Undergraduate-Level Courses

SPI 404 Money and Influence in Policymaking

This course examines the role of money and interest groups’ influence in U.S. policymaking. The two main goals of this class are to: 1) introduce students to contemporary research on how money in politics, specifically campaign finance and lobbying, shapes political representation and policymaking in the United States; and 2) help students make an original contribution to this body of knowledge through their independent junior papers.

POL 420 Money in American Politics

Did lobbying corrupt the implementation of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), intended to provide financial relief to small businesses during the COVID-19 crisis? Did campaign contributions from the real estate industry to members of Congress skew government policies in favor of subprime mortgage credit expansion in the early 2000s, leading to the eventual housing market crash and mortgage default crisis in 2008-09?

People often point to the thorough involvement of money in elections and policymaking as prima facie evidence of the corrosive effect of money on American politics. However, the reasons why and mechanisms through which campaign finance, lobbying, and other forms of money in politics influence political outcomes remain poorly understood.

This course will help students critically assess claims made about the role of money in American politics in public discourse and policy debates. Students will learn about cutting-edge social science research, and interact with guest speakers in government, non-profits, and the private sector where feasible.