Summer 2020 Courses

This is the course listing for Summer terms 2020, with course descriptions provided by the professors (more specific than the description in the UBC Calendar).

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Section 921   TERM 1   M/W   9:00 – 12:00   BUCH B315

Instructor: Kenny Ie

How does government in Canada work? How democratic is our system? Are Canadians effectively represented? We will explore these important questions in this introduction to the Canadian political system. The course examines the basic ideas on which the system is founded, the institutions that structure politics, and the actors who work within these institutions. We will emphasize the constitutional framework of Canadian government and the role of the judiciary and the Charter of Rights in shaping the country. We will also engage issues at the forefront of politics in Canada, such as indigenous rights and gender politics. Students should be equipped to better understand the Canadian political system and engage in our democracy as active citizens and participants.



Section 951   TERM 2   M/W   14:00 – 17:00   BUCH A202

Instructor: Justin Alger

This course prepares students to engage with the field of political science by introducing them to the basic logic and tools used by political scientists to understand and explain the political world. The course will teach students how political scientists ask answerable questions; how we define key political concepts; how we formulate hypotheses and theories about political dynamics; how we measure the phenomena we want to study; how we think about and assess relationships of cause-and-effect; and how we report our findings to the world. We will consider these issues by examining how political scientists have investigated major questions in domestic and international affairs, such as why citizens vote the way that they do, whether international intervention can bring about democracy, and why progress toward resolving the world’s environmental problems has been so difficult.



Section 951   TERM 2   T/TH   13:00-16:00   IBLC 261

Instructor: Jennifer Gagnon

This courses provides students with an introduction to the field of political theory through a critical exploration of foundational authors, texts, and ideas in the tradition of western political thought. We will focus on three historical periods, represented by the sections on Athens and the Polis, Renaissance and Revolution, and Modernity and its Discontents. Together, we will read works of political theory and political literature by Plato (Republic), Euripides (the Bacchae), Machiavelli (The Prince and The Discourses), Hobbes (The Leviathan), Rousseau (Discourse on Inequality and On the Social Contract), Nietzsche (On the Genealogy of Morals), and Mary Shelley (Frankenstein). We will focus on developing student’s spoken, written, and interpretive skills by emphasizing critical thinking and close-analysis of the readings with an eye towards understanding our present predicament and contemporary political issues.



Section 921   TERM 1   T/TH   9:00 – 12:00   BUCH A201

Instructor: Robert Farkasch

The purpose of this course is to acquaint students with some of the basic principles of global politics. It is not a course about current events per se though an effort will be made to integrate contemporary events and issues as a way of understanding the world beyond our borders. The lectures and readings will be used to illustrate basic principles that are both historical and contemporary. The course intends to serve four principal goals: 1) to develop critical and creative capacities for understanding issues in world politics; 2) to introduce some of the basic concepts and approaches currently used in the study of global politics; 3) to foster skills in formulating, organizing, integrating, and articulating one’s ideas; 4) to encourage an informed interest in our role in world affairs.



Section 951   TERM 2   M/W   9:00 – 12:00   BUCH B315

Instructor: Zaraí Toledo Orozco

This course is an introduction to the patterns of sociopolitical change in Latin America. Emphasis is placed upon the quest for socioeconomic inclusion and equality in the region and states’ responses to these demands throughout time. A major goal of this course is to assess how much Latin America has advanced in becoming more democratic based on its capacities to include marginalized sectors. The course is divided into two parts. The first part will use emblematic country-cases to cover the most important phenomena, concepts and theories that have shaped the study of the region, such as dependency and populism, revolutions, military and bureaucratic authoritarianism, the politics of economic liberalization, transitions to democracy, social movements and indigenous politics. The second part will examine the current challenges of the region in terms of development and resource governance, corruption and democratic deepening, and the return of the Right and conservative movements.



Section 921   TERM 1   T/TH   9:00 – 12:00   BUCH D218

Instructor: Matthew Wright

How do we explain how and why people act as they do in politics?  What are the underpinnings of political preferences, how do these preferences change, and how do they affect political choices? This course explores these fundamental questions by applying psychology to politics.  We will discuss theories about human personality, cognition, emotion, and social influence.  These approaches will be applied to the study of political issues ranging from the development of the political “self” to media effects, political leadership and decision-making, ethnic and international conflict, altruism, terrorism, and genocide.  In each of these domains, we explore how personal and environmental factors combine to produce political outcomes.  The readings draw on experimental research, surveys, and historical studies and discussion of these studies is the basis of the lectures.



Section 921   TERM 1   M/W   9:00 – 12:00   BUCH D217

Instructor: Corey Snelgrove

In this course, we examine both the Canadian project of reconciliation and theories of reconciliation in modern and contemporary political theory. The purpose of which is to provide students with the opportunity to develop a better grasp on both the settler colonial situation in which we find ourselves in as well as competing ‘answers’ to the problem. We’ll begin then with a brief introduction to colonization, including the concepts of civilization, sovereignty, and property. Next, a brief history of reconciliation’s emergence will be offered. From this, we survey a variety of approaches to reconciliation in political theory with special attention to how they illuminate or obscure the project of reconciliation in Canada. Theorists under consideration include but are not limited to John Rawls, Andrew Schaap, G.W.F. Hegel, Frantz Fanon, Karl Marx, Glen Coulthard, Audra Simpson, Theodor Adorno, Hagar Kotef, and Iris Marion Young. As the course progresses from context into the various theories, participation and discussion will become more central. Students will likely be evaluated through the combination of a mid-term and final exam, short conceptual essays, group presentations on the politics of reconciliation, and participation. The reading expectations are commensurate with other third-year political theory courses notwithstanding the compressed nature of the course.



Section   921   TERM 1   M/W   13:00 – 16:00   BUCH A104

Instructor: Stefano Burzo

This course aims to provide the analytical tools to better understand International Relations (IR) and world politics. Particular attention will be given to the role of IR as a discipline, how it came to be and its domain.  The course will introduce key IR “schools”, appraise them critically and discuss their theoretical assumptions, as well as their limitations. In order to better grasp the material and some key terms (i.e. “cooperation” or “anarchy”), we will read extracts from the primary literature. We will tackle contemporary pivotal debates in IR theory that are absorbing scholars and practitioners. Crucially, this class will encourage you to think about events in world politics and how they relate to the “theories” under examination.



Section   921   TERM 1   M/W   14:00 – 17:00   BUCH A203

Instructor: Justin Alger

This course analyzes the politics of global environmental change, striving for critical thought that integrates both rigorous analysis and ethical reflection. The focus is on the consequences of political power struggles, institutions, and discourses for global sustainability and justice. What are the political foundations of the world’s most pressing environmental problems? How well equipped is the global community to address them? What role do states, multinational corporations, and environmental groups, among others, have to play in solving the global environmental crisis? To answer these questions, the course analyzes topics such as the causes and consequences of unsustainable development, the ecological shadows of consumption, the contradictions of technology, the effectiveness of international agreements, the eco-business of multinational corporations, and the value of certification and eco-consumerism.



Section 921   TERM 1   T/TH   14:00 – 17:00   BUCH D219

Instructor: Salta Zhumatova

This course provides an introduction to quantitative research methods that are employed in political science. Students will be introduced to the basic concepts and techniques of data analysis. Topics include summary measures, graphing and visual displays of distributions, probability and statistical inference, bivariate and multiple regression. The course involves practical work with real-world data using the Stata software package. The objective is to help students learn to evaluate quantitative data and to do basic statistical analysis.



Section 921   TERM 1   T/TH   13:00 – 16:00   DSOM 101 (Dorothy Somerset Studio)

Instructor: Kathryn Harrison  ( and Tom Scholte (

Although there’s broad consensus among experts on both climate science and climate policy, consensus has been sorely lacking among citizens at large. Some still question whether climate change is caused by human activity. Others support climate action in theory, but disagree about what actions should be taken, how fast, and who should pay. All too often, government action has been stymied.

The creative and performing arts have the potential to engage the public imagination in new ways. Of particular interest for this course, “forum theatre” invites audience members to consider how they would respond if they were to step into the shoes of characters in a play, including those who may have different perspectives than their own.

This course will integrate concepts and theories from climate politics and theatre. Students will work in groups to study cases of climate conflict (e.g., divestment, carbon taxes, pipelines, climate strikes, civil disobedience), analyse underlying individual and systemic sources of conflict, write and perform short Forum Theatre pieces  that welcome audience interventions, and reflect on the experience. Our learning goals are the capacity to analyze the systemic nature of climate conflicts, the development of reflexive processes that challenge our own assumptions and perspectives, and the acquisition of the basic skill necessary to construct an interactive theatrical model of a complex situation.  Along the way, students will reflect on the potential role of the arts in the climate crisis.

The course is open to upper-level students from any major. No prior courses in either political science or theatre are required. Students need not have written or performed in plays before. We are committed to creating a nurturing space for those for whom theatre or other aspects of the course are new.



921   TERM 1   T/TH   17:00 – 20:00   BUCH B303

Instructor: Jennifer Gagnon

All of our lives, will at some point in time, embody disability, whether temporarily, periodically, or lifelong. Even if we ourselves are not presently disabled, our lives are always affected by disability and social relationships of care. Disability in this course is understood inclusively to encompass physical, mobility, sensory, learning, and cognitive disabilities, as well as chronic illnesses, visible or invisible, and mental or emotional differences, through which a person’s body or mind may be perceived or experienced to be different from the “norm.” This is an interdisciplinary and intersectional course that most closely aligns itself with feminism, disability studies, and queer politics. Topics will include: the medical v. the social model of disability, ableism, relations of care and dependency, disability and violence, the gendering and queering of the dis/abled body, and the claiming of disability as an empowering identity for both individuals and society. Through engagement with the lectures, critical discussions, readings, and their colleagues, students will have the opportunity to broaden their own understanding and engagement with dis/ability in thought and practice.