In order to prepare students to deal intelligently with the practice of politics, this course encourages them to explore the theories on offer for understanding politics. This seminar has two primary aims. First, it examines social scientific ideas and debates which inform our judgements about practical questions on real-world politics, such as whether politicians act in voters’ interests or whether opinion polls play a role in formulating government policy. In applied settings, we typically assume a great deal about the interests of relevant political actors, yet these assumptions need to be tested. Second, the seminar reflects on what counts as a convincing explanation or valid knowledge about the political world.
This course offers students an introduction to research methods/approaches commonly employed within the study of political science (and social science more generally). The course provides students with a solid understanding of the “science” in political science, the importance of research design, a range of research methodologies (quantitative and qualitative), as well as an introduction to basic statistical procedures and software used to assist the social scientist. The course is designed to support students as they prepare for the Major Research Project.
This course surveys topics such as nationalism (e.g. Quebec, Aboriginal peoples), the accommodation of difference (e.g. ethno-cultural, religious) and interest-based disputes (e.g. environment vs. business), with a view to understanding how they are shaped by a wide range of complex institutional and societal factors. Through various instructor- and student-led activities, including debates, simulations, group work, and other active learning pedagogies, students acquire the necessary tools for understanding the nature of such conflicts and how we might effectively manage and mitigate them.
This course explores the ways in which different advocacy and civil society groups (such as non-governmental organizations, social movements, interest and community-based associations, lobbying firms, and pressure groups) seek to influence politics and the political system for social, political and economic change. The course will introduce students to various literatures that examine non-governmental actors and their role and affect on domestic and/or global politics and in relation to public policy processes. In this course students will learn advocacy skills (which may include oral and written communication, media, research and advocacy skills). The course adopts an applied politics approach, inviting ‘practitioners' to discuss different strategies and approaches to political organizing. Students are encouraged to put their learning into practice by designing their own advocacy project, strategy or campaign around an issue of interest to them.
This course addresses international and Canadian human rights policies. Topics of study normally include international human rights law; a brief history of human rights; the question of cultural relativism and human rights; the right to development; the role of civil society in human rights; and human rights in Canadian foreign policy. For their written assignment students are expected to pick one policy topic, explain its background, critique a major policy document such as an international human rights treaty, and make new policy proposals.
This course examines the prospects for the supranational governance of social issues including the political and philosophical underpinnings of transnational social policy cooperation as well as examining specific issue areas such as global health policy and cross-national migration.
This course explores the political and economic foundations of public policy-making, in order that students understand the complexities involved in analyzing policy problems in a local, regional or international setting. The course then reviews methods for designing better policies (and the debates about these methods), as well as various tools used by analysts and policy makers. Students have an opportunity to apply these tools to the analysis of a particular public policy problem. This course is required for students interested in completing the Policy Analysis Project.
Each year, this course focuses on a global governance challenge that a faculty member is engaged with (climate change, human security, conflict transformation, global development practices, etc.). Through a select case study, students explore how this particular global governance challenge has come to be framed as a problem, what actors are engaged, what solutions have been proposed, and what resources are available to support action. Students also examine the processes and institutions through which action can be taken. Finally, the course explores the constraints on action, and why global responses are often insufficient.
Whether in response to the need for more democratic processes in the Middle East or the integration of Aboriginal self-governance into traditional levels of government, political scientists continue to grapple with problems of institutional design and redesign. This course explores how various theories of institutional design might be applied to redressing the perceived failures of our current governance arrangements. Students in the course are led through an “institutional design/redesign” project, which allows them to participate in a simulated process of institutional reform.
This course offers students an in-depth study of public opinion with special attention allotted to how public opinion can influence decision makers, public policy, and election outcomes. In addition to theoretical and practical aspects of public opinion, students also have an opportunity to develop "applied" knowledge by working with a client to design and implement a survey instrument. This course is required for students interested in completing the Public Opinion Project.
The major research project provides students four options to pursue a specific area of interest: Journal Article Project (30-35 page piece of work in journal article format); Major Research Paper (approximately 50 pages in length); Policy Analysis Project (50-page project that provides students with the opportunity to carry out a professional policy analysis on an existing policy); Public Opinion Project Option (25-30 page paper (not including the required survey instruments) that provides students with an opportunity to undertake the design of a major public opinion project involving the administration of a survey).
Research Practicum gives students the opportunity to participate in and contribute to a research project in a government, business or non-profit agency. The course combines participation in a research project with in-class seminars and online exercises. In the past, students have been placed with the City of Kitchener, the Region of Waterloo and Project Ploughshares. Students become part of the research team, while applying the research skills and knowledge from their political science courses to real-world work problems.
Students learn that research is not only a university-based activity. Governments, political advocacy organizations, social research councils, social service delivery organizations, think-tanks and policy institutes all research independently or with academics. Through research, they evaluate the effectiveness of government programs; analyze and develop new policies; engage in evidence-based public lobbying; and conduct surveys. The course prepares students to contribute both to the workforce and to their community.
This course is designed to help Applied Politics students explore their career choices; make connections between what they have learned in their classes and the world of work; and to fully prepare them for the transition from school to work.
The course emphasizes the importance of networking, especially in finding work. Students also learn how to effectively communicate their abilities, interests and strengths to prospective employers. Skills such as resumé and cover letter writing are covered, as well as key considerations to keep in mind when delivering oral presentations. The course explores the art of the interview, including how to effectively prepare for and follow up on a job interview; how panel interviews differ from individual interviews; and how to use informational interviews in career-planning. In addition, students are introduced to the kinds of professional writing they can expect in a workplace and how these writing formats are similar or different in style and content from academic writing. Finally, the course covers ways of tailoring career-planning and job search strategies to the public, private or NGO sectors.
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