This course provides an introduction to the use of game theoretic and mathematics models in the study of politics. We begin with a focus on a fundamental problem of political decision-making: How can the preferences of individuals be aggregated into a single group choice? What are the properties of various decision-making procedures, how do these properties relate to one another, and what are the implications of our findings for broader conceptions of democracy? We will then turn to a canonical set of political "games" which can inform our understanding of political and economic phenomena that occur as a result of complex interactions between individuals and the political and economic institutions that constrain their behavior.
To study these topics, we draw on simple mathematical models that can sharpen our intuition and sometimes lead to surprising and unexpected insights. While the course does not require any advanced mathematical background, you will need to be comfortable with basic algebra and geometric reasoning. My goal is that by the end of the quarter, you will not only have gained new insights into a range of important political phenomena, but perhaps more importantly have acquired a new analytic perspective and skill set that will allow you to think about politics from a more nuanced and critical vantage point.