POLS 3208W: Politics of Oil

Requires ENGL 1010, 1011, or 2011.

This is a course on the complex relationship between oil and politics. It seeks to develop students’ research, thinking, and writing skills about the role of oil in the international political system as well as in domestic politics.

Today, oil undeniably affects all aspects of our lives, but who really controls oil resources and what does that mean for national and international distribution of political power? How has the contest over oil resources affected the relations among nations as well as the economic, political, social, and environmental development of oil-rich countries? What are the alternatives to oil and what needs to be done to reduce dependency on it? We address these questions as well as analyze and compare individual cases of how oil shapes the way we think about the world.

The course is conducted in a discussion format, although occasionally there are lectures. We also rely on several documentaries to generate discussion. Finally, at the end of the semester, we have formal debates on some of the most controversial topics that we cover in class, such as the necessity of more oil drilling in the U.S.; the oil motives behind diplomacy and foreign policy; the responsibility of oil companies versus governments; and the effectiveness and feasibility of oil alternatives. We invite the university community to watch and participate in our debates.