethics VA


POLI 300

Feminist Political Thought

This course examines works of political thought that focus on the role of gender in the social and political arenas.


Learning DomainValues, Beliefs and Ethics VA


POLI 346

Contemporary Political Thought

The study of Political Theory is different from Political Philosophy in significant ways. Students study how we as humans organize ourselves into groups--communities, societies, the state--and how we legitimate such groupings. We study the boundaries of the political both within and on the borders of such groupings. This involves questions such as "what is political or public? Where does the private begin and the political or public end if at all? Students study key topics and foundational issues in contemporary political theory such as justice, meaning and legitimacy. Students explore how we decide who gets what and what meaning this has for us a political animals and how and why a particular mode of thought is legitimated from a collective or individual political prospective?


Learning DomainValues, Beliefs and Ethics VA


POLI 410

Adv Topics in Political Theory

This seminar course explores in depth issues already treated in other political theory courses, or addresses new topics of interest to faculty and students.


Learning DomainValues, Beliefs and Ethics VA
CapacityWriting Level 2 W2



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American Politics/Public Policy Courses



POLI 205

Southern Politics

A study of the political history and contemporary political characteristics of this distinctive region of the U.S. Topics include the demographic changes that have altered the region’s political culture, the persistent impact of race on the South’s politics, and the changing role of the region in national politics.


Learning DomainSocial and Behavioral Analysis SB


POLI 210

American Political Development

This course examines “durable shifts in governing authority,” examining the key moments in which political institutions are transformed and the enduring consequences of those changes.


Learning DomainSocial and Behavioral Analysis SB


POLI 220

Am Political Parties & Elections

An examination of the role and activities of voters, political parties, and the media on the electoral process in the United States.


Learning DomainSocial and Behavioral Analysis SB


POLI 223

Topics in Public Policy

This course examines the evolution, form and substance of international, federal, state, and local policies and programs that address challenges within a public policy arena, focusing on the nature of problems, public responses, and alternative for effective resolutions. Students gain an understanding of the evolution of public policy and management; the policy process; organizational structure and functions within the US federal system of government; the role of various interests within the public arena, and alternatives for addressing current and future problems. Policy arena/topic may change from offering to offering.


Learning DomainSocial and Behavioral Analysis SB


POLI 230

Public Administration

This course examines some of the key issues confronted by a society that has become dependent upon bureaucracy to a substantial degree. As such, we examine personnel, organization, budgeting, leadership, and privatization.


Learning DomainSocial and Behavioral Analysis SB


POLI 235

Public Policy

An introduction to the process of formulating, implementing, and evaluating public policy in the United States with particular attention to policy devoted to education, health care, and environmental policies.


Learning DomainSocial and Behavioral Analysis SB


POLI 281

US Foreign Policy

This course examines the formulation and execution of U.S. national behavior in world affairs from the country’s early days through the Global War on Terror, during periods of isolation, expansion, engagement, and leadership. Key themes — e.g., trade, human rights, multilateralism, and exceptionalism — are examined closely. The course covers the roles of the Executive, Congress, and other key actors, such as the media, in foreign policy.


Learning DomainHistorical Perspectives HP
Learning DomainSocial and Behavioral Analysis SB
CapacityWriting Level 2 W2


POLI 290

Topics in American Politics

This course explores in more depth issues already treated in other American Politics or public law courses, or addresses new topics of interest to faculty and students in those areas.


Learning DomainSocial and Behavioral Analysis SB


POLI 305

Arkansas Politics: Seminar

A seminar course focusing on political history, contemporary political patterns, governmental structures, and key public policy debates in the state of Arkansas. Actors in the state’s politics and government provide their perspective to the students both on these issues, during the intensity of a session of the Arkansas General Assembly, and on their vocational choices. Co-requisite: Must be taken in conjunction with POLI 306 Arkansas Politics: Practicum.


PrerequisitesMust be taken in conjunction with POLI 306 Arkansas Politics: Practicum.
Learning DomainSocial and Behavioral Analysis SB


POLI 306

Arkansas Politics: Practicum

An off-campus learning experience in which students have ongoing duties with an entity directly involved in the legislative process in Arkansas (an individual legislator, a political party caucus, an interest group, a media outlet, etc.) during a regular session of the Arkansas General Assembly. Co-requisite: Must be taken in conjunction with POLI 305 Arkansas Politics: Seminar.


PrerequisitesMust be taken in conjunction with POLI 305 Arkansas Politics: Seminar.
Odyssey CategoryProfessional and Leadership PL
Learning DomainSocial and Behavioral Analysis SB


POLI 310

American Presidency

An upper level course examining the origins and development of the American presidency, as well as the challenges faced by more recent officeholders.


Learning DomainSocial and Behavioral Analysis SB


POLI 315

Environmental Policy & Management

An examination of the evolution policy and management; the environmental policy process; environmental organizational structure and function in the federal system of government; the status of environmental policies and programs relating to various media (air quality, water quality and quantity, waste reduction and management, land use/sustainable growth and biodiversity); the role of various interests in dealing with ecological concerns; and alternative for addressing future environmental problems.


Learning DomainSocial and Behavioral Analysis SB


POLI 320

Criminal Law

This course is a general study of criminal law and theory in the United States. Topics covered include the distinction between civil and criminal law, excuses, strict liability, attempts, and theory of punishment. Using a case approach, this course gives insights into classic and contemporary works with an emphasis on carefully working through the arguments presented in the readings.



POLI 321

Am Constitutional Law:Fed System

This course considers the contemporary state of constitutional doctrine after 200 years of judicial decisions. Emphasis is placed on theories of constitutional interpretation and on the development of case law in the realms of federalism, the regulatory power of Congress, and the separation of powers among the three federal branches of government.



POLI 322

Am Constitutional Law: Indiv Rights

A continuation of POLI 321, with emphasis on those decisions concerned with the rights of individuals in such areas as speech, press, religion, privacy, and equal protection of the law. Prerequisites: None, but POLI 321 highly recommended.


PrerequisitesNone, but POLI 321 highly recommended.


POLI 340

U.S. Congress

An upper level course analyzing the Congress as an institution and its attempt to perform two fundamentally contradictory functions: legislating and representing.


Learning DomainSocial and Behavioral Analysis SB
CapacityWriting Level 2 W2


POLI 369

U.S. National Security State

Over the past fifteen years the national security state in the United States (and other countries) has grown exponentially. Drawing on different theoretical framework students explore the magnitude of this growth, analyze national security policy, and study the state institutions engaged in the practice of national security. Students investigate the role of intra- and inter-bureaucratic conflict and cooperation at the state and international levels, the role of interest groups in the national security process, and evaluate definitions of national security threats. We study the tension between individual liberty, civil rights, and security. Students analyze issues such as domestic level spying on citizens, the use of torture and advanced interrogation, different forms of intelligence gathering, espionage, and the war on terrorism.


Learning DomainSocial and Behavioral Analysis SB


POLI 380

Gender,Sexuality&American Politics

This seminar course focuses on the impacts of gender and sexuality on politics in the American context. Another focus is the histories of the women’s rights and gay rights movements.


CapacityWriting Level 2 W2


POLI 390

Race and American Politics

This seminar course focuses on the persistent, yet changing, impact of race on American politics since the Reconstruction era. The course focuses on the interaction between race and electoral politics and the contemporary role of race in shaping American public policy in a variety of realms.


Learning DomainHistorical Perspectives HP


POLI 420

Advanced Topics: American Politics

This course explores in more depth issues already treated in other American politics or public law courses, or addresses new topics of interest to faculty and students in those areas.


Learning DomainSocial and Behavioral Analysis SB
CapacityWriting Level 2 W2


POLI 455

AdvTopics in Public Policy

This course more deeply explores issues treated in POLI 225 or other public policy courses, or addresses in-depth new topics in the policy arena that are interest to faculty and students.




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Comparative Politics/International Relations Courses



POLI 244

Topics in International Relations

This course explores topics in Comparative Politics and International Relations of interest to faculty and students. Possible topics include the European Union; the Arab World; Sovereignty; State and Civil Society; Technology and Politics; Conflict Resolution.



POLI 250

History of the International System

A survey of the emergence and development of international society from the mid-17th century to the present with particular emphasis on the concepts and practices of sovereignty, customary international law, diplomacy, the Great Powers, and modern international institutions of the present day.


Learning DomainHistorical Perspectives HP
Learning DomainSocial and Behavioral Analysis SB
CapacityWriting Level 2 W2


POLI 272

Politics of Central &Eastern Europe

More than two decades after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Eastern Europe still displays a substantial variation in terms of how democratic its countries are. While some have joined the European Union and NATO, others have become increasingly authoritarian. Economically, Slovenia is more developed and stable than Portugal, while Belarus and the Ukraine are struggling. This class provides an overview of the causes and consequences of this variation. Topics include democratization and political participation, the economy, ethnic conflict and nationalism, and the institutional and political arrangements that underpin those developments.


Learning DomainSocial and Behavioral Analysis SB


POLI 273

Contemporary Global Issues

This course covers important contemporary global political issues, such as democratization and dictatorship, accountability and representation, religion and politics, social policy, foreign aid and national security. In the process, it focuses on specific current events, such as the Arab Spring, the European financial crisis and the rise of China. It is designed for students with general interest in contemporary global politics, regardless of whether they intend to major in Politics or International Relations.


Learning DomainSocial and Behavioral Analysis SB


POLI 274

Irregular Warfare

This course introduces students to the theories and practices of "War 2.0"--insurgency and conterinsurgeny war; asymmetric war; and other non-conventional methods of conducting warfare. It also explores the methods and means and technologies that state and non-state actors are using to conduct or deter irregular warfare, including the use of drones, computerized simulations and war games; cyber warfare; and the use of social media for ideological outreach and recruitment.


Learning DomainSocial and Behavioral Analysis SB
Learning DomainValues, Beliefs and Ethics VA


POLI 276

Ethics and Politics of Development

This course explores how processes of economic, political, and social development have been and are understood in ethical, political and policy terms. It looks at how development policy has changed since it first began to emerge in the aftermath of World War II, moving through a variety of different emphases: modernization; basic needs; neo-classical adjustment, sustainability, and, most recently, poverty alleviation. Throughout, the course examines several justice-centered approaches to development in detail.



POLI 282

Foreign Policy Analysis

A survey of methods of foreign policy analysis and their application to the foreign policy decision-making system, internal political constraints, and world system influences on a select number of nation-states representing the diversity extant in the contemporary world. Comparative analysis is used to understand, predict, and develop strategies to influence foreign policy decisions and actions.


Learning DomainSocial and Behavioral Analysis SB
CapacityWriting Level 2 W2


POLI 283

Model United Nations

This course prepares students to participate in a Model United Nations simulation toward the end of the semester in which it is offered. Students learn about the United Nations system, the politics of international diplomacy, rules of procedure, how to draft and revise resolutions, caucus, and research, prepare and present internal and public Position Papers. The course is required for students wishing to attend the Model UN simulation for Hendrix College.


Odyssey CategoryProfessional and Leadership PL
Learning DomainSocial and Behavioral Analysis SB


POLI 325

International Law and Organizations

Even in the absence of global government, there is governance. This course explores how nation-states interact within a system of law and institutions developed to promote cooperation, avoid armed conflict and regulate conflict. The course shows how the practices of national sovereignty and international cooperation mutually constitute one another. Through case studies, the course explores schools of thought in international law; the history of the development of international legal norms and institutions; customary vs. conventional law; the role of the United Nations, and institutional issue regimes. Prerequisite: POLI 250 or consent of instructor.


PrerequisitesPOLI 250 or consent of instructor.
CapacityWriting Level 2 W2


POLI 326

International Human Rights

This course looks at the development of the human rights idea in theory, history and practice. The course looks at competing theories of human rights, the development of international and regional human rights institutions especially in the 20th century, the influence of non-governmental organizations in the promotion and protection of human rights, the expansion of human rights protections to diverse populations, and emerging human rights approaches for solving pressing global problems. Prerequisite: POLI 250 or 273, or consent of instructor.


PrerequisitesPOLI 250 or 273, or consent of instructor.
Learning DomainValues, Beliefs and Ethics VA
CapacityWriting Level 2 W2


POLI 331

Contemporary Security Studies

In this course students explore contemporary theories and methodologies that guide the field of security and strategic studies. Students study how these work in a range of key areas of cooperation and conflict international relations-such as nuclear (non)proliferation and nuclear deterrence, nonproliferation of chemical and biological weapons and dual use technology, conventional arms transfer agreements, terrorism, international crime, climate change security, outer-space security, cyber security and other areas. We study the way in which alliances and international regimes work to address such issues.



POLI 341

The World of Elections

Elections are the basis for establishing a robust democratic regime. This course provides an overview of the different waves of democratization and the causes and consequences of free and fair polls. From a more empirical perspective, the course introduces the elements that make an election of acceptable quality and introduces students to the organizations that monitor and evaluate elections, as well as their impact across the world. As a final project students write an analytical paper on causes and/or consequences of election quality in a particular country or region. Math 215 or POLI 400 recommended.


Learning DomainSocial and Behavioral Analysis SB


POLI 349

Normative Political Economy

Normative Political Economy explores the nature of political and economic institutions as they relate to questions surrounding the attainment of human welfare and well-being. This course explores a number of key questions; what is "the state," and what relationship should it have with markets with respect to development, human well-being and freedom? How have these questions changed with the historical development states and markets? How are these questions addressed at the national and at the international levels?



POLI 355

Advanced International Relations

This course focuses on the diverse theoretical approaches to the study of International Relations, beginning with a variety of epistemological, methodological, and ontological commitments found in the field. The course explores the most influential positivist, reflectivist, and post-positivist schools of thought: classical realism and neorealism; liberalism and neoliberalism; Marxism and critical theory; and constructivism and post-structuralism. Prerequisite: POLI 250 or consent of instructor.


PrerequisitesPOLI 250 or consent of instructor.


POLI 356

World of Conflict and War

This course reviews the diverse theories and methods used in the study of conflict and war in international relations. Students will review, region by region, a sample of inter-state and civil wars and conflicts, as well as conflicts between state and non-state actors. Students will analyze the sources and roots of these conflicts and wars as well as study theories and examples of conflict management and resolution.



POLI 363

Comparative Political Economy

This course explores how politics and economics interact in comparative perspective. To do so, it provide a theoritical and empirical oveview of how globalization, political regimes and institutional structure affect governance outcomes, such as health, retirement, gender and family policy, the labor market and business and finance.


Learning DomainSocial and Behavioral Analysis SB


POLI 371

Latin American Politics

This course introduces students to the development of issues and institutions that define the contemporary state of Latin American politics. One of our central themes is the question of how we should go about the study of comparative political systems. Is each state and cultural region in the global system unique in its own political development? Or can we draw general conclusions about how states and political systems and institutions develop?


Learning DomainSocial and Behavioral Analysis SB


POLI 376

Democracy, Development & Violence

This course introduces students to the foundational theories of comparative politics and the contending perspectives within the discipline. It focuses on the creation and breakdown of political order, the establishment of democracy and dictatorship, as well as the effect of political regimes and their institutions on economic growth, development, poverty, inequality, civil unrest and revolutions.


Learning DomainSocial and Behavioral Analysis SB


POLI 440

Adv Topics: International Relations

Building on the comparative politics and international relations sequences, this advanced course explores in more depth issues already treated in these courses, or addresses new ones that relate to them. Possible topics include European Union; the Arab World; Sovereignty; State and Civil Society; Technology and Politics; Conflict Resolution. Prerequisite: Either POLI 250 or consent of instructor.


PrerequisitesEither POLI 250 or consent of instructor.