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 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. 

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. Students will receive an email notifying them of their placement. 

(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 2018 Colloquium Schedule (applications due April 1, 2018)

NOTE: Unless otherwise mentioned, the only prerequisite for each colloquium is the intro course or approved substitution for that subfield. 

POLS BC3102 Race & Modern Political Thought (Michelle Smith) W 4:10-6PM 

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 BC3334 American Elections (Michael Miller) M 12:10-2PM

The purpose of this course is to examine how political science can inform the real-world campaign environment, improving our understanding of strategy and outcomes in American elections.
ADDITIONAL PREREQUISITE: POLS UN3706: Empirical Research Methods in Political Science or equivalent Research Methods course. 

POLS BC3505 Making Democracy Work M 2:10-4PM

Examination of democratic consolidation and promotion. What makes democracy work and what, if anything, can outside actors do to help this process along? Topics include the theoretical literature on democratic consolidation, historical cases of intervention, debates about America’s role in promoting democracy, and examination of some of the research on democracy promotion.

POLS BC3118 Problems in International Security (Kim Marten) T 2:10-4PM

Examination of causes and consequences of major current problems in international security. Topics will focus on state power dynamics: the rise of China and the reemergence of the Russian military, challenges facing NATO with the rise of populism and authoritarianism in the West, nuclear deterrence and proliferation, cyber conflict and information war, and chemical and biological weapons.

POLS BC3410 Human Rights in a Diverse World (Ayten Gundogdu) T 2:10-4PM

Exploration of the nature of human rights and questions of their validity and relevance, protection and redefinition, in this world of cultural diversity and diversity of national interests. (Cross-listed by the Human Rights Program.)

POLS BC3019 American Political Development (Katherine Krimmel) T 12:00-1:50PM

In this survey of American political development, we will discuss how and why major institutions and policies emerged, why they took certain forms, when and why they have changed over time, and what kinds of factors limit change. We will also discuss how policies, in turn, shape citizens and institutions.

POLS BC3810 Aid, Violence, and Politics in Africa (Severine Autesserre) T 4:10-6PM [meeting time is tentative]

Explores the concepts, theoretical traditions and debates around development and humanitarian aid, focusing on the relationships between aid, politics, and violence. It looks at the political and military impacts of aid, the linkage between humanitarian aid and conflict resolution, and aid's contribution to perpetuating subtle forms of domination. (Cross-listed by the Africana Studies and the Human Rights Programs.)

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 2018 Colloquia via this form

Updated on November 5, 2015 by Irene Robertson