First Year Sequence

Fall Semester

  • HIST 133: European History I; PHIL 100: Ethics as Intro to Philosophy. The first semester courses reside in Xavier University's under-graduate core curriculum. Students will be placed in selected sections of European History I and Ethics as Introduction to Philosophy. In preparation for advanced work in the program, PPP students will take two blocked courses in spring of their first year, combining European History II (HIST 134) with Theory of Knowledge (PHIL 290).

Spring Semester

  • HIST 134: European History II; PHIL 290: Theory of Knowledge. This combined course examines the development of modern philosophical ideas in conjunction with contemporaneous historical events. Primary emphasis will be placed on the Enlightenment and the manner in which questions surrounding human scientific knowledge become relevant to the reconfiguration of European society and political institutions. Philosophical sources include detailed study of works by Descartes, Locke, Kant, Hegel, Comte and Freud. These courses provide the background necessary for the student to advance in the program.

Sophomore Year Sequence

Fall Semester

  • HIST 408: Constructing the Public: America's Civic Culture. The first part of the course focuses on the historical development and present condition of our civic culture. We begin by reading the work of several public intellectuals who have brought historical, philosophical, economic, political scientific, sociological and other approaches to the study of contemporary American politics. The idea is to engage students in arguments now going on, to ground our investigations in a concern with the here and now, and to show how indispensable rigorous, scholarly inquiry is to those arguments. The second part of the course traces the historical development of American civic culture with the help of student reports on outside readings in history, sociology, philosophy, economics and other disciplines. This part of the course explores the roots of the present in the past and, just as importantly, the roads not taken, the forgotten alternatives and buried possibilities as a means of enlarging and invigorating our political imaginations.
  • POLI 246: Mass Media and Politics. This course examines the intersection between contemporary electoral politics and the role of the media in political and cultural affairs in the United States. The students volunteer in one of the presidential campaigns, travel to some part of the state of Ohio to campaign over a long-weekend, complete field reports on their experiences, prepare and present a campaign strategy to win Ohio for their candidate based on their study of the behavior and attitudes of Ohio voters. As part of this exercise, they produce a short, thirty-second political commercial. They also speak on WVXU on election night on various local, state and national races in which they have a particular expertise.

Spring Semester

  • HIST 300: Writing in Public. This is a writing intensive tutorial designed to encourage students to develop philosophical, political, economic and historical perspectives on contemporary public issues and, second, to develop the skills of persuasive writing for a general public. The students will produce a portfolio of writings of different sorts (examples range from book reviews and review essays, analytical and research papers to letters to editors, press releases, policy statements, op-ed pieces). The idea is to do a good deal of writing in a variety of forms, some of which is related to the practical exercise in legislative politics which will include web-based and image-oriented communications. The course will feature four two-week presentations from faculty in diverse disciplines who will explore various approaches to contemporary public issues and various strategies of public communication.
  • POLI 328: Legislative Practice. This course examines legislative politics and, more broadly, the various ways power in exercised in the contemporary U.S. In researching a specific issue and crafting a campaign designed to shape public opinion and the public agenda, the students will engage in policy research and policy-formulation, coalition-building, negotiation, organization, media relations, broadcast and narrowcast communications. The students will examine the issue in terms of local, state and national politics and will travel to both Columbus and Washington, D.C. Some past legislative issues include mass transit in modern urban centers, the proposal to reform the Social Security system, the United States Department of Agriculture and the Small Black Farmer in the American Southeast, and the municipal use of Eminent Domain for the renewal of cities.

Junior Year Sequence

Fall Semester

  • PHIL 338: Enlightenment and Revolution. According to Aristotle, the primary theme of ancient pre-Socratic philosophy was the discovery and discussion of Nature. Subsequently, a set of questions emerged regarding the relationship between Nature and political things. Specifically, Plato portrays Socrates as inquiring into whether political things are natural and, if so, to what extent. Similarly, Socrates raises the question of whether the laws, and even justice itself, have their roots in something other than mere convention. Classical political philosophy suggests that the laws must be "according to nature," and especially according to the nature of man, if they are to be good. This course explores the modern responses to the classical explanations of law and nature, particularly the modern discussion of natural right and convention. Texts: Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan; Benedict Spinoza, Theological-Political Treatise, Political Treatise; John Locke, Second Treatise on Government; Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Second Discourse. Courses offered in conjunction include: PHIL 352: Machiavelli & Bacon; PHIL 385: Habermas and the Public Sphere; and HIST: Agora to Piazza: Public Space (in Pre-Modern European Cities)

Spring Semester

  • PHIL 339: Revolution and its Aftermath. During the fall semester, we studied the origins of modern politics, including its ambitious claims about nature and reason. On the basis of these claims, thinkers such as Rousseau and Locke worked out a justification for a dramatic political agenda including ?revolution.? This course continues our examination of modern politics by focuses on the practical expression of political theory as it unfolded in the 18th century. Specifically, we'll focus on the first two democratic revolutions in modern history: the American Revolution and the French Revolution. In shifting to the writings of statesmen and politicians, we will discover how philosophical claims were translated into political action and thereby grasp the nature of modern politics more clearly. We shall pay particular attention to the relation between philosophy, politics, and the emergence of the Public. Texts: Alexis De Tocqueville, The Old Regime and the Revolution; University of Chicago, The Old Regime (A Reader); Edmund Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in France; Hamilton, Jay, Madison, The Federalist Papers; William Doyle, The French Revolution (recommended), François Furet, Revolutionary France 1770-1880 (recommended). Courses offered in conjunction include: ECON 316 Globalization (cross listed with Theology and History).

Summer Semester

Senior Year Sequence: Senior Thesis

Information coming soon. If you would like to know more about the senior year sequence, contact Tim Brownlee of the Philosophy Department.

On the sophomore sequence:  "Your life for the next 12 months will be completely given over to the Cult of the Public. You will read thousands of pages, go to hundreds of meetings, write dozens of papers, and go to sleep most days past 1 A.M. with the satisfaction that you are both profoundly challenged and deeply respected by your program. Best class I ever took."
- Tommy Sauter, '10