Academic Programs & Courses

The Wagner College GAP (Government and Politics) Department offers an extensive array of courses focusing on the localized to the national, New York to Washington, DC.

Explore what Wagner GAP has to offer below.


GOV 290 Political Science Workshop. Two units. Under faculty supervision, students will prepare for participation in political science simulations both on and off campus. Prerequisite: permission of the instructor. Offered fall and spring semesters. (May be repeated twice.)

GOV 291 Special Topics. One unit. A course to deal with political systems, theories, and issues not covered in the standard courses of the department; content varies in accordance with special interests of staff and students, and is noted in the registration schedule of courses when offered. Offered as required.

GOV 297 Research and Analysis. One unit. This course develops some of the skills that are important in the study of politics such as formulating, researching, and writing a clear and persuasive argument. The specific goals of the class are to improve students’ critical, analytical, and writing abilities and to increase understanding of and ability to conduct research. This is a required course for political science majors. It must be taken by the spring of the sophomore year. Offered spring 2010 semester.

GOV 390 New York State Government and Politics.(35 hours) Two units. Theoretical approaches to public policy development through operation of the state government in a working learning experience in the state legislature. The course will focus on legislative politics, and is conducted in Albany. Intensive orientation by government officials under the direction of program and College faculty. Forums, readings, and papers on current issues are required. Prerequisite: permission of the instructor. Co-requisite: GOV 391. Offered spring semesters.

GOV 391 New York Legislative Internship.Two units. In-depth experience in dynamics of actual public policy formulation and implementation in state government through direct involvement in the legislative process. The course is conducted in Albany and requires a working learning contract between the student and the legislative sponsor. Requirements: weekly internship of no less than 30 hours in a legislative office working with staff; onsite evaluation; written assignments; and reports. Prerequisite: permission of the instructor. Co-requisite: GOV 390. Offered spring semesters.

GOV 394 Practicum in Political Science. One unit. An opportunity to gain first-hand knowledge of politics by participating in local government under supervision of faculty and practicing politicians. Course may be taken no more than twice. Consult department chair for further information. Offered fall and spring semesters.

GOV 397 Internship: Working in a Global Context. One unit. A faculty coordinated internship at the United Nations or at organizations affiliated with the United Nations. Offered as required.

GOV 400 Senior RFT. One unit. The Senior Reflective Tutorial examines questions related to poverty, social welfare, class and segregation. Past topics have included American exceptionalism as well as comparative welfare-state studies. Specific topics vary from year-to-year. As part of the Senior Learning Community, it requires 100 volunteer hours off campus. Offered fall semester.

GOV 490 Senior Seminar. One unit. Along with GOV400, this course forms a capstone of the study of Government & Politics. The Senior Seminar focuses on a political matter or concept determined by the interests of the faculty member leading the seminar for that year. Recent topics have included “Democracy and Its Challenges” and “Theories of Justice.” Students complete the seminar with a 15-20 page thesis. This final project is preceded by two shorter papers and a classroom presentation. Offered fall semester.

GOV 499 Thesis. One unit. Intensive individual research on a topic of interest in the field of public policy and administration, terminating in a written report. Prerequisite: Senior standing within the public administration major. Permission of the department chair.

GOV 593 Independent Study. One unit. An opportunity for the more advanced student to pursue an independent research project developed by the student and supervised by a departmental faculty member. The project must result in a research paper approved by the department chair and the supervising faculty member. Prerequisite: approval by the department chair.

GOV 102 Politics and Governments. One unit. Politics is not just elections. We can study politics in novels, films, biographies, and students will find that it is much more interesting and relevant than they perhaps thought. In this class we will explore a variety of introductory political issues, such as socialism, libertarianism, and welfare liberalism, and also examine key political institutions from a comparative perspective. The emphasis is on developing critical thinking and intelligent opinions about politics broadly conceived. Offered as needed.

GOV 103 American Government and Politics. One unit. The structures and underlying principles of the American political system are studied: the judiciary, Congress, the presidency, political parties and movements, and the role of public opinion. Selected current issues will be discussed. Offered fall and spring semesters.

GOV 104 Political Theory. One unit. What problems confront the relationship between a governing body and its members? Why does this question necessitate an inquiry into the very meaning of government, i.e. what it should aspire to achieve and why? Who should rule and why? According to what principles? May political theorists argue that such inquiries require that we investigate our human condition and the various forces shaping it. This course explores key concepts in political theory, such as moral respect, obligation, coercion, freedom, justice, law, power, consent, conflict, goodness, evil, legitimacy, and equality. We will examine how a variety of influential political thinkers in the western tradition have approached these topics, noting the philosophical, psychological, historical, and moral contexts within which they theorize. We will also ask in what ways their ideas may or may not be useful in helping us to think about our own political world and many of the political problems we face. Offered fall semester.

GOV 200 The Future of the City. (D) One unit. This course is an intense course on urban politics focusing on such thinkers as Mumford, Jacobs, and many other key figures writing on the politics, economics and culture of cities throughout the ages but with a particular emphasis on New York City. From ancient cities to contemporary Los Angeles and New York, successful require economic growth, cultural diversity and personal security. How will the future demands of globalization, market forces and immigration affect New York and other major urban centers? What forces will shape their futures? What can we learn from past failures and successes? We will explore the issues central to urban politics today. Offered  spring semesters.

GOV 205 Urban Politics. One unit. An analysis of the structure and operations of the operations of urban government and politics focusing on the unique problems of the urban environment. Offered fall semester of even-numbered years.

GOV 207 New York Politics. One unit. A study of the government and politics of New York City and State. An analysis of the processes, values and problems of contemporary New York and of the relationships between the city and the rest of the state. Offered spring semester of odd-numbered years.

GOV 211 Public Administration. One unit. A study of the policy making process within the context of the American political system. Emphasis will be placed on administrative and organizational theory; selected cases of the practice of administration at the federal, state, and local levels, and the differences between public and private administration. Offered fall semester.

GOV 212 Congress and National Policy Making: the Legislative Process. One unit. The structure, activities, and policies of the congressional system. The role of Congress in public policy making. Offered fall semester of odd-numbered years.

GOV 213 The Presidency. One unit. An examination of the institution of the chief executive of the United States in its historical evolution, focusing on Article II of the Constitution, theories of presidential function, and the relationship of the presidency to other segments of the body politic. Offered fall semester of even-numbered years.

GOV 215 Law, Justice, and Diversity in the United States. One unit. This reading intensive course examines the relationship between the ideals of liberty, equality, and diversity in the United States. What does it mean to have rights? Who has rights? Individuals? Groups? Both? What is the relationship of citizenship to rights? What is justice? What role do Courts play in protecting the rights of minorities? These and other related questions will be examined throughout the semester. Offered fall semester of odd-numbered years.

GOV 217 Parties, Elections, and Mass Media. One unit. The origin, organization, and activities of political parties in the United States. Current political campaigns, issues, and techniques will be stressed. Offered fall semester of even-numbered years.

GOV 218 Topics in the History and Politics of Gender.(D) One unit. An introduction to the history of gender relations in America, including a discussion of feminist theories, gender in contemporary culture, and the politics of gender. Cross-listed w/HI 226. Offered as required.

GOV 250 Judaism, Christianity and Islam: Toward Understanding and Peace. One unit. This course examines the comparative religious traditions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam and analyzes the origins of these faith communities’ histories in light of current religious-political conflicts in Israel. Primary reading is from Malloy’s “Experiencing the World’s Religion.” The course includes a field trip to Israel supplemented by in-class discussions. Cross-listed with RE 250. Offered spring semester.

GOV 312 Public Policy. One unit. An examination of case studies that focus on the influence of the American constitutional and legal system; the role of political institutions; changing social, economic, and political conditions and values; and the historical development of the process of management and organizational structure. The case studies include those of historic importance and those presently under consideration. Offered spring semester of odd-numbered years.

GOV 313 Ethics and Public Policy. One unit. This course will examine the relationship between ethical theory and political decisions, practices, and polices. The meaning of ethics will be discussed, and the differences between morally right and other criteria of right action will be explored. Theory analysis and case studies will enable the student to make informed and intelligent value judgments concerning a number of issues. Prerequisite: Junior standing. Offered fall semester of even-numbered years.

GOV 314 The Politics of Urban Policy Development. One unit. Intensive consideration of selected urban policy problems such as housing, law enforcement, pollution, and health, and the roles of various political actors in dealing with them. Questions of community power, federalism, regional planning, and the relative roles of the private and public sectors will be addressed. Offered spring semester of even-numbered years.

GOV 316 Constitutional Law. One unit. An analysis of constitutional thought and practice concerning: the powers of the president, Congress, and the courts; their interrelationships; federalism; First Amendment rights; the rights of defendants in criminal cases; and the rights of racial and sexual minorities. Offered fall semester of even-numbered years.

GOV 318 Cities and Globalization. One unit. This seminar analyzes globalization’s impact upon urban political economy. Globalization has caused the greatest movement of capital and labor since the industrial revolution. The course includes classic readings on cities and globalization, featuring the work of Kantor and Abrahamson, an economic development fieldwork project, and research paper. Students will emerge with an understanding of how different types of cities across the world are responding to the demands of globalization. Honors course. Offered spring semester.

GOV 230 Comparative Politics. One unit. Comparison is the key to understanding and explaining politics. Why do the Western European democracies have more generous welfare states than the United States? Why are some nations rich and others poor? Why has the U.S. never had a major socialist party? Were Hitler and Stalin more similar than different? By exploring such questions, we learn crucial techniques for analyzing politics. This course will pay special attention to examining the effects of voting systems and political institutions. Offered spring semester.

GOV 232 Comparative European Politics. One unit. A comparative study of parties, political ideologies, public policy processes, and governing institutions in Europe. Offered as required.

GOV 234 History and Politics of East Asia.(I) One unit. This course provides an overview of politics in China, Japan, and Korea from the beginning of the twentieth century to the present. It deals with political history, institutions, the political process, political economy, and culture. Cross-listed w/HI 234. Offered as required.

GOV 236 Politics in Literature and Film. One unit. This introductory-level class examines the political themes in various films and works of fiction. Topics to be covered include, but are not limited to, terrorism, poverty, war, dictatorship, genocide, feminism, corruption and dystopia. In general, the course materials present a distinctly pessimistic view of politics. The course is based on the seminar format: i.e. students will discuss each week’s readings and film with only infrequent lectures. Offered as required.

GOV 240 Volunteer Service and Politics Abroad. One unit. This course combines volunteer work (over a period of roughly two weeks in January) in various locations in Latin America and Africa, as well as academic study. The volunteer work will typically involve working for service organizations such as orphanages, shelters, and schools. The coursework, which will be conducted prior to and after the trip, will focus around the recent political history of the country, as well as social and development issues. Students will be evaluated, in part, on their ability to incorporate their learning experiences from the volunteer work into their understanding of the academic subject matter. Site will vary. Offered intersession and as required.

GOV 242 African History and Politics. (I) One unit. This course provides an overview of the political, economic, and social history of Africa with a view towards understanding the challenges which have developed in creating the image of Africa and its peoples. An early historical survey will be given which sets the tone for an examination of such topics as the transatlantic slave trade, colonialism, and African resistance to imperialism. Equally important is the focus on the political forces influencing contemporary African regimes such as the emergence of modern forms of African nationalism, democratization, and the constraints to development in the post-independent era which will be highlighted. Cross-listed w/HI 242. Offered as required.

GOV 246 Comparative Politics in the Third World. (I) One unit. This course studies politics in developing countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. It explores the Third World’s problems and their causes, and introduces theories of political and economic development. Specific topics include state-society relations, political institutions, political behavior, political instability, and external shocks. Case studies are used to make clear the similarities and differences of Third World politics. Offered as required.

GOV 247 History and Politics of Latin America. (I) One unit. Examines post-1492 political events and movements, as well as historical processes and themes, in at least two of the following areas: the Caribbean, Central America, and South America. Specific topics include colonialism, indigenous peoples, U.S. military interventions, authoritarianism, political mobilization and revolution, gender relations, and the current movement towards more democratic political institutions and increasing economic integration. Offered as required.

GOV 340 Comparative Politics Seminar. One unit. Explores current research in Comparative Politics including, but not limited to, rational choice theory, the military in politics, democratization, transitional economies, state-society relations, and theories of political change. Specific topics will vary. Offered as required.

GOV 249 US in Latin America. One unit. This course explores some controversial issues and political history, focusing on US military intervention in Latin American politics in the 20th century. Focusing mostly to Central America, we will analyze the motives, actions and effects related to United States’ attempts to forcibly affect the politics and economics of the region. We will evaluate these interventions regarding the definition, nature and effects of imperialism. Offered spring of odd-numbered years.

GOV 251 International Politics. One unit. This course prepares students for advanced and specialized courses in the study of international relations, and is appropriate for non-majors. The course examines the major schools of thought in international politics, introduces three levels of analysis, discusses the evolution of the modern international system, and elaborates on the major aspects of international studies: security and political economy. Offered fall semester.

GOV 253 The Politics of Terrorism. One unit. An examination of the growing phenomenon of the use of terror as a form of political expression. The course will investigate terrorism from institutional and historical perspectives. Topics include state sponsored terrorism, the IRA, and the role of terrorism in domestic and international arenas. Offered fall semester of odd-numbered years.

GOV 267 US Foreign Policy and the Middle East. One unit. This course examines the dynamics and examples of US involvement in the region. We will focus on these questions: What are the US interests in the region? How are those interests determined? How are those interests pursued? Specific topics include: the Cold War; the Arab-Israeli conflict; the popular revolts of the “Arab Spring”; and the US invasion of Iraq.

GOV 350 International Political Economy. One unit. This course studies the interaction between international politics and economics. It presents several major theoretical perspectives, and examines such issues as trade, finance, and multinational corporations. Students analyze the interaction between the state and the market, and examine major global economic problems, such as oil, poverty, and the environment. Offered spring semester of odd-numbered years.

GOV 355 United States Foreign Policy. One unit. The institutions, processes, and politics which shape United States foreign policy formulation and implementation. Offered fall semester of odd-numbered years.

GOV 356 U.S.-China Relations. (I) One unit. This course approaches the evolving relationship between China and the United States from historical and theoretical perspectives. Focusing on the relationship during and after the Cold War, it explores major issues, including security, economic relations, mutual perception, and Taiwan. Offered as required.

GOV 260 Darwin, Marx and Freud. One Unit. Darwin, Marx and Freud changed the world. Their ideas, methods and techniques affected the way we understand, practice and study: biology, medicine, human evolution, human societies, human minds and cultures. Their insights and theories changed our language and have led to social revolutions. In this course we will explore Darwin, Marx and Freud’s basic insights and theories. We will carefully read and discus significant portions of their work as well as some interpretive texts.

The class will be run as a seminar combining lectures and class discussions but the emphasis will be on the latter. There will be a required class trip to the American Museum of Natural History and we will use films and documentaries as supplementary material. Cross-listed w/HI 260. Offered fall semesters.

GOV268 African American Political Thought. One unit. African Americans are central to American democracy, both as fierce critics of the present and as visionaries who imagine alternative futures. This course introduces students to the critical and constructive dimensions of African American political thought by foregrounding claims that black Americans have made upon the polity. Themes include the relationship between slavery and democracy, the role of historical memory in political life, the connections between “race” and “nation,” and the tensions between claims for black autonomy and claims for integration, as well as the meaning of such core political concepts as citizenship, freedom, equality, progress, and justice. The course also highlights the complex ways in which the concept of race has been constructed and deployed and its interrelationship with other elements of identity such as gender, sexuality, class, and religion.

GOV 272 Feminist Political Thought. One unit. Introduction to major concepts in modern and contemporary feminist political theory. Critical analysis of key texts that address feminist topics from a variety of perspectives. Examines many issues raised by African-American, Third world, post colonial, post-structuralist, and transnational thought.

GOV 273 Ancient Political Thought. One unit. A study of three different vocabularies of western political thought originating in Athens, Jerusalem, and Rome. Concepts such as law, order, leadership, democracy, membership, liberation, and independence are defined quite differently in these three respective traditions from which eastern political identity has emerged. Analyzes works by Thucydides, Plato, Aristotle, Euripides, Cicero, Seneca, Augustine, and Aquinas as well as the Bible.

GOV 317 Civil Liberties and Human Rights. One unit. Examines the relationship of constitutional law to politics and society, with particular emphasis on the conflicting values of liberty and equality in the Bill of Rights. Analyzes controversial issues such as abortion, free speech, capital punishment, affirmative action, and the “war on terrorism.” Explores the concept of human rights from a philosophical, political, legal, moral, and global perspective.

GOV 371 Modern Political Thought. One unit. The major political theories of Western civilization will be studied. Theorists from Machiavelli to Marx will be examined in detail. Offered fall semester of odd-numbered years.

GOV 372 History of Marxism. One unit. A study of the theory and practice of Marxism and related left wing movements in the Western world from the early nineteenth century to the present, including non-Marxian socialism, anarchism, revolutionary Marxism, communism, and Euro communism. Cross-listed w/HI 374. Offered as required.

GOV 373 Contemporary Political Theory. One unit. An intensive examination of some of the most controversial and important ideas in politics today. In analyzing a variety of authors, we will argue about gay rights, the relevance of socialism, the importance of property rights, racial discrimination, different definitions of feminism, and the effects of personal selfishness, among other topics. This course will be conducted as a seminar, which means that the students are responsible for conducting the discussions. Offered spring semester of even-numbered years.

Academic Seminars

GOV 292 Inauguration: Transition in Presidential Power. One unit. An examination of the presidential transition process. Through lectures, discussion and site visits, students will learn about the transition process and the prospects for the new administration. The course is conducted in Washington, D.C. Prerequisite: permission of the instructor. Offered spring 2009.

GOV 293 Pursuit of the Presidency. One unit. Discussion of the issues, candidates, and strategies of presidential politics. The mechanics of presidential selection, campaign finance, and media strategy will be examined. Offered spring 2012.

GOV 294 Congress and the Presidency. One unit. The process and politics by which Congress and the presidency compete and cooperate in order to make policy. The response of the institutions to interest groups and constituencies will be emphasized. Offered spring 2009.

GOV 295 Presidential Convention. Two units. An examination of the National Conventions and their place in American politics. Through a combination of seminars, discussion groups, workshops, and fieldwork, students will be exposed to the major (or minor) party conventions. As part of the course, students will be assigned a fieldwork assignment at the convention. Offered summer, 2012.

Experiential Education

GOV 395 Washington Internship(35 hours). Two units. Theoretical approaches to public policy development through operation of the federal government in a working/learning experience. The course is conducted in Washington, D.C. Requirements include: forums, readings, and papers on current issues. Prerequisite: Permission of the instructor. Co requisite: GOV 396. Offered fall and spring semesters.

GOV 396 Dynamics of American Government. Two units. In-depth experience in dynamics of actual public policy implementation in the federal government through direct involvement in the governing process. The course is conducted in Washington, D.C. Requirements include: onsite evaluation, written assignments, and reports. Prerequisite: permission of the instructor. Co-requisite: GOV 395. Offered fall and spring semesters.

Government & Politics with Dr. Ghosh

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