POL S 371 A: Global Crime and Corruption

Meeting Time: 
TTh 10:00am - 11:20am
SMI 120
Joint Sections: 
JSIS B 371 A
James D. Long

Syllabus Description:

Course Description:

Why do political crimes and public sector corruption continue to plague countries in the modern world? What are the motivations of individuals and groups that commit criminal and corrupt acts? And what, if anything, can political leaders, policymakers, activists, and citizens do to stop global crime and corruption? This class examines the sources, processes, and outcomes related to illicit and illegal behavior within firms, governments, and organizations at local, national, and international levels. We will define political crime and public sector corruption, and investigate their psychological, cultural, political, and economic sources; and explore these dynamics within businesses, bureaucracies, political parties, gangs, mafias, religious cults, pirate organizations, and terrorists. We will consider a range of policy responses to reduce crime and corruption. Case studies and evidence will include (but not be limited to): cross-national global patterns of corruption, criminal business enterprises and government corruption in the Sahel, the drug trade between the US and Mexico, the formation of the US constitution, the economics of piracy in the Caribbean, political parties in Jamaica, the Islamic State’s (ISIS) doomsday insurgency, racketeering among Sicilian mafias, drug abuse in the Third Reich and Nazi Party, and the trade of illegal goods on the dark web’s “Silk Road.”


Required Readings (available at UW bookstore and online):

  • Susan Rose-Ackerman and Bonnie Palifka, Corruption and Government: Causes, Consequences, and Reform, Cambridge (2nd Edition), 2016.
  • Ioan Grillo, Gangster Warlords: Drug Dollars, Killing Fields, and the New Politics of Latin America, Bloomsbury Press, 2016.
  • Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Fighting Corruption is Dangerous: The Story Behind the Headlines, MIT Press, 2018.

All additional readings will be provided by Professor Long and available on Canvas.


Course Evaluation:

Midterm: 30%

Final Exam: 40%

Quiz Section: 30%

** The midterm and final exams will cover material discussed in lectures, readings, material on Canvas, and Quiz Section. **



Catalog Description: 
We examine sources & outcomes of illicit behavior within firms, governments, and organizations at local, national, & international levels; investigating the psychological, cultural, political, and economic sources of crime/corruption; and explore these dynamics within businesses, bureaucracies, gangs, mafias, cults, and pirates. Case studies include India, US-Mexico drug trade, piracy, doomsday cults, Sicilian mafias, Nazi drug abuse, & Dark Web. Recommended: POL S 203, POL S 204, or POL S 270; or JSIS 123, JSIS 200, JSIS 201, or JSIS 222; or equivalent. Offered: jointly with JSIS B 371.
GE Requirements: 
Individuals and Societies (I&S)
Last updated: 
August 2, 2019 - 9:08pm