2023-2024 Undergraduate Catalog

Political Science

The mission of the Political Science Department at California Lutheran University is to provide a personalized education of distinction that fosters students’ intellectual and critical powers, and develop their capacities to apply the study of politics to the conditions of political life. The six program goals are:

1. reflect on the relationship between ethics and politics;

2. develop individual powers of inquiry and critical thought;

3. achieve a breadth of knowledge about the world and its diversity;

4. relate theories of politics to the practice of everyday life;

5. understand at least one primary research method appropriate to the study of politics; 

6. examine the relationship of a selected area of investigation to the broader study of politics.

In service to this mission, the curriculum and program activities promote an understanding and appreciation of civic engagement/global citizenship, diversity, and experiential learning. The Department is committed to the belief that it is important to link scholarship, teaching and applied knowledge to the academic study of politics. To fulfill this spirit, there is a required experiential learning component in the program, such as off-campus studies, internships, or other experiential activities. Students are offered opportunities to study abroad, engage in community development and service projects, and intern or volunteer at law firms, non-profit organizations, or governmental agencies in Washington, DC, and throughout Los Angeles and Ventura Counties. 

Bachelor of Arts in Political Science

36 credits minimum, 20 credits upper division.

Select two of the following: 4
POLS 102Theory & Practice American Government4
POLS 207Contemporary Issues in Public Policy4
POLS 200Introduction to Global Studies4
POLS 222Introduction to Political Science4
Select one of the following:
POLS 321Ancient Political Thought4
POLS 322Modern Political Thought4
POLS 324American Political Thought4
POLS 320Scope and Methods of Political Science4
POLS 476Capstone4
Experiential Learning Requirement
Students are required to engage in experiential learning. With pre-approval of the department chair, study abroad, LCWS, service learning, applied practicum and/or internships may also satisfy this requirement.
Model United Nations
Experiential Practicum,
Political Science Electives (at least 8 credits upper division)15

In addition to the program requirements, students fulfill the 36 credits minimum for the major by selecting one of three emphases: 1) General, 2) International Relations, or 3) Law and Public Policy.

Minor in Political Science

20 credits minimum, 12 credits upper division.

Select two of the following: 8
Theory & Practice American Government (POLS 102 is Theory and Practice of American Government)
Introduction to Political Science
Contemporary Issues in Public Policy
Introduction to Global Studies
Select any three additional upper-division Political Science Courses12
Total Hours20

The Department of Political Science courses offer students content material that challenges their academic capacities in liberal learning and engages their understanding of an increasingly global and diverse world from disciplinary and multi-disciplinary perspectives.  Developing principled civic leaders and engaged stakeholders is a strong commitment in our program.

  1. The purpose of the International Relations emphasis is for students to delve into actors, institutions and processes that impact the intersection of local, domestic, and global political life, including international organizations, immigration and diaspora, terrorism, human rights, and global resources. This track is geared towards students who have an interest in careers such as international affairs, foreign policy, and non-profits.
  2. The purpose of the Law and Public Policy emphasis is for students to examine the practice and application of politics, including the values, norms, institutions, and processes that shape political decision-making, laws, and the allocation of resources. This track is geared towards students who have an interest in careers such as law, advocacy, government, public service, and non-profits.

Emphasis Areas

General Emphasis

36 credits minimum, 20 credits upper division. Note: Additional courses may be substituted with the approval of the Department Chair.

Any Political Science course listed in the catalog can be applied to the general emphasis

International Relations Emphasis

36 credits minimum, 20 credits upper division. Note: additional courses may be substituted with the approval of the Department Chair.

Select two of the following:
POLS 341European Government and Politics4
POLS 360International Relations4
POLS 365American Foreign Policy4
POLS 367Comparative Politics4
POLS 461International Law and Organization4
POLS 482Selected Topics1-4
Select two of the following:
POLS 382History and Politics of Latin America4
POLS 384History/Politics Modern Middle East4
POLS 388History and Politics of East Asia4
POLS 443Government and Politics of Africa4

Law and Public Policy Emphasis

36 credits minimum, 20 credits upper division. Note: Additional courses may be substituted with the approval of the Department Chair.

POLS 207Contemporary Issues in Public Policy4
Select two of the following:
POLS 303Parties, Interest Groups & Pub Opinion4
POLS 307California Politics4
POLS 317Politics of Community Development4
POLS 365American Foreign Policy4
POLS 403Public Administration and Public Policy4
POLS 412Civil Rights Movement4
POLS 416Social Movemt & Politics Global Change4
POLS 418Women and Politics4
POLS 419Internet and Politics4
POLS 427American Political Institutions,4,
Select one of the following:
POLS 105Introduction to Law and Legal Process4
POLS 401American Constitutional Law4
POLS 404Constitutional Law in Criminal Justice4
POLS 405Freedom of Communication4
POLS 414Environmental Law and Policy4
POLS 461International Law and Organization4
POLS 481Law and Society4


Lower Division

POLS 101. Introduction to Global Studies. (4).

This course analyzes how social forces and processes have and are transforming the lives of individuals. Issues such as war, peace and justice are examined from a political perspective that reflects them as global rather than national concerns. (cross-listed with GLST-101).

POLS 102. Theory & Practice American Government. (4).

Theory and Practice of American and institutions of the American governmental system. Topics include fundamental principles of democracy; the United States Constitution; the executive, legislative and judicial branches of the national government; political parties and interest groups; and state and local political institutions.

POLS 105. Introduction to Law and Legal Process. (4).

Seeks a broad and critical understanding of the historical and philosophical foundations of law. Topics include sources of legal tradition, the impact of law on society, judicial decision-making, and legal restraints and impediments. The course will familiarize the student with electronic legal sources. (cross-listed with Crim 105).

POLS 1ST. Special Topics. (2).

POLS 200. Introduction to Global Studies. (4).

This course analyzes how social forces and processes have and are transforming the lives of individuals. Issues such as war, peace and justice are examined from a political perspective that reflects them as global rather than national concerns. (cross-listed with GLST-101).

POLS 205. American National Government. (4).

This intensive study of the structures and functions of the national government gives special attention to the legislative and executive branches in the policy-making and administrative processes.

POLS 206. Globalizing Los Angeles. (4).

Using lecture, class discussion, student presentations, film, performance, and lived experience, we will engage issues related to the conceptualization of locality and space, of culture and character, and of security and violence in what Janet Abu-Lughod has described as America's third global city, Los Angeles.

POLS 207. Contemporary Issues in Public Policy. (4).

This course provides students with an introduction to the public policy process in the United States. The course will focus on how problems get identified, which issues make it to the public agenda, the factors that structure individual policy choices and the implementation/evaluation of polices. This process will be illustrated by examining contemporary social, economic and foreign policy issues in the United States.

POLS 212. Media and Politics. (4).

An introduction into the role of media in the political process. The course will study propaganda and manipulation by newspapers, television, radio, magazines and especially films.

POLS 222. Introduction to Political Science. (4).

Explains the meaning of political life in the modern world and some of the ideas behind its democratic and non-democratic forms. Involves a systematic and comparative study of political structures, institutions, behaviors and processes.

POLS 282. Selected Topics. (1-4).

POLS 282C. St: (core). (1-4).

Select Topic approved for core requirement.

POLS 3ST. Special Topic. (3).

POLS 4ST. Selected Topic. (1-4).

Upper Division

POLS 303. Parties, Interest Groups & Pub Opinion. (4).

Introduces the dynamics and significance of political parties, the role of interest groups, problems of campaigns and elections, and the impact of public opinion on the democratic process.

POLS 307. California Politics. (4).

This course examines the political dynamics of the Golden State from a variety of viewpoints (historical, economic, geographic, and social). We will examine how resources are distributed through policy outcomes and the effect of political institutions and civil society on these outcomes.

POLS 308. Politics in Cinema. (4).

Explores the political nature of cinema and the ways in which political culture, issues and themes are expressed in and through cinema. Particular emphasis is placed on American political culture and practices. (cross-listed with Comm 308).

POLS 310. Multiculturalism, Race & Politics in U.S. (4).

This course explores the multicultural, racial, and political landscape in the United States. The emphasis is on multiculturalism and race as forms of cultural identification and political gains and losses. Politics in this course is broadly defined as who gets what, when, and how; and politics is not confined to the political arena. Political gains, for example, can be located in the business and cultural arenas. In this sense, this course focuses on the political activity of groups on the national and local levels. The political, social, and cultural characteristics of various ethnic groups, including their organization and differentiation will emerge in this course.

POLS 316. Political Communication. (4).

This course investigates the interaction between news media, audiences and strategic political communicators in the United States. Special emphasis is give to the role of the news media in politics, the use of campaign practices and techniques in elections, the effects of media messages on audiences, the impact of new medical technologies on news and campaigns, and facets shaping news production such as journalistic routines, medial economics, and the strategic management of news by politicians.

POLS 317. Politics of Community Development. (4).

This course provides an overview of the political and social challenges that confront residents, organizers and leaders in making their communities better places to live. The course explores the factors associated with community stability and prosperity, strategies for doing community development work and economic/governance structures that support community empowerment efforts. The course will give students the opportunity to engage in local Ventura County community building efforts.

POLS 320. Scope and Methods of Political Science. (4).

An introductory study of the history, nature and current development of political science, with special emphasis on the methods dealing with problems of political science and the techniques of research in politics.

POLS 321. Ancient Political Thought. (4).

Presents the scope and nature of political ideas, philosophy and discussion in the Western ancient political tradition and focuses on the major philosophers from Plato to St. Thomas Aquinas and the major streams of ideas and philosophy flowing from them.

POLS 322. Modern Political Thought. (4).

A systematic analysis of the political ideas of great Western and non-Western writers. Particular contributions to political theory are examined, with special emphasis on the concept of human nature and the state, the role of "law" in politics, the problem of political change and the relationship between authority and freedom. (spring).

POLS 323. Jurisprudence. (4).

This course examines several salient issues in the philosophy of law including an analysis of (i)the nature of law; (ii)the relations of law to mortality; (iii) how judges decide cases; and (iv) how the law is or should be intrerpreted; and (v) how to brief and argue cases. Most importantly, this course examines the major theoretical approaches to the law including Natural Law, Positive Law, Law as Principle, American Legal Realism, Critical Legal Studies, and Law and Economics.

POLS 324. American Political Thought. (4).

A survey of the development of American ideas concerning political authority from the colonial period to the present. Special emphasis is placed on the transformation of liberalism in the 20th century under the impact of industrialization and the shift from the concept of the "free" individual to the organization person.

POLS 341. European Government and Politics. (4).

A study of the current governments and politics of Great Britain, France, the German Federal Republic and the former Soviet Union. The historical origins of these governments are briefly studied and their institutions analyzed as manifestations of their social and political culture and traditions, and the impact of external forces.

POLS 360. International Relations. (4).

An introduction to the problems of relations among the nations of the world, including the basic factors that influence international relations and the channels of settlement of international problems.

POLS 365. American Foreign Policy. (4).

A survey of the factors and forces entering into the formation and implementation of American foreign policy, with special emphasis on contemporary problems. Includes studying the relationship between the means and sources of American power and the goals and objectives of American policy.

POLS 367. Comparative Politics. (4).

This course focuses on understanding how and why nation-states have adopted and implemented various forms of political and economic systems. Using country-case study analyses, the course examines how political ideologies, political culture and history, institutions and geography shape political and economic development in different regions of the world.

POLS 382. History and Politics of Latin America. (4).

Surveys the politics and history of Latin America from the early encounters of Native Americans with Europeans to the present. The evolution of Latin American institutions (political, cultural and economic) will be traced from 1492 until the present.

POLS 384. History/Politics Modern Middle East. (4).

An examination of the historical background and contemporary politics of this vital area in world affairs. The politics and economics of oil, the Arab-Israeli conflict, the revival of Islam and the problems of modernization and development are studied in detail.

POLS 386. History and Politics of South Asia. (4).

An examination of the history, culture and politics of South Asia through the Hindu, Muslim and British periods to the present. The impact of these legacies on the problems of state-building, economic development, social change and foreign policy in contemporary India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal is approached from a comparative and regional perspective.

POLS 388. History and Politics of East Asia. (4).

An introduction to the political thought and institutions of East Asia. Primary attention is paid to China, which traditionally had a strong influence on the pattern of political development in the region and today seeks to renew its influence.

POLS 392. Internship Via Luther College Program. (1-8).

POLS 401. American Constitutional Law. (4).

An introduction to public law and an analysis of some of the major contemporary issues of American constitutionalism, including the place of the Supreme Court, nation-state relationships, legal controls on government action, and civil rights and liberties.

POLS 402. Post-Modernism: Politics & Philosophy. (4).

Postmodernism explores the relationship between art, science, and politics in contemporary philosophy. The course begins with a consideration of the legacies of Freud, Nietzsche, and Marx and continues with an analysis of such authors as Breton, Heidegger, Benjamin, Cortázar, Borges, Derrida, Foucault, Heisenberg, and Rorty. Uses film (including students' own short surrealist films) literature, and philosophical texts.

POLS 403. Public Administration and Public Policy. (4).

An introduction to modern theories of administration; the relation of administration to the political process; and the analysis of administrative organization and processes including planning, personnel, finance and law.

POLS 404. Constitutional Law in Criminal Justice. (4).

Emphasizes Supreme Court decisions and constitutional issues relevant to the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Eighth and Fourteenth amendments. Students are expected to research and present cases from the text and other legal sources. Prerequisite: junior standing or permission of instructor. (cross-listed with Crim 404).

POLS 405. Freedom of Communication. (4).

A study of the limits placed on freedom of expression in the United States. Through examining leading U.S. court decisions and relevant statutes, students will learn the broad principles and legal reasoning underlying First Amendment jurisprudence, including the legal, philosophical and political issues entailed in the rights of free expression. Students will then examine how these principles have been applied to the regulation of the various communication industries including the print media, broadcasting and cable television. (cross-listed with Comm 405).

POLS 411. Ethnic Conflict and Civil War. (4).

This course examines discord within multiethnic societies by analyzing how nationalist, racial, ethnic and/or religious identities are used to foster societal conflict such as civil war and genocide. This course is divided into four parts.

POLS 412. Civil Rights Movement. (4).

Examines the African struggle for equal rights in the United States. The civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s will be the primary vehicle directing the flow of the course. Included will be civil rights struggles by other groups such as women, Asians and Latinos to illustrate similarities and influences with the African American struggle. Tactics and strategies will be examined for their effectiveness and ineffectiveness in the realization of goals and objectives. A final aspect of the course will be to observe and analyze the impact of the civil rights movement on the 1990s.

POLS 413. Music and the Civil Rights Movement. (4).

The purpose of this course is to examine the southern civil rights movement (CRM) from 1954 to 1968. This course integrates discussion and analysis of the CRM with music. Music was very important to the Movement because it inspired both participants and supporters to continue the struggle until several victories were won. Emphasis in this course is on matching the music with a political event, ideology, and/or individual. This course includes discussion on the personal involvement in political and social activities by the singers and performers themselves. Tactics and strategies of the CRM are examined and their relationships to music are explored by relying on music with explicitly political lyrics and messages as well as those with lyrics and composition that convey spiritual and festive elements.

POLS 414. Environmental Law and Policy. (4).

A study of the regulatory environment in California and the U.S. as it applies to environmental issues, problems and the environmental industry. Includes a critical analysis of environmental challenges and the possible legal and political responses to them.

POLS 415. Model United Nations. (1).

This course is an in depth study and preparation for California Lutheran University's delegation to Model United Nations (MUN) meetings. The issues dealt with at MUN meetings are examined in this class. The course begins with an overview and then proceeds into an analysis of the role of the United Nations in world politics and international relations. Particular emphasis is placed on the demographics, politics, and foreign policies of the countries represented by CLU at the MUN meetings. Students are, for example, expected to explore the internal and external factors that lead to a particular country's foreign policies.

POLS 416. Social Movemt & Politics Global Change. (4).

Global processes shape both domestic and transnational political mobilization. Early 21st century global change has, for example, in some cases resulted in increased forms of social, economic, and political inequalities. In response some effected groups have managed to achieve some political gains and favorable economic policies through political mobilization and social movements. This course examines social movements and the processes surrounding mobilization of peoples into social movements for change. This course explores how the globalization of economic, social, and political life has affected social movements.

POLS 418. Women and Politics. (4).

This course is designed to explore the various ways that women shape and are shaped by political life at the local, national and global levels. The course examines specific policies as they relate to women as both policymakers and subjects of policy.

POLS 419. Internet and Politics. (4).

The Internet has changed the nature of human interaction and collaboration in unprecedented ways. Of particular interest to political scientists is how these changes have affected the political process. This course will examine the ways in which the Internet has changed politics. We will look at the Internet's effect in the gathering of public information, the formulation of public opinion, the structure of campaigns, political mobilization, policy advocacy and the generation of citizen input into the political process.

POLS 421. The Politics of Data. (4).

This course will examine the roles that data collection and analysis tools play on our daily lives and our social/political/economic institutions. This course will draw from a broad range of disciplines (Political Science, Sociology, Law, Communication, Philosophy, Psychology, etc.) to explore these topics.

POLS 422. Caribbean Politics and Culture. (4).

This course looks at the development, culture, and politics of the Caribbean region. In doing so, this course examines key characteristics, such as culture, cultural identity, politics, and the complex relationship between these entities.

POLS 427. American Political Institutions. (4).

This course uses an American Political Development approach to examine the evolution of US political institutions (Congress, the executive, the courts and political parties.) The course will examine the design of the American system in comparative perspective and guide students through an exploration of how the current system came to be and how its evolution shaped and was shaped by political events.

POLS 432. Political Violence and Revolutions. (4).

In this course we analyze the use of non-traditional warfare throughout history, including terrorism and guerilla insurgency, to promote political and social change. Topics include just war theory, theories of revolution, and the social and political consequences of political violence.

POLS 440. Terrorism. (4).

The course focuses on the violence of terrorism and the strategic uses and justification of violence in political and religious life. The course explores the ideology and methods of terrorism by and against governments. An examination of legal and extralegal policies designed to counter terrorism are explored. Prerequisites: junior standing or permission of instructor.(cross-listed with Crim 440).

POLS 443. Government and Politics of Africa. (4).

After a brief description of the major politically relevant characteristics of Africa and key events in its colonial history, the course details the institutional structures and political processes of the newly independent African states. An evaluation of the problems of institutional transformation and political stabilization is included. (on demand).

POLS 445. Legal Reasoning. (4).

This course is designed for junior and senior students interested in law school, graduate school in public policy, or any profession touched by the law. (cross-listed with Crim 445).

POLS 461. International Law and Organization. (4).

An examination of the basic principles of international law and organization, focusing on political foundations of the law of war and peace and contemporary problems of the United Nations.

POLS 465. Global Political Economy. (4).

This course introduces some of the fundamental relationships between politics and economics, on both the domestic and international levels. Its purpose is to examine how these two aspects of human behavior are mutually dependent.

POLS 476. Capstone. (4).

The purpose of the course is for students to: 1) identify and analyze key phenomena, issues or problems in political life, and 2) design and implement an original research project or study. Students select topics that are timely and relevant based on their interests, and use their research project to develop a greater understanding of an issue(s) using primary and secondary data.

POLS 477. Cityscapes. (4).

Through art, politics, and philosophy, this course offers an in-depth study of the cultural landscape of selected global cities. Along with texts, films, and music from such centers as Prague and Mexico city, students develop their own "cityscape" from a region of their choice (often based on their off-campus experience) as their final projects. Open to all students, this course fulfills the requirement for a honors seminar and is the capstone for the Global Studies major. Cross-listed with Glst 477.

POLS 478. The Pacific Rim. (4).

Analyzes the Pacific Ocean as the new center for world trade and considers the various possibilities for an emerging trade bloc formalizing that trade. (cross-listed with Bus 478).

POLS 481. Law and Society. (4).

An examination of the interactions between the various components of a society's legal system (police, courts, prisons, etc.) and the individuals and groups residing therein, focusing on problems and proposed solutions.

POLS 482. Selected Topics. (1-4).

POLS 482C. ST: (core). (1-4).

Select Topic required core requirement.

POLS 483. Field Work in Political Science. (2-4).

Supervised internships in agencies of national, state or local governments and political parties, providing work experience and opportunity for practical observation. Periodic conferences with the instructor and supervising official are required. (on demand).

POLS 485. Experiential Practicum. (1).

The goal of the course is to provide the student with a vehicle to analyze their experience. To register for the 1-credit course, students must have studied abroad or completed a domestic internship related to the field of Political Science. Prerequisite: POLS 320; and POLS 102, POLS 200, POLS 207, POLS 210, or POLS 222.

POLS 490. Independent Study. (1-4).

POLS 492. Internship. (1-4).

(graded P/NC only).

POLS 496. Directed Research. (1-3).

POLS 497. Departmental Honors. (4).

POLS 498. Goodness, Truth, and Beauty. (4).

This course examines the relationship between contemporary philosophy and contemporary biology in relation to the major triad of categories dealing with aesthetics, ethics, and the search for truth.



Gregory Freeland

Haco Hoang

Jose Marichal

Professors emeriti

Michael Brint

Herbert Gooch