Political Science | Intro To Study Of Politics
Y570 | 10207 | Isaac

This course is the “core” seminar in the graduate program in
political science. Its purpose is to acquaint students with the
discipline of political science, with the kinds of approaches
characteristic of this discipline, and with the diverse ways in
which political scientists typically think about the profession,
discipline, and vocation of political science. It is intended to
promote broad understanding among a diverse group of beginning
scholars, and to offer an overview of some of the core concerns, and
problems, at the heart of American political science as a form of
advanced intellectual inquiry.

The central theme of the course is that political science, as a
discipline, is an evolved and evolving set of understandings,
practices, and research traditions and approaches, and that each
individual political scientist is both implicated in this discipline
and responsible for making his or her way within it. The course is
designed to sensitize students to the real differences,
methodological and otherwise, that characterize the discipline and
its practitioners, but also to the common themes and objects of
study shared by political scientists.

The seminar will be divided into three broad sections: (1) an
overview of the discipline as a profession and discipline (what
Thomas Kuhn called a “disciplinary matrix”) with a distinctive
history; (2) an overview of diverse understandings of what it means
to study politics “scientifically”, and (3) a synthetic and
comparative discussion of the way different methodological and
theoretical orientations approach a common topic—the study
of “democracy” and “democratization”-- and the way each of these
approaches brings something unique, interesting and arguably
valuable to the study of politics.

Seminar discussions will focus on a number of articles and essays,
almost all of which have been placed on e-reserve. In order to
access these readings, students should go to the course page for
this course (Y570) and Professor (Isaac) through the IUCAT website.
The password for this course page will be politics. Materials not
available through this means are available electronically through
the library. It is important for students to develop the habit
of “browsing” the library, both physically and virtually. While the
professor has tried to make most of the readings easily accessible,
in scholarly “real life” it often requires work to acquire the
materials that you need. Getting used to that at an early stage is a
good thing.