Courses

UPCES Political Science Courses

Here you'll find the full list of UPCES courses related to Political Science. Please note that course offerings are subject to change or cancelation based on faculty availability and student enrollment. All course subjects must be approved by your home institution for departmental credit.

Each course includes a detailed description, any cross-listed subjects, and a downloadable syllabus.

Central Europe and its Transitions: The Czech Lands
[POLITICAL SCIENCE, SOCIOLOGY, CULTURAL STUDIES, ANTHROPOLOGY, 3 credits]

Syllabus


This course aims to introduce students to the historical, as well as the contemporary, issues of Czech Society and Culture from an interdisciplinary perspective. Based on several ethnographic case studies, among other literary, academic and visual sources, we will make connections between memory and history, narrative and experiences, change and continuity, and past and present. By the end of the course students will be able to: recognize and analyze the most important events, symbols, and personalities of Czech history, demonstrate how myths, symbols and traditions make the identification of people as members of the Czech nation, describe the characteristics of life under the Socialist system in former Czechoslovakia, and explain how this system has been transformed into its present-day form in relation to the process of Europeanization and Globalization and what kind of anthropological research these changes have stimulated  (traditions, situation of minorities,consuming habits, food, family structure, the media, gender roles…).

Czech Culture and Society 1918–2018 Seen from the Perspective of Vaclav Havel's Life and Work
[CULTURAL HISTORY, CULTURAL STUDIES, POLITICAL SCIENCE, SOCIOLOGY, LITERATURE, 3 credits]

Syllabus 

The objective of this course is to help students understand Czech culture and society from 1918 to the present. Students will learn about history and culture of this era from the perspective of life and work od Václav Havel (1936-2011), Czechoslavak and Czech president (1989-2003), the most important and influential personality of modern Czech history and culture. Using my extensive experience as an editor of Václav Havel´s Collected Writings and also my personal contacts with him and with many important Czech writers and artists of modern era, I have prepared a series of thirteen lectures on twentieth-century Czech culture and society, based on Václav Havel’s life and cultural and political activities, friends, family, and associates, and wide range of interests. Together these themes present modern Czech culture in its complexity, with its many links to world literature, culture, and politics. They provide a deeper and broader understanding of modern Czech culture and society in the historical and cultural perspective. In this course, lectures are combined with interactive discussions and tutored readings from essential texts. Further contact with the subject matter will be provided through excursions to places of direct relevance for our topic and through historical documents (musical recordings, photos, films). A further aim of the course is to bring students into personal contact with important figures of Czech public life (writers, critics, politicians, artists, translators) whom I have known and worked with for decades.

Environmental Economics in the Central European Context
[POLITICAL SCIENCE/ECONOMICS/ENVIRONMENTAL STUDIES, 3 credits]

Syllabus

The aim of this course is to introduce students to some basic economic principles and theories explaining environmental issues and problems today and to explore existing policies at the national, international, and global level. Students will learn about concepts such as externalities, the tragedy of the commons, enforcement as a public good, interventionist solutions to the externality problem such as taxes and marketable pollution permits, as well as non-interventionist solutions to the externality problem such as the Coasian solution and self-regulation. Students will also review the debate over the environmental Kuznets curve. Because experimental evidence nicely complements theoretic insights, field data, and simulating models, we will conduct in-class experiments and also review some research articles that draw on the experimental methodology.

European Integration: Why and How
[POLITICAL SCIENCE/INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS/ECONOMICS, 3 credits]

Syllabus 

This course covers the main political, social, cultural, and economic factors which conditioned and accompanied post-war European integration. It invites students to critically rethink what the motivations were behind European integration at its emergence and how they have been changing up until the present. The course material includes historical texts, documents and audiovisual material.  In the first part of the course students get acquainted with the milestones of European integration and interests and positions of key players. The key reading on history is Tony Judt's Postwar – one of the few books covering both the Eastern and Western 'halves' of Europe in the period under scrutiny. The second part of the course focuses on the major driving force of European integration – the EU's outreach beyond its borders via enlargement and neighborhood policy. The final session addresses some of the major challenges facing Europe today: immigration, integration of minorities, and economic crises. After taking the course, students should have a strong knowledge of various competing interpretations of what the EU is and what it should be for its citizens and in the international system. The course consists of lectures, discussions, and simulations based on the required readings.

European-American Relations in the 21st Century
[POLITICAL SCIENCE/INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, 3 credits]

Syllabus

This course explores the history and the current state of political, economic and cultural relations between the United States and Europe. Ever since the end of World War II, the cooperative relationship between these two parts of the world, often described as "the West“, has been a bedrock of international stability, security and prosperity. After the end of the Cold War, this relationship has undergone changes, along with the whole system of international relations. Recently, on both sides of the Atlantic, the talk has been about a crisis of the Euro-American relationship. We will examine the validity of these claims, the causes of the current problems and possible ways of overcoming them. Throughout, we will emphasize the overwhelming nature of common values and interests on both sides of the ocean as well as the risks stemming from a potential rift for both Europe and America. We will examine the compatibility of current European and U.S. policies with respect to third countries or regions, such as Russia, China and the Middle East. We will also analyze the specific role played in this relationship by countries of Central and Eastern Europe as relative newcomers to democracy, to the Atlantic Alliance and to European Union.

Human Journeys: Migration as an adventure and as a must
[POLITICAL SCIENCE, HISTORY, POLITICAL GEOGRAPHY, 3 credits]

Syllabus

Migration has shaped much of modern European history. Some travelled to pursue adventure or science, others had to move for work, or flee war and persecution.  This course introduces students to basic concepts and analytical lenses for studying European debate on migration, with a particular attention to the Central Europe and the Mediterranean. We will read work of anthropologists, historians, legal and IR scholars, watch documentaries and listen and talk to migration policy practictioners invited for guest lectures. We will study emergence of passports, borders, and explore making and remaking of international refugee regime. The EU’s current role in sharing responsibility for protection will be of particular interest to our discussion. While it was Europeans whose plight in the 1940s has been the primary impulse for setting up the international institutions for refugee protection, the EU today is shifting responsibility for refugees to its neighboring states.  Yet, as we have seen during the 2015 European solidarity crisis (often called ‚Syrian refugee crisis‘) showed, many European citizens disagree with such policy. While number of European states closed their borders, many citizens spontaneously provided help to asylum-seekers and lobied the EU institutions and member states‘ governments to come up with a more just arrangement. Of related interest to this course will be re-emergence of ethnic nationalism and socio-economic roots of this phenomenon. After taking the course students should have a fair knowledge of drivers of forced and voluntary migration and ways societies cope with absences of those who left and strangeness of those who came. Classes are interactive, students are expected to be familiar with required reading.

Human Rights in Central and Eastern Europe
[POLITICAL SCIENCE/INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS, 3 credits]

Syllabus

The course aims to provide an interdisciplinary understanding of the international human rights framework in Central and Eastern Europe, where the human rights system mirrors the historical developments of the countries within the globalizing world. This course invites students from all disciplines to explore and make sense of the current human rights issues, cases and problems in the region. By the end of the course students will be familiar with the core principles of human rights and have a sound understanding of the issues and recurring themes of human rights violations in the region. Rather than offering simple answers, the aim of the course is to allow for critical thinking and discussions. This course offers an immersion into the human rights system not only through the academic prism but also through active engagement with human rights practitioners and activists.

Ideas behind Politics: Communism, Post-Communism, and Civil Society in Central Europe
[PHILOSOPHY/POLITICAL SCIENCE/HISTORY, 3 credits]

Syllabus 

The post-communist countries of Central Europe - the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia - are struggling hard to overcome the legacy of the totalitarian regime and to establish liberal democracy and free market economy. The objective of this course is to help students better understand the history of Central Europe and the ideal resources that might enable it to succeed in the transformation from communism. The students will learn recent Czech and Central European political history and get familiar with the various ways in which the predicament of these countries was reflected upon in the thought of the most prominent political theorists from the region concentrating, in particular, on the idea of civil society. We will search in the Central Europe of the 20th century and in its unique historical experience for events and figures that shaped and articulated an understanding of politics that might be viewed as the specifically Czech and Central European contribution to political problems faced by mankind in general. An indispensable touch of reality will be added through excursions to places of relevance for our topics and through historical documents (musical recordings, films).

In Love with Power: Non-Democratic Regimes in Central and Eastern Europe After 1945
[POLITICAL SCIENCE/HISTORY, 3 credits]

Syllabus

This course introduces traditional and modern theoretical views on non-democratic regimes in Central and Eastern Europe in the second half of the 20th century, as well as the historical and political experience of this part of Europe from the year 1945 until the present. Following the end of World War II and the drawing of the “iron curtain” across Europe, there started a period of Soviet Union domination in Central and Eastern Europe through the decades-long rule of communist regimes in this part of the world. Political scientists most often define these kinds of regimes as “totalitarian," however, the reality is more complex, with many variations and “specific paths” (Yugoslavia, Romania). The totalitarian “core” of most communist regimes during the whole period of Soviet dominance, including former Czechoslovakia, is questioned by some authors. However, the year 1989 (“annus mirabilis”), which marked the downfall of the Soviet Union and communistic regimes across Central and Eastern Europe, was not the end of non-democratic rule in the whole region. In those unstable times, when hopes were high and democracy was not established, new leaders came to power and created very specific non-democratic regimes; Meciar's short rule in Slovakia, autocratic regimes that played the main role in the Balkan wars in the 90's (Miloševic in Serbia, Tudjman in Croatia), Kuchma's rule in Ukraine, and Belarus under Lukashenka, one of the last and still surviving non-democracies in Europe. The theory of non-democratic regimes and its tools, combined with knowledge of modern history and the current realities of concrete countries, will help us to analyze and characterize these repressive and bizarre regimes, a rarity in today’s Europe.

(Political) Leadership in Central Europe
[POLITICAL SCIENCE, HISTORY, 3 credits]

Syllabus

Being a good leader is a challenge under any conditions, but the qualities of great leaders are most visible under difficult circumstance. Central Europe has been through very demanding times in the 20th century and this course will examine role of its leaders in implementing (or failures to implement) crucial and often life-preserving policies. We will grasp responsibilities of a political figure, his or her role toward the governed, as well as assignments of guilt for failure to protect those who need to be protected. We will look at lives and deeds of several important political figures from Hungary, Poland and Czechoslovakia. In doing so we will confront their autobiographical records with facts, learn quite a bit about the history of the region and understand important theories and distinctions in a general theory of leadership. In the end, students will achieve a complex picture on what distinguishing quality leadership, on theoretical preconditions to lead, as well as better appreciation of the region in which they study.