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Graduate Course Offerings

Fall 2023 Course Offerings

PO601: The Craft of Political Science

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.

PO602: Applied Political Analysis

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.

PO604: Applied Public Policy Analysis

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.

PO691D: Urban Water Futures

Over half of the planet’s now 8 billion people live in urban regions. By 2050 that number is expected to be about 80% of roughly 10 billion souls. By that point, global average temperatures are likely to be 2-3 degrees celsius above pre-industrial levels, and projected frequencies of extreme weather events and regional droughts will likely make some parts of our planet effectively uninhabitable. Urban water scarcity, already a critical global concern, will be rampant, especially in India and China, and also across the African continent. Against this disturbing backdrop, an unsettling fact is that some 20% of the planet’s easily accessible fresh water is within a day’s drive of Toronto: the Great Lakes basin. How we live in cities is thus of critical global importance. How we manage the relationship between urban life and water is perhaps the singular problem of our age. This interdisciplinary seminar on cities and water will bring a range of current scientific and policy research efforts and findings into direct conversation with a range of practitioners, ranging from international and regional government agencies, non-governmental advocacy groups, and local municipal agencies and commercial utilities. Graduate students will have an opportunity to craft their own research partnerships with several of these academic, government, NGO, and community partners.

PO695: Major Research 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). Students will apply for the Master Research Paper at the end of their first semester of graduate studies. The research paper must be defended successfully before an examination committee which shall include the student's supervisor and an assigned committee member.

Winter 2024 Course Offerings

PO627: Policy Research in Action

This community engaged course is structured around a local partnership where students will have the opportunity to contribute to an applied research project in an area of Canadian social policy. Students will gain in-depth academic knowledge of a social policy area (ex. housing, social assistance, neighbourhood development, poverty reduction), and experiment with applying policy concepts to a pressing social problem. Throughout the course, we will host visitors from the community, not-for-profit sector, and governmental bodies. By the end of the course, students will be able to critically examine policy developments in an area of Canadian social policy, with attention to questions of inequality and social transformation.

PO633: Public Opinion and Survey Design

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.

PO650: International Human Rights, Law & Governance

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.

PO691Y: The Rise of Populism

We live in a world where populist leaders, movements and parties have shaken up the liberal-democratic traditions that inform Western political systems. Populism is often associated with right wing politicians in the form of Trump in the US or Putin and Erdogan in Russia and Turkey. However, it also shows itself on the left, with politicians such as Sanders in the US. Populists may also support leftist ideologies symbolized in social justice movements like Occupy and Black Lives Matter. Or, on the other side of the spectrum, populist movements may espouse extreme ideologies of white nationalism and nativism that feed into extreme anti-immigrant movements. One commonality, even amongst this diverse spectrum of ideologies, is that they all claim to represent the real interests of ‘the people’. Additionally, they all seem to agree that, for one reason or another, the current liberal democratic institutions have failed them. The rise of these ideas, ideologies, political parties and movements around the globe will be the focus of this course. The major questions addressed in this course are: What is populism? How does it relate to the crisis of democracy? Is there an actual crisis? What are the consequences of a populist explosion on liberal democratic systems as we know them? The seminar will analyze these issues from a comparative perspective using examples from different parts of the world.

PO692U: Patterns of Provincial Politics in Canada

This seminar examines different dimensions of provincial and territorial politics, as well as the role of the provinces within the federal system. It focusses on topics such as provincial political cultures, political economies, party systems and political leadership. Particular emphasis will also placed on policy performance in selected areas such as energy and climate change policy, trade policy or the COVID-19 pandemic. Exclusions: PO498M and PO422.

PO692W: Women and War

This seminar offers a thematic overview of how war impacts women and how women impact war. It explores women as both agents and objects in national and international conflicts, portraying women as complex actors who are not only victims but also participants and enablers of state and non-state armed groups. Throughout the course we will examine if and how gender influences women’s roles as leaders, peacemakers and peacekeepers, soldiers, rebels, extremists, and war criminals.