Descriptor Details

  • Introduction to Political Theory and Thought
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  • 120
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  • 3.0
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  • Uploaded: 6/6/2022 05:35:23 PM PDT

Examination of various theoretical approaches to politics and of basic political problems and proposed solutions. Analysis of selected political theories and of the relevance of theory to contemporary problems.




  1. The nature and tradition of political inquiry.
  2. Classical theorists.
  3. Modern theorists.
  4. Contemporary theorists (i.e. critical race theorists and feminist theorists).
  5. Basic theoretical debates such as, but not limited to, power, justice, equality, ideal government.
  6. Application of theoretical debates to the contemporary world.

*Course may be organized thematically or chronologically


At the conclusion of this course, the student should be able to:

  1. Evaluate the study of political theory, based on original texts and other sources, as a means for understanding important political phenomena.
  2. Analyze political theory and theoretical texts and explain how they are relevant to contemporary issues.
  3. Assess the historical and social context surrounding the generation of political theories.
  4. Compare and contrast the defining elements of each political theory.
  5. Analyze the different assumptions and values about "human nature" and "reality" embedded in each political theory and examine the way these starting premises shape the questions asked and conclusions reached.
  6. Evaluate the contribution of each political theory towards a comprehensive understanding of political life and political institutions.

May include as appropriate:

In-class or take-home examinations
Research papers or projects
Written assignments
Analytical papers
Oral presentations
Participation in class discussions and debates

Primary sources such as, but not limited to:

Anzaldúa. Borderlands/La Frontera: The New Mestiza

Arendt.  The Human Condition

Aristotle. Politics

Brown. In the Ruins of Neoliberalism or Manhood and Politics

Davis. Women, Race, and Class

Hobbes. Leviathan

Locke. Two Treatises on Government

Machiavelli. The Prince, The Discourses

Marx. Selected Writings

Plato. The Republic

Rawls. A Theory of Justice

Rousseau. The Social Contract, Discourse on the Origins of Inequality
de Tocqueville. Democracy in America

West. Race Matters

Anthologies and/or college-level introduction to political theory or political philosophy textbook such as, but not limited to

Ball and Dagger.  Ideals and Ideologies: A Reader

Cahn.  Political Philosophy: The Essential Texts

Dallmayr.  Comparative Political Theory: An Introduction

Deutsch and Fornieri.  An Invitation to Political Thought

Dolbeare and Cummings.  American Political Thought

Tannenbaum.  Inventors of Ideas: An Introduction to Western Political Philosophy

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