PLAP 3160: Special Topics in American Politics: The Politics of Food [3]

Paul Freedman, Associate Professor

How and what we eat is basic to who we are as individuals, as a culture, and as a polity. This course looks at the production and consumption of food to a political context. Food politics and policy in the United States is a topic that has received increased attention in recent years. Legislation, regulation, and subsidies for particular products and practices have critical implications for the environment, for health (including the dramatic rise in obesity, diabetes, and drug-resistant infections), and for other budget priorities.

This course looks food politics through a series of “food fights.” We will examine controversies over agricultural subsidies, labeling requirements, issues relating to food and health (and the famous Food Pyramid), and international food aid. Along the way we will examine the ways in which food politics represents a distortion of fundamental democratic principles.

Additional nonrefundable $35 fee required.

PLAP 3420: Virginia Government and Politics [3]

Ken Stroupe, Chief of Staff, University of Virginia Center for Politics

The purpose of this class is to give students an understanding of the law and practice of Virginia government and politics at both state and local levels. The concentration in this syllabus is on the basic and most important topics, and the reading load for each topic is substantial. The dedicated student should finish the course with a thorough preparatory background in Virginiana -- perhaps enough to offer a tentative answer to Guy Friddell's query: "What Is It About Virginia?"

In addition to discussing the institutions of government, we also will spend ample time discussing the modern Virginia politics and the individuals (governors, state legislators, congressmen) who have shaped the Commonwealth. We will explore in-depth the recent gubernatorial and legislative elections, comparing those elections to past statewide elections to evaluate the trends and changing demographics of the Commonwealth.

At the outset, a word of warning is in order: this is not a course limited to current events in Virginia government and politics. On the contrary, the student will be expected to equip himself/herself so as to be able, for example, not only to understand the reasons for the long entrenchment of the Martin and Byrd organizations but also to account for the revivification of first the Republican Party and then the modern Democratic Party, as well as the winds of change at work in the governmental and political life of the state. The aim here is to gain some competence in the intricacies of the Commonwealth's governmental and political life for use not only as an intellectual exercise but also, in some instances, as an aid to a possible future political or governmental career.

The class sessions will include a visit to The Moton Museum in Farmville Saturday, January 4 and a trip to Richmond is planned for January 7, requiring students to be available for both entire days. Grading will be determined by quizzes, a short team paper, and a final exam.

Departmental permission and an additional nonrefundable $120 fee are required to enroll.

PLCP 3240: Post-Soviet Political Challenges: Nationalism, Ethnic Conflict, Separatism and Irredentism [3]

Yuri Urbanovich, Lecturer

UVa Today Interview on the crisis in the Caucasus

The end of the Cold War coincided with a wave of national revivals that spread across Central and Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, and became one of the notable consequences of the collapse of communist regimes. This course will focus specifically on the origins of nationalism, separatism, secessions, and irredentist claims in the Russian Federation and other former Soviet republics. This course will focus specifically on the origins of nationalism, separatism, secessions, and irredentist claims in the Russian Federation and other former Soviet republics.

PLIR 3500: Counterfactuals and Conflicts [3]

John Setear, Professor

This course rigorously explores two related methodologies outside the mainstream of contemporary international relations theory: counterfactual analysis and conflict simulations.

Any statement of causality or contingency implicitly posits a counterfactual situation (in which, absent the cause or contingent event, the effect or some subsequent events do not occur). Yet explicitly counterfactual analysis is rare both for theorists of international relations and historians.  This course examines counterfactual analyses by political scientists and historians; it also develops a typology of such analysis, focusing on considerations of the plausibility and the impact of the counterfactual assumption.  The course also examines the techniques and historical accuracy of a variety of complex (but non-computerized), multi-player simulations of large-scale conflict.  Counterfactual analysis and conflict simulation dovetail in the course’s examination of whether conflict simulations can helpfully generate and illuminate counterfactual analysis of those conflicts.

The course concludes with an assertion that traditional methodologies and the more unusual methods explored here are interdependent: good counterfactual analysis and simulations of conflict depend on a broad and deep understanding of history, and good causal explanations and narratives can generally benefit from the kinds of scrutiny undertaken by authors of counterfactual analysis and the designers of conflict simulations.