Smith College

GOV 227: Contemporary African Politics

The survey course examines the ever-changing political and economic landscape of the African continent. The course aims to provide students with an understanding of unique historical, economic and social variables that shape modern African politics, and introduces students to various theoretical and analytical approaches to the study of Africa’s political development. Central themes include the ongoing processes of nation-building and democratization, the constitutional question, issues of peace and security, African political economy, gender, and Sino-African relations. In addition, each student will become an expert on a particular country in Africa.

GOV 233: Problems in Political Development

Why are some nations rich and others poor? This course explores the practical meaning of the term “development” and its impact on a range of global topics from the problems of poverty and income inequality to the spread of democracy, environmental degradation, urbanization and gender empowerment. We examine existing theories of political and economic development and consider how state governments, international donors and NGOs interact to craft development policy.

GOV 238: Elections Around the World

Elections can be critical junctures in political history so this course asks why and how do we hold elections? In this class, we study the rules that structure how we select leaders to represent us and the subsequent political behavior in response to those rules. Our examination of elections worldwide involves a global overview of modern elections, including those held in authoritarian regimes. By the end of the course, students will better understand: 1) how electoral rules shape the behavior of voters, politicians, and parties; 2) scholarly recommendations about which electoral options may best advance the cause of democracy; 3) why and how elites manipulate electoral rules; and 4) how different contexts lead to different electoral outcomes.

“Facts and Feelings: Teaching Elections in an Election Year,” Research & Inquiry, Smith College Grécourt Gate, November 2020

GOV 247: International Relations in Africa

This course provides an introduction to the international relations of contemporary Africa. It examines the nature of Africa’s integration into the world economy and political systems starting from the pre-colonial era. In doing so, it explores the evolution of Africa’s international relations and its role of global actor. Core themes include the politics of post-independence international alignments, the external causes and effects of authoritarian rule, and Africa’s role in the global political economy. The course examines the pressing current issues on the African continent, including state-failure, international interventions and health and humanitarian emergencies, peace and security, and China’s growing economic and political influence.

GOV 347: Seminar in Comparative Regionalization

This course will investigate the role of international organizations as global actors and their involvement in the domestic politics of, and beyond, their member states. Areas of intervention include efforts in democracy promotion, economic development, peace and security, and regional integration. This course moves beyond the focus on the traditional, Western actors, like the United Nations and European Union, and incorporates the processes undertaken by the African Union, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Organization of American States, among others. How do these continental and regional bodies compare to the standard European Union model? The goal of this course is to understand how these organizations navigate the complexities of international and domestic politics.