GOVT-342 Dept. Sem: The Politics of Social Welfare
Spring for 2015-2016
This course will study how different countries seek to protect the weak and vulnerable in society: the young, the aged, the unemployed, and the ill. We will examine both welfare state policies (pensions, health care, and education) and targeted programs at poverty alleviation, and seek to understand their successes and shortcomings. We will give particular attention to the political dynamics that allow for certain programs to emerge and work in some settings but be unthinkable or unsuccessful in other settings. We will study how social actors – including labor unions, employers, bureaucracies, and elected officials – can have competing interests in the design, finance, and reform of social policies, as well as examine how policies can “create politics” by investing these social groups with incentives to foment or block change. Regionally, we will focus first on Europe and the US, which were the earliest regions to develop welfare state policies, and then we will study the developing world, including Latin America, Southeast Asia, and the Gulf States. These latter regions have presented remarkable innovation in social programs in recent decades.
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: GOVT 040 or GOVT 121

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Spring '16: Carnes M (description, file download)
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GOVT-342-01 DEPT SEM: War & Religion in the Middle East
Spring for 2015-2016
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One might thought that in our predominantly secular and scientifically thinking world, people would have lost interest in the roots of ancient religious beliefs. Instead we are witnessing in recent years an alarming global increase in religiously-motivated violence, mostly in the Middle East, leading to serious discussion about a perceived clash of civilization, wars and terror in the name of God. Images and prejudices borrowed from Biblical and Quranic sources as well as parallels drawn with the Crusades have a clear impact on the contemporary Middle East. The lectures, discussions and students’ presentations will address historic and current links between religion and war in the Middle East and the relevance of concepts such as ‘holy war’ ‘just war’ and ‘jihad’ to contemporary conflicts.
Credits: 3
Prerequisites: None
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