Every Barnard Political Science major must take three colloquia. The third colloquium integrates the senior capstone requirement. 
The colloquium format involves weekly discussion of readings, and development of research skills through completion of a 25- to 30-page research paper, constituting the major piece of written work for the course.  See the course catalogue for a detailed description of the colloquium requirement. A colloquium, as with any course used for the major or minor requirement, cannot be taken Pass/D/Fail
Prerequisite: Please make certain that, before enrolling, you will have successfully completed one lecture course in the relevant subfield or have received special permission from the instructor for that requirement to be waived. Colloquia are not suitable for first-year students. Sophomores will be admitted as room permits. When making your third colloquium selection, please keep in mind that it is to your benefit to choose one in the field of your anticipated senior essay topic.

Columbia seminars do not fulfill the colloquium requirement for political science (they do provide elective credit).
Each political science colloquium is limited to sixteen students who are assigned by the department, not by individual instructors. Preference is given in the following order: senior Barnard majors; junior Barnard majors; sophomore Barnard students who have declared the major and will be studying abroad during junior year; senior and junior majors from other undergraduate divisions of the University; non-majors from all undergraduate divisions of the university. 
Please apply here. If you run into any problems filling out the form, please email

Essay Prize: Every semester colloquium instructors each can nominate one essay written by a Barnard Political Science major in her or his colloquium for the Political Science Quarterly Prize.

Application Deadlines

For the fall colloquia, Barnard Political Science majors must submit their applications by 5:00 p.m. on April 1 - April Fools' Day! If April 1 falls on a weekend, the applications will be due the following Monday at 5pm.

For the spring colloquia, Barnard Political Science majors must submit their applications by 5:00 p.m. on October 31 - Halloween! If October 31 falls on a weekend, the applications will be due the following Monday at 5pm. The placement roster will be posted on the bulletin board outside 205 Lefrak after 12 noon on November 6, as well as posted online.

(Sophomores, please note: The Dean of Studies' due date for you to declare your major is March 1.)
Please note that students are assigned to a colloquium by the Department and not by individual instructors. Be sure to attend the first class session in order to secure your place in the course.


Fall 2017 Colloquium Schedule (applications due April 3, 2017)


POLS BC3102 * Colloquium on Race and Modern Political Thought, Professor Smith

Admission by application through the Barnard department only. Enrollment limited to 16 students.
Prerequisites: POLS 1013 or the equivalent.
Race and Modern Political Thought is a Political Theory colloquium that explores how the concept of race became available to modern thought as a legitimate conceptualization of human being and difference and to political thought as an idea useful to structuring political communities.  Is race best understood in ideological terms, i.e., as a viewpoint shared by philosophers and lay-persons alike about difference that usefully reflected the needs and aspirations of slaveholders and colonialists?  Or is race instead an artifact of modern forms of reasoning?  Or should we ignore questions of origin and simply take seriously the notion that the only practical—ethically correct or politically progressive—approach to theorizing race is to attend critically to the organization of racial power?   What kind of idea is race?

POLS BC3500 *Colloquium on Political Economy of Corruption and Its Control, Professor Lu

Prerequisites: POLS V1501 or the equivalentAdmission by application through the Barnard department only. Enrollment limited to 16 students. Barnard syllabus.
Comparative political economy course which addresses some important questions concerning corruption and its control: the concept, causes, patterns, consequences, and control of corruption. Introduces students to and engages them in several key social science debates on the causes and effects of political corruption.

POLS BC3501 Urban Violence In Comparative Perspective, Professor Moncada
W 4:10-6

Admission by application through the Barnard department only. Enrollment limited to 16 students.
Prerequisites: V 1501 or equivalent
One of the key contemporary challenges for democracy and development across both the developing and developed worlds is urban violence. From urban gangs to paramilitaries to vigilantes to citizen defense committees, the city is increasing a key setting for a range of armed actors that engage in equally diverse forms of criminality and the exercise of coercive force. Major cities throughout the world thus lead two lives: as control and command centers in a globalized (and urbanized) economy, and as the stages where the monopoly over the legitimate use of violence that Max Weber identified as a defining attribute of the state is contested on a daily basis. This course has two overarching objectives. The first objective is to examine and critically assess existing theories of the drivers, functions, and consequences of urban crime and violence.  The second objective is to situate existing research within a broader range of classic and emerging political science research on state building, institutions, democracy,  development, and conflict. The methodological emphasis of the course is comparative analysis, and therefore empirical material will largely draw on analyses of crime and violence in Latin America and Africa, and the United States. This course will introduce students to the key theories, debates, and empirical studies of urban crime and violence. Students who successfully complete the class will:
1.      Acquire a broad knowledge of the theories and concepts used to analyze urban crime and violence.
2.      Develop a theoretically informed and empirically grounded understanding of both historical and contemporary trends in crime and violence in major cities across Latin America, Africa, and the United States.
3.      Draw linkages between news coverage of urban crime and violence and political science theories on a range of broader issues regarding state building, institutions, democracy, and development.
4.      Use existing theories to analyze, assess, and present empirical data, both written and verbal.  
5.      Produce a major, original research paper that advances existing knowledge of the origins, dynamics, and/or consequences of urban crime and violence.


POLS BC3540 *Colloquium on Constructing States, Nations, and Democracy, Professor Berman
W 2:10-4

Prerequisites: POLS V1501 or the equivalent. Admission by application through the Barnard department only. Enrollment limited to 16 students.

The course will examine the development of, and relationship among, the three constituent features of the modern political world: states, nations and democracy. The course will analyze both historical and contemporary cases, tracing how causal processes unfold over time and space and what past conditions and experiences lie behind today's political dynamics and problems.

TBD International Politics Colloquium - T 2:10-4
TBD International Politics Colloquium - Th 2:10-4
TBD American Politics Colloquium - M 11-12:50
TBD American Politics Colloquium - W 11-12:50

Colloquium Application Process


Please note that we ask you to submit three colloquium choices. To the degree possible, the Department will try to honor one of your first two choices. If you list fewer than three choices, you will be assigned to a colloquium at random.
The number of semesters you have left at Barnard plays a role in the selection process. Therefore, if you are planning to study abroad or to participate in S.I.P.A.'s Joint Degree Program, be sure to indicate this.
You can now apply for Fall 2017 Colloquia via this form

Updated on November 5, 2015 by Irene Robertson