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Thematic VISP Track: Political Science

The University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Political Science is one of the oldest and most respected programs in the United States. Our award-winning faculty are known for innovative research on the discipline’s most current and important questions. Our dedication to teaching is also apparent: we are one of the largest majors on campus, with a commitment to excellence in undergraduate instruction.

Program Overview

As a member of the UW-Madison Political Science Visiting International Student Program, you will be able to choose from a range of interesting and challenging upper level courses in our department throughout the year.

During the academic year (fall or spring), you can choose from one of the six suggested concentration areas listed in the section below, or work with our faculty and advisers to create a concentration all your own!

Summer term students will focus on one subject which changes each year. See more information about this summer’s class below.

Student Support

From the time you apply to the end of your stay, the VISP staff will be there to assist you. As a VISP participant you have full access to all academic and student support services, such as libraries, computer labs, clubs, and sports facilities; the opportunity to participate in VISP sponsored social and cultural events; and upon completion you will receive an official UW–Madison transcript. In Political Science, you’ll meet frequently with the undergraduate program staff, and our faculty stand ready to help you succeed.

Program Eligibility

Participants must meet the VISP eligibility criteria for admission into this program. This Thematic Track admits students at the Undergraduate, Graduate, or Dissertator level.

Available Terms

Students can participate in the fall and/or spring semester as well as in the summer term.

Past Summer Course Offerings

No offerings available for summer 2024.

American Political Speeches & American Political Thought – Political Science (PS) 401, 3 credits
Speech – formal and informal, elite or popular – is central to democratic politics. What, though, can we learn about American political thought through the study of political speech? This is the central question of PS 401: American Political Speeches and American Political Thought. Through the study of a variety of political speeches from Patrick Henry in the 18th century to the present, participants in PS 401 will encounter key themes in American political thought, such as equality, liberty, belonging, community, and individualism, to name but a few. Course readings will consist of a set of political speeches, supplemented by audio and video recordings and images – photographs or paintings. In addition to encountering key themes and problems in American political thought from the 18th century to the present, participants will hone critical analysis, writing, and speaking skills through successful completion of the course.

Academic Year Academics & Course Offerings

Academic year students in fall or spring semester will complete at least 9 credits of coursework in Political Science, choosing from a wide variety of advanced undergraduate-level political science courses.  You can complete your full-time course load with additional political science courses — or we will help you find a relevant course in a related discipline.

Academic Year Concentration Areas

We encourage you to consider focusing your studies in one of the following concentration areas:

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International Relations

Explore topics like foreign policy, international political economy, international law, international organizations and global governance, and international security. Study with our leading scholars of international relations.

Possible courses include:
PS 316 Introduction to International Law (Fall and Spring)
PS 371 International Political Economy (Fall)
PS 337 International Institutions and World Order (Spring)
PS 362 African International Relations (Fall)
PS 376 Analysis of International Relations (Fall and Spring)
PS 377 Nuclear Weapons and World Politics (Fall and Spring)

Politics Around the World

Investigate vibrant domestic politics in various parts of the world. Our course offerings cover Africa, Asia, Europe, and Latin America. Topics include state building, elections, democratization, social movement, and nationalism. Center for East Asian StudiesCenter for Southeast Asian StudiesCenter for European Studies,  Center for South Asia, and Center for Russia, East Europe, and Central Asia offer intellectually stimulating lectures, cultural activities and language tables regularly.

Possible courses include:
PS 244 Introduction to Southeast Asia: Vietnam to the Philippines (Fall)
PS 253 Russia: An Interdisciplinary Survey (Fall)
PS 260 Latin America-Introduction (Spring)
PS 277 Africa: Introductory Survey (Fall and Spring)
PS 328 Politics of East and Southeast Asia (Fall)
PS 346 China in World Politics (Fall)
PS 505 The Challenge of Democratization (Fall)
PS 601 Indian Politics in Comparative Politics (Spring)
PS 630 Latin American Politics (Fall)
PS 633 Russian Politics (Fall)
PS 642 Political Power in Contemporary China (Spring)
PS 659 Politics and Society in East Europe (Spring)
PS 660 African Politics (Spring)

Political Violence and Conflict Resolution

Investigate the causes of political violence and the methods of conflict resolution. Our course offerings cover concepts, theories, policies and case studies related to political violence and conflict resolution.

Possible courses include:
PS 317 The Politics of Human Rights (Fall)
PS 318 Comparative Study of Genocide (Fall)
PS 319 Terrorism (Fall)
PS 378 Conflict Resolution (Fall)
PS 631 Arab-Israeli Conflicts (Spring)

Political Economy and Development

Investigate the various outcomes of economic development and policies. Under what circumstances do countries and regions prosper? How does international system affect the politics and economies of various nations and regions? Our course offerings deal with economies of at the both domestic and international levels.

Possible courses include:
PS 312 Politics of World Economy (Fall)
PS 338 European Union: Politics & Political Economy (Fall)
PS 371 International Political Economy (Fall)
PS 534 Socialism and Transitions Market (Spring)
PS 652 The Politics of Development (Spring)

Political Philosophy and Constitutionalism

Investigate the history of political ideas, arguments about constitutionalism, and the latest developments in contemporary political and social theory. Our courses cover topics from the ancient Greeks and Romans to radical political theories of the 20th century.  The American Democracy Forum and the Center for the Study of Liberal Democracy offer opportunities for you to engage with big ideas outside the classroom

Possible courses include:
PS 501 Ancient & Medieval Political Thought (Fall)
PS 502 Modern Western Political Thought (Spring)
PS 506 Topics in Political Philosophy (Fall and Spring)
PS 601 Topics in Political Science (Fall and Spring)

Politics of the United States

Study the politics of the United States. Explore our course offerings in American political institutions, elections and political behavior and constitutional law. Be sure to take a look at our Elections Research Center, which supports innovative elections research and offers many public programs in which you can participate.

Possible courses include:
PS 231 Politics: Multi-Cultural Society (Spring)
PS 408 American Presidency (Spring)
PS 411 The American Constitution 1 (Spring)
PS 412 The American Constitution 2 (Fall)
PS 414 Supreme Court as Political Institution (Fall)
PS 426 United States Congress (Spring)
PS 466 Campaign Finance (Fall and Spring)
PS 467 Elections and Voting Behavior (Fall and Spring)
PS 464 Mexican-American Politics (Fall)

Cost of Attendance

Estimated cost of attendance information is available on the VISP website. The Political Science VISP Thematic Track program can offer scholarships to qualified students. Please contact VISP@dcs.wisc.edu if you are interested in learning more.

Application Instructions

Submit your VISP application and in your essay please include: “I am applying for the Political Science VISP track.”

Questions? Please contact the VISP coordinators.

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