Political Science & Economics | Christendom College


Political Science & Economics

It is the purpose of the Department of Political Science and Economics of Christendom College to help restore all things in Christ by educating, through the regular courses, and training, through the Politics Program, Catholic leaders in the public forum. Knowledge of the principles of a just political, social, and economic order are essential to a renewal of the temporal sphere. In line with this purpose, the College through its two required core courses in the fields of political theory and the social doctrine of the Church gives the student the knowledge of classical and Catholic political and legal philosophy up to St. Thomas Aquinas, and demonstrates the deterioration of the classical natural law understanding in the major modern thinkers. Since ideas have consequences, the destructive results of much of modern thought are explained and analyzed. The student is then introduced to how the Church, through its authoritative teachings, has dealt with problems in the political, social, and economic sphere from the early Church Fathers through Vatican II and the writings of Pope St. John Paul II, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, and Pope Francis.

The upper division political science courses give the student a more in-depth comprehension of the great political thinkers, of the nature and actual function of the American governmental system, of constitutional law and jurisprudence, and of international relations and the governments and politics of other lands and regions.

The department also includes a minor and courses in various sub-fields in economics. The economics minor gives the student the full range of economic knowledge, from economic philosophy, economic history, to advanced social teachings and technical courses.

Visit the Special Programs page for more information on our advanced Politics Program.

Requirements for Political Science and Economics Majors

Christendom College offers its Political Science and Economics majors a choice between two B.A. sequences:

A. The Regular Political Science Sequence

The normal PSAE sequence requires twenty-seven (27) credit hours from the upper level Political Science and Economics curriculum.  The following courses are required of all majors, totaling fifteen (15) credit hours:

  • PSAE 311 American Government Institutions
  • PSAE 362 Rhetoric and Public Speaking
  • PSAE 401 Natural Law Theory
  • PSAE 512 Senior Seminar and Thesis
  • One economics course

Students must take another twelve hours (12) of electives, which may include courses cross-listed with other departments.

B. The Political Science Practica Sequence

The Practica sequence requires twenty-seven (27) credit hours from the upper level Political Science and Economics curriculum.  In addition to the fifteen hours required above, this sequence requires six (6) credit hours of Practica, consisting of:

  • PSAE 382 (3 credits): a special series of lectures, seminars, and workshops
  • PSAE 521 (3 credits): a summer internship position

Students must take another nine (9) credit hours of electives, which may include courses cross-listed with other departments.

The advanced curriculum thus offers the Political Science and Economics major a wide variety of courses which provide the preparation needed for advanced study in law school or graduate school, and for careers in government, business, and journalism.

Requirements for Political Science and Economics Minors

The Department of Political Science and Economics also offers two minors open to students of all majors:

A. The Political Science Minor

The Political Science minor requires eighteen (18) credit hours, including the following PSAE courses, totaling nine (9) credit hours:

  • PSAE 311 American Government Institutions
  • PSAE 362 Rhetoric and Public Speaking
  • PSAE 401 Natural Law Theory

Students must take another nine (9) credit hours in upper level Political Science and Economics electives. This may include no more than six (6) credit hours of courses offered in other departments and cross-listed by Political Science.

B. The Economics Minor

The Economics minor requires eighteen credit hours (18), including the following courses, totaling nine (9) credit hours:

  • ECON 335 Macroeconomics
  • ECON 336 Microeconomics
  • MATH 332 Probability and Statistics

Students must take another nine (9) credit hours in upper level Economics or Math electives.

N.B.: A course grade of at least C-minus is required for a course to fulfill the department’s major or minor requirements.  Course credit hours cannot be counted toward both the PSAE major and the 18 credit hours required for either minor.

Political Science Core Curriculum

PSAE 201 Introduction to Political Theory An introduction to Classical and Catholic ideas on the relationship between man and the state, the sources of power and authority, inter-relationship between natural law and the conduct of government, the common good and its application to social and economic problems. The course deals with these topics in light of classical, medieval, and modern thinkers.  Required of all students.

PSAE 202 Catholic Social Doctrine
 An introduction to the major social and political teachings of the Catholic Church from its beginnings to the present as found in Scripture, the Fathers and Doctors of the Church, and the authoritative documents of the Holy See. The major topics covered include: the duties of the individual to the state and society, the duties of the government to its citizens, wealth and poverty, property, the relationship of the state and the Church, socialism, capitalism, and the family in the life of society.  Required of all students.

Political Science and Economics Electives

PSAE 311 American Government Institutions A thorough examination of the operation of the American Political system. Topics include the presidency, Congress, the Supreme Court, the media, political parties, interest groups, federal-state relations, the original intent of the Constitution, and the role of the Church in political affairs. Required of all majors.

PSAE 321 Political Thought in the American Republic This course will present the development of American political thought in the Early American Republic.  The periods covered include the colonial period, the War for Independence, the Constitutional Convention, Hamilton’s Federalist versus Jefferson’s Republicans, Jacksonian Democracy, the Era of Romanticism, Sectional politics, Western Expansion, Southern secession, Lincoln and the GOP, and Reconstruction.

PSAE 322 Modern American Political Thought This course will present the development of Modern American Political Thought.  Beginning with Abraham Lincoln and the Republicans, the course will present American politics to the twenty-first century.  We will cover the Gilded Age, Labor Union politics, Populism and Progressivism, F.D.R. and the New Deal, Cold War political thinking, the New Left Cultural Marxism of the 1960s-70s, the Welfare state, Ronald Reagan and the Conservatives, concluding with Neo-Conservative thinking of the Republican Party, the Cultural Marxist ides of the New Left as exhibited in the Democrat party, and the challenge of populist movements like the Tea Party to the status quo.

PSAE 333-334 Constitutional Law I and II (2 semesters, 3 credits each semester) A systematic study of the Constitution and the doctrine of judicial review with special emphasis upon First Amendment rights, state-federal relationships, interstate commerce, criminal law, and civil rights decisions. The courses treat topics of interest to Catholics, such as abortion, state aid to private schools, and freedom of religion. Prerequisite for PSAE 334: PSAE 333.

PSAE 335 Principles of Economics I: Macroeconomics An introduction to the science of economics with emphasis on macroeconomics: how the economy functions in terms of the whole system, with reference to the interrelations among various sectors of the economy, government, private business, and the consumer. Includes the study of economic principles and theories, national economic growth, inflation, recession, money and banking, effects of taxation and governmental spending, and international trade.

PSAE 336 Principles of Economics II: Microeconomics A continuation of the study of the science of economics with emphasis on Microeconomics: how the economy functions in terms of individual areas of activity. Studies free market concepts in contrast to other economic systems, supply and demand, profit, and production and distribution. The course will also explore specific problems concerning labor unions, agriculture, foreign trade, urban economic problems, and anti-trust regulations.

PSAE 342 Political Conflict in the Middle East A study of the historical development of the Middle East in politics, economics, and religious and political thought; political institutions in the Maghreb; Zionism; the Palestinian question; and the politics of oil.

PSAE 343 Government and Politics of Europe A study of the major countries of Europe, including their political traditions, histories, constitutional principles, political parties, and contemporary political changes and problems, and the European Union. Focus will also be on the basic features of the Communist system of the former Soviet Union, and changes in Russia and East Central Europe since the collapse of the former Soviet empire. Also studied will be the cantonal system of the Swiss Confederation.

PSAE 362 Rhetoric and Public Speaking Students in this course will learn the principles of rhetoric and public speaking, with a particular focus on political speech and debate.  This will include writing assignments but will especially emphasize oral presentations before peers. Required of all majors.

PSAE 379 On Justice In this course, we will examine how various classical, medieval, and modern thinkers have defined justice.  Their answers pertain not just to matters of positive law, but the way we conceive of natural, divine, and eternal law.  Their understanding of justice is also bound up with their understanding of practical reason.  Contemporary political problems stem in some way from rival conceptions of justice, so the resolution of those problems at the philosophical and practical level requires the correct conception of justice.

PSAE 382 Politics Practica A series of lectures by guest practitioners of politics, in which students learn such practical political mechanisms as campaign management, political use of the communications media, legislative research, political lobbying, and public, economic and foreign policy formation.
Pre- or co-requisites: PSAE 201-202, or permission of the Director of the Politics Practica Program. Practica may not be repeated for credit.

PSAE 401 Natural law: Theory and Practice This course examines the principles of natural law and how they can be applied to contemporary public policy issues.  The survey of principles of the natural law will be Thomistic in its approach, but will also review alternative accounts of natural law.  It will consider the relationship between human nature and natural law, positive law and natural law, and whether the natural law can change.  It will then examine how the principles of natural law to deliberate about contemporary controversies such as abortion, marriage, and religious liberty.  Students should gain an ability to use natural law to deliberate about these issues with with Catholics and non-Catholics alike. Required of all majors.

PSAE 421 Classical Political Theory The purpose of this course is to more deeply study the fundamental principles of political theory through a historical survey of classical political thought, focusing on Plato, Aristotle, and Cicero.  We will examine how each of the thinkers studied addressed enduring problems of political theory and contributed to the Western tradition.

PSAE 422 Medieval Political Theory The purpose of this course is to more deeply study the fundamental principles of political theory through a historical survey of medieval political thought.  We will examine how each of the thinkers studied addressed enduring problems of political theory in his given historical context.  In particular, we will explore the relationship between revelation and political philosophy.

PSAE 428 Contemporary Political Theory The purpose of this course is to more deeply study the fundamental principles of political theory through a historical survey of contemporary political thought.  We will examine how each of the thinkers studied addressed enduring problems of political theory in his given historical context.  In particular, we will focus on the themes of freedom, equality, the state, and the implications of religious pluralism.

PSAE 431 International Relations The major issues concerning international relations are presented in the context of realist theory and are contrasted against the backdrop of emerging globalist theory. Special attention is devoted to the development of the modern nation-state, war in the modern world, nationalism and internationalism, international economic development in the framework of the social teachings of the Church, balance of power politics in the 19th and 20th centuries, arms control and disarmament, and international organizations and law.

PSAE 432 Military Strategy and International Diplomacy In the “international system,” force, or the threat of force, plays an important role in crafting a nation states political strategy and military doctrine.  This course examines the question of how the need to use force to accomplish a state’s political objectives guides the development of diplomatic and military strategy.  The impact of geopolitics on diplomacy and warfare and the consequences of both on a Great Power is primary in our study this course.  A secondary concern will be the historical evolution of warfare from a strategic, logistical, and technological standpoint and the developing diplomatic strategies employed by the Great Powers from the late eighteenth century to the present day.

PSAE 433 Revolutionary Conflict The reasons for revolution are presented in the context of Western history. The greater part of the course is devoted to the study of the breakdown of the political order and the rise of radical ideologies which led to wholesale bloodshed in society. Particular attention will be focused on the English Civil War, American War for Independence, the French Revolution, the Revolutions of 1830 and 1848, the Russian Revolution, and the Leninist model for revolution in the Third World.

PSAE 441 Political and Military Developments of the American Revolution This seminar class is a designed reading and class discussion course for students majoring in Politics and History.  We will discuss the political causes for the outbreak of the American War for Independence as well as key military battles in the course of the war that resulted in the victory of the colonials against the British Crown.  The political focus will be on how both the Crown and the colonists viewed the crisis and war.  Militarily, the discussion will be about the battles around Boston in 1775, the 1776 New York campaign, the 1777 Saratoga campaign, the battle of Monmouth Courthouse in 1778, and the military strategy on both sides during the war in the South, ending with the Continental Army’s victory at Yorktown in 1781.

PSAE 479 Jurisprudence and the Catholic Lawyer Such key areas as individual rights and constitutional interpretation regarding religion are examined through lecture and discussion of key contemporary legal issues. The course outlines the utilitarian character of modern jurisprudence and equips students with the understanding they need to adopt a genuinely Catholic legal perspective. Prerequisite: PSAE 311.

PSAE 483 Russia’s Diplomacy in Europe A course which examines the historical development of Russia’s diplomacy in Europe from the perspectives of geopolitics and ideology. By means of a historical survey of Russia’s history in Europe, this course presents Russian diplomatic and military activities in Europe from the period of Czar Peter the Great to the contemporary state of the Russian Republic.

PSAE 489 Honors Seminar A seminar on a special topic in political science to be determined by the department chairman in consultation with interested and qualified students. Prerequisites: Minimum 3.25 GPA and permission of the Department Chairman. (4 credits)

PSAE 490-99 Special Topics or Directed Studies in Political Science & Economics Specially designed courses of readings in areas not sufficiently covered by another course already in the curriculum.

PSAE 491 Political Theory of St. Thomas Aquinas St. Thomas Aquinas was primarily a theologian, but he was also one of the most important political thinkers of the middle ages.  His political thought influenced early modern scholastics like Vitoria, but fell into neglect in the eighteenth century.  Since the mid-nineteenth century, the thought of St. Thomas has influenced Catholic social doctrine, natural law theory, and increasingly, contemporary political philosophy.  This course seeks to examine the theological and philosophical sources of Aquinas’s political thought and suggest ways in which it is relevant today.  It is hoped that students will gain a deeper knowledge of the St. Thomas’s influence on the tradition of Catholic social and political thought and its relevance for the modern world.

PSAE 493 Democracy in America Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America has aptly been called the best book ever written about democracy and the best book ever written about America.  We will therefore use it to consider the nature of democracy and the culture and politics of America.  Tocqueville believed that the rise democracy was inevitable in modern times but was ambivalent about its consequences.  We will see how he thought that dangerous tendencies inherent in democracy were counteracted by specific elements of American culture.  Finally, we will consider how Tocqueville’s work speaks to the condition of democracy in America today.

PSAE 512 Senior Seminar and Thesis Direction of the student with his senior thesis, a major paper on a topic of his interest. The student receives instruction and individual assistance in the development of the topic, research methods, outlining, organizing, and writing a paper. Students are required to defend their theses in an oral presentation.

PSAE 528 Practica Internship Students enrolled will participate in an internship (minimum of eight weeks, 30-40 hours a week) on congressional staffs, in political action committees (PACs), pro-life and pro-family organizations, or selected political campaigns during the summer between their junior and senior years. Fall internship requests during a student’s senior year require the permission of the Director of the Politics Program. Prerequisites: PSAE 311 or 312; 382; a minimum 2.5 GPA; and sixty percent of the general core requirements of the curriculum completed by the time the internship begins. Application deadline is February 1st. Applications are available from the Director of the Politics Program after November 1st. Internship may not be repeated for credit.

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